New American Standard Bible 1995
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
19 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. 20 Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. 21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. 22 And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!”
The Lord longs to be gracious. He has spoken through Isaiah about the correction to come. But the bottom line is God is slow to anger and abounding in love. His desire is to always demonstrate His mercy. This was always His desire for Israel. He never takes pleasure in bringing correction, but He knows it must take place because if He doesn’t, His people will be destroyed by wickedness and sin.
God’s grace is undeserved and the Lord waits to have compassion on us. God’s grace is His favor poured out on His people that is because of His love and mercy. Nothing can be done to earn the grace of God. Nothing can be done to move God to love and compassion. He loves us because that is who He is. Jesus was moved with compassion whenever He saw a need. In every one of us there exists a need for Jesus because we are broken by sin. It is sin that destroys people and it is only Jesus who holds the answer and solution.
God is a God of justice. The Lord’s throne sits upon the pillars of righteousness and justice (Psalm 89:14). God is perfect and He is holy. Because of this He must deal rightly with sin. When we as His children seek and chase after sin, the Lord will bring correction. This was the continual cycle in the nation of Israel. They would chase after sin, they would face the correction of the Lord, they would cry out for help, they would turn in repentance, God would bring restoration. But how much easier is it if we will simply walk with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and direct us in all things.
Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. There is great blessing found in waiting for the Lord and longing for Him. Those who are waiting on the Lord are seeking Him with their whole heart. They are living in a place of expectation, knowing in their hearts that God is faithful to His word and promises. Here the Lord speaks through Isaiah and says “blessed are all those who long for Him”. When our hope and trust is founded upon God and who He is, we will not be put to shame.
The purpose of God’s correction is to bring His people to a place of repentance. They must choose to turn from their sin and wickedness before healing and restoration can begin. God’s word to those in Jerusalem is that they will weep no more. God’s grace shall be poured out upon them. He is moved with compassion and love at their cry. Though they don’t deserve the grace and mercy of God, God chooses to pour it out. He is always faithful to His promise. His love is unconditional. It is not dependent on our performance or behavior. But because of His love for us when His people walk in obedience, He must bring correction.
The word privation means a state in which things that are essential for human well-being such as food and warmth are scarce or lacking. Through God’s corrective hand the Lord would give His people the bread of privation and water of oppression. This would come in the form of the Assyrian empire. But God’s promise was that He would not hide Himself, but they would see their rescue and their salvation. The only reason Israel was established as a nation was because of the hand of Almighty God and the only reason Israel remains is because of the hand of God. God is always faithful to fulfill His word and His covenant.
During the time of Israel’s disobedience they were led by false prophets and false teachers. But now the Lord speaks of a time in which the people would hear the word of the Lord behind them telling them to turn to the right or the left. The Lord would lead them in the way they should go and because of their time of correction they would heed the word of the Lord. God never brings correction from a place of anger and desire to destroy. God’s corrective hand always moves with the intent to bring His people to repentance and restoration.
God’s correction would ultimately rid Israel of idolatry. It says here that they would defile their graven images covered in silver and gold. They would discard them as an impure thing. In the King James it says as a menstruous cloth. When Israel went into captivity under the Babylonian empire in 586 BC they will spend 70 years in captivity. They would be surrounded by more idolatry than they know what to do with. But like the story of the prodigal son, after spending enough time in the pig pen, when the people of Israel returned to the land, they wanted nothing to do with idolatry. God’s correction had changed the heart of the people. This is always the purpose behind God’s correction, to change the heart of His people.