Matthew Henry: Some Comments on Isaiah

This is a different sort of blog. I have gathered some quotations from Matthew Henry’s commentary on the Bible that impressed me with their pithy yet profound insight into God’s Word, specifically, in the book of Isaiah, my favorite book of the Bible (for one reason, because it covers everything, from start to finish, of God’s great plan, somewhat as Revelation does.)

Because of this difference in format, this particular blog cannot be read in the ordinary way. Think of it as a collection of Henry’s insights for a particular book, and perhaps pause and meditate on the words of each portion.

The arrangement is this: At the start of each portion is a link to the actual Bible passage. If you click on that link, it will take you to the lower portion of the blog, where the passage is quoted, on which Henry is commenting. But you do not have to do that if you would rather just read through Henry’s comments. I arranged the content in this manner because this web site has a wonderful help for readers with its way of showing the actual Bible passage when that passage is mentioned in the text of the blog. (Just hover your mouse over the reference, such as Is. 1:3.) However, this will not work if javascript is not enabled in your browser; therefore, I inserted links to the Bible passages for those who do not have javascript enabled.

And, finally, it is noted here that Matthew Henry’s Commentary and the World English Bible (WEB) translation, which is the Bible translation used on this site and is also the version to which the links point to, are both in the public domain. Here, then, are some wonderful comments from Matthew Henry on the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 1:3 — God’s professing people did not know or consider that they owed their lives and comforts to God’s fatherly care and kindness. How many are very careless in the affairs of their souls! Not considering what we do know in religion does us as much harm as ignorance of what we should know. The wickedness was universal.

Isaiah 1:9 — The evil nature is in every one of us; only Jesus and his sanctifying Spirit can restore us to spiritual health.

Isaiah 1:10-15 — Judea was desolate, and their cities burned. This awakened them to bring sacrifices and offerings, as if they would bribe God to remove the punishment and give them leave to go on in their sin. Many who will readily part with their sacrifices, will not be persuaded to part with their sins. They relied on the mere form as a service deserving a reward. The most costly devotions of wicked people, without thorough reformation of heart and life, cannot be acceptable to God. He not only did not accept them, but he abhorred them. All this shows that sin is very hateful to God. If we allow ourselves in secret sin, or forbidden indulgences; if we reject the salvation of Christ, our very prayers will become abomination.

Isaiah 1:31 — When the sinner has made himself as tow and stubble, and God makes himself as a consuming fire, what can prevent the utter ruin of the sinner?

Isaiah 2:6-9 — Those are in danger who please themselves with strangers to God; for we soon learn to follow the ways of persons whose company we keep. It is not having silver and gold, horses and chariots, that displeases God, but depending upon them, as if we could not be safe, and easy, and happy without them, and could not but be so with them. Sin is a disgrace to the poorest and the lowest. And though lands called Christian are not full of idols, in the literal sense, are they not full of idolized riches? and are not men so busy about their gains and indulgences, that the Lord, his truths, and precepts, are forgotten or despised?

Isaiah 2:19 — Those who will not be reasoned out of their sins, sooner or later shall be frightened out of them.

Isaiah 4:5-6 –But only those who are weary will seek rest; only those who are convinced that a storm is approaching, will look for shelter

Isaiah 5:14-15 — Let a man be ever so high, death will bring him low; ever so mean, death will bring him lower.

Isaiah 5:21 — They prefer their own reasonings to Divine revelations; their own devices to the counsels and commands of God.

Isaiah 5:26-30 — Those who would not hear the voice of God speaking by his prophets, shall hear the voice of their enemies roaring against them.

Isaiah 6:9-10 — God sends Isaiah to foretell the ruin of his people. Many hear the sound of God’s word, but do not feel the power of it. God sometimes, in righteous judgment, gives men up to blindness of mind, because they will not receive the truth in the love of it.

Isaiah 7:1 — Ungodly men are often punished by others as bad as themselves.

Isaiah 7:17 — Let those who will not believe the promises of God, expect to hear the alarms of his threatenings; for who can resist or escape his judgments?

Isaiah 7:23-25 — If we remain unfruitful under the means of grace, the Lord will say, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.

Isaiah 8:20-22 — Those that shut their eyes against the light of God’s word, will justly be left to darkness.

Isaiah 9:13-14 — For that which God designs, in smiting us, is, to turn us to himself; and if this point be not gained by lesser judgments, greater may be expected. . . . The people turn not to Him who smites them, therefore he continues to smite: for when God judges, he will overcome; and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.

Isaiah 10:16-17 — When God brings his people into trouble, it is to bring sin to their remembrance, and humble them, and to awaken them to a sense of their duty; this must be the fruit, even the taking away of sin. When these points are gained by the affliction, it shall be removed in mercy.

