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Isaiah 6:5 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And I said, Woe unto me! for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Then said I—Woe to me!—for I am undone, Because, a man of unclean lips, am, I, And, in the midst of a people of unclean lips, do, I, dwell,—For, the King, Yahweh of hosts, have mine eyes seen!
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And I say, 'Woe to me, for I have been silent, For a man—unclean of lips [am] I, And in midst of a people unclean of lips I am dwelling, Because the King, Jehovah of Hosts, have my eyes seen.'
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And I said: Woe is me, because I have held my peace; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people that hath unclean lips, and I have seen with my eyes the King the Lord of hosts.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Then sayd I; woe [is] me; for I am vndone, because I [am] a man of vncleane lippes, and I dwell in the midst of a people of vncleane lippes: for mine eyes haue seene the king, the LORD of hostes.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips; and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Yahweh Tzevaoth.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Then said 559
{0559} Prime
A primitive root; to say (used with great latitude).
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
I, Woe 188
{0188} Prime
Probably from H0183 (in the sense of crying out after); lamentation; also interjectionally, Oh!.
[is] me! for x3588
(3588) Complement
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
I am undone; 1820
{1820} Prime
A primitive root; to be dumb or silent; hence to fail or perish; transitively to destroy.
<8738> Grammar
Stem - Niphal (See H8833)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 1429
because x3588
(3588) Complement
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
I x589
(0589) Complement
Contracted from H0595; I.
[am] a man 376
{0376} Prime
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
of unclean 2931
{2931} Prime
From H2930; foul in a religious sense.
lips, 8193
{8193} Prime
(The second form is in dual and plural); Probably from H5595 or H8192 through the idea of termination (compare H5490); the lip (as a natural boundary); by implication language; by analogy a margin (of a vessel, water, cloth, etc.).
and I x589
(0589) Complement
Contracted from H0595; I.
dwell 3427
{3427} Prime
A primitive root; properly to sit down (specifically as judge, in ambush, in quiet); by implication to dwell, to remain; causatively to settle, to marry.
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
in the midst 8432
{8432} Prime
From an unused root meaning to sever; a bisection, that is, (by implication) the centre.
of a people 5971
{5971} Prime
From H6004; a people (as a congregated unit); specifically a tribe (as those of Israel); hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively a flock.
of unclean 2931
{2931} Prime
From H2930; foul in a religious sense.
lips: 8193
{8193} Prime
(The second form is in dual and plural); Probably from H5595 or H8192 through the idea of termination (compare H5490); the lip (as a natural boundary); by implication language; by analogy a margin (of a vessel, water, cloth, etc.).
for x3588
(3588) Complement
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
mine eyes 5869
{5869} Prime
Probably a primitive word; an eye (literally or figuratively); by analogy a fountain (as the eye of the landscape).
have seen 7200
{7200} Prime
A primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitively, intransitively and causatively).
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
(0853) Complement
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
the King, 4428
{4428} Prime
From H4427; a king.
Yhw יָהוֶה 3068
{3068} Prime
From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God.
Xv צְבָאוֹת. 6635
{6635} Prime
From H6633; a mass of persons (or figurative things), especially regularly organized for war (an army); by implication a campaign, literally or figuratively (specifically hardship, worship).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Isaiah 6:5

_ _ undone — (Exodus 33:20). The same effect was produced on others by the presence of God (Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22; Job 42:5, Job 42:6; Luke 5:8; Revelation 1:17).

_ _ lips — appropriate to the context which describes the praises of the lips, sung in alternate responses (Exodus 15:20, Exodus 15:21; Isaiah 6:3) by the seraphim: also appropriate to the office of speaking as the prophet of God, about to be committed to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9).

_ _ seen — not strictly Jehovah Himself (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16), but the symbol of His presence.

_ _ LordHebrew, “Jehovah.”

