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Isaiah 26:7-9

Context
God’s People Anticipate Vindication

26:7 1 The way of the righteous is level,

the path of the righteous that you make is straight. 2 

26:8 Yes, as your judgments unfold, 3 

O Lord, we wait for you.

We desire your fame and reputation to grow. 4 

26:9 I 5  look for 6  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. 7 

1 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 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 ַמעְגַּל, mesharim yashar magal) 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 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 tn Heb “your name and your remembrance [is] the desire of [our?] being.”

5 tn Heb “with my soul I.” This is a figure for the speaker himself (“I”).

6 tn Or “long for, desire.” The speaker acknowledges that he is eager to see God come in judgment (see vv. 8, 9b).

7 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).



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