Isaiah 33:23
Your ropes are slack; they cannot secure the mast or spread the sail. Then an abundance of spoils will be divided, and even the lame will carry off plunder.
Sermons
Henry Fawcett, Postmaster-GeneralF. B. Meyer, B. A.Isaiah 33:23
Ordinary Christian, May Accomplish Great GoodT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 33:23
Physical Disability Attended by Spiritual AdvantageT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 33:23
Poor, Yet RichT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 33:23
Spiritual Compensation for Physical BlindnessT. De Will Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 33:23
The Advantages of InvalidismT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 33:23
The Disabilities of Successful MenT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 33:23
The Lame Take the PreyF. B. Meyer, B. A.Isaiah 33:23
The Lowly are EnrichedF. B. Meyer, M. A.Isaiah 33:23
The Prey of a Great SpoilR. Macculloch.Isaiah 33:23
The Prey-TakerT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 33:23
The Ship of StateProf. J. Skinner, D. D., Prof. A. B. Davidson, LL. D.Isaiah 33:23
The Weak FavouredF. B. Meyer, B. A.Isaiah 33:23
The Weak Specialty Cared ForF. B. Meyer, B. A.Isaiah 33:23
They Could not Spread the SailR. Macculloch.Isaiah 33:23
They Could not Well Strengthen Their MastR. Macculloch.Isaiah 33:23
Thy Tacklings are LoosedR. Macculloch.Isaiah 33:23
The Reign of HezekiahE. Johnson Isaiah 33:17-24
Happy TimesW. Clarkson Isaiah 33:18-24
God's Promises to His ChurchArchbishop Thomson.Isaiah 33:20-24
Isaiah's ImagerySir E. Strachey, Bart.Isaiah 33:20-24
Jerusalem Imperilled Yet SecureIsaiah 33:20-24
The Church of GodIsaiah 33:20-24
The Privileges and Stability of the ChurchT. Spencer.Isaiah 33:20-24


It is most difficult for us to realize that idea of Jehovah as the direct Ruler and Governor of a nation, which was the one characteristic thought of the Jews, and the great underlying idea of the Mosaic revelation. But this verse gives us most material help by setting out a threefold relation of God to men in the theocracy.

I. GOD IS THE LAW-MAKER. "The Lord is our Lawgiver." This is true in two senses.

1. God gave the formal laws from Mount Sinai, which were written down by Moses, and made the basis of the national covenant. Compare and illustrate by the work of Lycurgus and Justinian. God's laws, as arranged for the Hebrews, were only the adaptations to their national life of the conditions and rules under which God set humanity from the first. This should be made quite clear, lest a notion should prevail that God's Law to the Jew was his first revelation to men. It was the writing out of essential law for the practical use of one people.

2. God gives revelations of his will, which are law for all who receive them. There is no finality in the revelation of God's law, for the very reason that God maintains living relations with us, and those relations involve that the expression of his will is law to us at any given time. Illustrate by the prompt and entire obedience of the prophets to God's will, howsoever it may be revealed to them. Such revelations are made to us, and for us God's will is law.

II. GOD IS THE LAW-APPLIER. "The Lord is our Judge." This is precisely the work of the judge - to show how the principle and the comprehensive terms of the law bear on each particular case. Moses, Joshua, David, Samuel, and Hezekiah, referred each case of difficulty directly to the Divine Judge. But in just this Israel so often failed; and this we still find to be our supreme difficulty. We can accept the fact that law is from God, but we want to preside ourselves over all applications of law. What we need is the confirmed habit of referring all things to God our Judge.

III. GOD IS THE LAW-EXECUTOR. "The Lord is our King." The proper idea of a king is one entrusted with power to carry out the requirements of the national law. The king is the executive. God carries out his own laws. Scripture is full of striking instances which are designed to impress the general truth. Take such cases as Achan, Korah, Uzza, Ananias, and Sapphira. This phase of God's relation is not so difficult to apprehend as the previous one; and yet in these days we are in some danger of losing our sense of the directness of Divine judgments. - R.T.









Thy tacklings are loosed.
The tacklings may denote the good counsels of wise senators; a strong, well-disciplined army; and money, which is necessary to supply the exigences of the State. These tacklings are loosed, when few prudent men can be found to manage public affairs, and to form the manners of the citizens; when the soldiery become weak and timid, and there is a scarcity of finances to carry into execution the salutary measures that are requisite to be adopted.

(R. Macculloch.)

The mast of the ship may signify the most eminent person or persons in the kingdom who were exalted above all the others. The mast, in this figurative sense, could not be well strengthened; when the proper means of aiding and supporting the chief magistrate were wanting or were greatly deficient, he could not receive the succours that were requisite to maintain the dignity and prosperity of the empire. Persons in power are incapable by themselves to advance the public welfare, unless supported by the wealth, the interest, the advice, and courage of those over whom they preside.

