When the Enemy Comes in Like a Flood: What Does Isaiah 59:19 Mean?


Isaiah 59:19, “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (King James Version)

TranslationIsaiah 59:19
ESVSo they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives.
NASBSo they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream Which the wind of the LORD drives.
NIVFrom the west, people will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along.
NLTIn the west, people will respect the name of the LORD; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD.

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When the Enemy Comes in Like a Flood: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

59:16-21 This passage is connected with the following chapters. It is generally thought to describe the coming of the Messiah, as the Avenger and Deliverer of his church. There was none to intercede with God to turn away his wrath; none to interpose for the support of justice and truth.

Yet He engaged his own strength and righteousness for his people. God will make his justice upon the enemies of his church and people plainly appear. When the enemy threatens to bear down all without control, then the Spirit of the Lord shall stop him, put him to flight.

He that has delivered, will still deliver. A far more glorious salvation is promised to be wrought out by the Messiah in the fulness of time, which all the prophets had in view.

The Son of God shall come to us to be our Redeemer; the Spirit of God shall come to be our Sanctifier: thus the Comforter shall abide with the church for ever, Joh 14:16.

The word of Christ will always continue in the mouths of the faithful; and whatever is pretended to be the mind of the Spirit, must be tried by the Scriptures. We must lament the progress of infidelity and impiety.

But the cause of the Redeemer shall gain a complete victory even on earth, and the believer will be more than conqueror when the Lord receives him to his glory in heaven.

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Isaiah 59:19 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

  1. (Isa 45:6; Mal 1:11). The result of God’s judgments (Isa 26:9; 66:18-20).
    like a flood—(Jer 46:7, 8; Re 12:15).

lift up a standard—rather, from a different Hebrew root, “shall put him to flight,” “drive him away” [Maurer]. Lowth, giving a different sense to the Hebrew for “enemy” from that in Isa 59:18, and a forced meaning to the Hebrew for “Spirit of the Lord,” translates, “When He shall come as a river straitened in its course, which a mighty wind drives along.”

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