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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 25

Verses 1-12

Isaiah 25:2 . A defenced city a ruin. This city, in the next words, is called a palace of strangers; therefore it was a great city. In the critics we find nothing but conjectures, as Samaria Ar of Moab Nineveh Babylon. Memphis, the capital of Egypt, was a palace of strangers, ambassadors, &c.; but we have no certainty of its ruin, till the time of Nebuchadnezzar. It was destroyed by a blast of the terrible ones: Isaiah 25:4. There can scarcely be a doubt remaining, but the city alluded to was Nineveh, which the Babylonian army captured and rebuilt; for those cities stood many contests. See Isaiah 26:5. Nineveh was finally taken by the united armies of Babylon and Media, in the twenty ninth year of king Josiah. After this final overthrow, Nineveh was never rebuilt, The Turkish city of Mosul is on the opposite side of the river Tigris. See on Nahum.

Isaiah 25:5 . Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers. From this we learn that the city was not as yet destroyed; and that it was a gentile city, a city of strangers, which perfectly coincides with Nineveh.

Isaiah 25:6 . In this mountain shall the Lord make a feast to all people. While the prophet is speaking of visitations on the wicked, and intervals of joy in Jerusalem, he does not forget to glance, and constantly to glance, on the superior glory of Zion in the latter day. Josiah’s feast was for the Jews, but the Lord’s feast is for all people of the gentile world. What can that be but the gospel feast, for the poor Jews in the streets and lanes of the city, and for the poor gentiles in the highways and hedges. Wisdom keeps open house for hungry souls; and “yet there is room.”

Isaiah 25:7 . He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering, which veiled the holy of holies from vulgar eyes. And what is this veil but the darkness of the gentile world, the gross darkness which covers the people. The Lord by the gospel promises to open their blind eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light. To remove the wall of partition, and give them full access to the holy place in Christ Jesus, and a perfect knowledge of all the mysteries of the great salvation. What is this but a translation out of darkness into marvellous light. It is the light of life opened; the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 25:8 . He will swallow up death in victory, by a glorious resurrection from the dead, and by reversing the afflicted state of the church, in all the glory of the latter day. The serpent does not masticate his prey, but swallows it whole. In like manner, by the glorious resurrection of the dead, we shall be swallowed up of immortality and eternal joy. Then the church shall sing the advent of her Lord. Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him. He is come; he will save us with an everlasting salvation.


Here follows a song of praise for the judgments of God on the impious Assyrians, and for his gracious care in preserving his more faithful people. This song follows the preseding chapter; but I see no reason which criticism has assigned of sufficient weight, why it might not follow the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. It opens with an intimate approach to JEHOVAH. “Oh Lord, thou art my God;” for adversity, which consumes the wicked, drives the church into closer union with the arm of vengeance and protecting love.

It praises him for his judgments, and for his distinguishing mercy. He had made Samaria a heap of ruins, while Jerusalem was miraculously saved, and shone with smiles of brighter joy for having been under a cloud for a few months. God was their refuge from the storm, and a shadow from the heat. The blast of the Assyrians, here called the terrible or formidable ones, and strangers, which came with battering-rams against the wall, God laid low.

After God’s angel had slain the proud blasphemers, who according to the preseding chapter had made men very few, Israel made a feast of fat things and wine in the mountain or temple of the Lord, and to all the people of neighbouring nations who came up to learn the wonders of the Lord. Truly they had cause to do so, for the special marks of God’s protecting love were worthy of the covenant he had made with his people on Sinai. Oh what a feast of joy! One hundred and eighty five thousand of the enemy slain in one night! The survivors of the slaughtered nations would now see the murderers of the earth laid low, and the terrible ones stripped of all their terrors. Surely the nations would now know that there was no God like the God of Israel; and surely Israel would now no more suffer an idol to exist in Jerusalem. But ah, like our vain hearts, they soon forgat, and went astray. The destruction of the Assyrians would very much tend to confirm the credit of the holy prophets; for according to Isaiah, the Lord destroyed the veil and gloomy covering then upon all nations; and the Assyrians, who were as death walking in triumph, were swallowed up in victory. The tears therefore were wiped from all faces.

In this most signal deliverance God gave his church a pledge of what he will ever do in the destruction of her foes. Hence this passage, though it literally belongs to the preservation of Jerusalem, while Moab and Samaria her enemies were not perceived; yet it has justly been applied to the future vengeance everywhere denounced on the unbelieving world. Then shall the church rejoice in the fulness of joy, and sing, Lo this is our God; we have waited for him. He will save us, and we will be glad in his salvation. Thus St. Paul has taught us to improve it, by saying, Death is swallowed up in victory. Hence the good and the fragrance of all God’s former gifts are lasting in excellence throughout every age of the church.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 25". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.