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What does it mean in Isa 11:1-3 that "He will delight in the fear of the Lord?"


Isaiah 11:1 - 3

ESV - 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Clarify Share Report Asked November 20 2019 05a00e36 4298 4314 84c7 d5f047bb0a9a Rotimi EWEDEMI

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Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
This amazing prophecy in Isaiah about Christ has a lot of nuance that just can't be conveyed in English well. It's also one of those few passages where translators vary a bit, as there is disagreement on what the best translation is. The word ruach is an odd one to use here, more literally meaning 'scent' or 'breath.' But since it can take the nuance 'take delight in smelling, (Ex 30:38; Am 5:21)' the grammatically easier "Delight" is often used in English translations. But it can also take the nuance "perceive" or "touch" (Judges 16:9, Job 39:25) so that is also possible as well - and as I will get into later, perhaps more likely. 

But let's start with the context:

"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist."

Isa 11:1-8

Even before we dive into the details of the verse, we can guess that His delight in the fear of the Lord here is related to the Holy Spirit, to righteousness, wisdom, understanding, council, and to judgement.

So, here are just some of the many proposed translations for the line sometimes rendered "He will delight Himself in the fear of the Lord:"

"He shall find a sweet savour in the fear of the Lord." (Gesenius, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Knobel)
"He shall draw his breath in the fear of the Lord"
"And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord"
"The breath of his nostrils shall be in the fear of the Lord" (Herder, Ewald, Meier, Cheyne)
"'And the spirit of the fear of God shall fill him" (Septuigant)
"Quick-scented in the fear of Jehovah"
"His smelling shall be in the fear of the Lord" (Poole)
"He shall delight in the fear of God." (Maurer)
"And the Lord shall draw him near to him in his fear." (Chaldee)
"And he shall be resplendent in the fear of the Lord.'" (Syriac)
" " " "be of quick discernment in the fear of the Lord" (Bishop Lowth)

As awkward as it is in English, "His smelling shall be..." and "Quick-scented..." are probably the strongest translations given the immediate contrast with sight and hearing in the next verse. Smelling in this manner would be linked with perception, so perception or discernment would be fine thought-for-thought translations.

So the Messiah to come will not judge on what He sees (the outside appearance, brief displays of public piety) or hears (rumor, false witness, boasting) but on what He perceives through the Spirit.

We see this fulfilled in many passages, where Jesus looks past the outward appearance to perceive the heart and bases His judgments in the Father's will (Matt 23:23, Jn 5:30, Lk 21:1-4, Matt 23:27, etc.)

But what does it mean for Jesus' perception to be rooted in the fear of the Lord? Well, the fear of the Lord is often linked with wisdom in scripture (Job 28:28, Prov 9) as well as impartial justice that doesn't take bribes (II Cor 19:7,) both of which tie in to the context of the passage.

Essentially, Jesus will have the Holy Spirit, and (even though He humbled Himself to take on human flesh) through the Spirit He will perceive correctly and judge impartially with righteousness.

November 21 2019 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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