(R. Macculloch.)

The sail may denote the means that were necessary to be applied and vigorously extended without delay, in order to promote the purposes to which they ought to be subservient, for the benefit of the State. These the people employed in managing public affairs were unable immediately to use, so as to give effect to the measures whereby the common interest might have been forwarded.

(R. Macculloch.)

The power whose situation resembled a ship in distress is supposed to have met with a terrible storm, whereby she had been dreadfully shattered, her cables and ropes loosed or broken, her masts disabled, so that she was almost a wreck. When in this forlorn condition, deserted by the mariners, who had lost hopes of her being able to stand out the tempest, the valuable cargo wherewith she was laden becomes a prey to the fraudulent and rapacious.

(R. Macculloch.)

The abrupt transition from the glorious future to the present or the past, is somewhat surprising at this point. It is not Assyria but Zion which is compared to an unseaworthy ship.

(Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)Seems to describe the fate of a hostile ship.

(Prof. A. B. Davidson, LL. D.)

The lame take the prey.
Men labour under seemingly great disadvantages, and amid the most unfavourable circumstances, yet making grand achievements, getting great blessing for themselves, great blessing for the world, great blessing for the Church; and so "the lame take the prey."

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Do you know that the three great poets of the world were totally blind? Homer, Ossian, John Milton. Do you know that Mr. Prescott, who wrote that enchanting book The Conquest of Mexico, never saw Mexico, could not even see the paper on which he was writing? A framework across the sheet, between which up and down went his pen immortal. Do you know that Gambassio, the sculptor, could not see the marble before him, or the chisel with which he cut it into shapes bewitching? Do you know that Alexander Pope, whose poems will last as long as the English language, was so much of an invalid that he had to be sewed up every morning m rough canvas in order to stand on his feet at all? Do you know that Stuart, the celebrated painter, did much of his wonderful work under the shadow of the dungeon where he had been unjustly imprisoned for debt? Do you know that Demosthenes by almost superhuman exertion first had to conquer the lisp of his own speech before he conquered assemblages with his eloquence? Do you know that Bacon struggled up through innumerable sicknesses, and that Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott went limping on club-foot through all their life, and that many of the great poets, and painters, and orators, and historians, and heroes of the world had something to keep them back, and pull them down, and impede their way, and cripple their physical or their intellectual movement, and yet that they pushed on and pushed up until they reached the spoils of worldly success, and amid the huzzas of nations and centuries "the lame took the prey"? You know that a vast multitude of these men started under the disadvantage of obscure parentage. Columbus, the son of the weaver; Ferguson, the astronomer, the son of the shepherd. America the prey of the one, worlds on worlds the prey of the other.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

What is true in secular directions, is more true in spiritual and religious directions. There are in all communities many invalids. They never know a well day. They adhere to their occupations, but they go punting along the streets with exhaustions, and at eventime they lie down on the lounge with aching beyond all medicament. They have tried all prescriptions, they have gone through all the cures which were proclaimed infallible, and they have come now to surrender to perpetual ailments. They consider they are among many disadvantages, and when they see those who are buoyant in health pass by, they almost envy their robust frames and easy respirations. But I have noticed among that invalid class those who have the greatest knowledge of the Bible, who are in the nearest intimacy with Jesus Christ, who have the most glowing experiences of the truth, who have had the most remarkable answers to prayer, and who have most exhilarant anticipations of heaven. The temptations which weary us who are in robust health, they have conquered. They have divided among them the spoils of the conquest. Many who are athletic and swarthy loiter in the road, while these are the lame which take the prey. Robert Hall an invalid, Edward Payson an invalid, Richard Baxter an invalid, Samuel Rutherford an invalid.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Through raised letters the art of printing has been brought to the attention of the blind. You take up the Bible for the blind, and you close your eyes, and you run your fingers over the raised letters, and you say, "Why, I never could get any information in this way; what a slow way of reading. God help the blind." And yet I find among that class of persons — among the blind, the deaf, and the dumb — the most thorough acquaintance with God's Word. Shut out from all other sources of information, no sooner does their hand touch the raised letter than they gather a prayer. Without eyes, they look off upon the kingdoms of God's love. Without hearing, they catch the minstrelsy of the skies. Dumb, yet with pencil or with irradiated countenance, they declare the glory of God. A large audience assembled in New York at the anniversary of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, and one of the visitors, with chalk on the blackboard, wrote this question to the pupils, "Do you not find it very hard to be deaf and dumb?" And one of the pupils took the chalk and wrote on the blackboard this sublime sentence in answer: "When the song of the angels shall burst upon our enraptured ear we will scarcely regret that our ears were never marred with earthly sounds."

