Isaiah 8:17 MEANING

Isaiah 8:17
(17) And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face . . .--The words come in somewhat abruptly, but not to the extent that justifies the assumption of some critics that a verse has been lost. The prophet enforces precept by example. He has learnt to conquer the feverish desire to know the future, which led men to trust in soothsayers and diviners, and from which even his own disciples were not altogether exempt. He is content to "wait," even though Jehovah "hide His face," though predictions seem to fail (see Note on Isaiah 8:1), and all seems dark and hopeless. There is, perhaps, a contrast between the fact that Jehovah hides His face from the house of Jacob, that all is dark for the nation's life as such, while yet the prophet, in his own individuality, can "look for Him" with the eye of faith.

Verses 17, 18. - ISAIAH DEFINES HIS OWN ATTITUDE AND THAT OF HIS CHILDREN. It is questioned whether something has not fallen out between vers. 16 and 17. The transition is exceedingly abrupt, undoubtedly; but perhaps not more abrupt than elsewhere in Isaiah and the prophets contemporary with him. The Divine "instruction" comes to an end in ver. 16; and Isaiah might have been expected to comment on it, or enforce its teaching; but he does neither. He simply states what his own attitude will be under the coming calamity (ver. 8). He will "wait for the Lord and look to him" (ver. 17), and consider himself and his children as doing a work for God in being "signs" (ver. 18) - signs to which the rest of Israel may look, and from which they may derive sufficient hope and confidence to carry them through the dark time which is approaching. Verse 17. - I will wait upon the Lord; rather, I will wait for the Lord; i.e. "await the time of his relenting" (see Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 64:4, etc.). That hideth his face from the house of Jacob (compare the threats in Deuteronomy 31:17; Deuteronomy 32:20). The light of God's countenance is to the spiritual what that of the sun is to the material world. All life, health, joy, happiness, proceed from it. This light was now to be withdrawn for a time on account of the people's sins. But Isaiah would "wait" for its reappearance.

8:17-22 The prophet foresaw that the Lord would hide his face; but he would look for his return in favour to them again. Though not miraculous signs, the children's names were memorials from God, suited to excite attention. The unbelieving Jews were prone to seek counsel in difficulties, from diviners of different descriptions, whose foolish and sinful ceremonies are alluded to. Would we know how we may seek to our God, and come to the knowledge of his mind? To the law and to the testimony; for there you will see what is good, and what the Lord requires. We must speak of the things of God in the words which the Holy Ghost teaches, and be ruled by them. To those that seek to familiar spirits, and regard not God's law and testimony, there shall be horror and misery. Those that go away from God, go out of the way of all good; for fretfulness is a sin that is its own punishment. They shall despair, and see no way of relief, when they curse God. And their fears will represent every thing as frightful. Those that shut their eyes against the light of God's word, will justly be left to darkness. All the miseries that ever were felt or witnessed on earth, are as nothing, compared with what will overwhelm those who leave the words of Christ, to follow delusions.And I will wait upon the Lord,.... Or "for the Lord" (x); for the coming of Christ, the Immanuel, who would be a sanctuary to some, and a stone of stumbling to others, and whose doctrine in the meanwhile would be bound up and sealed; faith in, and expectation of the Messiah's coming, are often signified by waiting for him, Isaiah 25:9,

that hideth his face from the house of Jacob; to whom the promise of him was made, from whom he should descend, to whom he should be sent, and whom he would redeem. This is not to be understood of his deserting of his people, and withdrawing his gracious presence from them, to show his displeasure at them, and resentment of their conduct, which is sometimes the sense of this phrase; but as descriptive of Christ before his assumption of human nature, when he was "Deus absconditus", the hidden God, as some render the words in Isaiah 45:15 until he was manifest in the flesh; and which is therefore called his "appearing", 2 Timothy 1:10,

and I will look for him; the prophet here speaks in his own person, and in the person of the church who in that, and in succeeding ages, as well as before, were looking by faith for the coming of Christ, and redemption by him, Luke 2:38 though some understand this of Christ, expressing his satisfaction in the few disciples he had among the Jews, and determining to wait for the accomplishment of divine promises hereafter, when he should have a larger number; the Lord for the present hiding his face from the Jewish nation, and giving them to a spirit of judicial blindness; which sense well agrees with what goes before, and follows after.

(x) "praestolabor Dominum", Montanus; "expectabo Dominum", V. L.

Courtesy of Open Bible