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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 26

Verse 1

In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

As the overthrow of the apostate faction is described in the close of Isaiah 25:1-12, so the peace of the faithful is here described under the image of a well-fortified city. The whole context, connected as it is with Christ's coming to destroy death (Isaiah 25:8), cannot admit of the restoration from Babylon under Cyrus being its ultimate and exhaustive fulfillment.

In that day - the day of the Lord's appearing (Isaiah 25:6-9).

Shall this song be sung in the land of Judah. Therefore the Jews shall have been by that time restored to their own "land."

Strong city - Jerusalem, strong in Yahweh's protection: type of the new Jerusalem (Psalms 48:1-3), contrasted with the overthrow of "the lofty city" of the ungodly foe, (Isaiah 26:4-7; Isaiah 12:1-6; Isaiah 13:1-22; Isaiah 14:1-32; Revelation 21:10-27; Revelation 22:2; Revelation 22:10-12, etc.)

Salvation will (God) appoint (for) walls and bulwarks - (Isaiah 60:18; Isaiah 33:20-21; Jeremiah 3:23; Zechariah 2:5.)

Bulwarks - the trench with the antemural earth-works exterior to the wall.

Verse 2

Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

Open ye the gates - address of the returning people to the gates of Jerusalem (type of the heavenly city, Hebrews 12:22; Psalms 24:7; Psalms 24:9; Psalms 118:19).

Righteous nation - the godly remnant that had not apostatized during the captivity. Horsley translates, 'the nation of the Just One'-namely, the Jews. Righteousness is the only ground of entrance (Revelation 21:25; Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:14).

Verse 3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Thou wilt keep (him) in perfect peace (literally, peace, peace) (whose) mind (is) stayed - (Psalms 112:7-8.) Jesus can create "perfect peace" within the mind, though storms of trial rage without (Isaiah 57:19; Mark 4:39); as a city kept securely by a strong garrison within, though besieged without (so Philippians 4:7, "Keep" [froureesei] - literally, guard as with a garrison). Horsley translates, '(God's) workmanship (the Hebrew [ yeetser (H3336)] does not probably mean "mind," but 'a thing formed,' Ephesians 2:10) stayed (on thee) thou shalt preserve (namely, the righteous nation) in perpetual peace.' The righteous nation is God's workmanship, which God will stay, or support, and keep in perfect peace. Compare Isaiah 43:1, "The Lord that created thee ... and ... formed thee, O Israel." But the Chaldaic supports in the main the English version, "mind," 'heart.' Calvin takes yeetser (H3336) caamuwk (H5564), '(In thy) firm decree (or purpose) thou keepest (the Church) in perfect peace,' etc. The Church's peace does not depend on the state of the world, nor upon our wandering purposes, but upon the fixed purpose and immutable counsel of God.

Verse 4

Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

In the Lord Yahweh (is) everlasting strength - Hebrew, tsuwr (H6697) `owlaamiym (H5769), the rock of ages. "The Lord Yahweh" - Hebrew, Yah, Yahweh. The union of the two names expresses in the highest degree God's unchanging love and power (cf. Psalms 68:4). This passage and Isaiah 12:2; Exodus 6:3; Psalms 83:18, are the four places in which the English version retains the Yahweh of the original. Maurer translates, 'For Yah (H3050) (the eternal and unchangeable One, Exodus 3:14, "I AM THAT I AM") is Yahweh (H3068), the rock of ages (cf. Isaiah 45:17; Deuteronomy 32:15; 1 Samuel 2:2).

Verse 5

For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust.

The lofty city - Babylon; representative of the stronghold of the foes of God's people in all ages, (Isaiah 25:2; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 13:1-22; Isaiah 14:1-32.)

Verse 6

The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.

The foot shall tread it down - with exultation over its fall (Revelation 18:20). The foot shall tread it down - with exultation over its fall (Revelation 18:20).

(Even) the feet of the poor (Isaiah 25:4) - the once afflicted Jewish captives.

Verse 7

The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.

The way of the just (is) uprightness - rather, is direct; i:e., is directed by God to a prosperous issue, however many be their afflictions in the meantime (as in the case of the Jewish exiles). The context requires this sense (Psalms 34:19; Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5) - literally, 'rightnesses.' The prophet is not praising the just, but is showing that God gives a prosperous issue to their course, however rugged it may seem for a time (Calvin, Maurer). Thus "The way" means God's dealings with the righteous (Psalms 37:23).

Thou, most upright - (Deuteronomy 32:4.)

Dost weigh the path of the just (1 Samuel 2:3; Proverbs 5:21) - thou dost exactly level (Maurer), removing all obstacles (Isaiah 40:3-4). Junius explains, 'thou makest all things most exactly to succeed in the path of the just, controlling each of the two scales, adversity and prosperity, more nicely than any goldsmith.

