Bible blog 2131

This blog continues my comments on Isaiah in the Complete Jewish Bible version.

ISAIAH 12

On that day you will say:

“I will praise you, Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my deliverer;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my deliverance.
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of deliverance.
4 In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

This is a psalm which has been added to the end of this sextion of Isaiah’s prophecies. It is not by him. It is nevertheless worth a comment or two:

1. Like almost all the Old Testament, the psalm accepts the anger of God as a reality which brings misfortune on the people. Therefore it also can rejoice when the anger is turned away, and God deliverance brings good fortune. Jesus scoffed atbthis view with his comment on the people killed by Pilate, “Were they more sinful than the average?” But it still has power with many superstitious people.

2. In this translation I have substituted “deliver” and its noun for saviour and salvation, which are dead words. Christians may argue that these are key words for them, but this is not a Christian writing, and the meaning of the Hebrew is resolutely practical- referring to rescue or even victory.  Just as God’s anger brings real misfortune, so his rescue brings real advantage.

3. The passage is memorable for English speakers, nevertheless, because of verse 3, which was translated in the KJV “ With joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation” which furnished the text for many an evangelical sermon. It is not less memorable if we remember that conquest or victory over a conqueror was often at the time a matter of who owned or could use the precious wells. (In an era of increasing water shortage we may again be entering a time of water wars.) To have access to the wells is to have access to life. For Isaiah that access includes all the blessings of life. Therefore God should be praised.

 

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