Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 50:11

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ye that kindle a fire - The fire of their own kindling, by the light of which they walk with security and satisfaction, is an image designed to express, in general, human devices and mere worldly policy, exclusive of faith, and trust in God; which, though they flatter themselves for a while with pleasing expectations and some appearance of success, shall in the end turn to the confusion of the authors. Or more particularly, as Vitringa explains it, it may mean the designs of the turbulent and factious Jews in the times succeeding those of Christ, who, in pursuit of their own desperate schemes, stirred up the war against the Romans, and kindled a fire which consumed their city and nation.

That compass yourselves about with sparks "Who heap the fuel round about" - "מגוזלי megozeley, accendentes, Syr.; forte leperunt pro מאזרי meazzerey מאירי meirey ; nam sequitur אור ur ." - Secker. Lud. Capellus, in his criticism on this place, thinks it should be מאזרי meazzerey, from the Septuagint, κατισχυοντες .

There are others who are widely different from those already described. Without faith, repentance, or a holy life, they are bold in their professed confidence in God - presumptuous in their trust in the mercy of God; and, while destitute of all preparation for and right to the kingdom of heaven, would think it criminal to doubt their final salvation! Living in this way, what can they have at the hand of God but an endless bed of sorrow! Ye shall lie down in sorrow.

But there is a general sense, and accordant to the design of the prophecy, in which these words may be understood and paraphrased: Behold, all ye that kindle a fire - provoke war and contention; compass yourselves about with sparks - stirring up seditions and rebellions: walk in the light of your fire - go on in your lust of power and restless ambition. Ye shall lie down in sorrow - it will turn to your own perdition. See the Targum. This seems to refer to the restless spirit of the Jews, always stirring up confusion and strife; rebelling against and provoking the Romans, till at last their city was taken, their temple burnt to the ground, and upwards of a million of themselves destroyed, and the rest led into captivity!

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold, all ye that kindle a fire - This verse refers to the wicked. In the previous verse, the Messiah had called upon all the pious to put their trust in God, and it is there implied that they would do so. But it would not be so with the wicked. In times of darkness and calamity, instead of trusting in God they would confide in their own resources, and endeavor to kindle a light for themselves in which they might walk. But the result would be, that they would find no comfort, and would ultimately under his hand lie down in sorrow. The figure is continued from the previous verse. The pious who are in darkness wait patiently for the light which Yahweh shall kindle for them But not so with the wicked. They attempt to kindle a light for themselves, and to walk in that. The phrase, ‹that kindle a fire,‘ refers to all the plans which people form with reference to their own salvation; all which they rely upon to guide them through the darkness of this world. It may include, therefore, all the schemes of human philosophy, of false religion, of paganism, of infidelity, deism, and self-righteousness; all dependence on our good works, our charities ties, and our prayers. All these are false lights which people enkindle, in order to guide themselves when they resolve to cast off God, to renounce his revelation, and to resist his spirit. It may have had a primary reference to the Jews, who so often rejected the divine guidance, and who relied so much on themselves; but it also includes all the plans which people devise to conduct themselves to heaven. The confidence of the pious Isaiah 50:10 is in the light of God; that of the wicked is in the light of people.

That compass yourselves about with sparks - There has been considerable variety in the interpretation of the word rendered here sparks (זיקות ziyqôth ). It occurs nowhere else in the Bible, though the word זקים ziqqiym occurs in Proverbs 26:18, where it is rendered in the text ‹firebrands,‘ and in the margin ‹flames,‘ or ‹sparks.‘ Gesenius supposes that these are different forms at the same word, and renders the word here, ‹burning arrows, fiery darts.‘ The Vulgate renders it ‹flames.‘ The Septuagint, φλογὶ phlogi - ‹flame.‘ In the Syriac the word has the sense of lightning. Vitringa supposes it means ‹faggots,‘ and that the sense is, that they encompass themselves with faggots, in order to make a great conflagration. Lowth renders it, very loosely, ‹Who heap the fuel round about.‘ But it is probable that the common version has given the true sense, and that the reference is to human devices, which give no steady and clear light, but which may be compared with a spark struck from a flint. The idea probably is, that all human devices for salvation bear the same resemblance to the true plan proposed by God, which a momentary spark in the dark does to the clear shining of a bright light like that of the sun. If this is the sense, it is a most graphic and striking description of the nature of all the schemes by which the sinner hopes to save himself.

