Isaiah 59

The Word Made Fresh

1The hand of the LORD is not so short it cannot save,
nor is the LORD’s ear too deaf to hear.
2Your sins have been the barrier between you and God;
they have hidden God’s face from you
and that is why God doesn’t hear.
3Your hands hold blood guilt; your fingers grasp sinfulness;
your lips have lied, and your tongue has blabbered wickedness.
4None of your lawsuits are legal because you are not honest.
They are based on empty claims, filled with lies,
stirring up mischief and giving birth to sinfulness.
5They hatch snake eggs and weave spiders’ webs.
Whoever eats their eggs dies,
and the crushed eggs hatch poisonous snakes.        
6Their webs can’t be made into clothing;
they can’t cover themselves with their foolish plans.
Their works are full of iniquity,
and their hands hold nothing but violence.
7Their feet run towards evil. They are in a hurry to shed innocent blood.
Their thoughts are of wicked deeds continually;
desolation and destruction cover their ways.
8They don’t know the way of peace.
Their paths contain no justice.
They have made their roads crooked,
and no one who walks in them knows anything about peace.

9That is why justice is far off and we are unreached by righteousness.
We wait for light, but there is only darkness.
We wait for brightness but live in gloominess.
10We stagger like the blind groping sightless along a wall.
We stumble at noon like it was midnight,
and we are like dead people among those who are strong.
11Oh, we growl like bears, then weep mournfully like doves.
We await justice but none arrives,
and for salvation, but it escapes us.
12Our sins mount up before you and testify against us.
Our mistakes are certainly with us, and we know our shortcomings.
13We have sinned and denied the LORD.
We have turned away from following our God.
We are eager for oppression and revolt.
We think of lies and spit them out from the heart.
14So, justice is halted, and righteousness is far away from us.
Truth stumbles in the public square and upright behavior can’t enter.
15Truth is missing, and anyone who turns from evil is preyed upon.

The LORD has seen all of this,
and is not pleased with the absence of justice.
16God was appalled that there was no one to intervene,
and victory came from God’s own hand,
upheld by God’s righteousness.
17God wore righteousness like body armor
and salvation like a helmet,
donning vengeful clothing with anger as its collar.
18God will repay them according to their deeds.
Wrath will descend on God’s enemies and
and the coastlands will be compensated.
19So, the people who live in the west shall fear the LORD’s name.
Those in the east shall fear God’s glory,
for God will approach like an overflowing stream
driven on by the LORD’s wind.

20Then God the Redeemer will come to Zion,
and redeem all those who have turned away from sin, says the LORD.

21As for me, says the LORD, this is my promise to them: my spirit will be with you and my words that I place in your mouth shall not be put aside by you or by your children or your grandchildren, from now on and forever.


1-8: Charges are leveled against those who have ignored the covenant with God. Notice the change in who is being addressed: in verses 1-3 it is the transgressors, but in verses 4-8 it is an unnamed third party and the transgressors are “they.” Deceitfulness and a dishonest system of jurisprudence are specifically denounced.

9-15: Now the speaker becomes one of the accused, and makes a confession on behalf of them all.

16-19: And now God’s part is represented. Isaiah tries to show the reader what is going on in God’s mind while witnessing the mounting transgressions of the people.

20-21: God, says Isaiah, will redeem those who turn from transgression. And then God speaks directly: once they have been redeemed there will be a fundamental change in their relationship with God. God’s word will become part of who they are so that they will never again turn away from God.


If God’s word should become part of who we are life would be a blessed journey indeed. “My spirit will be with you and my words that I place in your mouth shall not be put aside by you or by your children or your grandchildren, from now on and forever” (verse 21). Passing down our faith to the next and following generations is the goal for the believer.