Isaiah 56:9

Here in a series of powerful pictures religious indifference on the part of pastors is described.

I. THE BLIND WATCHMAN. Nothing can be more beautiful than the idea of the shepherd as descriptive of the true teacher and minister to souls; tenderness, watchfulness, self-denial, all are his. So, on the other hand, nothing can more hold up the faithless pastor to scorn than the character of the faithless shepherd (John 10.). As the flock becomes a prey to the wild beasts when there is no shepherd, or when he neglects his care, so Israel, bereft of her natural defenders, lies at the mercy of the great heathen empire (cf. Ezekiel 13:4; Ezekiel 34:8; Ezekiel 39:4; Jeremiah 12:9; Revelation 19:17, 18). Especially the prophets are referred to (cf. Ezekiel 3:17; Isaiah 21:11). These "dumb dogs" are opposed to the faithful shepherd dogs (Job 30:1). "We must suppose that the prophets referred to were no better than the ancient soothsayers, who gave oracles respecting the difficulties of everyday life, but were silent on the great moral questions" (Cheyne). Immersed, perhaps, in sin themselves, they were blind to the national sins. "God requires knowledge in his ambassadors. Ignorance of the truth; of the nature, existence, and pollution of sin; of the claims of God and of the way of pardon, - is an effectual disqualification for the office."

II. THEIR SLUGGISHNESS AND GREED. They are like those who rave in sleep, moving among idle phantasms rather than serious realities. The false teacher not only does not know the truth, he falls into some species of delusion, and leads his flock along with him. He "loves to slumber." "Alas! that this should be too true of multitudes who bear the sacred office, and are appointed to warn their fellow-men of danger! Some are afraid of giving offence; some have no deep sense of the importance of religious truth; some embrace false opinions; some engage in worldly projects, and fill up their time with the cares and plans of this life; and some are invincibly indolent. An inactive and unfaithful ministry suffers the great enemy to come and bear away the soul to death, as an unfaithful mastiff would suffer a thief to approach the dwelling without warning the inmates. Instinct prompts the faithful animal to act the part God intends; but alas! there are men whom neither conscience, reason, hope, fear, nor love will rouse to put forth efforts to save a soul from hell! Their greed. They "keep up the old custom, rejected by the higher prophets as an abuse, of taking fees" (see references in Cheyne). Each and all are bent upon private interest and gain, and upon selfish enjoyment. One of them is represented as inviting another to a carouse of two days.

III. THE CONTRASTED FATE OF THE RIGHTEOUS. They "perish" - prematurely cut off; a contradiction peculiarly great from an Old Testament point of view (Ecclesiastes 7:15). It seemed as if this premature departure were an ill reward for faithful service; but it was dictated by mercy. The godly were delivered from sights of horror which might have vexed their souls.

"O Brettinoro! wherefore tarriest still,
Since forth of thee thy family hath gone,
And many, hating evil, join'd their steps?" Moreover, they were spared from the coming retribution; so Abraham goes to his fathers in peace, and Isaiah is not to see all the evil which God will bring upon the place. "His soul is pleasing to God; therefore he hastens with him out of the evil life" (Wisd. 4:14). Here was a warning to the wicked; great must be the evil doomed to be so punished. A few remaining righteous might have saved the city (Genesis 18:23-32). Sorer punishment was therefore at hand. The departure of a good man is a public calamity. His example and his influence are among the richest blessings of the world. If men are not deeply affected by the withdrawal of them, it is a proof of guilt and stupidity. Who knows, asked a heathen poet, if dying be not life, and life dying? On the hither side of the grave the wicked remain steeped in sin and sloth; on the further side there is rest and peace. "Let them rave, thou art quiet in thy grave." "Who does not envy those who have seen to an end their manful endeavour? Who that sees the meanness of our public life, but in]y congratulates the pure statesman or teacher that he is long wrapped in his shroud, and for ever safe; laid sweet in his grave, the hope of humanity not subjugated in him? Who does not sometimes envy the good and brave, who are no more to suffer from the tumults of the natural world, and await with curious complacency the speedy term of his own conversation with finite nature? Yet the love that will be annihilated sooner than treacherous, has already made death impossible, and affirms itself no mortal, but nature of the deeps of absolute and inextinguishable being" (Emerson). - J.

All ye beasts of the field, come to devour.
1. All the wild beasts of the field and the forest are invited to come and devour the unprotected flock.

2. For its rulers neglect their duty; they are inefficient as dumb dogs; they are slothful, greedy, and sensual.

3. In consequence of their incapacity the righteous perish, none regarding their fate (Isaiah 57:1, 2).

(Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)

The people being represented in the following verses as a flock, their destroyers are naturally represented here as wild beasts.

(J. A. Alexander.)That a new chastisement at the hands of the heathen is actually contemplated need not be assumed.

(Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)

These words (ver. 9) are to be understood as a note of warning, a sound of alarm. It is not that God wishes His flock to be devoured that He thus summons the beasts of. prey to gather round the fold; on the contrary, He is concerned for their safety, and warns them of the danger in which they stand. No style of address was better fitted to startle both flock and shepherds from their careless security. God's flock is still surrounded by ravenous beasts.


1. In the case before us the sheep are shamefully neglected.

2. The opposite course must tend to secure the safety and well-being of the flock. Pray, then, for your minister.

II. THE WILD BEASTS THAT THREATEN TO DEVOUR THE FLOCK. Some are open and undisguised; others are wily and insidious. Conclusion: We point you to the Chief Shepherd.

(W. Guthrie, M. A.)

Animals, Beast, Beasts, Devour, Eat, Field, Forest, Meat, Wood, Yea, Yes
1. The prophet exhorts to sanctification
3. He promises it shall be general, without respect of persons
9. He protests against blind watchmen

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Isaiah 56:9

     4448   forests

Isaiah 56:9-12

     8492   watchfulness, leaders

We Sure of To-Morrow? a New Year's Sermon
'To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.'--ISAIAH lvi. 12. These words, as they stand, are the call of boon companions to new revelry. They are part of the prophet's picture of a corrupt age when the men of influence and position had thrown away their sense of duty, and had given themselves over, as aristocracies and plutocracies are ever tempted to do, to mere luxury and good living. They are summoning one another to their coarse orgies. The roystering speaker says, 'Do not be afraid
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Concerning the Sacrament of Baptism
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to the riches of His mercy has at least preserved this one sacrament in His Church uninjured and uncontaminated by the devices of men, and has made it free to all nations and to men of every class. He has not suffered it to be overwhelmed with the foul and impious monstrosities of avarice and superstition; doubtless having this purpose, that He would have little children, incapable of avarice and superstition, to be initiated into
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

Nor Indeed Hath the Holy Spirit Failed to Speak what Should be of Open...
25. Nor indeed hath the Holy Spirit failed to speak what should be of open and unshaken avail against these men, most shamelessly and madly obstinate, and should repel their assault, as of wild beasts, from His sheep-fold, by defences that may not be stormed. For, after He had said concerning eunuchs, "I will give unto them in My house and in My wall a named place, much better than of sons and daughters;" [2069] lest any too carnal should think that there was any thing temporal to be hoped for in
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

The House of Prayer. --Isaiah Lvi. 7
The House of Prayer.--Isaiah lvi. 7. "My House shall be an House of Prayer For all that live, to worship there:" Thus saith the Lord:--how answer we? "Thine House, our House of Prayer shall be." "Wherever I my Name record, There will I meet Thee," saith the Lord; Thee in Thine House of Prayer we meet; Now bless us from the Mercy-seat. Thus spake the Lord--"My Son, to Thee Swear every tongue, bow every knee:" Father, by us Thy will be done, We bow the knee and "Kiss the Son." His throne and kingdom
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Lastly, Let us Hear the Lord Himself Delivering Most Plain Judgment on this Matter. ...
23. Lastly, let us hear the Lord Himself delivering most plain judgment on this matter. For, upon His speaking after a divine and fearful manner concerning husband and wife not separating, save on account of fornication, His disciples said to Him, "If the case be such with a wife, it is not good to marry." [2066] To whom He saith, "Not all receive this saying. For there are eunuchs who were so born: but there are others who were made by men: and there are eunuchs, who made themselves eunuchs for
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

That the Ruler Should be Discreet in Keeping Silence, Profitable in Speech.
The ruler should be discreet in keeping silence, profitable in speech; lest he either utter what ought to be suppressed or suppress what he ought to utter. For, as incautious speaking leads into error, so indiscreet silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. For often improvident rulers, fearing to lose human favour, shrink timidly from speaking freely the things that are right; and, according to the voice of the Truth (Joh. x. 12), serve unto the custody of the flock by no means
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

That the Unskilful Venture not to Approach an Office of Authority.
No one presumes to teach an art till he has first, with intent meditation, learnt it. What rashness is it, then, for the unskilful to assume pastoral authority, since the government of souls is the art of arts! For who can be ignorant that the sores of the thoughts of men are more occult than the sores of the bowels? And yet how often do men who have no knowledge whatever of spiritual precepts fearlessly profess themselves physicians of the heart, though those who are ignorant of the effect of
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

The History of the Prophetic Sermons, Epistles, and Apocalypses
[Sidenote: Real character and aims of the prophets] To understand and rightly interpret the prophetic writings of the Old Testament it is necessary to cast aside a false impression as to the character of the prophets which is widely prevalent. They were not foretellers, but forth-tellers. Instead of being vague dreamers, in imagination living far in the distant future, they were most emphatically men of their own times, enlightened and devoted patriots, social and ethical reformers, and spiritual
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

How those are to be Admonished who have had Experience of the Sins of the Flesh, and those who have Not.
(Admonition 29.) Differently to be admonished are those who are conscious of sins of the flesh, and those who know them not. For those who have had experience of the sins of the flesh are to be admonished that, at any rate after shipwreck, they should fear the sea, and feel horror at their risk of perdition at least when it has become known to them; lest, having been mercifully preserved after evil deeds committed, by wickedly repeating the same they die. Whence to the soul that sins and never
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

