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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Isaiah 12




This chapter Isaiah 12:1-6 is a part of the vision which was commenced in Isaiah 10:5. The prophet had foretold the deliverance of the nation from the threatened invasion of Sennacherib John 7:14, notes at John 7:37). This custom was not required by Moses, and probably arose from the command in Isaiah 12:3 of this chapter. Our Saviour applied it to himself, to the benefits of his gospel, and to the influences of the Spirit John 7; and the ancient Jews so applied it also. ‹Why is it called the house of drawing? Because from thence they draw the Holy Spirit; as it is written, “and ye shall draw water with joy from the fountains of salvation.”‘ - (“Jerusalem Talmud” as quoted by Lowth.)

Verse 1

And in that day - The day referred to in the previous chapter, the time of the Messiah, when the effects of his reign shall be seen everywhere. The duty of praise, however, is couched in such language as to make it applicable to the event predicted in the former part of the prophecy Isaiah 10:6 ff.) If it is supposed to be applied to the time of the Messiah, then it is language which every redeemed sinner may use, that God was angry with him, but that his anger is turned away. As applicable to the redeemed, it is an acknowledgement which they all feel, that they have no claim to his mercy, and that it lays the foundation for unceasing praise that his anger is turned away by the plan of salvation.

Verse 2

Behold, God is my salvation - Or, God is the author, or source, of my salvation. It has not been brought about by any human hands, but is to be traced directly to him. The value of a gift is always enhanced by the dignity and excellency of the giver, and it confers an inestimable value on the blessings of salvation, that they are conferred by a being no less than the infinite God. It is not by human or angelic power; but it is to be traced directly and entirely to Yahweh.

I will trust, and not be afraid - Since God is its author; since he is able to defend me, and to perfect that which he has begun, I will confide in him, and not be afraid of the power or machinations of any enemy. In his hands I am safe. God is the foundation of our confidence; and trusting in him, his people shall never be moved.

For the Lord Jehovah - This is one of the four places in which our translators have retained the original word Yahweh, though the Hebrew word occurs often in the Scriptures. The other places where the word Jehovah is retained in our version are, Exodus 6:3; Psalm 68:18; lsa. Psalm 26:4. The original in this place is יהוה יה yâh yehovâh The word יה yâh is an abbreviation of the word Yahweh. The abbreviated form is often used for the sake of conciseness, particularly in the Psalms, as in the expression “Hallelujah” (הללוּ־יה halelû -yâh ), that is, praise Yahweh (Psalm 89:9; Psalm 94:7, Psalm 94:12; Psalm 104:35; Psalm 105:15; Psalm 106:1, Psalm 106:48; Psalm 111:1; Psalm 113:1, “et al.”) In this place, and Isaiah 26:4, “the repetition” of the name seems to be used to denote “emphasis;” or perhaps to indicate that Yahweh is the same always - an unchangeable God. In two codices of Kennicott, however, the name יה yâh is omitted, and it has been conjectured by some that the repetition is an error of transcribers; but the best MSS. retain it. The Septuagint, the Chaldee, and the Syriac, however, omit it.

Is my strength and my song - The same expression occurs in the hymn that Moses composed after the passage of the Red Sea, in imitation of which this song is evidently composed; Exodus 15:2:

Jehovah is my strength and my song,

And he is become my salvation.

The word ‹strength‘ means, that he is the source of strength, and implies that all who are redeemed are willing to acknowledge that all their strength is n God. The word ‹song‘ implies that he is the proper object of praise; it is to celebrate his praise that the ‹song‘ is composed.

He also is become my salvation - This is also found in the song of Moses Exodus 15:2. It means that God had become, or was the author of salvation. It is by his hand that the deliverance bas been effected, and to him should be the praise.

Verse 3

Therefore - In view of all his mercies, the Hebrew is, however; simply, ‹” and” ye shall draw.‘ It has already been intimated that the Jews applied this passage to the Holy Spirit: and that probably on this they based their custom of drawing water from the fountain of Siloam at the feast of the dedication (note, John 7:37). The fountain of Siloam was in the eastern part of the city, and the water was borne from that fountain in a golden cup, and was poured, with every expression of rejoicing, on the sacrifice on the altar. It is not probable, however, that this custom was in use in the time of Isaiah. The language is evidently figurative; but the meaning is obvious. A fountain, or a well, in the sacred writings, is an emblem of that which produces joy and refreshment; which sustains and cheers. The figure is often employed to denote that which supports and refreshes the soul; which sustains man when sinking from exhaustion, as the babbling, fountain or well refreshes the weary and fainting pilgrim (compare John 4:14).

