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Isaiah 58:9

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
A fast is a day to afflict the soul; if it does not express true sorrow for sin, and does not promote the putting away of sin, it is not a fast. These professors had shown sorrow on stated or occasioned fasts. But they indulged pride, covetousness, and malignant passions. To be liberal and merciful is more acceptable to God than mere fasting, which, without them, is vain and hypocritical. Many who seem humble in God's house, are hard at home, and harass their families. But no man's faith justifies, which does not work by love. Yet persons, families, neighbourhoods, churches, or nations, show repentance and sorrow for sin, by keeping a fast sincerely, and, from right motives, repenting, and doing good works. The heavy yoke of sin and oppression must be removed. As sin and sorrow dry the bones and weaken the strongest human constitution; so the duties of kindness and charity strengthen and refresh both body and mind. Those who do justly and love mercy, shall have the comfort, even in this world. Good works will bring the blessing of God, provided they are done from love to God and man, and wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.
Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Then shalt thou call - The sense is, that if we go before God renouncing all our sins, and desirous of doing our duty, then we have a right to expect that he will hear us. But if we go indulging still in sin; if we are false and hollow and hypocritical in our worship; or if, while we keep up the regular forms of devotion, we are nevertheless guilty of oppression, cruelty, and dishonesty, we have no right to expect that he will hear us (see the notes at Isaiah 1:15).

If thou take away … the yoke - (See the notes at Isaiah 58:6).

The putting forth of the finger - That is, if you cease to contemn and despise others; if you cease to point at them the finger of scorn. It was usual to make use of the middle finger on such occasions. Thus Martial, ii. 28,2:

Rideto multum -

- et digitum porrigito medium.

So Juvenal, Sat. x. 52:

- mediumque ostenderet unguem.

And speaking vanity - Lowth and Noyes render it thus, ‹The injurious speech.‘ Kimchi understands it of words of contention and strife. The word used here (און 'âven ) denotes either nothingness, vanity, a vain and empty thing Isaiah 41:29; Zechariah 10:2; or falsehood, deceit Psalm 36:4; Proverbs 17:4; or unworthiness, wickedness, iniquity Job 36:21; Isaiah 1:13; here it means, probably, every kind of false, harsh, and unjust speaking - all of which probably I abounded among the Jews. The Septuagint renders it, ̔Ρῆμα γογγυσμοῦ Rēma gongusmou - ‹The word of murmuring.‘

Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 241.1

Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity. Isaiah 58:9. UL 241.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 168

Selfishness mars all that unconsecrated workers do. They have need to pray always, but they do not. They need to watch unto prayer. They have need to feel the sacredness of the work, but they do not feel this. They handle sacred things as they do common things. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and until they can drink of the water of life, and Christ be in them as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, they will refresh no one, bless no one; and except they repent, their candlestick will be removed out of its place. There is need of enduring patience, of invincible charity, of omnipotent faith in the work of saving souls. Self must not be prominent. Wisdom from Christ must be exercised in dealing with human minds. TM 168.1

Every worker who deals with souls successfully must come to the work divested of self. There can be no scolding or fretting, no arbitrary authority exercised, no putting forth of the finger and speaking vanity; but come to the work with hearts warmed with love for Jesus and for precious souls for whom He died. Those who are self-sufficient cannot conceal their weakness. They will come to the trial with overweening confidence in themselves, and make manifest the fact that Jesus is not with them. These self-sufficient souls are not few, and they have lessons to learn by hard experience of discomfiture and defeat. Few have the grace to welcome such an experience, and many backslide under the trial. They blame circumstances for their discomfiture, and think their talent is not appreciated by others. If they would humble themselves under the hand of God, He would teach them. TM 168.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2 (EGW), 1026

God often chooses the silence of the night to give His servants instruction. He can then gain freer access to their hearts than during the day. There is less to draw the mind from Him.... 2BC 1026.1

The Lord was testing Solomon. He placed in his mind a desire for the things that would enable him to rule wisely the people of Israel.... [Verses 7-9 quoted.] It was such a prayer as this that Solomon was continually to offer in the days of exaltation and glory awaiting him. And thus those who today are standing in positions of trust in the Lord's work are to pray. Let them beware of lifting up their hearts unto vanity. Only the prayers of those whose hearts are not filled with self-exaltation and haughtiness will the Lord hear. [Isaiah 58:9 quoted.] 2BC 1026.2

God commended Solomon's prayer. And He will today hear and commend the prayers of those who in faith and humility cry to Him for aid. He will certainly answer the fervent prayer for a preparation for service. In answer He will say, Here I am. What wilt thou that I shall do for thee? 2BC 1026.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 2, 372

With His eye upon the church, the Lord has again and again allowed matters to come to a crisis, that in their extremity His people should look alone for His help. Their prayers, their faith, together with their steadfast purpose to be true, have called for the interference of God, and then He has fulfilled His promise, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:9). His mighty arm has been stretched out for the deliverance of His people. God reserves His gracious interposition in their behalf till the time of their extremity; thus He makes their deliverance more marked, and their victories more glorious. When all human wisdom fails, the Lord's interference will be more clearly recognized, and He will receive the glory that is His due. Even the enemies of our faith, persecutors, will perceive that God is working for His people in turning their captivity. 2SM 372.1

What is needed in this, our time of danger, is fervent prayer, mingled with earnest faith, a reliance upon God when Satan casts his shadow over God's people. Let everyone bear in mind that God delights to listen to the supplications of His people; for the prevailing iniquity calls for more earnest prayer, and God has promised that He will avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them. 2SM 372.2

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 56.5

“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day” (Isaiah 58:9, 10). Praise God with heart and voice for this possibility! Praise God that we can bring this promise to the Lord for fulfillment, when we comply with the conditions. When we do not know which way to turn, light direct from God will come to us, if we will follow His directions.... UL 56.5

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