Walk in the light of your fire - That is, you will walk in that light. It is not a command as if he wished them to do it, but it is a declaration which is intended to direct their attention to the fact that if they did this they would lie down in sorrow. It is language such as we often use, as when we say to a young man, ‹go on a little further in a career of dissipation, and you will bring yourself to poverty and shame and death.‘ Or as if we should say to a man near a precipice, ‹go on a little further, and you wilt fall down and be dashed in pieces.‘ The essential idea is, that this course would lead to ruin. It is implied that they would walk on in this way, and be destroyed.

This shall ye have - As the result of this, you shall lie down in sorrow. Herder renders this:

One movement of my hand upon you,

And ye shall lie down in sorrow.

How simple and yet how sublime an expression is this! The Messiah but lifts his hand and the lights are quenched. His foes lie down sad and dejected, in darkness and sorrow. The idea is, that they would receive their doom from his hand, and that it would he as easy for him as is the uplifting or waving of the hand, to quench all their lights, and consign them to grief (compare Matthew 25)

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
A child of God is afraid of incurring his displeasure. This grace usually appears most in believers when in darkness, when other graces appear not. Those that truly fear God, obey the voice of Christ. A sincere servant of God may for a long time be without views of eternal happiness. What is likely to be an effectual cure in this sad case? Let him trust in the name of the Lord; and let him stay himself upon the promises of the covenant, and build his hopes on them. Let him trust in Christ, trust in that name of his, The Lord our Righteousness; stay himself upon God as his God, in and through a Mediator. Presuming sinners are warned not to trust in themselves. Their own merit and sufficiency are light and heat to them. Creature-comforts are as sparks, short-lived, and soon gone; yet the children of this world, while they last, seek to warm themselves by them, and walk with pride and pleasure in the light of them. Those that make the world their comfort, and their own righteousness their confidence, will certainly meet with bitterness in the end. A godly man's way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and everlasting light. A wicked man's way may be pleasant, but his end and abode for ever will be utter darkness.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1138

18-23 (1 Peter 3:1-5). Beauty of Soul a Standing Rebuke—In the third chapter of Isaiah's prophecy mention is made of the prevailing pride of the “daughters of Zion,” with “their tinkling ornaments, ... the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, ... and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.” Verses 18-23. How different this picture from that portrayed by the apostle Peter of the God-fearing woman, who, estimating at its real value the “outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel,” chooses rather to cultivate beauty of soul, “even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” It was “after this manner in the old time” that “the holy women ... who trusted in God, adorned themselves”; and their “chaste conversation coupled with fear” (1 Peter 3:1-5), as revealed in daily life, was ever a standing rebuke to their sisters who followed after folly (The Review and Herald, March 4, 1915). 4BC 1138.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1146-7

1-4. Christ Would Encourage Faith and Hope—[Isaiah 42:1, 2 quoted.] He [Christ] will not be like the teachers of His day. The ostentation and show and parade of piety revealed in the priests and Pharisees is not His way. [Isaiah 42:3, 4 quoted.] Christ saw the work of the priests and rulers. The very ones who needed help, the afflicted, the distressed, were treated with words of censure and rebuke, and He forbore to speak any word that would break the feeble reed. The dimly burning wick of faith and hope, He would encourage, and not quench. He would feed His flock like a shepherd; He would gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom (Manuscript 151, 1899). 4BC 1146.1

5-12. Faithfulness Leads Men to Praise God—[Isaiah 42:5-12 quoted.] This work had been given to Israel, but they had neglected their God-appointed work. Had they been faithful in all parts of the Lord's vineyard, souls would have been converted. The Lord's praise would have been heard from the ends of the earth. From the wilderness and the cities thereof, and from the tops of the mountains, men would have shouted His praise, and told of His glory (Manuscript 151, 1899). 4BC 1146.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 258

I present this as the cause of the situation in many council and board meetings, where questions demanding careful study have been given but little consideration, and decisions of the greatest importance have been hurriedly made. Often when there should have been unanimity of sentiment in the affirmative, decided negatives have entirely changed the atmosphere pervading a meeting. These results have been presented to me again and again. 7T 258.1

I present these matters now because I am instructed to say to my brethren in the ministry: By intemperance in eating you disqualify yourselves for seeing clearly the difference between sacred and common fire. And by this intemperance you also reveal your disregard for the warnings that the Lord has given you. His word to you is: “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of Mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” Isaiah 50:10, 11. 7T 258.2


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