Wo is me! for I am undone - נדמיתי nidmeythi, I am become dumb. There is something exceedingly affecting in this complaint. I am a man of unclean lips; I cannot say, Holy, holy, holy! which the seraphs exclaim. They are holy; I am not so: they see God, and live; I have seen him, and must die, because I am unholy. Only the pure in heart shall see God; and they only can live in his presence for ever, Reader, lay this to heart; and instead of boasting of thy excellence, and trusting in thy might, or comforting thyself in thy comparative innocence, thou wilt also be dumb before him, because thou hast been a man of unclean lips, and because thou hast still an unclean heart.
I am undone "I am struck dumb" - נדמיתי nidmeythi, twenty-eight MSS. (five ancient) and three editions. - I understand it as from דום dum or דמם damam, silere, "to be silent;" and so it is rendered by the Syriac, Vulgate, Symmachus, and by some of the Jewish interpreters, apud Sal. b. Melec. The rendering of the Syriac is אני תויר tavir ani, stupens, attonitus sum, "I am amazed." He immediately gives the reason why he was struck dumb: because he was a man of polluted lips, and dwelt among a people of polluted lips, and was unworthy, either to join the seraphim in singing praises to God, or to be the messenger of God to his people. Compare Exodus 4:10; Exodus 6:12; Jeremiah 1:6.
Wo is me! - That is, I am filled with overwhelming convictions of my own unworthiness, with alarm that I have seen Yahweh.
For I am undone - Margin, ‹Cut off.‘ Chaldee, ‹I have sinned.‘ Septuagint, ‹I am miserable, I am pierced through.‘ Syriac, ‹I am struck dumb.‘ The Hebrew word may sometimes have this meaning, but it also means “to be destroyed, to be ruined, to perish;” see Hosea 10:15; Zephaniah 1:2; Hosea 4:6; Isaiah 15:1. This is probably the meaning here, ‹I shall be ruined, or destroyed.‘ The reason of this, he immediately states.
A man of unclean lips - This expression evidently denotes that he was a “sinner,” and especially that he was unworthy either to join in the praise of a God so holy, or to deliver a message in his name. The vision; the profound worship of the seraphim; and the attendant majesty and glory, had deeply impressed him with a sense of the holiness of God, and of his own unfitness either to join in worship so holy, or to deliver the message of so pure a God. A similar effect is recorded in reference to Abraham; Genesis 18:27; see also Exodus 4:10, Exodus 4:12; Jeremiah 1:6. A deep consciousness of guilt, in view of the holiness and majesty of God, is also described by Job:
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear
But now mine eye seeth thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.
An effect also remarkably similar is described in reference to the apostle Peter, Luke 5:8: “When Simon Peter saw it (the miracle which Jesus had performed), he fell down at Jesus‘ knees, saying, ‹Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. ‹“
A people of unclean lips - A people who are unworthy to celebrate the praises of a God so pure and exalted.
Mine eyes have seen - In Exodus 33:20, it is said: ‹Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live;‘ compare John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16. Perhaps it was in recollection of this, that Isaiah said he was undone. It is not, however, to be understood that the prophet saw Yahweh Himself, but only the “symbol” of His presence. It was for this expression, according to the tradition of the Jews, that Manasseh took occasion to put the prophet to death; see the Introduction, Section 2.
The Lord of hosts - Yahweh of hosts. John applies this to the Lord Jesus, and this proves that he is divine; see John 12:41.
As the prophet Isaiah beheld the glory of the Lord, he was amazed, and overwhelmed with a sense of his own weakness and unworthiness, he cried, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).... Let every soul who claims to be a son or a daughter of God examine himself in the light of Heaven; let him consider the polluted lips that make him “undone.” They are the medium of communication.... Then let them not be used in bringing from the treasure of the heart words that will dishonor God and discourage those around you, but use them for the praise and glory of God, who has formed them for this purpose.... When the love of Jesus is the theme of contemplation, the words coming from human lips will be full of praise and thanksgiving to God and to the Lamb. HP 177.2Read in context »
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:8. RC 338.1
In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah was permitted in vision to look into the holy place, and into the holy of holies in the heavenly sanctuary. The curtains of the innermost sanctuary were drawn aside, and a throne high and lifted up, towering as it were to the very heavens, was revealed to his gaze. An indescribable glory emanated from a personage on the throne, and His train filled the temple, as His glory will finally fill the earth. Cherubim were on either side of the mercy seat, ... and they glowed with the glory that enshrouded them from the presence of God.... These holy beings sang forth the praise and glory of God with lips unpolluted with sin. RC 338.2Read in context »