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Isaiah 8:16 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Bind thou up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Bind thou up the testimony,—Seal the instruction amongst my disciples.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among My disciples.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Binde vp the Testimonie, seale the Law among my disciples.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Then shall those who seal themselves that they may not learn the law be made manifest.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Bind up 6887
{6887} Prime
A primitive root; to cramp, literally or figuratively, transitively or intransitively.
<8798> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperative (See H8810)
Count - 2847
the testimony, 8584
{8584} Prime
From H5749; attestation, that is, a precept, usage.
seal 2856
{2856} Prime
A primitive root; to close up; especially to seal.
<8798> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperative (See H8810)
Count - 2847
the law 8451
{8451} Prime
From H3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch.
among my disciples. 3928
{3928} Prime
From H3925; instructed.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

See commentary on Isaiah 8:12-16.

Isaiah 8:16

_ _ Bind up ... seal — What Isaiah had before briefly noted by inscribing Maher-shalal-hash-baz in a tablet, fixed up in some public place, he afterwards wrote out more in detail in a parchment roll (Isaiah 30:8); this he is now to seal up, not merely in order that nothing may be added to, or taken from it, as being complete, but to imply that it relates to distant events, and is therefore to be a sealed and not understood testimony (Isaiah 6:9, Isaiah 6:10), except in part among God’s “disciples,” that is, those who “sanctify the Lord” by obedient trust (Psalms 25:14). Subsequent revelations would afterwards clear up what now was dark. So the Apocalypse explains what in Daniel was left unexplained (compare Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:9). “The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end”; but Revelation 22:10, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy ... for the time is at hand” (compare Revelation 5:1, Revelation 5:5, Revelation 5:9),

_ _ testimony — attested by Uriah and Zechariah (Isaiah 8:2).

_ _ law — the revelation just given, having the force of a law.

_ _ disciples — not as Maurer, Uriah and Zechariah (compare John 7:17; John 15:15).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Isaiah 8:16-22

_ _ In these verses we have,

_ _ I. The unspeakable privilege which the people of God enjoy in having the oracles of God consigned over to them, and being entrusted with the sacred writings. That they may sanctify the Lord of hosts, may make him their fear and find him their sanctuary, bind up the testimony, Isaiah 8:16. Note, It is a great instance of God's care of his church and love to it that he has lodged in it the invaluable treasure of divine revelation. 1. It is a testimony and a law; not only this prophecy is so, which must therefore be preserved safely for the comfort of God's people in the approaching times of trouble and distress, but the whole word of God is so; God has attested it, and he has enjoined it. As a testimony it directs our faith; as a law it directs our practice; and we ought both to subscribe to the truths of it and to submit to the precepts of it. 2. This testimony and this law are bound up and sealed, for we are not to add to them nor diminish from them; they are a letter from God to man, folded up and sealed, a proclamation under the broad seal. The binding up and sealing of the Old Testament signified that the full explication of many of the prophecies of it was reserved for the New Testament times. Daniel 12:4, Seal the book till the time of the end; but what was then bound up and sealed is now open and unsealed, and revealed unto babes, Matthew 11:25. Yet with reference to the other world, and the future state, still the testimony is bound up and sealed, for we know but in part, and prophesy but in part. 3. They are lodged as a sacred deposit in the hands of the disciples of the children of the prophets and the covenant, Acts 3:25. This is the good thing which is committed to them, and which they are charged with the custody of, 2 Timothy 1:13, 2 Timothy 1:14. Those that had prophets for their tutors must still keep close to the written word.

_ _ II. The good use which we ought to make of this privilege. This we are taught,

_ _ 1. By the prophet's own practice and resolutions, Isaiah 8:17, Isaiah 8:18. He embraced the law ad the testimony, and he had the comfort of them, in the midst of the many discouragements he met with. Note, Those ministers can best recommend the word of God to others that have themselves found the satisfaction of relying upon it. Observe,

_ _ (1.) The discouragements which the prophet laboured under. He specifies two: — [1.] The frowns of God, not so much upon himself, but upon his people, whose interests lay very near his heart: “He hides his face from the house of Jacob, and seems at present to neglect them, and lay them under the tokens of his displeasure.” The prophet was himself employed in revealing God's wrath against them, and yet grieved thus for it, as one that did not desire the woeful day. If the house of Jacob forsake the God of Jacob, let it not be thought strange that he hides his face from them. [2.] The contempt and reproaches of men, not only upon himself, but upon his disciples, among whom the law and the testimony were sealed: I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders; we are gazed at as monsters or outlandish people, pointed at as we go along the streets. Probably the prophetical names that were given to his children were ridiculed and bantered by the profane scoffers of the town. I am as a wonder unto many, Psalms 71:7. God's people are the world's wonder (Zechariah 3:8) for their singularity, and because they run not with them to the same excess of riot, 1 Peter 4:4. The prophet was herein a type of Christ; for this is quoted (Hebrews 2:13) to prove that believers are Christ's children: Behold, I and the children whom God has given me. Parents must look upon their children as God's gifts, his gracious gifts; Jacob did so, Genesis 33:5. Ministers must look upon their converts as their children, and be tender of them accordingly (1 Thessalonians 2:7), and as the children whom God has given them; for, whatever good we are instrumental of to others, it is owing to the grace of God. Christ looks upon believers as his children, whom the Father gave him (John 17:6), and both he and they are for signs and wonders, spoken against (Luke 2:34), every where spoken against, Acts 28:22.