"And if Christ be in You, the Body is Dead Because of Sin; but the Spirit is Life Because of Righteousness. "
Rom. viii. 10.--"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." God's presence is his working. His presence in a soul by his Spirit is his working in such a soul in some special manner, not common to all men, but peculiar to them whom he hath chosen. Now his dwelling is nothing else but a continued, familiar and endless working in a soul, till he hath conformed all within to the image of his Son. The soul is the office house, or workhouse,
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Covenanting Confers Obligation.
As it has been shown that all duty, and that alone, ought to be vowed to God in covenant, it is manifest that what is lawfully engaged to in swearing by the name of God is enjoined in the moral law, and, because of the authority of that law, ought to be performed as a duty. But it is now to be proved that what is promised to God by vow or oath, ought to be performed also because of the act of Covenanting. The performance of that exercise is commanded, and the same law which enjoins that the duties
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Ye Also who have not yet Made this Vow...
30. Ye also who have not yet made this vow, who are able to receive it, receive it. [2093] Run with perseverance, that ye may obtain. [2094] Take ye each his sacrifices, and enter ye into the courts [2095] of the Lord, not of necessity, having power over your own will. [2096] For not as, "Thou shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not kill," [2097] can it so be said, Thou shalt not wed. The former are demanded, the latter are offered. If the latter are done, they are praised: unless the former are
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

The Cavils of the Pharisees Concerning Purification, and the Teaching of the Lord Concerning Purity - the Traditions Concerning Hand-Washing' and Vows. '
As we follow the narrative, confirmatory evidence of what had preceded springs up at almost every step. It is quite in accordance with the abrupt departure of Jesus from Capernaum, and its motives, that when, so far from finding rest and privacy at Bethsaida (east of the Jordan), a greater multitude than ever had there gathered around Him, which would fain have proclaimed Him King, He resolved on immediate return to the western shore, with the view of seeking a quieter retreat, even though it were
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Barren Fig-Tree. Temple Cleansed.
(Road from Bethany and Jerusalem. Monday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXI. 18, 19, 12, 13; ^B Mark XI. 12-18; ^C Luke XIX. 45-48. ^b 12 And ^a 18 Now ^b on the morrow [on the Monday following the triumphal entry], ^a in the morning ^b when they were come out from Bethany, ^a as he returned to the city [Jerusalem], he hungered. [Breakfast with the Jews came late in the forenoon, and these closing days of our Lord's ministry were full of activity that did not have time to tarry at Bethany for it. Our
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Manner of Covenanting.
Previous to an examination of the manner of engaging in the exercise of Covenanting, the consideration of God's procedure towards his people while performing the service seems to claim regard. Of the manner in which the great Supreme as God acts, as well as of Himself, our knowledge is limited. Yet though even of the effects on creatures of His doings we know little, we have reason to rejoice that, in His word He has informed us, and in His providence illustrated by that word, he has given us to
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Covenanting Adapted to the Moral Constitution of Man.
The law of God originates in his nature, but the attributes of his creatures are due to his sovereignty. The former is, accordingly, to be viewed as necessarily obligatory on the moral subjects of his government, and the latter--which are all consistent with the holiness of the Divine nature, are to be considered as called into exercise according to his appointment. Hence, also, the law of God is independent of his creatures, though made known on their account; but the operation of their attributes
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

'As many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.' John 1:12. Having spoken of the great points of faith and justification, we come next to adoption. The qualification of the persons is, As many as received him.' Receiving is put for believing, as is clear by the last words, to them that believe in his name.' The specification of the privilege is, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.' The Greek word for power, exousia, signifies
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

An Appendix to the Beatitudes
His commandments are not grievous 1 John 5:3 You have seen what Christ calls for poverty of spirit, pureness of heart, meekness, mercifulness, cheerfulness in suffering persecution, etc. Now that none may hesitate or be troubled at these commands of Christ, I thought good (as a closure to the former discourse) to take off the surmises and prejudices in men's spirits by this sweet, mollifying Scripture, His commandments are not grievous.' The censuring world objects against religion that it is difficult
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

The rule of obedience being the moral law, comprehended in the Ten Commandments, the next question is: What is the sum of the Ten Commandments? The sum of the Ten Commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourselves. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.' Deut 6: 5. The duty called for is love, yea, the strength of love, with all
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Ten Reasons Demonstrating the Commandment of the Sabbath to be Moral.
1. Because all the reasons of this commandment are moral and perpetual; and God has bound us to the obedience of this commandment with more forcible reasons than to any of the rest--First, because he foresaw that irreligious men would either more carelessly neglect, or more boldly break this commandment than any other; secondly, because that in the practice of this commandment the keeping of all the other consists; which makes God so often complain that all his worship is neglected or overthrown,
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

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