Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 51

Verses 1-23

Isaiah 51:4 . A law shall proceed from me. The gospel law of liberty and love is here intended, as in Joel 2:31. No other law ever emanated from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 51:5 . My righteousness is near. Christ, the Just and Holy one, the Lord our righteousness. The isles shall wait upon me. Better thus, the distant lands shall expect me, the desire of all nations. Christ was the earnest expectation of the whole creation. Romans 8:19.

Isaiah 51:6 . They that dwell therein shall die in like manner. The sense of the English is, they shall die as the heavens vanish, and as the earth waxes old like a garment. Thus is a sublime passage gaited and marred; whereas the true reading relieves it at once. “They shall die as the feeble insect.”

Isaiah 51:9 . That cut Rahab, called by the Arabians Rav or Rif; that is, Memphis, the capital of Egypt, so surnamed for her pride; and wounded Pharaoh, the dragon. God will destroy all the future enemies of his church, as he destroyed Egypt and Babylon.

Isaiah 51:11 . The redeemed of the Lord shall return. These words afforded great consolation to the Jews, under the Babylonian oppression; but they shall give still greater comfort to the church in the latter day, when many nations shall come to the gospel Zion, built on the tops of the mountains. Preachers improve and apply these words to penitents that seek the Lord, who wipes away their tears, and fills the contrite with everlasting joy.

Isaiah 51:20 . As a wild bull in a net, they are full of the fury of the Lord. There is no better figure than an infuriated bull, to describe a wicked army to whom no quarter will be given. They have often cut their way through the mass of their fellow soldiers, as when the trumpets of Gideon were sounding behind the Midianites. But he who rests in Zion shall not make haste. Isaiah 28:16.


This and the following chapters obviously comprise the same subject, and often in the same words. There were four captivities of the Jewish nation, the Egyptian, the Assyrian, the Babylonian, and their present dispersion, which Abarbanal, on Isaiah 49:1, calls the Roman captivity. Vitringa says, Censet Abarbanal prophetam hic transitum facere a Liberatione ex exilo Babylonico ad Liberationem exilo Romano. Israel menaced with the rod, Israel languishing in Babylon, and Israel under the long and gloomy dispersion by the Romans, are here called to look to the rock whence they were hewn, and to see what God did in calling Abraham, and in giving an heir to the world by those two righteous persons, whose bodies were as good as dead. Therefore the same God can still repeat his mercies to the promised seed. When a good man is in trouble, the idea of what God has done for his religious parents emboldens his confidence in the rock of his fathers.

The Lord will surely keep his word: he will comfort Zion, he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her waste places as the garden of the Lord. This promise comforted the people in Babylon: yet as Judea never recovered the glory which Solomon shed upon it; and as both Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Romans, did most awfully profane the sanctuary, which is contrary to the promise that the unclean and the uncircumcised should not pollute it, Isaiah 52:1, Messiah spake here of more than the Babylonian deliverance, because he says a law, the evangelical law shall proceed from me; consequently he must speak of the latter day, when the exiled Hebrews shall enjoy more glory than their fathers ever saw. Then shall the isles wait for him, all the gentile nations shall trust in him, and all the enemies of truth vanishing like smoke, or fretting like a garment, shall perish under the displeasure of heaven. There is no text which speaks of the millennium but it speaks of the terrors of God on the unbelieving world. The change shall be so great, that in a manner it may be called a new heaven and a new earth.

The church, hearing these glad tidings, implores the Lord to make haste. Awake, awake, put on strength, oh arm of the Lord, as when thou didst cut Rahab, and wound Pharaoh, as the dragon of the sea. So also in the eleventh chapter, which speaks of the restoration of the Jews, the Lord promises to deliver his people by the power which smote the Egyptians. The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy.

God gives a speedy answer to the cry of his afflicted people. I, even I, am he that comforteth you. I who have laid the foundations of the earth, and who divided the sea. Hence I bid thee not to be afraid of men who shall die. Therefore awake, oh Jerusalem; recover from thy stupor, occasioned by my bitter cup, which henceforth shall be drunk by thine enemies, and no more by thee. The messengers shall bring thee joyful tidings, not only of deliverance from Babylon, but of restoration to the christian Zion, the city of glory and of beauty.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 51". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.