"Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord." (KJV)

"Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord." (NIV)

How do we interpret this verse and also, to whom was this written in the context? How can I help myself understand that this does not go against God's desire to show mercy to the wicked?

2 Answers 2


Isaiah chapter 24 to 27 poetically described the Lord's judgment leading to desolation and His salvation bringing about the revival of His people. The repeated phrase 'In that day' (Isa 24:21; 25:9; 26:1; 27:1; 27:2; 27:12) alludes to the judgment day, which in the book of Isaiah literally referred to the event of the destruction of Jerusalem, but it may as well refer to the end day, the 2nd coming of Christ.

It's important to note that the Lord's judgment is not sudden, but comes with warning. From the time of Isaiah to the destruction of Jerusalem, over a hundred years had passed, with prophets before and after warning of the impending judgment. This grace period allowed for repentance of the wicked. Peter acknowledged this in his teachings.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Why are wicked souls unable to repent, even when living among the righteous and given ample time to do so? Rashi provided an explanation; The phrase, וּבַל יִרְאֶה, (lit., he shall not see,) is an expression of a habitual act, meaning: he did not see, he did not regard. (reference: sefaria.org)

When a wicked way becomes habitual, people lose sight of the Lord and will lead themselves to destruction.


The purpose of V10 in Isa 26 is to make a contrast between the righteous (in V7-0) and the wicked.

The righteous are just precisely because they wait on the LORD, they walk in the path of God's judgement (ie, His will) and to seek the renown of God's name

By contrast, the wicked reject God's leading and despite grace/favor being shown them, they refuse to "learn righteousness (Right doing/actions) and fail to see the majesty of the LORD.

The pulpit commentary sums this up well when it says:

Verse 10. - Let favor be showed to the wicked. This is a further explanation of the reason why the righteous had so earnestly desired the coming of God's judgments upon the earth. They had felt that further mercy and long-suffering wine thrown away upon the wicked, and "only did them harm" (Kay). When "favor was showed them," they did but persist in unrighteousness. In the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly. Even good example does not convert the wicked man. Though he live in a "land of righteousness," where God and his Law are acknowledged, where true religion is professed, where the gospel is preached, he will continue wicked, he will "deal unjustly;" he will not behold - or, consider - the majesty of the Lord. Isaiah 26:10

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