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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
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 331

Association with learned men is esteemed by some more highly than communion with the God of heaven. The statements of learned men are thought of more value than the highest wisdom revealed in the word of God. But while infidelity is proudly lifting up its head, Heaven looks down upon the vanity and nothingness of human reasoning; for man in and of himself is vanity. All the merit, all the moral dignity, of men has been theirs simply in and through the merits of Jesus Christ. What, then, are the speculations of the greatest minds of the greatest men that have ever lived? Yet men place their human reasonings before the revealed will of God, and present to the world that which they claim is higher wisdom than the wisdom of the Eternal. In their vain imaginations, they would bring down the economy of heaven to suit their own inclinations and desires. FE 331.1

The great God has a law by which to govern His kingdom, and those who trample upon that law will one day find that they are amenable to its statutes. The remedy for transgression is not to be found in declaring that the law is abolished. To abolish the law would be to dishonor it, and to cast contempt upon the Lawgiver. The only escape for the transgressor of law is found in the Lord Jesus Christ; for through the grace and atonement of the only-begotten Son of God, the sinner may be saved and the law vindicated. The men who parade before the world as wonderful specimens of greatness, and at the same time trample down the revealed will of God, robe man with honor and talk of the perfection of nature. They paint a very fine picture, but it is an illusion, a flattering deception; for they walk in the sparks of their own kindling. FE 331.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 644

Many look to their ministers to bring the light from God to them, seeming to think this a cheaper way than to be to the trouble of going to God for it themselves. Such lose much. If they would daily follow Christ and make Him their guide and counselor, they might obtain a clear knowledge of His will, and thus be gaining a valuable experience. For want of this very experience, brethren professing the truth walk in the sparks of others’ kindling; they are unacquainted with the Spirit of God and have not a knowledge of His will, and are therefore easily moved from their faith. They are unstable, because they trusted in others to obtain an experience for them. Ample provisions have been made for every son and daughter of Adam to obtain individually a knowledge of the divine will, to perfect Christian character, and to be purified through the truth. God is dishonored by that class who profess to be followers of Christ and yet have no experimental knowledge of the divine will or of the mystery of godliness. 2T 644.1

Brother D has had a multiplicity of home cares. The increase of numbers in the church has not lessened his burdens. The increase of numbers in his family has been too heavy a tax upon himself and his family, and these things have been a hindrance to his becoming a successful laborer. He has become rusty in the work of God and needs burnishing. His testimony needs to be vitalized by the Spirit and power of God. His brethren in Bordoville, who have not a special work to do in laboring in word and doctrine, should be awake to see where others need help, and should help them. Many close their eyes to the good which they have opportunity to do for others, and by their neglect they lose the blessing which they might obtain. Brother D has been left to bear burdens that his brethren should have considered it their duty and privilege to bear. 2T 644.2

Our work in this world is to live for others’ good, to bless others, to be hospitable; and frequently it may be only at some inconvenience that we can entertain those who really need our care and the benefit of our society and our homes. Some avoid these necessary burdens. But someone must bear them; and because the brethren in general are not lovers of hospitality, and do not share equally in these Christian duties, a few who have willing hearts, and who cheerfully make the cases of those who need help their own, are burdened. A church should take special care to relieve its ministers of extra burdens in this direction. The ministers who are actively engaged in the cause of God, laboring for the salvation of souls, have continual sacrifices to make. 2T 645.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 331

Parents, you profess to be children of God; are you obedient children? Are you doing the will of your heavenly Father? Are you following His directions, or are you walking in the light of sparks of your own kindling? Are you daily working to outgeneral the enemy and save your children from his devices? Are you opening to them the precious truths of the word of God, explaining to them the reasons of our faith, that their young feet may be planted on the platform of truth? 5T 331.1

The Bible with its precious gems of truth was not written for the scholar alone. On the contrary, it was designed for the common people; and the interpretation given by the common people, when aided by the Holy Spirit, accords best with the truth as it is in Jesus. The great truths necessary for salvation are made clear as the noonday, and none will mistake and lose their way except those who follow their own judgment instead of the plainly revealed will of God. 5T 331.2

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