In yesterday’s post about Isaiah 58 , I failed to take into account several other uses of nephesh in the chapter, which are needed to get a full grasp of what the chapter is doing.
Nephesh first appears in verse 3, in Israel’s complaint that Yahweh pays no attention to their fasting: “Why have we humbled our nephashot and You do not notice?” Yahweh responds that the fast He wants is not “a day for a man to humble his nephesh ” (v. 5). Fasting is not just afflicting one’s nephesh , but giving it away to the hungry and oppressed, so as to fill them (v. 10). Expending nephesh for others is the true fast.
But when Israel fulfills this true fast, their expended nephesh is not exhausted but replenished. If they keep the fast, Yahweh will guide them and “will satiate your nephesh in scorched places” (v. 11). Nephesh is not the sort of thing that diminishes when it is expended, because Yahweh fills those who empty themselves. Those who give nephesh become unfailing springs of living water.
So Jesus in emptying His soul to death, feeds the hungry and delivers the oppressed, and so is Himself satiated with life, so as to become a living, breathing Eden in the scorched places of the earth.