The Meaning of Isaiah 48:18 Explained

Isaiah 48:18

KJV: O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

YLT: O that thou hadst attended to My commands, Then as a river is thy peace, And thy righteousness as billows of the sea,

Darby: Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then would thy peace have been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea;

ASV: Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

What does Isaiah 48:18 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Failure to listen and hear the Lord"s instruction (cf. Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 48:4; Isaiah 48:8) in the past had limited Israel"s peace (Heb. shalom) and her right conduct (Heb. sedaqa). Things could have been far better if she had only listened and obeyed. She could have experienced a ceaseless, powerful flow of His blessings.
"Every sensitive teacher knows the pain of heart that comes when he pours himself out for students who prove to be unteachable. Israel proved to be like that (cf. Isaiah 48:8); and God expresses his deep concern for them, because they are themselves the losers." [1]

Context Summary

Isaiah 48:17-22 - "a Light To The Gentiles"
The first division of this second part of Isaiah closes at Isaiah 48:22, with the phrase there is no peace to the wicked. The second division of part 2 closes with a similar phrase, Isaiah 57:21. The first division here ends with the proclamation for Israel to leave Babylon. They need never have gone there. If only they have been obedient in every particular theirs would have been the happy lot of Isaiah 48:18, as contrasted with Isaiah 48:22. But even under such circumstances, in captivity and as slaves of the Chaldeans the redeeming grace of God would triumph, Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 49:5.
The second great division of Part 2 opens with Isaiah 49:1. In their first and immediate reference, these verses evidently apply to our Lord. See Acts 13:47, etc. In the mission of Jesus, the ideal of the Hebrew race was realized. As the white flower on the stalk He revealed the essential beauty and glory of the root, Isaiah 49:6. See Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:1-2; Matthew 2:14-15, etc.
There is a secondary sense, also, in which the Christian worker may appropriate many things in this glowing paragraph. Our mouth must be surrendered to God, that He may use it for His own high purposes. But do not dread the shadow of His hand. It is the quiver case in which He keeps His chosen arrows against the battle! [source]

Chapter Summary: Isaiah 48

1  God, to convince the people of their foreknown obstinance, revealed his prophecies
9  He saves them for his own sake
12  He exhorts them to obedience, because of his power and providence
16  He laments their backwardness
20  He powerfully delivers his people out of Babylon

What do the individual words in Isaiah 48:18 mean?

Oh that you had heeded My commandments and would have been like a river your peace and your righteousness like the waves of the sea
ל֥וּא הִקְשַׁ֖בְתָּ ! לְמִצְוֺתָ֑י וַיְהִ֤י כַנָּהָר֙ שְׁלוֹמֶ֔ךָ וְצִדְקָתְךָ֖ כְּגַלֵּ֥י הַיָּֽם

ל֥וּא  Oh  that 
Parse: Preposition
Root: לוּ  
Sense: if, oh that!, if only!.
הִקְשַׁ֖בְתָּ  you  had  heeded 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Perfect, second person masculine singular
Root: קָשַׁב  
Sense: to hear, be attentive, heed, incline (of ears), attend (of ears), hearken, pay attention, listen.
! לְמִצְוֺתָ֑י  My  commandments 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, feminine plural construct, first person common singular
Root: מִצְוָה  
Sense: commandment.
וַיְהִ֤י  and  would  have  been 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אֶהְיֶה 
Sense: to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out.
כַנָּהָר֙  like  a  river 
Parse: Preposition-k, Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: נָהָר  
Sense: stream, river.
שְׁלוֹמֶ֔ךָ  your  peace 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, second person masculine singular
Root: שָׁלֹום  
Sense: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.
וְצִדְקָתְךָ֖  and  your  righteousness 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, feminine singular construct, second person masculine singular
Root: צְדָקָה  
Sense: justice, righteousness.
כְּגַלֵּ֥י  like  the  waves 
Parse: Preposition-k, Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: גַּל 
Sense: heap, spring, wave, billow.
הַיָּֽם  of  the  sea 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: יָם  
Sense: sea.