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Translation of Texts
in Isaiah, Amos and Psalms
Includes in order:
Items: 11, 25, 8,
Let us take these in order.
"Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for of what account is he ?"
Delitzsch has an interesting rendering, much the same:
"Oh, then, let man go, in whose nostrils is a breath; for what is he estimated at ?"
This is the sense, and this is the severance in view: from man who, estimated as empty in pride when divorced from God, is the inflated but spiritually fallen object one must cease to follow.
As Delitzsch points out justly, "it is preceded by the prediction of the utter demolition of everything which ministers to the pride and vain confidence of man…" MAN the generic is the one exalted, to be debased. THAT is the message, and Isaiah 2:22, showing his end, prescribes the finale, CEASE from MAN (or mankind).
‘Man’ is in the Hebrew text precisely the same word with precisely the same definite article as in Isaiah 2:17, "the loftiness of man shall be bowed down," translated as such in the NKJV. But amazingly, leaving this consistent emphasis of the text, and this total parallel in construction, it wishes to translate "man" in this generic sense, as "such a man", which is in the text, is simply "the man" or as a generic, "man". This invention has no defence perceptible whatever. It is not the idea of not being drawn to the craven refugees who move in terror to the rocks for protection - the preceding verse (2:21); for who would be!
It is man, the lofty one who has been attacked in religion in Isaiah 1 and here as that from which the "house of Jacob" must not relate as ground or rule for the heart, for "come and let us walk in the light of the LORD," is the call. In 2:10ff., there is the invitation,
"Enter into the rock and hide in the dust
From the terror of the LORD… The lofty looks of man shall be humbled…
The LORD alone shall be exalted in that day."
The TOPIC is man, the place to go is the LORD, to walk, to be secure, to be in friendship, whose is the glory, unlike majestic man, a triumph of trivia, vainly exalted. From him one must cease in all his ways, for look, does he not lurk in the shadows of obviously inadequate protection in physical rocks (still ‘the man’, 2:1), when (Isaiah 26:1ff.), their ‘strength’ or literally ‘rock of Ages’, is the LORD!
This is perhaps the worst example of eisegesis in the NKJV, destructive of the sense of the entire passage, abortive of its dénouement and contrary to the consistent usage in this chapter.
Isaiah 2:11,17,22, all alike, show the same flavour, or dissavour! using either man, or the generic 'the man', as in verse 17 of the race. The oppressive sense of dishonour and folly follows like the reek of rubbish.
One exception to this negativity and derogation of vanity in mankind the race, is found in the reference to MAN casting away his idols in v. 20. In verse 22, as in v. 17, it is even the generic 'the man' which is found once more, this following the intensification in the sense of this being the ultimate ‘repose’ of riotous flesh for mankind: even holes in rocks, because in their dereliction they have not been abiding in that intrinsically secure Rock, the LORD! It is all man so small and devious, derelict and pretentious, and God so grand and innately glorious, to be trusted, as distinct from the defiled, and defiling, lofty haughtiness of man.
The generic, man, it is he who is without strength or help, except in the Lord, and from him, thus occupied, one is to be severed just as this same generic man, is shown in verse 17 in twofold form, embracive of many, to have his haughtiness humbled. It is not so much the punishment of pride, but the presence of it which is the thrust of what one is to cease from, throughout: for in punishment is the pitiful, rather than the vaingloriously attractive in its vaunting.
Indeed, in Isaiah 57:11-13 has the same theme:
"And of whom have you been afraid, or feared,
That you have lied,
And not remembered Me,
Nor taken it to your heart…
I will declare your righteousness and your works,
For they will not profit you…
But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land,
And shall inherit My holy mountain"
It is not some fleeing man, who, for some unknown reason, though called ‘the man’ or man, is rendered ‘such a man’, suddenly invented. It is not this vagrant and refugee fleshly flimsiness who is the butt of the passage, but vaingloriously arrogant man, and indeed, man whether punished or not, as a phenomenon of unbelief. CEASE from him! comes the challenge, this breathing fragility, with farcical loftiness, like a prince outside the Lord.