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Isaiah 6:5-8

_ _ Our curiosity would lead us to enquire further concerning the seraphim, their songs and their services; but here we leave them, and must attend to what passed between God and his prophet. Secret things belong not to us, the secret things of the world of angels, but things revealed to and by the prophets, which concern the administration of God's kingdom among men. Now here we have,

_ _ I. The consternation that the prophet was put into by the vision which he saw of the glory of God (Isaiah 6:5): Then said I, Woe is me! I should have said, “Blessed art thou, who hast been thus highly favoured, highly honoured, and dignified, for a time, with the privilege of those glorious beings that always behold the face of our Father. Blessed were those eyes which saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and those ears which heard the angels' praises.” And, one would think, he should have said, “Happy am I, for ever happy; nothing now shall trouble me, nothing make me blush or tremble;” but, on the contrary, he cries out, “Woe is me! for I am undone. Alas for me! I am a gone man; I shall surely die (Judges 13:22; Judges 6:22); I am silenced; I am struck dumb, struck dead.” Thus Daniel, when he heard the words of the angel, became dumb, and there was no strength, no breath, left in him, Daniel 10:15, Daniel 10:17. Observe,

_ _ 1. What the prophet reflected upon in himself which terrified him: “I am undone if God deal with me in strict justice, for I have made myself obnoxious to his displeasure, because I am a man of unclean lips.” Some think he refers particularly to some rash word he had spoken, or to his sinful silence in not reproving sin with the boldness and freedom that were necessary — a sin which God's ministers have too much cause to charge themselves with, and to blush at the remembrance of. But it may be taken more generally; I am a sinner; particularly, I have offended in word; and who is there that hath not? James 3:2. We all have reason to bewail it before the Lord, (1.) That we are of unclean lips ourselves; our lips are not consecrated to God; he had not had the first-fruits of our lips (Hebrews 13:15), and therefore they are counted common and unclean, uncircumcised lips, Exodus 6:30. Nay, they have been polluted with sin. We have spoken the language of an unclean heart, that evil communication which corrupts good manners, and whereby many have been defiled. We are unworthy and unmeet to take God's name into our lips. With what a pure lip did the angels praise God! “But,” says the prophet, “I cannot praise him so, for I am a man of unclean lips.” The best men in the world have reason to be ashamed of themselves, and the best of their services, when they come into comparison with the holy angels. The angels had celebrated the purity and holiness of God; and therefore the prophet, when he reflects upon sin, calls it uncleanness; for the sinfulness of sin is its contrariety to the holy nature of God, and upon that account especially it should appear both hateful and frightful to us. The impurity of our lips ought to be the grief of our souls, for by our words we shall be justified or condemned. (2.) That we dwell among those who are so too. We have reason to lament not only that we ourselves are polluted, but that the nature and race of mankind are so; the disease is hereditary and epidemic, which is so far from lessening our guilt that it should rather increase our grief, especially considering that we have not done what we might have done for the cleansing of the pollution of other people's lips; nay, we have rather learned their way and spoken their language, as Joseph in Egypt learned the courtier's oath, Genesis 42:16. “I dwell in the midst of a people who by their impudent sinnings are pulling down desolating judgments upon the land, which I, who am a sinner too, may justly expect to be involved in.”

_ _ 2. What gave occasion for these sad reflections at this time: My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. He saw God's sovereignty to be incontestable — he is the King; and his power irresistible — he is the Lord of hosts. These are comfortable truths to God's people, and yet they ought to strike an awe upon us. Note, A believing sight of God's glorious majesty should affect us all with reverence and godly fear. We have reason to be abased in the sense of that infinite distance that there is between us and God, and our own sinfulness and vileness before him, and to be afraid of his displeasure. We are undone if there be not a Mediator between us and this holy God, 1 Samuel 6:20. Isaiah was thus humbled, to prepare him for the honour he was now to be called to as a prophet. Note, Those are fittest to be employed for God who are low in their own eyes and are made deeply sensible of their own weakness and unworthiness.