Isaiah 13:18 — Pause here and wonder that men should be thus cruel and inhuman, and see how corrupt the nature of man is become. And that little infants thus suffer, which shows that there is an original guilt, by which life is forfeited as soon as it is begun. The day of the Lord will, indeed, be terrible with wrath and fierce anger, far beyond all here stated. Nor will there be any place for the sinner to flee to, or attempt an escape. But few act as though they believed these things.

Isaiah 14:14-15 — It is gracious ambition to covet to be like the Most Holy, for he has said, Be ye holy, for I am holy; but it is sinful ambition to aim to be like the Most High, for he has said, He who exalts himself shall be abased. The devil thus drew our first parents to sin. Utter ruin should be brought upon him. Those that will not cease to sin, God will make to cease.

Isaiah 16:2 — Those who will not yield to the fear of God, shall be made to yield to the fear of everything else.

Isaiah 21:11-12 — God’s prophets and ministers are as watchmen in the city in a time of peace, to see that all is safe. As watchmen in the camp in time of war, to warn of the motions of the enemy. After a long sleep in sin and security, it is time to rise, to awake out of sleep. We have a great deal of work to do, a long journey to go; it is time to be stirring. After a long dark night is there any hope of the day dawning? What tidings of the night? What happens to-night? We must never be secure. But many make curious inquiries of the watchmen. They would willingly have nice questions solved, or difficult prophecies interpreted; but they do not seek into the state of their own souls, about the way of salvation, and the path of duty. The watchman answers by way of prophecy. There comes first a morning of light, and peace, and opportunity; but afterward comes a night of trouble and calamity. If there be a morning of youth and health, there will come a night of sickness and old age; if a morning of prosperity in the family, in the public, yet we must look for changes. It is our wisdom to improve the present morning, in preparation for the night that is coming after it. Inquire, return, come. We are urged to do it quickly, for there is no time to trifle. Those that return and come to God, will find they have a great deal of work to do, and but little time to do it in.

Isaiah 23:12 — those that are uneasy in one place, will be so in another; for when God’s judgments pursue sinners, they will overtake them. Whence shall all this trouble come? It is a destruction from the Almighty.

Isaiah 24:13 — There shall be a remnant preserved from the general ruin, and it shall be a devout and pious remnant. These few are dispersed; like the gleanings of the olive tree, hid under the leaves. The Lord knows those that are his; the world does not.

Isaiah 28:15 — And do not they make lies their refuge who trust in their own righteousness, or to a death-bed repentance? which is a resolution to sin no more, when it is no longer in their power to do so. And do not they make lies their refuge who trust in their own righteousness, or to a death-bed repentance? which is a resolution to sin no more, when it is no longer in their power to do so.

Isaiah 29:21 — All are apt to speak unadvisedly, and to mistake what they hear, but it is very unfair to make a man an offender for a word.

Isaiah 30:4-5 — we cannot expect too little from man, or too much from God.

Isaiah 30:9-11 — They think themselves wiser than God; but the project by which they thought to save themselves was their ruin.

Isaiah 31:1-3 — God will oppose the help sought from workers of iniquity. Sinners may be convicted of folly by plain and self-evident truths, which they cannot deny, but will not believe. There is no escaping the judgments of God; and evil pursues sinners.

Isaiah 44:19-20 — Self-suspicion is the first step towards self-deliverance. He that would deliver his soul, must question his conscience, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

Isaiah 45:7 — There is no God beside Jehovah. There is nothing done without him. He makes peace, put here for all good; and creates evil, not the evil of sin, but the evil of punishment. He is the Author of all that is true, holy, good, or happy; and evil, error, and misery, came into the world by his permission, through the wilful apostacy of his creatures, but are restrained and overruled to his righteous purpose.

Isaiah 46:3-4 — The history of the life of every believer is a kind of abstract of the history of Israel.

Isaiah 47:11 — It is also common for sinners to think they shall be safe, because they think to be secret in wicked ways. But their security shall be their ruin.

Isaiah 48:6 — Does not the conscience of every man witness to the truth of Scripture?

Isaiah 48:9 — If God delivers his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed.

Isaiah 50:1-3 — When God calls men to happiness, and they will not answer, they are justly left to be miserable. To silence doubts concerning his power, proofs of it are given. The wonders which attended his sufferings and death, proclaimed that he was the Son of God, Matt 27:54.

Isaiah 50:10-11 — A godly man’s way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and everlasting light. A wicked man’s way may be pleasant, but his end and abode for ever will be utter darkness.

Isaiah 51:4-8 — Clouds darken the sun, but do not stop its course. The believer will enjoy his portion, while revilers of Christ are in darkness.

Isaiah 53:5 — Our sins were the thorns in Christ’s head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. He was delivered to death for our offences.