Contrary to context, grammatically unwarranted, it is also unaligned with other parallel emphasis. Rather, do we find:
"I dwell in the high and holy place
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would fail before Me,
And the souls which I have made" (from Isaiah 57:15ff.).
Here, the difference is small, but not so small is the issue. The NKJV has this, that God is the One who "declares his thought to man" in a context where capitalisation is used when the Lord is in view. Thus, if it be the Lord’s own thought, then this would be "declares His thought to man". The NKJV, therefore, excludes God here, in favour of man. It thus becomes the message that God is the one who psycho-analyses or discovers in man his little thoughts, and as it were, shows them up on the screen for man to see. Is that however the thrust of the passage ? Hardly. It is all declamatory, declarative FROM GOD TO MAN! The chapter starts,
"Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor,
Who crush the needy… The LORD has sworn by His holiness,
‘Behold the days shall come upon you …’ "
The whole chapter is an exercise is exposure of sin, BY the word of the holy God, who SAYS what is to be done, and what He has done, so revealing both His majesty and His mind, relative to the foolish, unjust and rebellious ways of man. It is NOT the declaration of what man is thinking, but of what he is DOING, and what the LORD is saying about it, which is the emphatic and unmistakable context!
In advising them to be ready after they DID NOT LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAID AND DID FOR SO LONG, he comes to the climax in -13. Thus in Amos 3:7-8 where He even makes the generic point that it is He who declares His thought:
"Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared!
Who will not fear ?
The Lord GOD has spoken!
Who can but prophesy ?"
The prophecy indeed near its commencement, after the declaration of who the prophet is, has this in Amos 1:2:
"The LORD roars from
And utters His voice from
For three transgressions and for four…"
It continues almost unrelenting, with the precise depictions of what the LORD has chosen to do, conveyed through what He has chosen to say. In Ch. 3, it starts, "Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel," and then exhibits the text in 3:7 noted above, in which the LORD’s undertaking is made clear, about what He will REVEAL, SAY for Israel to HEAR. He proceeds to divulge these words, until 4:1, where the exposure becomes vehement. He then in Amos 4, exposes what He has thought and done, relative to punishment of
in five stages, and then in declares that now - having heard and received all this, His deeds replete complete with detailed explanation, following this rehearsing of their failures before Him - they must prepare to MEET their God. Discipline did not create the pangs of conscience, and punishments did not lead to repentance, so now only the direct and fateful meeting is left. Israel
- "Prepare to meet your God!, O Israel!"
Now is this sequence, series and stress, a revealing of the will and mind and word of GOD or of man! Is the dénouement one of crisis through man’s thoughts exposed, or man’s deed exposed by GOD’S THOUGHTS and the DIVINE WORDS of retribution and judgment! To ask is to answer. Thus it is properly, "Who declares to man what His thought is!" To import man here is not merely contrary to the ENTIRE strength of the context, and of the preceding chapters, and of the key note commencement, but contrary to it. This is simply not what it is about! It rather reflects what has been said in 3:7-8, and applies it in a more totally retributive situation, a climax to all that went before in 4:13, in one of the most beautifully majestic utterances essentialising and giving vast perspective in its consistent thrust… To fail here, is like talking about flowers, while visiting the moon.
NOTE: For more on this verse, see VICTORY Ch. 9, where linked.
8) For a fuller coverage, see Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, 4.
Here we provide two coverages, A and B, for parallel approach.
In Psalm 22:30-31, the KJV has
"a seed shall serve him;
It shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come and shall declare his righteousness
Unto a people that shall be born, that he has done this."
The NKJV has:
"A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation.
They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this."
The Hebrew verb concerned in the Piel form can mean count or recount (tell, narrate). It is intensive, and can be iterative, so allowing the deepened second meaning. In this case, the choice of translation is determined, one taken by the KJV and the other by the NKJV, by the context. There is no word 'next' in the text, so that this venture of the NKJV cannot stand by simple addition. Could it stand without it ? This we must ask of the rendering : "It will be recounted of the Lord to the generation" ? WHICH is THE generation on this rendering! Why "of" when it is more normally to or for ? It seems perfectly straightforward as written, with no additions : It will be accounted to the Lord for the generation.