_ _ (2.) The encouragement he took in reference to these discouragements. [1.] He saw the hand of God in all that which was discouraging to him, and kept his eye upon that. Whatever trouble the house of Jacob is in, it comes from God's hiding his face; nay, whatever contempt was put upon him or his friends, it is from the Lord of hosts; he has bidden Shimei curse David, Job 19:13; Job 30:11. [2.] He saw God dwelling in Mount Zion, manifesting himself to his people, and ready to hear their prayers and receive their homage. Though, for the present, he hide his face from the house of Jacob, yet they know where to find him and recover the sight of him; he dwells in Mount Zion. [3.] He therefore resolved to wait upon the Lord and to look for him; to attend his motions even while he hid his face, and to expect with a humble assurance his returns in a way of mercy. Those that wait upon God by faith and prayer may look for him with hope and joy. When we have not sensible comforts we must still keep up our observance of God and obedience to him, and then wait awhile; at evening time it shall be light.

_ _ 2. By the counsel and advice which he gives to his disciples, among whom the law and the testimony were sealed, to whom were committed the lively oracles.

_ _ (1.) He supposes they would be tempted, in the day of their distress, to consult those that had familiar spirits, that dealt with the devil, asked his advice, and desired to be informed by him concerning things to come, that they might take their measures accordingly. Thus Saul, when he was in straits, made his application to the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7, 1 Samuel 28:15), and Ahaziah to the god of Ekron, 2 Kings 1:2. These conjurors had strange fantastic gestures and tones: They peeped and muttered; they muffled their heads, that they could neither see nor be seen plainly, but peeped and were peeped at. Or both the words here used may refer to their voice and manner of speaking; they delivered what they had to say with a low, hollow, broken sound, scarcely articulate, and sometimes in a puling or mournful tone, like a crane, or a swallow, or a dove, Isaiah 38:14. They spoke not with that boldness and plainness which the prophets of the Lord spoke with, but as those who desire to amuse people rather than to instruct them; yet there were those who were so wretchedly sottish as to seek to them and to court others to do so, even the prophet's hearers, who knew better things, whom therefore the prophet warns not to say, A confederacy with such. There were express laws against this wickedness (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:27), and yet it was found in Israel, is found even in Christian nations; but let all that have any sense of religion show it, by startling at the thought of it. Get thee behind me, Satan. Dread the use of spells and charms, and consulting those that by hidden arts pretend to tell fortunes, cure diseases, or discover things lost; for this is a heinous crime, and, in effect, denies the God that is above.

_ _ (2.) He furnishes them with an answer to this temptation, puts words into their mouths. “If any go about thus to ensnare you, give them this reply: Should not a people seek to their God? What! for the living to the dead!” [1.] “Tell them it is a principle of religion that a people ought to seek unto their God; now Jehovah is our God, and therefore to him we ought to seek, and to consult with him, and not with those that have familiar spirits. All people will thus walk in the name of their God, Micah 4:5. Those that made the hosts of heaven their gods sought unto them, Jeremiah 8:2. Should not a people under guilt, and in trouble, seek to their God for pardon and peace? Should not a people in doubt, in want, and in danger, seek to their God for direction, supply, and protection? Since the Lord is our God, and we are his people, it is certainly our duty to seek him.” [2.] “Tell them it is an instance of the greatest folly in the world to seek for living men to dead idols.” What can be more absurd than to seek to lifeless images for life and living comforts, or to expect that our friends that are dead should do that for us, when we deify them and pray to them, which our living friends cannot do? The dead know not any thing, nor is there with them any device or working, Ecclesiastes 9:5, Ecclesiastes 9:10. It is folly therefore for the living to make their court to them, with any expectation of relief from them. Necromancers consulted the dead, as the witch of Endor, and so proclaimed their own folly. We must live by the living, and not by the dead. What life or light can we look for from those that have no light or life themselves?

_ _ (3.) He directs them to consult the oracles of God. If the prophets that were among them did not speak directly to every case, yet they had the written word, and to that they must have recourse. Note, Those will never be drawn to consult wizards that know how to make a good use of their Bibles. Would we know how we may seek to our God, and come to the knowledge of his mind? To the law and to the testimony. There you will see what is good, and what the Lord requires of you. Make God's statutes your counsellors, and you will be counselled aright. Observe, [1.] What use we must make of the law and the testimony: we must speak according to that word, that is, we must make this our standard, conform to it, take advice from it, make our appeals to it, and in every thing be overruled and determined by it, consent to those wholesome healing words (1 Timothy 6:3), and speak of the things of God in the words which the Holy Ghost teaches. It is not enough to say nothing against it, but we must speak according to it. [2.] Why we must make this use of the law and the testimony: because we shall be convicted of the greatest folly imaginable if we do not. Those that concur not with the word of God do thereby evince that there is no light, no morning light (so the word is) in them; they have no right sense of things; they do not understand themselves, nor the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood. Note, Those that reject divine revelation have not so much as human understanding; nor do those rightly admit the oracles of reason who will not admit the oracles of God. Some read it as a threatening: “If they speak not according to this word, there shall be no light to them, no good, no comfort or relief; but they shall be driven to darkness and despair;” as it follows here, Isaiah 8:21, Isaiah 8:22. What light had Saul when he consulted the witch? 1 Samuel 28:18, 1 Samuel 28:20. Or what light can those expect that turn away from the Father of lights?

