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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 61

Verses 1-11

Isaiah 61:1 . The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. Here the Redeemer appears clothed with humanity, and invested with all the high offices of our redemption. Jehovah gave not the Spirit by measure unto him, not at times and seasons; as to the prophets; the fulness of Deity always dwelt in him, and flowed as a fountain. He therefore spake in righteousness, mighty to save: Isaiah 63:1. He had said above, The isles shall wait for my law; and he adds below, I the Lord love judgment. In the days of his flesh he said in the synagogue of Nazareth, To day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears; and the people wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. Luke 4:21-22. The Chaldaic, it is true, makes Isaiah the speaker, but they knew no better; the apology for the Arians who follow that version is inadmissible. To gainsay the words of Christ is with them a small thing.

To preach good tidings to the meek. ענוים enovim, πτωχοις , the poor, the humble, the afflicted. Job 34:28. Psalms 25:9; Psalms 34:11. Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 22:4. Zephaniah 2:3. Numbers 12:3. Our Saviour did this, according to the words of David. Psalms 37:11. Matthew 5:5.

To bind up the brokenhearted, by preaching deliverance to the captives, and opening of the prison to those that are bound. Cyrus very much cheered the Jews, by the liberation of more than forty thousand; but this was small, when compared with the promises of a full redemption. Jehovah says, By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Zechariah 9:11. It is a most humiliating truth, that we have been led captive by the devil at his will; that we are tied and bound with the chain of our sins, and speechless at the bar of God. What can cheer hearts so disconsolate but the voice of him who is sent to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, the year of jubilee, of full redemption from all iniquity, and of restoration to the heavenly inheritance.

Isaiah 61:2 . The day of vengeance of our God. Grace must be guarded with justice. Diem ultionis, the final day of perdition to all who despise the riches of his goodness, which leadeth to repentance. Romans 2:4. The Lord passed sentence on the abandoned and unbelieving Jews: Behold, your temple is left unto you desolate desecrated, demolished. He also pronounced sentence on the rebellious gentiles, bidding the goats on his left hand depart, and burning up the tares with unquenchable fire. The final punishment will be heavy on those who make light of the gospel; while on the other hand, he shall fully comfort mourners, by the full enjoyment of his heavenly kingdom.

Isaiah 61:3 . To give unto them beauty for ashes. The Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces, will brighten every countenance with joy, and give the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. The happy state of the church shall then differ as much from her former state, as a feast differs from a fast. Sackcloth shall be superseded by the white garments of praise, and the peace and joy of God shall inspire every bosom. But better still; this glorious enlargement of Zion shall be a permanent state. The church has long been afflicted with rebellious Reubens, unstable as water; now the saints shall resemble trees or oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for his glory. Psalms 1:3. This beautiful idea of an enlivened cosmography and agriculture runs through the chapter.

Isaiah 61:4 . They shall build the old wastes, or rebuild their houses, as in Isaiah 65:21.

Isaiah 61:6 . Ye shall be named the priests of the Lord. Such was the original promise, in Exodus 19:6. God chose the Israelites, if they had obeyed his voice, to be “a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” Moses indeed did all that a prophet could do, to make the people like the holy patriarchs; but that cannot be done without circumcision of the heart. The carnal Hebrews were chained to duties by the law, but in all ages waited an opportunity to break the restraint, and revel in licentiousness. With the same high and hallowed promises, St. Peter admonishes the christian church to follow after holiness, as becomes our consecration to God. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a new or peculiar people, to show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” 1 Peter 2:9. Hebrews 13:15.

Isaiah 61:9 . Their seed shall be known among the gentiles. In India, in central Asia, in Persia, and other foreign states, the Jews are extremely poor and wretched, and are scarcely admitted to any of the privileges of civil society; but when converted to the Messiah, their spiritual birth shall be as life from the dead, filling all the church with joy. We say to the Jews, as Moses to Hobab, Come thou with us, and we will do thee good. Numbers 10:29. Change your name, as this prophet has said, for the new name of Christ, the anointed: Isaiah 62:2; Isaiah 65:15. This change is essential to your title of inheritance. In the Messiah only you have the promise.

Isaiah 61:11 . As a garden causeth seeds that are sown in it to spring forth, and is adorned with plants and flowers of exquisite beauty, so shall the church recover from her wilderness state to the glory of Hephzibah and Beulah, as in the next chapter. The Lord will cause his name to be known, and his praises to be sung in all the earth.


As the plowman can do nothing in the field till the rigours of winter are removed, so the church lay dormant till the promised Prince and Prophet came to Zion, and preached deliverance to the captives. Life attended his voice; light and righteousness opened by his word, and the trumpet of jubilee resounded in all the earth.

Yet we must add, that the prophet foresaw, that those joys would be embraced by the meek only, and by the humble who had long been weary of Satan’s yoke. I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. Zephaniah 3:12. Go and tell John, said the Saviour, that to the poor the gospel is preached.

But though the beginning of the Messiah’s kingdom was small as a grain of mustard seed; yet the consummation shall be glorious, and shall fill the earth. Zion, after all her tears, shall greatly rejoice; shall be clothed with the garments of salvation, with the robe of righteousness, and with all the brilliant costume of the Lamb’s wife. Yea, her glory shall revive the earth, as the verdure revives in the spring.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 61". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.