13–14 Herbert (in loc.) suggests that the association of “Sabbath” with denying oneself in Leviticus 16:31 [NIV mg. says “must fast”) may account for the inclusion of these verses in this chapter. There is no need, however, for us to detach them from the rest of it. Moreover, as Ralph Alexander has pointed out (in a personal communication), the Sabbath here may represent the entire Mosaic covenant and the blessings to be enjoyed in following it (see comment on 56:3–8). Kidner’s fine comment (in loc.) is worth quoting fully:
Lest it should seem that philanthropy is all, these verses describe the strictness and the gladness of the sabbath-keeping God desires. If fasting is to be an opportunity to show love to our neighbour, the sabbath should express first of all our love of God (though both the foregoing passage and the sabbath practice of Jesus insist that it must overflow to man). It will mean self-forgetfulness (v. 13a) and the self-discipline of rising above the trivial (v. 13b). But to people of this spirit God can safely give great things (v. 14).
If thou shalt turn away thy foot from the sabbath. Some think that the Prophet alludes to the external observation of the Sabbath, because it was not lawful to perform a journey on that day. (Ex. 20:8.) Though I do not reject that opinion, yet I think that the meaning is far more extensive; for by a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he denotes the whole course of human life; as it is very customary to employ the word “going” or “walking” to denote our life. He says, therefore, “If thou cease to advance in thy course, if thou shut up thy path, walk not according to thine own will,” &c. For this is to “turn away the foot from the Sabbath,” when we lay ourselves under the necessity of wandering freely and without restraint in our own sinful desires. As he formerly included under the class of fasting all ceremonies and outward masks, in which they made their holiness to consist, and shewed that they were vain and unprofitable; so in this passage he points out the true observation of the Sabbath, that they may not think that it consists in external idleness but in true self-denial, so as to abstain from every act of injustice and wickedness, and from all lusts and wicked thoughts. First, by the word “foot” he denotes actions; because the Jews, though they did not venture to perform a journey, or to cook flesh on a Sabbath-day, yet did not scruple to harass their neighbours and to mock at the afflicted. Yet he immediately passes on to the will and to speeches, so as to include every part of the obedience which we owe to God.
And shalt call the Sabbath a delight. This word, “delight,” must be viewed as referring to God, and not to men; because nothing can be more pleasing or acceptable to God, than the observation of the Sabbath, and sincere worship. He carefully inculcates this, that men do wrong, if, laying aside the commandments of God, they esteem highly those things which are of no value; and he warns them that they ought to form their judgment from his will alone. Certain classes of duties are again enumerated by him, by which he shews clearly that the true observation of the Sabbath consists in self-denial and thorough conversion. And thus he pronounces the foundation to be the will, from which proceed speeches, and next actions; for we speak what we have conceived in our heart, and by speech we make known our will, and afterwards carry it into effect. Whoever then wishes to serve God in a proper manner, must altogether renounce his flesh and his will. And hence we see the reason why God so highly recommends, in the whole Scripture, the observation of the Sabbath; for he contemplated something higher than the outward ceremony, that is, indolence and repose, in which the Jews thought that the greatest holiness consisted. On the contrary, he commanded the Jews to renounce the desires of the flesh, to give up their sinful inclinations, and to yield obedience to him; as no man can meditate on the heavenly life, unless he be dead to the world and to himself. Now, although that ceremony has been abolished, nevertheless the truth remains; because Christ died and rose again, so that we have a continual sabbath; that is, we are released from our works, that the Spirit of God may work mightily in us.
- Then wilt thou delight in Jehovah. He appears to allude to the word delight in the preceding verse; for the verb תתענג, (tĭthgnănnēg,) which the Prophet employs, is derived from the same root as ענג, (gnōnĕg,) which he formerly used, when he said that the Lord takes the highest delight in the true observation of the Sabbath. In a word, he means that the people take no delight in God, because they provoke him, and do not obey his will; for if we framed our life in obedience to God, we should be his delight, and, on the other hand, he would be our delight. Thus he affirms that it is owing entirely to the Jews themselves that they do not, by relying on a reconciled God, lead a cheerful and joyful life. By these words he indirectly reproaches them with bringing upon themselves, by their own fault, many calamities.