It is thus applied to God as an overflowing fountain, suited to supply the needs of all his creatures Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Psalm 36:9; Proverbs 14:27; and to his plan of salvation - the sources of comfort which he has opened in the scheme of redeeming mercy to satisfy the needs of the souls of people Zechariah 13:1; Isaiah 41:18; Revelation 7:17. The word ‹rivers‘ is used in the same sense as ‹fountains‘ in the above places Isaiah 42:15; Isaiah 43:19-20. Generally, in the Scriptures, streams, fountains, rivers, are used as emblematic of the abundant fullness and richness of the mercies which God has provided to supply the spiritual necessities of men. The idea here is, therefore, that they should partake abundantly of the mercies of salvation; that it was free, overflowing, and refreshing - like waters to weary pilgrims in the desert; and that their partaking of it would be with joy. It would fill the soul with happiness; as the discovery of an abundant fountain, or a well in the desert, fills the thirsty pilgrim with rejoicing.

Verse 4

And in that day - (see Isaiah 12:1).

Call upon his name - Margin, ‹Proclaim.‘ It denotes to call upon him in the way of celebrating his praise. The whole hymn is one of praise, and not of prayer.

Declare among the people - Among all people, that they may be brought to see his glory, and join in the celebration of his praise.

His doings - Particularly in regard to the great events which are the subject of the previous predictions - his interposition in saving people by the Messiah from eternal death.

Make mention - Hebrew, ‹Cause it to be remembered‘ (see the note at Isaiah 62:6).

That his name is exalted - That it is worthy of adoration and praise. It is worthy to be exalted, or lifted up in view of the nations of the earth 2 Samuel 22:47; Psalm 21:13; Psalm 46:10.

Verse 5

Sing unto the Lord - This is the same expression which occurs in the song of Moses Exodus 15:21. Isaiah evidently had that in his eye.

He hath done excellent things - Things that are exalted (גאות gê'ûth ); that are worthy to be celebrated, and had in remembrance; things that are majestic, grand, and wonderful.

This is known in all the earth - Or, more properly, ‹Let this be known in all the earth.‘ It is worthy of being celebrated everywhere. It should be sounded abroad through all lands. This expresses the sincere desire of all who are redeemed, and who are made sensible of the goodness and mercy of God the Saviour. The instinctive and the unceasing wish is, that the wonders of the plan of redeeming mercy should be everywhere known among the nations, and that all flesh should see the salvation of our God.

Verse 6

Cry out - (צהלי tsahalı̂y ). This word is usually applied to the neighing of a horse Jeremiah 5:8; Jeremiah 8:16. It is also used to express joy, pleasure, exultation, by a clear and loud sound of the voice Isaiah 10:30; Isaiah 12:6; Isaiah 14:14; Isaiah 54:1; Jeremiah 31:7; Jeremiah 50:11. It is here synonymous with the numerous passages in the Psalms, and elsewhere, where the people of God are called on to exult, to shout, to make a noise as expressive of their joy Psalm 47:1; Psalm 148:1-14; Psalm 149:1-9; Isaiah 42:11; Isaiah 44:23; Jeremiah 31:7; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 9:9.

And shout - (ורני vāronı̂y ). This word properly means to cry aloud Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 8:3; to cry for help Lamentations 2:19; to raise a shout of joy, to rejoice, or exult Leviticus 9:24; Job 38:7; to praise, or celebrate with joy Psalm 33:1; Psalm 51:15; Psalm 59:17; Psalm 89:13. Here it denotes the joy in view of God‘s mercies, which leads to songs of exalted praise.

Thou inhabitant of Zion - Thou that dwellest in Zion; that is, thou who art numbered with the people of God (note, Isaiah 1:8). The margin here is in accordance with the Hebrew - ‹Inhabitress of Zion;‘ and the word used here is applicable to the people, rather than to an individual.

For great is the Holy One of Israel - That is, God has shown himself great and worthy of praise, by the wonderful deliverance which he has worked for his people. Thus closes this beautiful hymn. It is worthy of the theme - worth to be sung by all. O, may all the redeemed join in this song of deliverance; and may the time soon come, when the beautiful vision of the poet shall be realized, in the triumphant song of redemption echoing around the world:

‹One song employs all nations; and all cry,

“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us!”

The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks

Shout to each other, and the mountain-tops

From distant mountains catch the flying joy;

Till, nation after nation taught the strain,

Earth rolls the rapturous hosanna round.‘

“The Task” Book vi.


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 12:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

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Sunday, November 29th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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