The Mockers and the Prophet
Isaiah 28:7-13
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way…

Here, it appears, the scene changes to Jerusalem. And we should compare the picture of drunkenness and luxury with that in Amos 6:1-7 and Micah 2:11.

I. THE PRIESTS AND PROPHETS OF THE TIME. They are seen reeling and staggering in the midst of, or as they come from, their most sacred functions. It is a strong and indignant description of drunkenness in general (cf. Proverbs 20:1). What more humiliating than the spectacle! To have "put an enemy in one's mouth to steal away one's brains," to be the thrall of one's own brutal appetites, and a "scoured dish of liquor"!

"Ebrius urgeris multis miser undique curls
Atque animi incerto fluitans errore vagaris." How much worse the vice in those who need all the clearness of the brain, all the composure of the nerves, for the discharge of their high office! They should be "filled with another spirit than this. The effect of the bodily intoxication must be to cloud the judgment, to confuse the perception of truth. And how truly the proverb must apply, Like people, like priest"! If such the habits of the representatives of the people, what must the people themselves have been?

II. THE SPIRIT OF MOCKERY. (Vers. 9, 10.) "The drunkards mock Isaiah over their cups. Does he not know what respectable persons he is dealing with - not like children, who need leading-strings, but educated priests and prophets?" (Cheyne). They scoff at him by taking up words often on his mouth. Whom would he teach knowledge? This designates prophetic preaching (see Isaiah 1:8; Isaiah 33:6). And tidings? Another word for revelation, for something "heard from Jehovah" (ver. 22; cf. Isaiah 21:10; Isaiah 53:1). Then they ridicule his manner. He is always "harping upon the same string," always dwelling upon the same commonplaces of morality and religion. "It is childish repetition," say they. But, in fact, the preacher must keep dwelling upon a few main points, so easily do they "slip by us!"(Hebrews 2:1). "Here a little, and there a little," it is a true description of popular preaching. It may seem "foolishness to a scientifically trained understanding; but it has pleased God to save many by means of it. The gospel requires us to receive it as little children, and little by little, a saying here, and there a verse, and again a proverb; this is how little children learn.

III. REPLY OF THE PROPHET. He retorts their own language upon them. Yes; it shall be, in fact, as you say. This childish monotone shall indeed sound in your ears. The description which you give of the revelations of Jehovah shall be exactly applicable to the harsh laconic commands of a merciless invader. For Assyrian, though closely allied to Hebrew, was sufficiently different from it both in grammar and in vocabulary to seem a 'stammering' or 'barbarous' tongue to Isaiah's contemporaries. The common diplomatic and commercial language of Syria and Assyria was Aramaic (see Isaiah 36:11)" (Cheyne). (For the word rendered "stammer," i.e. speak unintelligibly, as in a foreign tongue, cf. Isaiah 33:19; Proverbs 1:26; Proverbs 17:5; Psalm 2:4; Psalm 59:9; Job 22:19.) The lessons which the people refuse to heed when taught them in their native tongue, shall be pressed home upon them in the harsh accents of the barbarian. "Since the Divine patience has been lost upon them, a stronger way shall be taken to force their attention. God will thunder in their ears what to them will appear jargon, the language of a foreign nation!" How prophetic the words in general! The ill taste on our part which makes truth unpalatable in its simplicity and gentle persuasiveness will be sorely criticized when we are forced to listen to hoarse and rude accents. The prophet's burden had been of rest - rest to the weary; of refreshment by hearty faith in Jehovah (Isaiah 30:15; cf. Micah 2:10; Jeremiah 6:16). And now the old words, "line upon line," etc., will come back upon memory and conscience, to be enforced by retreat, and flight, and fall, and captivity. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." If truth sound barbarous, it is because we have not the true listening faculty. If it be not sweet to the taste as honey, it is because the stomach is disordered. If the Word profit not, it is because men do not "mix it with faith," i.e. with obedient and loving dispositions. A willful ignorance and blindness alone deprives of spiritual benefits; a stubbornness in turning away from the offered light, and choosing to remain in darkness (cf. Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 29:11; Mark 4:12). - J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

WEB: They also reel with wine, and stagger with strong drink. The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink. They are swallowed up by wine. They stagger with strong drink. They err in vision. They stumble in judgment.

The Degradation of Drunkenness
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