Isaiah 55:7 — There must be not only a change of the way, but a change of the mind. We must alter our judgments about persons and things. It is not enough to break off from evil practices, we must strive against evil thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 — Men’s thoughts concerning sin, Christ, and holiness, concerning this world and the other, vastly differ from God’s; but in nothing more than in the matter of pardon. We forgive, and cannot forget; but when God forgives sin, he remembers it no more.

Isaiah 56:3-5 — Spiritual blessings are unspeakably better than having sons and daughters; for children are a care, and may prove a grief and shame, but the blessings we partake of in God’s house, are comforts which cannot be made bitter.

Isaiah 57:1-2 — The righteous are delivered from the sting of death, not from the stroke of it. The careless world disregards this. Few lament it as a public loss, and very few notice it as a public warning. They are taken away in compassion, that they may not see the evil, nor share in it, nor be tempted by it. The righteous man, when he dies, enters into peace and rest.

Isaiah 58:1-2 — We all need earnestly to pray for God’s assistance in examining ourselves. Men may go far toward heaven, yet come short; and they may go to hell with a good reputation.

Isaiah 61:6 — All believers are made, to our God, kings and priests; and always ought to conduct themselves as such.

Isaiah 64:9 — They do not say, “Lord, rebuke us not,” for that may be necessary; but, “Not in thy displeasure.”

Isaiah 66:3-4 — The sacrifice of the wicked is not only unacceptable, but a great offence to God. And he that now offers a sacrifice after the law, does in effect set aside Christ’s sacrifice. He that burns incense, puts contempt upon the incense of Christ’s intercession, and is as if he blessed an idol. Men shall be deceived by the vain confidences with which they deceive themselves. Unbelieving hearts, and unpurified consciences, need no more to make them miserable, than to have their own fears brought upon them. Whatever men put in the place of the priesthood, atonement, and intercession of Christ, will be found hateful to God.


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1:3 The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib; but Israel doesn’t know, my people don’t consider.

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1:9 Unless Yahweh of Armies had left to us a very small remnant, we would have been as Sodom; we would have been like Gomorrah.

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1:10 Hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the law of our God {The Hebrew word rendered “God” is “Elohim.”}, you people of Gomorrah!
1:11 “What are the multitude of your sacrifices to me?,” says Yahweh. “I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed animals. I don’t delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of male goats.
1:12 When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand, to trample my courts?
1:13 Bring no more vain offerings. Incense is an abomination to me; new moons, Sabbaths, and convocations: I can’t bear with evil assemblies.
1:14 My soul hates your New Moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them.
1:15 When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

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1:31 The strong will be like tinder, and his work like a spark. They will both burn together, and no one will quench them.”

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2:6 For you have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled from the east, with those who practice divination like the Philistines, and they clasp hands with the children of foreigners.
2:7 Their land is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures. Their land also is full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.
2:8 Their land also is full of idols. They worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.
2:9 Man is brought low, and mankind is humbled; therefore don’t forgive them.

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2:19 Men shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, from before the terror of Yahweh, and from the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake the earth mightily.

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4:5 Yahweh will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.
4:6 There will be a pavilion for a shade in the daytime from the heat, and for a refuge and for a shelter from storm and from rain.

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5:14 Therefore Sheol {Sheol is the place of the dead.} has enlarged its desire, and opened its mouth without measure; and their glory, their multitude, their pomp, and he who rejoices among them, descend into it.
5:15 So man is brought low, mankind is humbled, and the eyes of the arrogant ones are humbled;

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5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

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5:26 He will lift up a banner to the nations from far, and he will whistle for them from the end of the earth. Behold, they will come speedily and swiftly.
5:27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the belt of their waist be untied, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken:
5:28 whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent. Their horses’ hoofs will be like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind.
5:29 Their roaring will be like a lioness. They will roar like young lions. Yes, they shall roar, and seize their prey and carry it off, and there will be no one to deliver.
5:30 They will roar against them in that day like the roaring of the sea. If one looks to the land behold, darkness and distress. The light is darkened in its clouds.

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6:9 He said, “Go, and tell this people, ‘You hear indeed, but don’t understand; and you see indeed, but don’t perceive.’
6:10 Make the heart of this people fat. Make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed.”

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7:1 It happened in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it

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7:17 Yahweh will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.

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7:23 It will happen in that day that every place where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silver shekels, shall be for briers and thorns.
7:24 People will go there with arrows and with bow, because all the land will be briers and thorns.
7:25 All the hills that were cultivated with the hoe, you shall not come there for fear of briers and thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of sheep.”

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8:20 Turn to the law and to the testimony! If they don’t speak according to this word, surely there is no morning for them.
8:21 They will pass through it, very distressed and hungry; and it will happen that when they are hungry, they will worry, and curse by their king and by their God. They will turn their faces upward,
8:22 and look to the earth, and see distress, darkness, and the gloom of anguish. They will be driven into thick darkness.

