Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 61

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Messiah announces His two-fold commission to bring Gospel-mercy at His first coming, and judgments on unbelievers and comfort to Zion at His second coming (Isaiah 61:1-9). The language can be applied to Isaiah, comforting by his prophecies the exiles in Babylon, only in a subordinate sense.

The Spirit of the Lord God (is) upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me - quoted by Jesus as His credentials in preaching (Luke 4:18-21). The Spirit is upon me in preaching, because Yahweh hath anointed me from the womb (Luke 1:35), and at baptism with the Spirit "without measure," and permanently "abiding" on me (Isaiah 11:2; John 1:32; John 3:34; Psalms 45:7: with which cf. 1 Kings 1:39-40; 1 Kings 19:16; Exodus 29:7). "Anointed" as Messiah, Prophet, Priest, and King. These three classes of functionaries used to be anointed with oil, of which the Holy Spirit, wherewith He was anointed to His three-fold office, was the antitype. "The Lord God" - rather, as the Hebrew, 'the Lord Yahweh:' 'Adonaay (H136), Yahweh (H3068). The vowel points being the same as these of 'Elohiym (H430), misled the English version.

To preach good tidings (Hebrew, lªbaseer (H1319)) - as the word 'Gospel' means.

Unto the meek, [ `ªnaawiym (H6035): the Septuagint, ptoochois (G4434)] - or, "the poor," as Luke 4:18 hath it; i:e., those afflicted with calamity, poor in circumstances and in spirit (Matthew 11:5.) The Vulgate ('mansuetis') and Chaldaic translate much the same as the English version 'the gentle' or "meek:" the Syriac, 'the humble:' the Arabic, "the poor."

To proclaim liberty to the captives (John 8:31-36) - language drawn from the deliverance of the Babylonian captives, to describe the deliverance from sin and death (Hebrews 2:15); also from the 'liberty proclaimed' to all bond-servants on the year of jubilee (Isaiah 61:2); deror is the term usually applied to the deliverance granted to bond-servants on the year of jubilee; (Leviticus 25:10; Jeremiah 34:8-9).

The opening of the prison to (them that are) bound. The Hebrew ( pªqach-qowach (H6495), equivalent to pªqacheqowach, the signification being intensified by the doubling of the latter radicals) rather is, 'the most complete opening'-namely, of the eyes to them that are bound; i:e., deliverance from prison; for captives are, as it were, blind in the darkness of prison (Isaiah 14:17; Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:7) (Ewald). So Luke 4:18 and the Septuagint interpret it [ tuflois (G5185) anablepsin (G309)]. Luke 4:18, under inspiration, adds to this, for the fuller explanation of the single clause in the Hebrew, 'to set at liberty them that are bruised;' thus expressing the double 'opening' implied-namely, that of the eyes (John 9:39), and that of the prison (Romans 6:18; Romans 7:24-25; Hebrews 2:15). His miracles were parables acted out.

Verse 2

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord - the year of jubilee on which 'liberty was proclaimed to the captives' (Isaiah 61:1; 2 Corinthians 6:2).

And the day of vengeance of our God. The 'acceptable time of grace' is a "year;" the time of "vengeance" but a 'day' (so Isaiah 34:8; Isaiah 63:4; Malachi 4:1). Jesus (Luke 4:20-21) "closed the book" before this clause; for the interval from His first to His second coming is "the acceptable year:" "the day of vengeance" will not be until He comes again (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Our God. The saints call Him "our God:" for He cometh to "avenge" them (Revelation 6:10; Revelation 19:2). Primarily Israel speaks. The Lord comes again as their God, to avenge them on their enemies (cf. Isaiah 61:3).

To comfort all that mourn. The "all" seems to include the spiritual Israelite mourners, as well as the literal, who are in Isaiah 61:3 called "them that mourn in Zion," and to whom Isaiah 57:18 refers.

Verse 3

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them. "To appoint ... to give" - the double verb, with the one and the same accusative, imparts glowing vehemence to the style.

Beauty for ashes. There is a play on the sound and meaning of the Hebrew words, pª'eer (H6287) ... 'eeper (H665): literally, 'ornamental head-dress' or tiara (Ezekiel 24:17), worn in times of joy, instead of a head-dress of "ashes," cast on the head in mourning (2 Samuel 13:19.)

The oil of joy for mourning - perfumed ointment was poured on the guests at joyous feasts (Psalms 23:5; Psalms 45:7-8; Amos 6:6). On occasions of grief its use was laid aside (2 Samuel 14:2).

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. The image is from bright-coloured garments, indicative of thankfulness, which were worn by the joyful, instead of those that indicate despondency, as sackcloth (John 16:20.)

That they might be called Trees of righteousness. "Trees" (Hebrew, 'eeleey (H352), terebinth trees); symbolical of men strong in righteousness, instead of being, as heretofore, bowed down as a reed with sin and calamity (Isaiah 1:29-30; Isaiah 42:3; 1 Kings 14:15; Psalms 1:3; Psalms 92:12-14: Jeremiah 17:8).

