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God’s People Anticipate Vindication

[a] The way of the righteous is level,
the path of the righteous that you prepare is straight.[b]
Yes, as your judgments unfold,[c]
O Lord, we wait for you.
We desire your fame and reputation to grow.[d]
I[e] look for[f] you during the night;
my spirit within me seeks you at dawn,
for when your judgments come upon the earth,
those who live in the world learn about justice.[g]
10 If the wicked are shown mercy,
they do not learn about justice.[h]
Even in a land where right is rewarded, they act unjustly;[i]
they do not see the Lord’s majesty revealed.
11 O Lord, you are ready to act,[j]
but they don’t even notice.
They will see and be put to shame by your angry judgment against humankind;[k]
yes, fire will consume your enemies.[l]
12 O Lord, you make us secure,[m]
for even all we have accomplished, you have done for us.[n]
13 O Lord, our God,
masters other than you have ruled us,
but we praise your name alone.
14 The dead do not come back to life,
the spirits of the dead do not rise.[o]
That is because[p] you came in judgment[q] and destroyed them,
you wiped out all memory of them.
15 You have made the nation larger,[r] O Lord;
you have made the nation larger and revealed your splendor;[s]
you have extended all the borders of the land.

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  1. Isaiah 26:7 sn The literary structure of chap. 26 is not entirely clear. The chapter begins with an eschatological song of praise and ends with a lament and prophetic response (vv. 16-21). It is not certain where the song of praise ends or how vv. 7-15 fit into the structure. Verses 10-11a seem to lament the presence of evil and v. 11b anticipates the arrival of judgment, so it is possible that vv. 7-15 are a prelude to the lament and announcement that conclude the chapter.
  2. Isaiah 26:7 tc The Hebrew text has, “upright, the path of the righteous you make level.” There are three possible ways to translate this line. Some take יָשָׁר (yashar) as a divine title: “O Upright One” (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, NLT). Others regard יָשָׁר as the result of dittography (מֵישָׁרִים יָשָׁר מַעְגּל, mesharim yashar maʿgal) and do not include it in the translation. Another possibility is to keep יָשָׁר and render the line as “the path of the righteous that you prepare is straight.” sn The metaphor of a level/smooth road/path may refer to their morally upright manner of life (see v. 8a), but verse 7b, which attributes the smooth path to the Lord, suggests that the Lord’s vindication and blessing may be the reality behind the metaphor here.
  3. Isaiah 26:8 tn The Hebrew text has, “yes, the way of your judgments.” The translation assumes that “way” is related to the verb “we wait” as an adverbial accusative (“in the way of your judgments we wait”). מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ (mishpatekha, “your judgments”) could refer to the Lord’s commandments, in which case one might translate, “as we obey your commands.” However, in verse 9 the same form refers to divine acts of judgment on evildoers.
  4. Isaiah 26:8 tn Heb “your name and your remembrance [are] the desire of [our?] being.”
  5. Isaiah 26:9 tn Heb “with my soul I.” This is a figure for the speaker himself (“I”).
  6. Isaiah 26:9 tn Or “long for, desire.” The speaker acknowledges that he is eager to see God come in judgment (see vv. 8, 9b).
  7. Isaiah 26:9 tn The translation understands צֶדֶק (tsedeq) in the sense of “justice,” but it is possible that it carries the nuance “righteousness,” in which case one might translate, “those who live in the world learn to live in a righteous manner” (cf. NCV).
  8. Isaiah 26:10 tn As in verse 9b, the translation understands צֶדֶק (tsedeq) in the sense of “justice,” but it is possible that it carries the nuance “righteousness,” in which case one might translate, “they do not learn to live in a righteous manner.”
  9. Isaiah 26:10 tn Heb “in a land of uprightness they act unjustly”; NRSV “they deal perversely.”
  10. Isaiah 26:11 tn Heb “O Lord, your hand is lifted up.”
  11. Isaiah 26:11 tn Heb “They will see and be ashamed of zeal of people.” Some take the prefixed verbs as jussives and translate the statement as a prayer, “Let them see and be put to shame.” The meaning of the phrase קִנְאַת עָם (qinʾat ʿam, “zeal of people”) is unclear. The translation assumes that this refers to God’s angry judgment upon people. Another option is to understand the phrase as referring to God’s zealous, protective love of his covenant people. In this case one might translate, “by your zealous devotion to your people.”
  12. Isaiah 26:11 tn Heb “yes, fire, your enemies, will consume them.” Many understand the prefixed verb form to be jussive and translate, “let [fire] consume” (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV). The mem suffixed to the verb may be enclitic; if a pronominal suffix, it refers back to “your enemies.”
  13. Isaiah 26:12 tn Heb “O Lord, you establish peace for us.”
  14. Isaiah 26:12 tc Some suggest emending גַּם כָּל (gam kol, “even all”) to כִּגְמֻל (kigmul, “according to the deed[s] of”) One might then translate “for according to what our deeds deserve, you have acted on our behalf.” Nevertheless, accepting the MT as it stands, the prophet affirms that Yahweh deserved all the credit for anything Israel had accomplished.
  15. Isaiah 26:14 sn In light of what is said in verse 14b, the “dead” here may be the “masters” mentioned in verse 13.
  16. Isaiah 26:14 tn The Hebrew term לָכֵן (lakhen) normally indicates a cause-effect relationship between what precedes and follows and is translated, “therefore.” Here, however, it infers the cause from the effect and brings out what is implicit in the previous statement. See BDB 487 s.v.
  17. Isaiah 26:14 tn Heb “visited [for harm]” (cf. KJV, ASV); NAB, NRSV “you have punished.”
  18. Isaiah 26:15 tn Heb “you have added to the nation.” The last line of the verse suggests that geographical expansion is in view. “The nation” is Judah.
  19. Isaiah 26:15 tn Or “brought honor to yourself.”