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9:13 Yet the people have not turned to him who struck them, neither have they sought Yahweh of Armies.
9:14 Therefore Yahweh will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed, in one day.

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10:16 Therefore the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, will send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory a burning will be kindled like the burning of fire.
10:17 The light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.

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13:18 Their bows will dash the young men in pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb. Their eyes will not spare children.

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14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds! I will make myself like the Most High!”
14:15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol {Sheol is the place of the dead.}, to the depths of the pit.

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16:2 For it will be that as wandering birds, as a scattered nest, so will the daughters of Moab be at the fords of the Arnon.

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21:11 The burden of Dumah. One calls to me out of Seir, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”
21:12 The watchman said, “The morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire. Come back again.”

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23:12 He said, “You shall rejoice no more, you oppressed virgin daughter of Sidon. Arise, pass over to Kittim. Even there you will have no rest.”

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24:13 For it will be so in the midst of the earth among the peoples, as the shaking of an olive tree, as the gleanings when the vintage is done.

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28:15 “Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol {Sheol is the place of the dead.} are we in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it won’t come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and we have hidden ourselves under falsehood.'”

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29:21 who cause a person to be indicted by a word, and lay a snare for the arbiter in the gate, and who deprive the innocent of justice with false testimony.

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30:4 For their princes are at Zoan, and their ambassadors have come to Hanes.
30:5 They shall all be ashamed because of a people that can’t profit them, that are not a help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.”

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30:9 For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of Yahweh;
30:10 who tell the seers, “Don’t see!” and to the prophets, “Don’t prophesy to us right things. Tell us pleasant things. Prophesy deceits.
30:11 Get out of the way. Turn aside from the path. Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”

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31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they don’t look to the Holy One of Israel, and they don’t seek Yahweh!
31:2 Yet he also is wise, and will bring disaster, and will not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of those who work iniquity.
31:3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When Yahweh stretches out his hand, both he who helps shall stumble, and he who is helped shall fall, and they all shall be consumed together.

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44:19 No one thinks, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned part of it in the fire. Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals. I have roasted meat and eaten it. Shall I make the rest of it into an abomination? Shall I bow down to a tree trunk?”
44:20 He feeds on ashes. A deceived heart has turned him aside; and he can’t deliver his soul, nor say, “Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?”

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45:7 I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create calamity. I am Yahweh, who does all these things.

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46:3 “Listen to me, house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, that have been borne from their birth, that have been carried from the womb;
46:4 and even to old age I am he, and even to gray hairs will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry, and will deliver.

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47:11 Therefore evil will come on you; you won’t know when it dawns: and mischief will fall on you; you will not be able to put it away: and desolation shall come on you suddenly, which you don’t know.

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48:6 You have heard it; see all this; and you, will you not declare it? “I have shown you new things from this time, even hidden things, which you have not known.

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48:9 For my name’s sake will I defer my anger, and for my praise will I refrain for you, that I not cut you off.

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50:1 Thus says Yahweh, “Where is the bill of your mother’s divorce, with which I have put her away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities were you sold, and for your transgressions was your mother put away.
50:2 Why, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it can’t redeem? or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stink, because there is no water, and die for thirst.
50:3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.”

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50:10 Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God.
50:11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who adorn yourselves with torches around yourselves; walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled. You shall have this of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow.

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51:4 “Attend to me, my people; and give ear to me, my nation: for a law shall go forth from me, and I will establish my justice for a light of the peoples.
51:5 My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the peoples; the islands shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust.
51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment; and those who dwell therein shall die in the same way: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
51:7 “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; don’t fear the reproach of men, neither be dismayed at their insults.
51:8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation to all generations.”

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53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed.

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55:7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon

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55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Yahweh.
55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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56:3 Neither let the foreigner, who has joined himself to Yahweh, speak, saying, “Yahweh will surely separate me from his people”; neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
56:4 For thus says Yahweh, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant:
56:5 to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

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57:1 The righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil. 57:2 He enters into peace; they rest in their beds, each one who walks in his uprightness

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58:1 “Cry aloud, don’t spare, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and declare to my people their disobedience, and to the house of Jacob their sins.
58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways: as a nation that did righteousness, and didn’t forsake the ordinance of their God, they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.

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61:6 But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men will call you the ministers of our God: you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their glory.

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64:9 Don’t be furious, Yahweh, neither remember iniquity forever: see, look, we beg you, we are all your people.

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66:3 He who kills an ox is as he who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, as he who breaks a dog’s neck; he who offers an offering, as he who offers pig’s blood; he who burns frankincense, as he who blesses an idol. Yes, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations:
66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears on them; because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they didn’t listen; but they did that which was evil in my eyes, and chose that in which I didn’t delight.”

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