Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 59:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

When the enemy shall come in like a flood - This all the rabbins refer to the coming of the Messiah. If ye see a generation which endures much tribulation, then (say they) expect him, according to what is written: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."

Kimchi says, he that was the standard-bearer always began the battle by first smiting at the enemy. Here then the Spirit of the Lord is the standard-bearer, and strikes the first blow. They who go against sin and Satan with the Holy Spirit at their head, are sure to win the day.

The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him "Which a strong wind driveth along" - Quam spiritus Domini cogit, "Which the Spirit of the Lord drives on." - Vulg. נוססה nosesah, pihel a נוס nus fugit. Kimchi says his father thus explained this word: נוססה nosesah interpretatur in significatione fugae, et ait, spiritus Domini fugabit hostem;-nam secundum eum נוססה nosesah est ex conjugatione quadrata, ejusque radix est נוס nus : "nosesah he interpreted in the signification of flight, - The Spirit of the Lord shall put the enemy to flight; for according to him the root of the word is נוס nus, he put to flight." The object of this action I explain otherwise. The conjunction ו vau, prefixed to רוח ruach, seems necessary to the sense, it is added by the corrector in one of the Koningsberg MSS., collated by Lilienthal. It is added also in one of my own.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

So shall they fear - That is, the result of the divine interposition to punish his enemies, shall be to secure the acknowledgment of the existence and perfections of Yahweh in every part of the world. See especially the notes at Isaiah 45:6.

When the enemy shall come in - There has been great variety in the interpretation of this passage, and it is remarkable that our translators have departed from all the ancient versions, and that the present translation differs from nearly all the modern expositions of the place. Lowth renders it:

When he shall come like a river straitened in his course,

Which a strong wind driveth along.

Jerome (the Vulgate) renders it, ‹When he shall come as a violent river which the Spirit of the Lord (spiritus Domini, or the wind of the Lord, that is, a strong wind) drives along. The Septuagint, ‹For the wrath of the Lord will come like an impetuous stream; it will come with fury.‘ The Chaldee, ‹When they shall come who oppress, like an overflowing of the river Euphrates.‘ The Syriac, ‹Because when the oppressor shall come as a river, the Spirit of the Lord shall humble him.‘ The reason of this variety of interpretation is the ambiguity of the Hebrew words which occur in the verse. The word which in our common version is rendered ‹the enemy‘ (צר tsâr from צרר tsârar to press, compress, bind up together; intrans. to be straitened, or compressed), may mean either:

1. “An adversary, enemy, persecutor,” synonymous with אויב 'ôyēb as in Numbers 10:9; Deuteronomy 32:27; Job 16:9; or,

2. “Straits, affliction” Psalm 4:2; Psalm 18:7; Psalm 44:11; or,

3. “Strait, narrow” Numbers 22:26; Job 41:7.

‹It may be, therefore, here either a noun meaning an enemy; or it maybe an adjective qualifying the word river, and then will denote a river that is closely confined within its banks, and that is urged forward by a mass of accumulating waters, or by a mighty wind. According to this, it will mean that Yahweh will come to take vengeance with the impetuosity of a river that swells and foams and is borne forward with violence in its course. The comparison of a warrior or hero with such a mighty and impetuous torrent, is exceedingly forcible and beautiful, and is not uncommon (see the notes at Isaiah 8:7). The phrase rendered ‹the Spirit of the Lord‘ (יהוה רוח rûach yehovâh ), may denote ‹the wind of Yahweh,‘ or a strong, violent, mighty wind. The appropriate signification of the word רוח rûach is wind, or breath; and it is well known that the name of God is often in the Scriptures used to denote that which is mighty or vast, as in the phrase, mountains of God, cedars of God, etc.

There is no reason why it should be here regarded as denoting ‹the Spirit of God,‘ - the great agent of enlightening and reforming the world. It may be understood, as Lowth and others have applied it, to denote a strong and violent wind - a wind urging on a mass of waters through a compressed and straitened place, and thus increasing their impetuosity and violence. The phrase ‹Spirit of God‘ (אלהים רוח rûach 'ĕlohı̂ym ), is used to denote a strong wind, in 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Isaiah 40:7; Ezekiel 12:14; Ezekiel 13:13. The word rendered in our version, ‹shall lift up a standard‘ (נססה nosesâh ), rendered in the margin, ‹put him‘ to flight,‘ if derived from נסס nāsas and if written with the points נססה nāsesâh would denote to lift up, to elevate, as a standard or banner, or anything to oppose and retard a foe. But the word is probably derived from נוּס nûs to flee, in the Piel נוסס nôsēs “to impel, to cause to flee.”

