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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Isaiah 52

Verses 1-15

Isaiah 52:7

Ruskin remarks on this verse: 'How strange it seems that physical science should ever have been thought adverse to religion! The pride of physical science is indeed adverse, like every other pride, both to religion and truth; but sincerity of science, so far from being hostile, is the pathmaker among the mountains for the feet of them that publish peace.'

References. Leviticus 7:0 . W. J. McKittrick, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 29. Leviticus 10:0 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 185. R. E. Hutton, The Crown of Christ, vol. ii. p. 543. R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiii. 1908, p. 296. Leviticus 11:0 . A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 75.Leviticus 11:12 . Ibid. p. 78. Leviticus 12:0 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 230; vol. xxx. No. 1793. S. A. Tipple, Sunday Mornings at Norrwood, p. 233; see also Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 215. W. L. Watkinson, The Blind Spot, p. 227.

The Prudence of Christ

Isaiah 52:13

The word rendered prudent is a two-sided word, and, strangely enough, both the Authorized and Revised Versions only bring out one side of the significant word. Bishop Chadwick translates it 'shall deal prudently, so that prosperity shall be the result'. Very often prudence fails, but the prudence of Christ is to succeed.

I. Christ dealt prudently in not prematurely surrendering His life. Till He knew His work was done He would not allow His life to be squandered. He came to earth to die, but He refused to die prematurely.

II. Christ's prudence appears in His insight into character.

'He needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.' Still does He deal prudently. For this prophecy is an eternal prophecy. He knows us and acts towards us with unerring wisdom.

III. The adroitness of His replies is a great evidence of His prudence. When He was but twelve years old the people in the temple were 'amazed at His answers'. And ever afterwards His answers amazed all men. He still deals prudently herein. We can take our present problems to the Divine man ascended. He may delay to answer. But the very delay is education.

IV. Christ's prudence is seen in His concessions to the limitations of His hearers.

Many a public teacher is destroyed through lack of prudence. Christ was established by His prudence 'He that is able to receive it, let him receive it,' is His wise word. Christ will never put a cross upon the intellect that the intellect is unable to bear. Still, Christ only asks men to receive for the time being truths they are able to receive.

How prudently He dealt in graduating truth. He spake 'as they were able to hear it'. He graduated truth not only in respect of its quality but its season. 'I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.'

V. By His encouragement of good Christ dealt prudently. He told the scribe he was 'not far from the kingdom of God'. He commended the religionists of the day in this: 'Ye search the Scriptures'. He shed the light of hope on a penitent woman by saying, 'Neither do I condemn thee'. This was His encomium upon a pardoned one, 'She loved much'. Said He to His sorrowing disciples, 'Already ye are clean'. Is it not always highest prudence to encourage all good, however incipient in all souls?

VI. Christ's prudence was the larger prudence. His was not the prudence of many so-called prudent people, which is out the instinct of self-preservation acutely developed. Christ's was the noble, the sacrificial prudence. Estimate prudence by the Eternal. Take long views of prudence.

VII. Christ dealt prudently in His procural of salvation.

The Son of God took pity on our flesh and blood. Through death He won us everlasting life. Most wonderful prevision marks that method of redemption. There is equal prudence in the condition of salvation. Salvation by faith, by trustfulness, by reliance! By such a method God reaches the many.

Dinsdale T. Young, The Crimson Book, p. 157.

Reference. LII. 13-15. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi. No. 1231.

The Marvellous Marring

Isaiah 52:14

'Many were astonished at Thee: His visage was so marred!' Not His power, then, but His weakness; not the blazing glories of the full-orbed Sun of Righteousness, but its mysterious and dark eclipse is herein held up to us as matter of astonishment!

I. It is suffering that mars the visage. Suffering mars the countenance sometimes almost beyond the possibility of recognition. And if the visage of the Son of God was marred more than any man, it was because He suffered more than any man.

In those sufferings there were indeed natural elements, such as are found more or less in the experience of all men. He was, like all, from time to time hungry and weary. He, like others, had no home. Then also He suffered much from loneliness of spirit.

II. But there were other exceptional and peculiar causes of the marring of the Saviour's visage. (1) That all the sorrow and the agony from the beginning to the end were steadily foreseen by Him. (2) To the depth of His sorrow and the intensity of His sufferings, in a certain way His very sinlessness must have contributed. And this the more because, unlike ourselves, again He saw men just as they were. 'He knew what was in man.' He saw through all disguise, and saw it constantly; saw the whole of that awful moral corruption around Him, and, because of His infinite purity, felt it as none of us could feel it even if we saw it (3) It is with us that we know the power of God's grace. But herein was the last supreme woe that came upon the Saviour, that in His ultimate hour of anguish, when that conscious presence and felt love of the Eternal Father was most needed, then, of all times, in a manner unfathomably mysterious and incomprehensible, that presence and manifested love of the Father was withdrawn from the Man Christ Jesus. (4) But there is a still deeper mystery about the marring of the visage of the Son of God, that He who so suffered knew no sin. The wonder yet increases when we remember what this Sinless Man claimed for Himself to be. 'I and the Father are One.' Not only, then, is it perfect sinlessness, but the supremest dignity for which utter and peculiar anguish is reserved. (5) His ineffable sorrow is again yet the more marvellous, that it did not come upon Him as under any inevitable necessity, a resistless compulsion that He could by no means escape. 'I lay down my life,' He said.

III. There is one thing yet more a matter of astonishment than the marring of the visage of Jesus Christ, and that is, the reason of that marring. The same Prophet who tells us of the marvellous marring, tells us in never-to-be-forgotten words the reason of the marring also. 'Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.' He suffered for others. All this peculiar and ineffable suffering was not for Himself but for others. Here is the final supreme reason why we may well be astonished at the strange marring of the Saviour's face, that it was marred for men! He suffered not for righteous men, for such there were none; He suffered for sinners.

S. H. Kellogg, The Past a Prophecy of the Future, p. 183.

References. Leviticus 14:0 . C. G. Clark-Hunt, The Refuge of the Sacred Wounds, p. 9. T. B. Dover, Some Quiet Lenten Thoughts, p. 142. LIII. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 2290; vol. xliii. No. 2499; vol. xliii. No. 2534; vol. xlix. No. 2840; vol. xlix. No. 2827. Rutherford Waddell, Behold the Lamb of God, p. 81. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah XLIX.-LXVI. p. 88. LIII. 2. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No. 1076. C. H. Wright, The Unrecognized Christ, p. 102. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. v. p. 9. W. L. Watkinson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiii. 1903, p. 225. F. E. Paget, Faculties and Difficulties for Belief and Unbelief, p. 86. LIII. 2, 3. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah XLIX.-LXV1. p. 92.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 52". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.