Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 12

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Verses 1-3


The first part of the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 1-12) draws attention to the redemption of Judah and Jerusalem. Isaiah 12 is an appropriate ending of this part. It has the form of a song. In the previous chapters much has been said about the sins of God’s people and the warning of God’s anger over them. There is also talk about the forgiveness that God offers in case of repentance and the promises of a glorious future for His people. God’s Name will be exalted and His King will reign. The psalm of praise of this chapter seamlessly connects to that.

In a way we can compare it with the song of Moses in Exodus 15, which is sung immediately after the passage through the Red Sea. Some of the expressions used in it come back here.

The chapter consists of two parts. Both parts start with the words: “Then you will say on that day.” The first part (Isaiah 12:1-Leviticus :) looks back to Isaiah 1-11. The second part (Isaiah 12:4-Joshua :) looks forward to the salvation as a result of the judgments on the nations described in Isaiah 13-23.

Expressions of Thanks

Looking ahead to the glorious time of the realm of peace empire in the previous chapter, a song of thanks must follow. That happens in this chapter. We hear the hymn of praise of the realm of peace. The Spirit of Christ puts the song in the mouth of the redeemed people, the remnant, the third part that has escaped judgment (Zechariah 13:8) and enjoys the blessing (Isaiah 12:1). It is the earthly counterpart of the song that the heavenly saints sing before the judgments come on the earth (Revelation 5:9-1 Chronicles :; cf. Revelation 15:3-Numbers :).

It is a song in the ‘I’ form. Every Israelite has his own relationship with the LORD. In this song every member of God’s people sings that the LORD has rightly been angry with him. They also sing it together. They will even praise Him for having been angry with them, for by doing so He has brought them back to Himself. The anger of God is expressed through His rod: the Assyrians (Isaiah 10:5-Joshua :). Its effect is that Israel now acknowledges the righteousness of God’s anger, a sign of their conversion and restoration. God’s rod has now reached its goal.

So far, the anger of God has not been averted. But now they also sing of the end of His anger and the comfort He gave them afterwards (cf. Isaiah 40:1-Exodus :). Everyone is aware of his sins, but also of God’s forgiveness. God’s discipline in case of sin is always meant to bring people to return to Him. God’s discipline when there is no direct sin is always meant to keep His own for sin and to keep them close to Him.

After acknowledging the righteous anger of the LORD, an anger that has found its culmination in the indignation of God (Isaiah 10:5), they sing of God and Who He is and what He is to them (Isaiah 12:2). As noted above, it can be compared to the hymn of praise of Israel after the people were freed from Egypt (Exodus 15:2; Psalms 118:14). He is the “salvation” of the escaped believer.

The word salvation is in Hebrew jeshuah. It is a word Isaiah uses more than any other prophet. In it we recognize the name Jeshua, Jesus, which means ‘Yahweh is salvation’. In the word salvation the name of the Lord Jesus is as it were hidden. The name ‘Jesus’ remains hidden in the Old Testament.

That Name is in connection with His birth (Isaiah 49:1) and is therefore only announced when He is about to be born. The meaning of His Name is also directly connected to this announcement: “And you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). ‘Save’ and ‘salvation’ have the same basic meaning. The word salvation with that rich meaning appears three times in Isaiah 12:2-Leviticus :.

In their thankfulness for salvation they speak of the “LORD GOD”, so twice the name Yahweh (cf. Isaiah 26:4), which is His Name as the God of the covenant He made with His people. They have been unfaithful to that covenant, but He has taken all its conditions upon Himself and fulfilled them. They emphasize herewith that all blessing is only due to the perfect faithfulness of the LORD to His covenant.

The name “Yah Yahweh” (LORD GOD) comes from Exodus 34: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious …”. (Exodus 34:6). This Name emphasizes that the perfect faithfulness of the LORD to His covenant is based on His compassion and grace. The trust of the believing remnant is – like that of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-37) – in the LORD, as opposed to the trust of Judah under King Ahaz (Isaiah 7:10-2 Kings :), who puts his trust in the king of Assyria.

As a result, they can now joyously draw water (Isaiah 12:3), which is refresh themselves with all that salvation implies for them. There are seven feasts of the LORD, from the Passover to the Feast of Booth (Leviticus 23:4-John :). These feasts have a meaning in the history of salvation. In the prophetic meaning of these feasts we see the period from the death of the Lord Jesus to the realm of peace. The Feast of Booth is the great feast of the joy of the end time. In Judaism Isaiah 12 was applied to the Feast of Booth. On this occasion, the priest draws water every day from the Shiloah spring, which he pours out under great cheers in a silver basin next to the bronze burnt offering altar.

We know its true meaning and know that the source of salvation is Christ (John 4:14). We see that at the Feast of Booth, when He cries out on the last day, the great day of the feast to anyone who is thirsty: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). Here we see how is drawn from Him and that whoever has received the living water like a vessel can pass it on to others. Every blessing can be found in Him. All the springs of the believer are in Him (Psalms 87:7). He who drinks from Him can also refresh others.

We see this drawing of water from the springs also in the end time. There comes the great crowd, which no one can count, out of the great tribulation and is led by the Lamb “to springs of the water of life” (Revelation 7:15-Esther :).

Verses 4-6

Expressions of Joy as Testimony

If they have first drawn from “the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3) and become full, they become overflowing vessels as they continue drawing water. The overflowing water flows to others. We see this from Isaiah 12:4. The first “in that day” (Isaiah 12:1) expresses the joy over one’s own salvation. The second “in that day” (Isaiah 12:4) is about the worldwide salvation of the LORD.

The result of all the glorious things they have sung in the preceding verses is that they call one another to praise the LORD and to testify of His deeds among all nations. Everyone should know that He has done “excellent things” (Isaiah 12:5). The most excellent of all is the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. On this basis God has been able to conclude that salvation comes to Israel and through the fullness of Israel also goes to the nations (Romans 11:12).

We find here an example of spiritual growth. First, the believer is full of joy about what he himself has received and about his personal relationship with the Lord. Then, he recognizes the need for him to bear witness to the glory of God and call upon others to repent and give God the glory. Thus, having drunk from the source of salvation, they themselves become rivers of living water for others (John 7:37-Zechariah :).

What is our response to what the Lord Jesus has done for us? We should honor Him much more enthusiastically and testify of Him much more diligently than Israel. The blessing of Israel is limited to the earth and is material. Our blessings are spiritual, heavenly and eternal. When we realize what He has liberated us from and what He has given us, we cannot remain silent.

This command gains even more strength through the affirmation that the “Holy One of Israel” is in their midst. This name is again special for Isaiah. His presence in their “midst” is “great” and is reason to cheer and rejoice (Isaiah 12:6).

With this it ends and that is also the greatest: the Holy One of Israel is in the midst. The word used for ‘midst’ is translated several times with ‘entrails’. We could say that He is where the collective feelings and affections towards Him originate from. Something similar we see in the church of which Christ is the center of the four dimensional glory (Ephesians 3:17-Psalms :). He wants to live as such in our hearts where He can be known in His love that surpasses knowledge.

The presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst of the church gives real satisfaction to the believers for whom this is a reality. It cultivates worship and gives strength to bear witness to Him. The real sense of His presence gives joy to the church. If this awareness is not present, the coming together is only routine and does not work anything towards God nor towards the world.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.