Friday, July 19, 2013

Hidden (Isaiah's Doxology, Part II)

"He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness." Is. 61:10-11

Isaiah, continuing his jubilant doxology, now expresses the specifics of his joy in God. He first states that God has "clothed me with the garments of salvation" as well as "covered me with the robe of righteousness." There is some interesting word usage going on here in the Hebrew. The easy ones to get are "salvation" (which carries the idea of "deliverance") and "righteousness" (which carries the idea of "justification"). Isaiah is delivered and justified, i.e., he has been brought out of something and in to something, out of a state of bondage and into a state of innocence before one whom had been offended. This is all courtroom language: you were bound to some great punishment or fate but now have been released, because you were declared just before your accuser as well as the judge.

Gotcha covered.
Here's where it gets interesting. This state of deliverance and justification is described as being "clothed" in "garments" and "covered" with a "robe". In Hebrew, "clothed" literally meant "to wrap up" in, like a cocoon. "Garments" literally meant a "cloak," which carried the idea of "hiding" or "to hide". It sometimes was used to suggest treachery or deceit, an act of hiding your true intentions like a man hides under a blanket.  "Covered" and "robe" also carry these additional meanings. The idea is that this deliverance and justification was a complete covering, so complete that you disappear into it, and only the deliverance and justification are seen. Your life is hidden in it, wrapped up like a mummy, buried like in a grave.

The is the first source of Isaiah's joy: God has given to him a salvation and righteousness that is absolute and total, one which you disappear into and are completely covered, like a raindrop in the sea, like a single star in a supercluster. Your life is hid in God's salvation, wrapped up in His garments and hidden in His robe, and none can pluck you from His hand.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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