Verse 8

Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.

Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee - i:e., for thy proceeding to punish the enemy (Isaiah 26:9-10) (Maurer). Horsley translates Isaiah 26:7-8, 'The path of the Just One is perfectly even: an even road thou wilt level for the Just One, even the path of thy laws, O Yahweh. We have expected thee.' I prefer, with the English version, to refer "the just" to the restored remnant of the Jews.

The desire of (our) soul (is) to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee - the manifested character of God by which He would be remembered (Isaiah 64:5; Exodus 3:15).

Verse 9

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

With my soul have I desired thee - literally, I ... my soul, in apposition; the faithful Jews here speak individually. The overthrow of the foe, and the restoration of the Jews, are to follow upon prayer on the part of the latter and of all God's people (Isaiah 62:1-4; Isaiah 62:6-7; Psalms 102:13-17).

In the night - (Psalms 63:6; Song of Solomon 3:1.)

The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness - the nations left after judgments shall have been executed on the anti-Christian confederacy (Psalms 58:10-11; Zechariah 14:16).

Verse 10

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.

In the land of uprightness - rather, as in Isaiah 26:7, prosperity: answering to "favour ... showed to the wicked" in the parallelism and in antithesis to "judgments ... in the earth" (Isaiah 26:9). Where prosperity attends the wicked as well as the just (Matthew 5:45), 'he will not learn righteousness,' therefore judgments must be sent that he may "learn" it.

Verse 11

LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.

Lord, (when) thy hand is lifted up - to punish the foes of God's people. They who will not see, shall be made to "see" to their cost (Isaiah 5:12).

(But) they shall see, and be ashamed for (their) envy at the (i:e., thy) people. Lowth translates, 'they shall see with confusion thy zeal for thy people.' This is confirmed by the parallel.

The fire of thine enemies shall devour them - i:e., the fire of thy vengeance, to which thine enemies are doomed (Isaiah 9:18).

Verse 12

LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

Peace for us - "peace:" God's favour; including all blessings, temporal and spiritual, opposed to their previous trials (Psalms 138:8).

For us ... in us. The Hebrew is the same in both clauses - laanuw (H3807a) ... laanuw (H3807a). The seeming antithesis of for and in is unreal. Both ought to be "for us."

Verse 13

O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.

(Other) lords - temporal; pagan kings (2 Corinthians 12:8; 28:5-6 ), Nebuchadnezzar, etc. Spiritual also, idols and lusts (Romans 6:16-18): and false prophets-Antichrist especially (Matthew 24:11; Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; John 5:43).

(But) by thee only - it is due to thee alone that we again worship thee as our Lord (Maurer). So "through thee" (Psalms 44:5; Psalms 60:12). '(We are) thine only; we will celebrate thy name' (Horsley). I prefer the former view. The sanctifying effect of affliction (Psalms 71:16; Psalms 119:67; Psalms 119:71).

Verse 14

They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.

(They are) dead - the "other lords," or tyrants (Isaiah 26:13).

They shall not live - namely, again.

(They are) deceased - Hebrew, Rephaim, the wicked dead: giants once in might and in crime, now in Hades (Psalms 88:11; Job 26:5; Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18); powerless in the land of shades (note, Isaiah 14:9-10).

Therefore - i:e., inasmuch as Compare the like use of "therefore," Genesis 18:5; Genesis 19:8.

Verse 15

Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.

Thou hast - prophetic preterite (Isaiah 9:3).

Thou hast removed (it) far (unto) all the ends of the earth - rather, 'thou hast extended far all the borders of the land' (Vitringa). There is no "unto" in the Hebrew, and the parallelism to "thou hast increased the nation" favours this. However, Junius supports the English version thus: 'Isaiah enlarges upon the previous statement as to the truth of God's wonderful judgments toward the Church; for first, in this verse, they had been removed far unto all ends of the earth; then they had been sore pressed with pain (Isaiah 26:16-17); thirdly, they would have been utterly destroyed had not thy Majesty come to their help (Isaiah 26:18-19); and yet, saith the Church, Thou hast by the same operation consulted for thy glory and for my safety.'

Verse 16

LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

Lord, in trouble have they visited (i:e., sought) thee, they poured out a prayer (Psalms 62:8) - as a vessel emptying out all its contents.

Prayer (Hebrew, lachash-literally, a whispered prayer, margin, 'secret speech;' a secret sighing to God for help (cf. Jeremiah 13:17; Deuteronomy 8:16).

Verse 17

Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD.

Like as a woman with child - an image of anguish accompanied with expectation, to be followed by joy that will cause the anguish utterly to be forgotten. Zion is meant, looking for deliverance, seemingly in vain, but really about to be gloriously saved (Micah 4:9-13; Micah 5:1-3; John 16:21-22).