Here it means, then, that the mighty wind impels or drives on the compressed waters of the stream, and the whole passage means that Yahweh would come to deliver his people, and to prostrate his foes with the impetuosity of a violent river compressed between narrow banks, and driven on by a mighty wind. True, therefore, as it is, that when a violent enemy assails the church; when he comes in with error, with violence, and with allies, like a flood, Yahweh will rear a standard against him, and the influences of the Spirit of God may be expected to interpose to arrest the evil; yet this passage does not teach that doctrine, nor should it be so applied. It does teach that Yahweh will go forth with energy and power to defend his people and to prostrate his foes.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
This passage is connected with the following chapters. It is generally thought to describe the coming of the Messiah, as the Avenger and Deliverer of his church. There was none to intercede with God to turn away his wrath; none to interpose for the support of justice and truth. Yet He engaged his own strength and righteousness for his people. God will make his justice upon the enemies of his church and people plainly appear. When the enemy threatens to bear down all without control, then the Spirit of the Lord shall stop him, put him to flight. He that has delivered, will still deliver. A far more glorious salvation is promised to be wrought out by the Messiah in the fulness of time, which all the prophets had in view. The Son of God shall come to us to be our Redeemer; the Spirit of God shall come to be our Sanctifier: thus the Comforter shall abide with the church for ever, Joh 14:16. The word of Christ will always continue in the mouths of the faithful; and whatever is pretended to be the mind of the Spirit, must be tried by the Scriptures. We must lament the progress of infidelity and impiety. But the cause of the Redeemer shall gain a complete victory even on earth, and the believer will be more than conqueror when the Lord receives him to his glory in heaven.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 426

Satan makes every effort to lead people away from God; and he is successful in his purpose when the religious life is drowned in business cares, when he can so absorb their minds in business that they will not take time to read their Bibles, to pray in secret, and to keep the offering of praise and thanksgiving burning on the altar of sacrifice morning and evening. How few realize the wiles of the archdeceiver! how many are ignorant of his devices! When our brethren voluntarily absent themselves from religious meetings, when God is not thought of and reverenced, when He is not chosen as their counselor and their strong tower of defense, how soon secular thoughts and wicked unbelief come in, and vain confidence and philosophy take the place of humble, trusting faith. Often temptations are cherished as the voice of the True Shepherd because men have separated themselves from Jesus. They cannot be safe a moment unless right principles are cherished in the heart and carried into every business transaction. 5T 426.1

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Such a promise is of more value than gold or silver. If with a humble heart you seek divine guidance in every trouble and perplexity, His word is pledged that a gracious answer will be given you. And His word can never fail. Heaven and earth may pass away, but His word will never pass away. Trust in the Lord, and you will never be confounded or ashamed. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” 5T 427.1

Whatever position in life we may occupy, whatever our business, we must be humble enough to feel our need of help; we must lean implicitly on the teachings of God's word, acknowledge His providence in all things, and be faithful in pouring out our souls in prayer. Lean to your own understanding, dear brethren, as you make your way through the world, and you will reap sorrow and disappointment. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and He will guide your steps in wisdom, and your interests will be safe for this world and for the next. You need light and knowledge. You will take counsel either of God or your own heart; you will walk in the sparks of your own kindling, or will gather to yourself divine light from the Sun of Righteousness. 5T 427.2

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Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 166

Parents and teachers do not estimate the magnitude of the work given them in training the young. The experience of the children of Israel was written for us “upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. As in their day, so now the Lord would have the children gathered out from those schools where worldly influences prevail, and placed in our own schools, where the word of God is made the foundation of education. CT 166.1

If ever we are to work in earnest, it is now. The enemy is pressing in on all sides, like a flood. Only the power of God can save our children from being swept away by the tide of evil. The responsibility resting upon parents, teachers, and church members, to do their part in co-operation with God, is greater than words can express. CT 166.2

To train the young to become true soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most noble work ever given to man. Only devout and consecrated men and women, who love children and can see in them souls to be saved for the Master, should be chosen as church-school teachers. Teachers who study the word of God as it should be studied will know something of the value of the souls under their care, and from them the children will receive a true Christian education. CT 166.3

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Ellen G. White
My Life Today, 316

Victory in the Conflict

Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. Isaiah 27:5 ML 316.1

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 60

That time will soon come, and we shall have to keep hold of the strong arm of Jehovah; for all these great signs and mighty wonders of the devil are designed to deceive God's people and overthrow them. Our minds must be stayed upon God, and we must not fear the fear of the wicked, that is, fear what they fear, and reverence what they reverence, but be bold and valiant for the truth. Could our eyes be opened, we should see forms of evil angels around us, trying to invent some new way to annoy and destroy us. And we should also see angels of God guarding us from their power; for God's watchful eye is ever over Israel for good, and He will protect and save His people, if they put their trust in Him. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. EW 60.1

Said the angel, “Remember, thou art on the enchanted ground.” I saw that we must watch and have on the whole armor and take the shield of faith, and then we shall be able to stand, and the fiery darts of the wicked cannot harm us. EW 60.2

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