The LORD Himself, whom after all, Psalm 22 focusses and describes, HE, as Isaiah 53 tells us, had NO offspring, because He was cut off from the land of the living; and if any Psalm tells this with emphasis, it is Psalm 22! In Isaiah 53:10, we learn that when His soul is an offering for sin, it is then that He sees His seed (see No. 20 above). In other words, biologically He had no children, but spiritually He has many. This Peter picks up in I Peter 2, where we are who are believers in Christ are a
CHOSENGENERATION, a royal priesthood, a special people. WHO ? Why there, those born of the Lord, begotten by His word
(I Peter 2:23).
Does the KJV rendering fit without addition also, the rest of the Psalm to follow ? This is further index for its test. When it is said that they will come and declare His righteousness to a people to come that He has done this, if we took the NKJV meaning, it would leave us still more stranded about THE generation. Who are they ? A people to be born ? In such a case, it is surely generations! However, taking it as counted to the Lord for the generation, it is the generation of those who serve Him, as appears very near to this, in Psalm 24:6. There we find the question, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD ?" answered in terms of those who, consecrated to the Lord, receive righteousness from Him (as in Isaiah 61:10, 44;5), even from "the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24:5).
What then is said of such in Psalm 24:6 ? : "This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face." In spiritual terms we are dealing with a spiritual generation, indeed we have to, for in those terms there is no other. These ARE HIS generation, these are to come, these are to declare to a people not yet born, and so transmit (II Timothy 2:2). A SPECIAL or SPECIFIC generation can then, readily be in mind. This may be a physical one or a spiritual one, depending on the perspective in view; and after all, the Bible deals transcendently and emphatically with things of the spirit. We do NOT forget the fact that it is the definite article that is here, though this is strangely not shown in the AV or NKJV versions. It is basic to an understanding, and as in all the word of God, the jots and tittles are not kept for no reason, but because in reason the Lord has set forth what He wants to say with precision and purpose, to be enjoyed, enjoined and not ignored.
Here is the concept PRECISELY as presented by PETER (I Peter 2), namely that it is a special people, a generation of spiritual kind, whether or not locatable in an historical locus. The apostle seems virtually to be exegeting Psalm 22, not least, in this place!
It is for this reason that "a posterity shall serve Him" (Psalm 22:30) - they do so because they are THE GENERATION which is HIS, generated by Him, in lieu of physical children, spiritually begotten, a remnant of grace. HE had no children of His own, so "who shall declare His generation," that is, those descendants that would be His, as with David. No one would do so, since He had none to declared. HOWEVER, this fills in. This is not specifically, for example, the generation of those who seek Him, but of those who SERVE HIM. It is HIS generation, equipped by the Spirit, born AGAIN through the Spirit, covered by His protection, ransomed indeed by His gift. HERE then is THE generation, at last, which IS HIS!
It is for the SAME reason, as Psalm 22 then tells us, that they will DECLARE His righteousness to a people to be born, in future times (not a generation, a people). So to act in the name of their Lord, Himself so deprived on earth as Psalm 22 forever depicts: It is their heritage, their joy and their privilege (Romans 10:9, Psalm 107:1). They tell of Him through whose service they are spiritually begotten and constitute a royal priesthood, His very children, freely entering into His house, His kingdom of heaven, as those BELONGING there. They will serve Him, as children their parent.
In the latter Psalm, it is rendered:
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed ..."
It is quite unthinkable that they should not do so, either fail to speak of their redemption or to praise Him, and with Psalm 22, with more pith and purpose yet! and like Joshua and Caleb, Moses and the prophets, it is both their inheritance and their duty, their due and their delight so to do (cf. Isaiah 24:16). It is because they are SPECIAL to Him, that you see the intensive itemisation in Psalm 84:5-12 with 87:4-5: prophets, it is both their inheritance and their duty, their due and their delight so to do (cf. Isaiah 24:16).
"And of Zion it will be said,
‘This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.’
The LORD will record,
When He registers the peoples,
‘This one was born there.’ "
It is this which relates so well to the same, apt (Piel) form of the same Hebrew verb as that noted in Psalm 22:30. EACH matters, the reckoning for His book is like the attention to beloved sheep, watchful, alert and intense. The pictures are correlative, the terms brothers in arms, as are His people, under His care. In Psalm 22, this is the generation begotten through the spectacularly grotesque suffering of the Messiah. Small wonder they shall have so much to tell to the people. With what tenderness of thought and precision of prophecy, correlative and filled with character, it is depicted!
