Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 48:4

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Because I knew that thou art obstinate - I made these frequent predictions, and fulfilled them in this striking manner, because I knew that as a people, you were prone to unbelief, and in order that you might have the most full and undoubted demonstration of the truth of what was declared. As they were disinclined to credit his promises, and as he saw that in their long captivity they would be prone to disbelieve what he had said respecting their deliverance under Cyrus, he had, therefore, given them these numerous evidences of the certainty of the fulfillment of all his prophecies, in order that their minds might credit what he said about their return to their own land.

That thou art obstinate - Margin, as Hebrew, ‹Hard,‘ The sense is, that they were obstinate and intractable - an expression probably taken from a bullock which refuses to receive the yoke. The word hard, as expressive of obstinacy, is often combined with others. Thus, in Exodus 32:9; Exodus 34:9, ‹hard of neck,‘ that is, stiff-necked, stubborn; ‹hard of face‘ Ezekiel 2:4; ‹hard of heart‘ Ezekiel 3:7. The idea is, that they were, as a people, obstinate, rebellious, and indisposed to submit to the laws of God - a charge which is often brought against them by the sacred writers, and which is abundantly verified by all their history as a people (compare Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3-5; Exodus 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6-13; Deuteronomy 31:27; 2 Chronicles 30:8; Ezekiel 2:4; Acts 7:51).

Thy neck is an iron sinew - The word גיד giyd means properly a cord, thong, or band; then a nerve, sinew, muscle, or tendon. The metaphor is taken from oxen when they make their neck stiff, and refuse to submit it to the yoke.

And thy brow brass - Thy forehead is hard and insensible as brass. The phrase is applied to the shameless brow of a harloi Jeremiah 3:3; Ezekiel 3:7, where there is an utter want of modesty, and consummate impudence. A brow of brass is an image of insensibility, or obstinacy (so in Jeremiah 6:28).

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Jews valued themselves on descent from Jacob, and used the name of Jehovah as their God. They prided themselves respecting Jerusalem and the temple, yet there was no holiness in their lives. If we are not sincere in religion, we do but take the name of the Lord in vain. By prophecy they were shown how God would deal with them, long before it came to pass. God has said and done enough to prevent men's boasting of themselves, which makes the sin and ruin of the proud worse; sooner or later every mouth shall be stopped, and all become silent before Him. We are all born children of disobedience. Where original sin is, actual sin will follow. Does not the conscience of every man witness to the truth of Scripture? May the Lord prove us, and render us doers of the word.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 351

I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass. Isaiah 48:4. TDG 351.1

Obstinacy is a bad trait of character, and if not overcome, is the means of doing a great deal of harm. He who is obstinate will not yield whatever sentiments he may entertain. Narrowness of mind is the cause of obstinacy. There are men of intellectual capacity who have allowed obstinacy to develop in their character, and they refuse to believe things that are right, because they themselves did not originate them. TDG 351.2

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