The Meaning of Isaiah 57:20 Explained

Isaiah 57:20

KJV: But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

YLT: And the wicked are as the driven out sea, For to rest it is not able, And its waters cast out filth and mire.

Darby: But the wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, and whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

ASV: But the wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt.

What does Isaiah 57:20 Mean?

Context Summary

Isaiah 57:1-21 - No Peace To The Wicked
A terrible portrayal is given here of the idolatries and impurities into which the Chosen People had fallen. These scenes under "the oaks" (r.v.) and in the valleys remind us of the invariable evils associated with idolatry which the great Apostle has recorded in Romans 1:23-28. They refused to retain God in their knowledge, and He gave them over to a reprobate mind; that is, He ceased to restrain them.
But amid the degenerate nation, there was a handful of elect souls; God is always careful against rooting up the tares, lest one stalk of wheat perish. Amid the destruction that must overtake the guilty land they that trusted in Him, would not be overlooked. See Isaiah 57:13-14.
With what comfort the chapter closes! Isaiah 57:15, etc. We may have been covetous and froward, and have deserved wrath and chastisement, but God will not always chide. Only return to Him! He will revive your heart, and "restore comfort" to you. He will heal where He has wounded, and will bring you near, through the blood of the Cross. See Ephesians 2:16-17. [source]

Chapter Summary: Isaiah 57

1  The blessed death of the righteous
3  God reproves the People for their idolatry
13  He gives promises of mercy to the penitent

What do the individual words in Isaiah 57:20 mean?

But the wicked [are] like the sea troubled when rest cannot it and cast up Whose waters mire and dirt
וְהָרְשָׁעִ֖ים כַּיָּ֣ם נִגְרָ֑שׁ כִּ֤י הַשְׁקֵט֙ לֹ֣א יוּכָ֔ל וַיִּגְרְשׁ֥וּ מֵימָ֖יו רֶ֥פֶשׁ וָטִֽיט

וְהָרְשָׁעִ֖ים  But  the  wicked  [are] 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Article, Adjective, masculine plural
Root: רָשָׁע  
Sense: wicked, criminal.
כַּיָּ֣ם  like  the  sea 
Parse: Preposition-k, Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: יָם  
Sense: sea.
נִגְרָ֑שׁ  troubled 
Parse: Verb, Nifal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: גָּרַשׁ 
Sense: to drive out, expel, cast out, drive away, divorce, put away, thrust away, trouble, cast up.
הַשְׁקֵט֙  rest 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Infinitive absolute
Root: שָׁקַט  
Sense: to be quiet, be tranquil, be at peace, be quiet, rest, lie still, be undisturbed.
לֹ֣א  cannot 
Parse: Adverb, Negative particle
Root: הֲלֹא 
Sense: not, no.
וַיִּגְרְשׁ֥וּ  and  cast  up 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine plural
Root: גָּרַשׁ 
Sense: to drive out, expel, cast out, drive away, divorce, put away, thrust away, trouble, cast up.
מֵימָ֖יו  Whose  waters 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct, third person masculine singular
Root: מַיִם  
Sense: water, waters.
רֶ֥פֶשׁ  mire 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: רֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: mire, mud.
וָטִֽיט  and  dirt 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine singular
Root: טִיט  
Sense: mud, clay, mire, damp dirt.