Psalm 22:30 has been translated differently in the AV and the RV.
It has this: "A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." The NKJ talks of its being recounted of the Lord to the next generation." Why add next ? Why 'of' instead of to or for, a meaning for the preposition which at once follows ?
It is with the former type of translation that one must agree. Matthew Poole, for his part, in his grand Biblical Commentaries does a magnificent job in retaining its meaning.
The point is that the verb in question can mean to count, or to recount, declare, depending on its form. In Psalm 22 it is in the intensive form, meaning declare, recount is in order.
What then is the context ? We are told that there is to be a gruesome and glorious wonder, the substitutionary atonement of the Messiah. Cut off, He is derelict in horrid and awesome depths of suffering, suitable for the sin which He bears, invasive, excruciating, debilitating, insisting on death. Yet from this He arises in splendour (as in more detail in Psalm 16, where His non-rotting body is exposed to view as a testimony), and He who had been exempted from all but curse in the continuance of a life so granted for grace to others, is now seen in triumphant grace, giving to many. "He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted" (22:24). Indeed, "When He cried to Him, He heard."
What then ? "My praise to Thee shall be in the great assembly." Further, "All the ends of the earth shall remember."
More than this ? As in Psalm 110, in the day of His power, His people will be volunteers. We thus are introduced not only to vindication and victory, but to love and drawing on His part to those who are to be His people, that is, the redeemed for whom He had just been declared the atonement for sin. It moves on from Psalm 22:27-31 in the people remembering, turning to the Lord, to "a posterity" which shall serve Him. In other words, this is not just a one generation affair, but has a living containment for generations to come - posterity is waved in, not waived away!
Literally, we now have this: "It will be declared for the Lord for the generation." There is no 'next' in the text: this is brought with the intent of putting in a meaning; but it is one which is not there. The word is absent. The preposition is the same in for the Lord and for a generation. The attribution is paralleled: for the Lord, it is now made as a thing to be declared. WHAT then may be declared for Him from which all was stripped but sanctity and reality ? It is this, this posterity. But in what way may this be assigned, evidenced, declared for Him, devoid of declaration in His anguish ? It is in this way: it is declared FOR the Lord FOR a generation. Marvellous! He who had none of His own, has now not only affiliates, disciples, but a generation, a people, a fold for His shepherding, children for His very own.
Thus it is FOR A GENERATION that this POSTERITY is DECLARED. Moreover, it is FOR the Lord (the preposition here can mean to or for, and He is telling us about it, not being instructed). The Lord is not being told anything; it is something attributed to Him. What is He to learn ? Is HE to be advised, who DID it! or are those declared FOR the Lord in some way to be saying things 'of the Lord' as in the NKJV! That comes afterwards, once the posterity is in place. It is in all things sequential. It is TWICE the preposition comes in rapid succession, in a self-explanatory cohesion, not in a scatter effect with 'next' added, to complete the confusion! It is not 'of the next generation' nor is it 'of the Lord'. It is consistent: FOR the Lord FOR a generation, as is actually written, word for word. What needs words added, and clarity confounded in oddities is not worthy of thought.
Such is not the way.
Not at all, those who are FOUND are to be recounted, declared, exhibited, set forth FOR A GENERATION. What could be clearer. Not only are a posterity to serve Him, but there is to be an attribution relative to the Lord who so suffered. For Him, FROM whom so much was taken, this is something given. The parallel is perfect, and the prepositional parallel merely intensifies it: FOR the Lord from whom all was taken ? This. This for the Lord as what ? As this. That is what it is FOR! It is for what ? It is a for generation, that is the nature of the thing for Him. This is the only way in which, giving word choice and sequence, meaning and no addition all their place, it may be translated, as least as to type. Further, this is the way which harmonises with the other scriptures massively on the one hand, and delicately on the other, comparing scripture with scripture.