_ _ II. The silencing of the prophet's fears by the good words, and comfortable words, with which the angel answered him, Isaiah 6:6, Isaiah 6:7. One of the seraphim immediately flew to him, to purify him, and so to pacify him. Note, God has strong consolations ready for holy mourners. Those that humble themselves in penitential shame and fear shall soon be encouraged and exalted; those that are struck down with the visions of God's glory shall soon be raised up again with the visits of his grace; he that tears will heal. Note, further, Angels are ministering spirits for the good of the saints, for their spiritual good. Here was one of the seraphim dismissed, for a time, from attending on the throne of God's glory, to be a messenger of his grace to a good man; and so well pleased was he with the office that he came flying to him. To our Lord Jesus himself, in his agony, there appeared an angel from heaven, strengthening him, Luke 22:43. Here is, 1. A comfortable sign given to the prophet of the purging away of his sin. The seraph brought a live coal from the altar, and touched his lips with it, not to hurt them, but to heal them — not to cauterize, but to cleanse them; for there were purifications by fire, as well as by water, and the filth of Jerusalem was purged by the spirit of burning, Isaiah 4:4. The blessed Spirit works as fire, Matthew 3:11. The seraph, being himself kindled with a divine fire, put life into the prophet, to make him also zealously affected; for the way to purge the lips from the uncleanness of sin is to fire the soul with the love of God. This live coal was taken from off the altar, either the altar of incense or that of burnt-offerings, for they had both of them fire burning on them continually. Nothing is powerful to cleanse and comfort the soul but what is taken from Christ's satisfaction and the intercession he ever lives to make in the virtue of that satisfaction. It must be a coal from his altar that must put life into us and be our peace; it will not be done with strange fire. 2. An explication of this sign: “Lo, this has touched thy lips, to assure thee of this, that thy iniquity is taken away and thy sin purged. The guilt of thy sin is removed by pardoning mercy, the guilt of thy tongue-sins. Thy corrupt disposition to sin is removed by renewing grace; and therefore nothing can hinder thee from being accepted with God as a worshipper, in concert with the holy angels, or from being employed for God as a messenger to the children of men.” Those only who are thus purged from an evil conscience are prepared to serve the living God, Hebrews 9:14. The taking away of sin is necessary to our speaking with confidence and comfort either to God in prayer or from God in preaching; nor are any so fit to display to others the riches and power of gospel-grace as those who have themselves tasted the sweetness and felt the influence of that grace; and those shall have their sin taken away who complain of it as a burden and see themselves in danger of being undone by it.

_ _ III. The renewing of the prophet's mission, Isaiah 6:8. Here is a communication between God and Isaiah about this matter. Those that would assist others in their correspondence with God must not themselves be strangers to it; for how can we expect that God should speak by us if we never heard him speaking to us, or that we should be accepted as the mouth of others to God if we never spoke to him heartily for ourselves? Observe here,

_ _ 1. The counsel of God concerning Isaiah's mission. God is here brought in, after the manner of men, deliberating and advising with himself: Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? God needs not either to be counselled by others or to consult with himself; he knows what he will do, but thus he would show us that there is a counsel in his whole will, and teach us to consider our ways, and particularly that the sending forth of ministers is a work not to be done but upon mature deliberation. Observe, (1.) Who it is that is consulting. It is the Lord God in his glory, whom he saw upon the throne high and lifted up. It puts an honour upon the ministry that, when God would send a prophet to speak in his name, he appeared in all the glories of the upper world. Ministers are the ambassadors of the King of kings; how mean soever they are, he who sends them is great; it is God in three persons (Who will go for us? as Genesis 1:26, Let us make man), Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They all concur, as in the creating, so in the redeeming and governing of man. Ministers are ordained in the same name into which all Christians are baptized. (2.) What the consultation is: Whom shall I send? And who will go? Some think this refers to the particular message of wrath against Israel, Isaiah 6:9, Isaiah 6:10. “Who will be willing to go on such a melancholy errand, on which they will go in the bitterness of their souls?” Ezekiel 3:14. But I rather take it more largely for all those messages which the prophet was entrusted to deliver, in God's name, to that people, in which that hardening work was by no means the primary intention, but a secondary effect of them, 2 Corinthians 2:16. Whom shall I send? intimating that the business was such as required a choice and well-accomplished messenger, Jeremiah 49:19. God now appeared, attended with holy angels, and yet asks, Whom shall I send? For he would send them a prophet from among their brethren, Hebrews 2:17. Note, [1.] It is the unspeakable favour of God to us that he is pleased to send us his mind by men like ourselves, whose terror shall not make us afraid, and who are themselves concerned in the messages they bring. Those who are workers together with God are sinners and sufferers together with us. [2.] It is a rare thing to find one who is fit to go for God, and carry his messages to the children of men: Whom shall I send? Who is sufficient? Such a degree of courage for God and concern for the souls of men as is necessary to make a man faithful, and withal such an insight into the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven as is necessary to make a man skilful, are seldom to be met with. Such an interpreter of the mind of God is one of a thousand, Job 33:23. [3.] None are allowed to go for God but those who are sent by him; he will own none but those whom he appoints, Romans 10:15. It is Christ's work to put men into the ministry, 1 Timothy 1:12.