And I will cause thee to ride on the high places of the earth. By these words he promises a return to their native country, and a safe habitation in it. We know that Judea was situated on a lofty place above the neighbouring countries; while the situation of Babylon was much lower, so that the people trembled as if they had been shut up in a cave. He next tells more plainly what he meant by the word ride; for he promises the possession of that country which had been promised and given to the fathers,2 and which they at that time enjoyed, and of which they were afterwards deprived for a time.
For the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. He added this, that they might know, beyond all controversy, that all these things were true; and this must be viewed as referring not only to those promises, but likewise to the beginning of the chapter. For he rebuked hypocrites, who thought that they were defending themselves in a just cause, and shewed that they were suffering the just punishment of their sins; and that it was in vain to contend with God, and to bring forward in opposition to him their own works, which were altogether empty and worthless. On that account he brings them back to the true observation of the Sabbath, and shews that it will be well with them, if they shall worship God in a right manner. At length he concludes that they have not to deal with a mortal man, but that he who pronounces these things is God the Judge.
58:13–14. The second way Israel practiced hypocrisy was in Sabbath observance. The Sabbath was not acceptable as long as the people observed it in a self-serving way and maintained oppressive labor practices. God called Israel to turn from hypocritical Sabbath practices to those that honor the Sabbath as a holy day resulting in enjoyment of God. Rather than legalistic Sabbath observance, true faith would bring God’s messianic blessing—then Israel would truly honor the Sabbath. At that time God would provide for the nation. The phrase ride on the heights of the earth (v. 14) is an allusion to Dt 32:13 and refers to the provision of food. God will also feed them with the heritage of Jacob indicates that the land promised to Jacob will provide all the food the nation will need.
13–14 But lest it should seem that philanthropy is all, these verses describe the strictness and the gladness of the Sabbath-keeping God desires. If fasting is to be an opportunity to show love to our neighbour, the Sabbath should express, first of all, our love of God (though both the foregoing passage and the Sabbath practice of Jesus insist that it must overflow to man). It will mean self-forgetfulness (13a) and the self-discipline of rising above the trivial (13b). But to people of this spirit God can safely give great things (14).
58:13–14. Sabbath observance was a barometer of one’s faithfulness to the Mosaic Covenant (cf. comments on 56:4–6). By following the rules for the Sabbath a person acknowledged the importance of worshiping God and showed that he depended on God to bless him materially for that time he took off from work. By putting God first and not seeking to do as he wished, a person would have joy, not only in spiritual salvation (ride on the heights) but also in prosperity (feast on the inheritance). All this was certain because the Lord has spoken (cf. 1:20; 40:5).
58:13, 14 If God’s people respect the Sabbath by abstaining from business or selfish pleasure, if they consider it a delight to honor God’s holy day, then they will delight … in the Lord who gave the day, and He will give them a place of leadership in the earth and the heritage that God promised to Jacob. Nothing can hinder this because the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
58:13 Doing your pleasure probably refers to commerce (vv. 3, 4; Amos 8:5). Holy day clearly indicates that in vv. 2–9 the Lord was not rejecting ritual altogether (66:23).
58:14 This blessing is based on the Song of Moses in Deut. 32:9, 13.
58:13 turn your foot … the sabbath. The Sabbath was holy ground on which no one should walk. Keeping the Sabbath was symbolic of obedience to all the law of Moses (56:2). For the setting aside of Sabbath law in the NT, see notes on Ro 14:5, 6 and Col 2:16, 17.
58:14 take delight in the Lord. Repentant people walking in fellowship with the Lord experience satisfaction of soul (Ps 37:4). Their satisfaction will not come from material goods (contra. 55:2).
58:13–14 If … if … then. For a third time in ch. 58, God clarifies the kind of religious practice that draws down his blessing. the Sabbath. See note on 56:2. the heights of the earth. Social prestige among the nations (cf. Deut. 26:16–19; 28:1; 33:29). the heritage of Jacob. The promises to the patriarchs.
58:13 you hold your foot back from the Sabbath, from The people were accustomed to going about their own business on the Sabbath, essentially trampling over the sanctity of the day (see Isa 56:2).
Nehemiah observes the people openly profaning the Sabbath and literally trampling the day by treading the winepresses and engaging in other agricultural work (Neh 13:15–21).
58:14 I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth Alludes to the miraculous provision of exodus, using the same poetic image as Deut 32:12–13.
the mouth of Yahweh has spoken Echoes the end of the opening poem of Isa 1 (see 1:20).
 Kidner, F. D. (1994). Isaiah. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 666). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 984). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 58:13–14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.