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Isaiah 6:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

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.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

Job 42:5-6.

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
In this figurative vision, the temple is thrown open to view, even to the most holy place. The prophet, standing outside the temple, sees the Divine Presence seated on the mercy-seat, raised over the ark of the covenant, between the cherubim and seraphim, and the Divine glory filled the whole temple. See God upon his throne. This vision is explained, Joh 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ's glory, and spake of Him, which is a full proof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open. See God's temple, his church on earth, filled with his glory. His train, the skirts of his robes, filled the temple, the whole world, for it is all God's temple. And yet he dwells in every contrite heart. See the blessed attendants by whom his government is served. Above the throne stood the holy angels, called seraphim, which means "burners;" they burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory against sin. The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God's commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory. This awful vision of the Divine Majesty overwhelmed the prophet with a sense of his own vileness. We are undone if there is not a Mediator between us and this holy God. A glimpse of heavenly glory is enough to convince us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Nor is there a man that would dare to speak to the Lord, if he saw the justice, holiness, and majesty of God, without discerning his glorious mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. The live coal may denote the assurance given to the prophet, of pardon, and acceptance in his work, through the atonement of Christ. Nothing is powerful to cleanse and comfort the soul, but what is taken from Christ's satisfaction and intercession. The taking away sin is necessary to our speaking with confidence and comfort, either to God in prayer, or from God in preaching; and those shall have their sin taken away who complain of it as a burden, and see themselves in danger of being undone by it. It is great comfort to those whom God sends, that they go for God, and may therefore speak in his name, assured that he will bear them out.
Ellen G. White
The Faith I Live By, 190.1

Then said I, 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. FLB 190.1

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 177.2

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 177.2

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Ellen G. White
Maranatha, 235.1

Then said I, 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. Mar 235.1

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 338

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 338.2

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