_ _ 2. The consent of Isaiah to it: Then said I, Here am I; send me. He was to go on a melancholy errand; the office seemed to go a begging, and every body declined it, and yet Isaiah offered himself to the service. It is an honour to be singular in appearing for God, Judges 5:7. We must not say, “I would go if I thought I should have success;” but, “I will go, and leave the success to God. Here am I; send me.” Isaiah had been himself in a melancholy frame (Isaiah 6:5), full of doubts and fears; but now that he had the assurance of the pardon of his sin the clouds were blown over, and he was fit for service and forward to it. What he says denotes, (1.) His readiness: “Here am I, a volunteer, not pressed into the service.” Behold me; so the word is. God says to us, Behold me (Isaiah 65:1), and, Here I am (Isaiah 58:9), even before we call; let us say so to him when he does call. (2.) His resolution; “Here I am, ready to encounter the greatest difficulties. I have set my face as a flint.” Compare this with Isaiah 50:4-7. (3.) His referring himself to God: “Send me whither thou wilt; make what use thou pleasest of me. Send me, that is, Lord, give me commission and full instruction; send me, and then, no doubt, thou wilt stand by me.” It is a great comfort to those whom God sends that they go for God, and may therefore speak in his name, as having authority, and be assured that he will bear them out.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 6:5

l am — I am a great sinner, as many other ways, so particularly by my lips. I am an unclean branch of an unclean tree; besides my own uncleanness, I have both by my omissions and commissions involved myself in the guilt of their sins. Have seen — The sight of this glorious and holy God gives me cause to fear that he is come to judgment against me.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Isaiah 6:5

Then said I, (l) Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

(l) He speaks this for two reasons, the one because he who was a mortal creature and therefore had more need to glorify God than the angels, did not do it, and the other because the nearer that man approaches to God, the more he knows his own sin and corruption.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
said I:

Exodus 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
Judges 6:22 And when Gideon perceived that he [was] an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.
Judges 13:22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
Job 42:5-6 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. ... Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes.
Daniel 10:6-8 His body also [was] like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. ... Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
Habakkuk 3:16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
Luke 5:8-9 When Simon Peter saw [it], he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. ... For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
Revelation 1:16-17 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength. ... And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Heb. cut off

a man:

Exodus 4:10 And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I [am] slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
Exodus 6:12 And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who [am] of uncircumcised lips?
Exodus 6:30 And Moses said before the LORD, Behold, I [am] of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?
Jeremiah 1:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I [am] a child.
Zechariah 3:1-7 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. ... Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
Matthew 12:34-37 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. ... For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
James 3:1-2 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. ... For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same [is] a perfect man, [and] able also to bridle the whole body.

I dwell:

Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
Jeremiah 9:3-8 And they bend their tongues [like] their bow [for] lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. ... Their tongue [is as] an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: [one] speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.
Ezekiel 2:6-8 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns [be] with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house. ... But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.
Ezekiel 33:31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee [as] my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, [but] their heart goeth after their covetousness.
James 3:6-10 And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. ... Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

mine eyes:

Isaiah 33:17 Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.
Revelation 1:5-7 And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, ... Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
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Ex 4:10; 6:12, 30; 33:20. Jg 6:22; 13:22. Jb 42:5. Is 29:13; 33:17. Jr 1:6; 9:3. Ezk 2:6; 33:31. Dn 10:6. Hab 3:16. Zc 3:1. Mt 12:34. Lk 5:8. Jm 3:1, 6. Rv 1:5, 16.

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