The planting of the Lord - (note, Isaiah 60:21.)

That he might be glorified - (John 15:8.)

Verse 4

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

And they shall build the old wastes - Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, which long lay in ruins (note, Isaiah 58:12).

Verse 5

And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

And strangers shal stand - (shall wait on you as servants, Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 60:10) "and feed your flocks."

Verse 6

But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord. "Ye," as contrasted with the "strangers." Ye shall have no need to attend to your flocks and lands: strangers will do that for you: your exclusive business will be the service of Yahweh as His "priests" (Exodus 19:6, which remains yet to be realized: cf. as to the spiritual Israel, Isaiah 66:21; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).

The Ministers of our God - (Ezekiel 44:11.)

Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles - (Isaiah 60:5-11.)

In their glory shall ye boast yourselves ( tityamaaruw (H3235)) - or, 'in their splendour ye shall be substituted in their stead; literally, ye shall substitute yourselves. From yaamar (H3235), the same as muwr (H4171), Jeremiah 2:11, change (Maurer). But Jerome, the Vulgate, Septuagint, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac support the English version. [Thus, the Hebrew letter yodh (y) will stand instead of the Hebrew letter 'aleph ('): tityamaaruw (H3235) being for tit'amªruw (H559), Hithpael, from 'aamar (H559).] So the latter ( yit'amªruw (H559)) is translated "boast themselves" in Psalms 94:4.

Verse 7

For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.

For your shame (ye shall have) double - Instead of your past share, ye shall have not merely as much, but "double" as much reward (Isaiah 40:2; Zechariah 9:12: cf. the third clause in this verse).

And (for) confusion - humiliation, or contumely.

They shall rejoice in their portion - they shall celebrate with jubilation their portion (Maurer). Transition from the second to the third person.

Therefore in their land (marking the reference to literal Israel, not to the Church at large,) they shall possess the double; everlasting joy shall be unto them - (Isaiah 35:10.)

Verse 8

For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. For I the Lord love judgment - justice, which requires that I should restore my people, and give them double in compensation for their sufferings.

I hate robbery for burnt offering. So Vulgate, rather, from a different Hebrew root, I hate the spoil of INIQUITY (Horsley). So the Septuagint, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac. So in Job 5:16. [ `owlaah (H5930) is the same as `owlaah (H5766)]. Hating, as I do, the rapine, combined with iniquity, perpetrated on my people by their enemies, I will vindicate Israel.

And I will direct their work in truth - rather, 'I will give them the reward of their work (cf. margin, Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 49:4; Isaiah 62:11) in faithfulness' naatatiy (H5414) pªulaataam (H6468)).

Verse 9

And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.

And their seed shall be known - honourably: shall be illustrious (Psalms 67:2).

And their offspring among the people - Hebrew, peoples.

All that see them shall acknowledge them, that they (are) the seed (which) the Lord hath blessed - (Isaiah 65:23.)

Verse 10

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord - Zion (Isaiah 61:3) gives thanks for God's returning favour (cf. Luke 1:46-47; Habakkuk 3:18).

Garments of salvation ... robe of righteousness - inseparably connected together. The ( mª`iyl (H4598)) "robe" is a loose mantle thrown over the other parts of the dress (Psalms 132:9; Psalms 132:16; Psalms 149:4; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 19:8).

As a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments - rather, maketh himself a priestly head-dress ( paa'eer (H6286), Isaiah 61:3); i:e., a magnificent head-dress, such as was worn by the high priest-namely, a mitre and a plate, or crown of gold worn in front of it, (Aquila, etc.) Appropriate to the "kingdom of priests," dedicated to the offering of spiritual sacrifices to God continually (Exodus 19:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6).

Jewels - rather, ornaments in general. The bride's trousseau ( keeleyhaa (H3627)).

Verse 11

For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

For as the earth bringeth forth her bud ... - (Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalms 72:3; Psalms 85:11.)

Bud - the tender shoots.

Praise - (Isaiah 60:18; Isaiah 62:7.)

Remarks: The grand theme of this prophecy is the Messiahship of the Saviour. He was described in various other aspects previously: here He is set before us as the Anointed One of the Lord Yahweh. In His first sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth He commenced by appropriating to Himself this prophecy. As three classes of typical personages-prophets, priests, and kings-used to be anointed with oil, to consecrate them to their function, so He, the great Antitype, was anointed with the antitypical oil, the fullness of the Spirit, to His function, which combines in one the prophetic, the priestly, and the kingly offices. Since His prophetic function was prominent during His earthly ministry in the flesh, His priestly function at His death, and especially now in His session at the Father's right hand as our great High Priest in the heavens, so at His coming again His kingly office shall be visibly and prominently manifested.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 61". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.