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

A lad who had been blind from infancy was cured. The oculist operated upon the lad, and then put a very heavy bandage over the eyes, and after a few weeks had gone by the bandage was removed, and the mother said to her child, "Willie, can you see?" He said, "Oh, mamma, is this heaven?" The contrast between the darkness before and the brightness afterwards was overwhelming. And I tell you the glories of heaven will be a thousandfold brighter for those who never saw anything on earth.

(T. De Will Talmage, D. D.)

There are those in all communities who toil mightily for a livelihood. They have scant wages. Perhaps they are diseased, or have physical infirmities, so that they are hindered from doing a continuous day's work. A city missionary finds them up the dark alley, with no fire, with thin clothing, with very coarse bread. They never ride in the street car; they cannot afford the five cents. They never see any pictures save those in the show window on the street, from which they are often jostled and looked at by someone who seems to say in the look, "Move on! what are you doing here looking at pictures?" Yet many of them live on mountains of transfiguration. At their rough table He who fed the five thousand breaks the bread. They talk often of the good times that are coming. This world has no charm for them, but heaven entrances their spirit. They often divide their scant crust with some forlorn wretch who knocks at their door at night, and on the blast of the night wind, as the door opens to let them in, is heard the voice of Him who said, "I was hungry and ye fed Me." No cohort of heaven will be too bright to transport them. By God's help they have vanquished the Assyrian host.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

There are those who would like to do good. They say, "Oh, if I only had wealth, or if I had eloquence, or if I had high social position, how much I would accomplish for God and the Church." You have great opportunities for usefulness. Who built the Pyramids? The king who ordered them built? No; the plain workmen who added stone after stone, stone after stone. Who built the dykes of Holland? The government that ordered the enterprise? No; the plain workmen who carried the stuff and rung their trowels on the wall. Who are those who have built these vast cities? The capitalists? No; the carpenters, the masons, the plumbers, the plasterers, the tinners, the reefers dependent on a day's wages for a livelihood. And so in the great work of assuaging human suffering, and enlightening human ignorance, and halting human iniquity. In that great work the chief part is to be done by ordinary men, with ordinary speech, in an ordinary manner, and by ordinary means.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

A long, long while that has puzzled one, why the prophet should say, "The lame take the prey." Our experience of human life goes to show that lame people seldom succeed in taking the great prizes of life. If a man is lame in his power of calculation, and cannot easily count up columns of figures; if he is lame in his caligraphy, if he is lame in his memory, and cannot easily recall names and faces; if he is lame in the power of touch, and cannot detect the difference between two apparently identical fabrics; if a man is lame in any faculty, he is crushed to the wall in the busy rush of human life and arrives at the end of the crowd to take the leavings of the rest. In human life a man who is lame anyhow misses the prey, misses the spoil, misses the prize. But in God's world, in God's Book, in God's dealings with men, "The race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong." Weakness has a fascination for God; and those who have lost everything that this world can give are they who come off best with our heavenly Father.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

One great Postmaster-General of England was lame in his sight. Mr. Fawcett was blind, but he took the prey of a great office which he fulfilled with great success.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I got an illustration of this when I happened to be staying in a farm-house. With one exception the family consisted of robust, hearty children, but there was one little lame boy. Whilst I was staying, there came in a great hamper of apples, and at once all the boys and girls in the family, having eyed them wistfully, proceeded to appropriate, and to appropriate very lavishly, the apples. The little lame fellow, with his puny, wan face, looked forward eagerly as those apples disappeared, and no one thought of him, till mother came, a bustling, quick-tempered woman. She said, "What is that you are doing? Put all those apples back again, I tell you." And very ruefully they replaced .them. "Now," she said, "Jimmy, you come and take your pick." And the little lame fellow on the crutch pushed his way up to the table, took the ripest and juiciest, and filled his pockets as full as they would hold, and then went back with a flush upon his pale cheeks. Then mother said to the other children, "Now do what you like with the rest." I saw how in mother's love the lame take the prey!

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I came afterwards into the house of a workman, a smith, one whose closed fist could fell any man. He had an ailing child, A little, puny thing lay and cried in the cradle. There was no chance to rear it; it must die. And he came in from his smithy — a strong, brawny man, with black hair. And I tell you that child dragged that man down to the level, and its poor, weak, puny frame was able to do for that strong man what the strongest in the village could not — it could fell him! And at once there came upon me the conception, in dealing with God, at any rate, it is not the strong man who can shoulder his way and fight the brunt and take what he will in this world, every one waiting behind him, but it is the weak who get the tenderest blessings.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

When I began to preach I thought all God's best things were on the tall shelf, and when I got very good I should be able to reach them down. Now I find all the best gifts are on the low shelf, that the babes can get at. And it is only when we become as little babes, only when we become simple, natural, and our stiff backs get bent, that we get low enough to take God's benefits.

(F. B. Meyer, M. A.)

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