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Isaiah 51:8

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For the moth - (see Isaiah 50:9). The idea is, that they shall be consumed as the moth eats up a garment; or rather, that the moth itself shall consume them as it does a garment: that is, that they were so weak when compared with Yahweh that even the moth, one of the smallest, and most contemptible of insects, would consume them. An expression remarkably similar to this occurs in Job 4:18-20:

Behold in his servants he putteth no confidence,

And his angels he chargeth with frailty;

How much more true is this of those who dwell in houses of clay,

Whose foundation is in the dust!

They are crashed before the moth-worm!

Between morning and evening they are destroyed;

Without anyone regarding it, they perish forever.

Perhaps the following extract from Niebuhr may throw some light on the passage, as showing that man may be crushed by so feeble a thing as a worm ‹A disease very common an Yemen is the attack of the Guiney-worm, or the ‹Verea-Medinensis,‘ as it is called by the physicians of Europe. This disease is supposed to be occasioned by the use of the putrid waters, which people are obliged to drink in various parts of Yemen; and for this reason the Arabians always pass water, with the nature of which they are unacquainted, through a linen cloth before using it. When one unfortunately swallows the eggs of this insect, no immediate consequence follows; but after a considerable time the worm begins to show itself through the skin. Our physician, Mr. Cramer, was within a few days of his death attacked by five of these worms at once, although this was more than five months after we left Arabia. In the isle of Karek I saw a French officer named Le Page, who, after a long and difficult journey, performed on foot, and in an Indian dress, between Pondicherry and Surat, through the heat of India, was busy extracting a worm out of his body. He supposed he had got it by drinking bad water in the country of the Mahrattas. This disorder is not dangerous if the person who is affected can extract the worm without breaking it. With this view it is rolled on a small bit of wood as it comes out of the skin. It is slender as a thread, and two or three feet long. If unluckily it be broken, it then returns into the body, and the most disagreeable consequences ensue - palsy, a gangrene, and sometimes death.‘ A thought similar to that of Isaiah respecting man, has been beautifully expressed by Gray:

To contemplation‘s sober eye,

Such is the race of man;

And they that creep, and they that fly,

Shall end where they began.

Alike the busy and the gay,

But flutter through life‘s little day,

In fortune‘s varying colors drest;

Brush‘d by the hand of rough mischance,

Or chill‘d by age, their airy dance

They leave, in dust to rest.

And the worm shall eat them like wool - The word rendered ‹worm‘ (סס sās ), probably means the same as the moth. The Arabic renders it by moth, weevil. The Septuagint, σής sēs It is of unfrequent occurrence in the Scriptures.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The gospel of Christ shall be preached and published. How shall we escape if we neglect it? There is no salvation without righteousness. The soul shall, as to this world, vanish like smoke, and the body be thrown by like a worn-out garment. But those whose happiness is in Christ's righteousness and salvation, will have the comfort of it when time and days shall be no more. Clouds darken the sun, but do not stop its course. The believer will enjoy his portion, while revilers of Christ are in darkness
Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 460

The great obstacle both to the acceptance and to the promulgation of truth is the fact that it involves inconvenience and reproach. This is the only argument against the truth which its advocates have never been able to refute. But this does not deter the true followers of Christ. These do not wait for truth to become popular. Being convinced of their duty, they deliberately accept the cross, with the apostle Paul counting that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” with one of old, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” 2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 11:26. GC 460.1

Whatever may be their profession, it is only those who are world servers at heart that act from policy rather than principle in religious things. We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God. To men of principle, faith, and daring, the world is indebted for its great reforms. By such men the work of reform for this time must be carried forward. GC 460.2

Thus saith the Lord: “Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but My righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation from generation to generation.” Isaiah 51:7, 8. GC 460.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 2, 239

July 7, 1892—The Lord strengthens me by His grace to write important letters. The brethren frequently come to me for counsel. I feel a strong assurance that this tedious affliction is for the glory of the Lord. I will not murmur; for when I wake in the night, it seems that Jesus is looking upon me. The fifty-first chapter of Isaiah is exceedingly precious to me. He bears all our burdens. I read this chapter with assurance and hope.—Manuscript 19, 1892. 2SM 239.1

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