_ _ (4.) He reads the doom of those that seek to familiar spirits and regard not God's law and testimony; there shall not only be no light to them, no comfort or prosperity, but they may expect all horror and misery, Isaiah 8:21, Isaiah 8:22. [1.] The trouble they feared shall come upon them: They shall pass through the land, or pass to and fro in the land, unfixed, unsettled, and driven from place to place by the threatening power of an invading enemy; they shall be hardly bestead whither to go for the necessary supports of life, either because the country would be so impoverished that there would be nothing to be had, or at least themselves and their friends so impoverished that there would be nothing to be had for them; so that those who used to be fed to the full shall be hungry. Note, Those that go away from God go out of the way of all good. [2.] They shall be very uneasy to themselves, by their discontent and impatience under their trouble. A good man may be in want, but then he quiets himself, and strives to make himself easy; but these people when they shall be hungry shall fret themselves, and when they have nothing to feed on their vexation shall prey upon their own spirits; for fretfulness is a sin that is its own punishment. [3.] They shall be very provoking to all about them, nay, to all above them; when they find all their measures broken, and themselves at their wits' end, they will forget all the rules of duty and decency, and will treasonably curse their king and blasphemously curse their God, and this more than in their thought and in their bedchamber, Ecclesiastes 10:20. They begin with cursing their king for managing the public affairs no better, as if the fault were his, when the best and wisest kings cannot secure success; but, when they have broken the bonds of their allegiance, no marvel if those of their religion do not hold them long: they next curse their God, curse him, and die; they quarrel with his providence, and reproach that, as if he had done them wrong. The foolishness of man perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord, Proverbs 19:3. See what need we have to keep our mouth as with a bridle when our heart is hot within us; for the language of fretfulness is commonly very offensive. [4.] They shall abandon themselves to despair, and, which way soever they look, shall see no probability of relief. They shall look upward, but heaven shall frown upon them and look gloomy; and how can it be otherwise when they curse their God? They shall look to the earth, but what comfort can that yield to those with whom God is at war? There is nothing there but trouble, and darkness, and dimness of anguish, every thing threatening, and not one pleasant gleam, not one hopeful prospect; but they shall be driven to darkness by the violence of their own fears, which represent every thing about them black and frightful. This explains what he had said Isaiah 8:20, that there shall be no light to them. Those that shut their eyes against the light of God's word will justly be abandoned to darkness, and left to wander endlessly, and the sparks of their own kindling will do them no kindness.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 8:16

The testimony — By the testimony and the law or doctrine, he understands one and the same thing, as he doth also, Isaiah 8:20, the word of God, and especially that which is the main scope thereof, the doctrine of the Messiah, which, though now professed by all the Israelites, shall be disowned by the generality of them, when the Messiah shall come. Bind up and seal are to be understood prophetically, declare and prophesy, that it shall be bound up and sealed. Moreover, bind up and seal, design the same thing. Security and secrecy, signifying, that it should certainly be fulfilled, yet withal kept secret from the unbelieving Jews. By the disciples he means those who were taught of God.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Isaiah 8:16

(r) Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

(r) Though all forsake me, yet you who are mine keep my word sure sealed in your hearts.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
Bind up:

Isaiah 29:11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which [men] deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it [is] sealed:
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

the testimony:

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.
Deuteronomy 4:45 These [are] the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
2 Kings 11:12 And he brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon him, and [gave him] the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.
John 3:32-33 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. ... He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
Hebrews 3:5 And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
1 John 5:9-12 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. ... He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.


Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Revelation 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Revelation 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.


Isaiah 54:13 And all thy children [shall be] taught of the LORD; and great [shall be] the peace of thy children.
Psalms 25:14 The secret of the LORD [is] with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
Proverbs 8:8-9 All the words of my mouth [are] in righteousness; [there is] nothing froward or perverse in them. ... They [are] all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
Daniel 12:9-10 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end. ... Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
Matthew 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Mark 4:10-11 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. ... And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables:
Mark 4:34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
Mark 10:10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same [matter].
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.
Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it].
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

Dt 4:45. 2K 11:12. Ps 25:14. Pv 8:8. Is 8:20; 29:11; 54:13. Dn 9:24; 12:4, 9. Mt 13:11. Mk 4:10, 34; 10:10. Jn 3:32. 1Co 2:14. He 3:5. 1Jn 5:9. Rv 2:17; 5:1, 5; 10:4; 19:10.

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