…you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. – Isaiah 51:17b
There are two very apt illustrations used in this verse. Perhaps you have heard the expression “punch drunk”? That is when a boxer has been hit in the head, not hard enough to knock him out, but hard enough to disorient him. There is another level of meaning as well. It may be that the people of Nineveh, if they do not repent, will drink the full cup of God’s wrath and they will be drunken and finally destroyed by it.
Secondly, the illustration in this verse is that people will go into hiding. There is some ambiguity in the meaning of the original language. Perhaps it means soldiers will go off and hide themselves in fear. It might also mean that this mighty empire will be hidden by the sands of time. Only archaeologists will ever uncover the existence of this once mighty nation. They are an object of scorn and derision for all who pass by.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, Jesus prayed that the cup would pass and that He would not have to drink it. This cup is what is referred to in Isaiah 51:17, the cup of God’s wrath, the cup of staggering. Jesus Himself will take the blows we deserved. He was punished, though He was completely innocent. Jesus was scorned—so terrible was the mocking that any others who faced it would have gone into hiding. Glorious is Jesus, our Redeemer-King; great is the salvation He brings to all who believe.
Suggestions for prayer
Thank God for the LORD Jesus Christ; thank Him for the clarity of our new life and blessing of living by the power of the Spirit.
Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.