Verse 18

We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

Brought forth wind. Michaelis explains this of the disease called empneumatosis. Rather, "wind" is a figure for that which proves an abortive effort. The "We" is in antithesis to "Thy," "my" (Isaiah 26:19): what we vainly attempt, God will accomplish.

We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth - rather, the land (Judea) is not made security; literally, salvations - i:e., is not yet become a place of security from our enemies. Hebrew, yªshuw`ot (H3444) bal (H1077) na`ªseh (H6213) (the Niphal participle) 'erets (H776); because it was not the province of the Jews, but of God, to work deliverance or salvations.

Neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. The "world" (the God-opposed people of the world), is in antithesis to "the earth" - i:e., Judea. The world at enmity with the city of God has not been subdued. But Maurer explains "fallen," according to the Arabic idiom, of the birth of a child, which is said to fall when being born: 'inhabitants of the Israelite world are not yet born' - i:e., the country as yet lies desolate, and is not yet populated. But "world" can hardly be used in this sense.

Verse 19

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Thy dead (men) shall live, (together with) my dead body shall they arise - In antithesis to Isaiah 26:14, "They (Israel's foes) are dead, they shall not live," "thy (Yahweh's or Israel's) dead men (the Jews) shall live" -

i.e., primarily, be restored spiritually (Isaiah 54:1-3), civilly and nationally (Isaiah 26:15); whereas thy foes shall not: ultimately, and in the fullest scope of the prophecy, they shall be restored to life literally (Ezekiel 37:1-14; Daniel 12:2).

(Together with) my dead body - rather, my dead body, or bodies (the Jewish nation personified, which had been spiritually and civilly dead, speaks; or the nation as a parent is speaking of the bodies of her children individually, note, Isaiah 26:9, "I," "My"): Yahweh's "dead" and "my dead" are one and the same (Horsley). However, as Jesus is the antitypical Israel (Matthew 2:15), the English version gives a true sense, and one ultimately contemplated in the prophecy: Christ is the Speaker, as in Isaiah 26:20; and herein replies to the appeal of His Church and Israel Isaiah 26:12-18), "Thy (Israel's) dead men shall live ... my dead body shall they arise." Christ's dead body being raised again is the source of Yahweh's people (all, and especially believers, the spiritual Israelites) also being raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19); Hebrew, nebeelathi yequumun. [Henderson supposes the final lamedh (l) to be not the pronoun my, but a poetic augment. But the English version is plainly right, and is supported by the Vulgate, 'Interfecti mei.']

Awake (Ephesians 5:14) - spiritually.

Dwell in dust - prostrate and dead, spiritually and nationally, also literally (Isaiah 25:7-8; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 47:1). For thy dew (is as) the dew of herbs - the dew which waters herbs, and which falls copiously in the East, and supplies somewhat the want of rain, causing them to revive after the deadness of winter (Hosea 14:5: cf. Psalms 110:3).

And the earth shall cast out the dead - Hebrew, Rephaim, generally used of the wicked dead. So Horsley translates, 'But the earth shall cast forth (as an abortion) the deceased tyrants.'

Verse 20

Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers. When God is about to take vengeance on the ungodly, the saints shall be shut in by Him in a place of safety, as Noah and his family were in the days of the flood (Genesis 7:16), and as Israel was commanded not to go out of doors on the night of the slaying of the Egyptian first-born (Exodus 12:22-23; Psalms 31:20; Psalms 83:3, "thy hidden ones"). The saints are calmly and confidently to await the issue (Exodus 14:13-14). There was a Zoar for Lot in the destruction of Sodom, and a Pella for Christians in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

Verse 21

For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity - (Micah 1:3; Jude 1:14.)

The earth also shall disclose her blood - (Genesis 4:10-11; Job 16:18; Ezekiel 24:7-8.) All the innocent blood shed, and all other wrongs done, so long seemingly with impunity, shall then be avenged (Revelation 16:6).

Remarks: The saints delight to sing of the "strong city" which they have in the 'Church of the living God,' whose walls are "salvation." None can enter there except "the righteous" who 'keep the truth.' As these keep the truth, so their Lord 'keeps them in perfect peace.' The secret of their keeping the truth, and of their consequent peace, is their "trust" in the Lord, and their 'staying their mind on Him' in every perplexity and temptation. As 'the Lord Yahweh is the Rock of ages,' so it is our wisdom and happiness to 'trust in Him forever.' "The lofty" of the world He will soon 'lay low' in the dust; whereas 'the poor and needy' shall be exalted above them, whatever hindrances there be now in "the way of the just," their path at last shall be made straight.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.