It reminds one of Isaiah 8:18*1, as Poole aptly points out. Here we see the Messiah, "Here I am and the children which the LORD has given Me." It is as in Psalm 110:3, volunteers accrue to Him, who is David's Lord; the cursed become companionable, His who is no more disesteemed (as in Isaiah 53:4-5), but now sought after, desired. These volunteers, disciples, children are those coming now freely to His side, no more deeming Him afflicted, smitten of the Lord. To Him these volunteers come, to Him who has declared the truth in the great assembly, to Him who "in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning" has not death, but "the dew of Your youth." It is a perpetual, a holy youthfulness, a not growing old tenderness and unspoilt strength, it is the eternal life of God. He IS that eternal life (I John 1:1-4), and how great is the privilege of sharing it!
Let us recount the point.
So this generation is DECLARED, RECOUNTED FOR HIM. Taken life ? Yes, but now received life is the order of the day from volunteers. What however is their status ? Is there some special sign, signal or signification which may be attributed to this vast new field ? As Isaiah put it, "Who shall declare His generation, for He is cut off from the land of the living!" That was the payment. Now the prize (cf. Hebrews 12). The prize is what He has prized and paid for; such is the love of God. Now comes the answer to the prophetic question of Isaiah!*2 Behold it is already there, and the prophet has but elicited it!
It will be declared for a generation, this posterity. THERE are HIS children as in Isaiah 8:18. HERE AM I! He declares, with them. Not a funereal solemnity of loss any more is to be found, but a fervour of friendliness, amid disciples who do not betray but are delighted to be declared, accounted, as HIS!
But what will be their desire, their labour ? Why this, and of course this. SO rescued, redeemed, regenerated (Titus 3:3-7), that they become indeed a generation, one of HIS action through the Holy Spirit, they will in turn declare HIS righteousness (by which indeed they were justified) to a people who will be born. Posterity will accrue to Him (after all), and not only in one generation, but in posterity more generally, and this generation, this people, this tribe, this discipleship of truth, just as IT IS DECLARED FOR HIM as a GENERATION (which it in more senses than one actually is), so IT will DECLARE HIM, His saving righteousness (Romans 8:17), to those to come. The word 'to declare' and the preposition are thus used freely in rapid succession: it is declared FOR HIM, FOR a generation, and they will declare to posterity.
They are not telling Him: it is a divine assignment FOR HIM. From this they move to tell more, to others. What is announced, is then pronounced, what is accorded, being recorded is not a thing for transmission. You COME that you may go. You KNOW that you may SHOW.
So like a cyclotronic reaction, there is the generation that is Christ's (Noah begat ... and he begat... as in the genealogies, but here Christ GENERATED, and by their declaration, these added, so that more are GENERATED in successive generations). It moves, it does not meander. As the loss was vast, so the result is correspondingly vast; and as HE is declared to have a GENERATION so this itself will by declaration in turn, find those who will augment the same generation.
It is almost horrible how so many translations have left the simplicity and aptitude of the Authorised Version's translation, for ADDING to the text to miss the point and make nothing of it.
See DEITY and DESIGN, DESIGNATION and DESTINY Ch. 9 as marked.
In fact, Isaiah himself is used to convey the answer to this question, "Who shall declare His generation ?". This he is inspired to do, as the account moves to Isaiah 53:10, where we learn that although the Messiah made His grave with the rich and the wicked (53:9), yet when you make His soul an offering for your sin, THEN HE SHALL SEE HIS SEED (cf. Bible Translations 7, No. 20).
In other words, the body went and of course arose to that it might be the anchor and harbour, the prototype and assurance of the resurrection of all Messiah-ans or Christians (as in Isaiah 26:19, Psalm 16). Yet despite this, when ANYONE receives by faith the life of Christ, given to that very death, so that on Him is laid that person's sin, then this slain Messiah will see on this very earth, His seed, a spiritual seed, a lineage of children born of the Spirit (Isaiah 53:10 cf. Isaiah 32,44).
Further, the prophet continues, by them "He will prolong His days" and so "the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand." Accordingly, to Him is divided a portion with the great, His 'seed' having come as both Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 indicate, as a generation indeed to be attributed to Him, a spiritual generation and a royal priesthood. What a privilege to be called the children of God, the seed of Christ, the generation of those who seek Him.