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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 26

Verses 1-3


This chapter consists for the most part of the song that the liberated remnant will sing as it enters into the millennial peace and blessing. The song is also called: the song of the two cities. In this song the contrast is painted between Jerusalem and Babylon, or Rome, under whose power she suffered. From now on it is not Babylon, but Jerusalem, which may be called “strong city”.

The Song of the City of Jerusalem

Only redeemed people can sing a song of redemption. Angels are never found singing in the Bible – not even in the fields of Ephrathah at the birth of the Lord Jesus. The first time there is a song in the Bible it is the song of Moses, after Israel is redeemed from Egypt (Exodus 15:1). Here, in Isaiah 26, we find another song of redemption.

The whole land is called “Judah” (Isaiah 26:1), because all the power and reign of the Jewish faithful remnant are concentrated in Judah. Jerusalem is “a strong city”, in which that city does not derive its power from man, but in which instead of stone walls God’s security is the power that will serve it for eternal protection (cf. Isaiah 60:18; Zechariah 2:5). It is a strong city because the strong God is there. Judah will sing about that. It is no longer “I”, as in the previous chapter, but “we”, together as a people. The millennial realm of peace is full of singing. The church must also be characterized by singing.

The remnant of Israel, that is, the ten tribes realm that was scattered throughout the world, but is now liberated and converted to the Messiah, is “the righteous people” (Isaiah 26:2; Isaiah 60:21). Jerusalem is presented here as a still sparsely populated city, whose gates open to let those who come from the ends of the earth into the city (Psalms 118:20), just as they have opened to let in the Messiah (Psalms 24:7-2 Samuel :). This entry will happen under the chanting of the faithful remnant of the two tribes realm.

Isaiah 26:3 applies to the members of the liberated nation. It describes their characteristic. They have trusted the LORD and will continue to trust him, they will be steadfast in their trust. Therefore they have perfect peace, inner peace. What is translated as “perfect peace” is literally “peace, peace” or peace that is truly peace (cf. Isaiah 57:19).

This applies at all times to those who, instead of being overwhelmed by the difficulties or giving in to the pressure of spiritual enemies and people’s opposition, put their trust in the Lord and direct their thoughts and senses to Him. The resulting peace is not obtained by appropriating it, but is given by God Himself (Philippians 4:6-Judges :). It is the peace that Christ has marked in His life on earth and of which He says: “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27), which means: ‘The peace that is Mine I give to you.’

Verses 4-7

The LORD Paves the Way

Those who know the experience of Isaiah 26:3 can encourage others to always trust in the LORD (Isaiah 26:4). Such a person has come to know Him as the eternal rock (Deuteronomy 32:4). Here he is more than the LORD, the God Who is faithful to the covenant. He is “GOD the LORD”, Yah Yahweh. That is the name of the LORD from Isaiah 12 (Isaiah 12:2). The first time this Name is used is in connection with the revelation of His glory, when He Himself proclaims His Name there: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).

This compassionate and gracious God is for Israel and for every believer “an everlasting rock”. He is not only the faithful God of the covenant, but also the compassionate and gracious God. Whoever builds his house of life on Him remains standing as if on a rock.

Isaiah 26:5 gives the reason to trust the LORD and the proof of His power. He throws down every resistance, no matter how high and great. By “those who dwell on high, the unassailable city” are meant Babylon and its inhabitants (Revelation 17-18). He gives His people, the remnant, “the afflicted” and “the helpless,” the strength to stand in that victory and to set foot on the opponents thrown down (Isaiah 26:6).

The path of the righteous has been smoothed and he can now follow a levelled path (Isaiah 26:7). The smoothness of the path is determined by the sincerity of the one who walks it. He himself determines its quality and structure. And in response the Lord levels the path. He removes the bends, as it were. The righteous goes the path that the true Righteous also goes, he walks in fellowship with Him. The God of the righteous is Himself the Righteous or the Upright One.

The word “smooth” are the translation of the Hebrew word yasar which means “righteous” or “upright”. It is also used for
1. God’s words: “For the word of the LORD is upright” [yasar]” (Psalms 33:4);
2. God’s judgments: “And upright [yasar] are Your judgments” (Psalms 119:137);
3. God’s ways: “For all His ways are just [yasar]” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

There is also a reference in God’s Word to a book with the title: “The book of Jashar [yasar]” (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18). That is a title borrowed from Him Who is the Upright One.

Verses 8-9

The Desire of the Soul of the God-fearing

Even when the judgments of the great tribulation went over the earth, they, that is the believing remnant, waited for Him (Isaiah 26:8). The Jews never looked forward to Divine intervention by rapturing them to meet their Messiah in the air. They have looked forward to Him as Someone Who comes to earth to judge their enemies in order to set them free and then give them the promised blessings in their land. They now experience how God rewards this patience.

They did not just wait for their liberation, but for the honor of His “Name” for which they also prayed according to the word of the Lord Jesus: “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). His Name He has attached to His promises. They have expected that He will fulfill those promises. His Name is everything His Person contains.

His “memory” has also been the object of the desires of their souls. This means that they have remembered His deeds, that in the past He so often has given salvation to His people. This has given them confidence for the future. The desire of their souls is focused on Him, on His Person and His deeds.

During the night of the judgments that mean tribulation for the faithful, yes, to the faithful remnant of Israel it is ‘the great tribulation’, they have longed for Him (Isaiah 26:9). They have learned to seek Him with a serious longing. This is always the answer of the trusting soul in times of trial.

Thus, in the present time, the church may gather in His Name (Matthew 18:20) and gather to His remembrance (1 Corinthians 11:23-Lamentations :). Then the believers think of Him and of His work that He once accomplished for them on the cross. They also think ahead of the moment He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). When we think of the work He once did, making everything right, that works trust for the future.

The unbelieving people on earth, who are blind to the righteousness of God, will only learn God’s righteousness through His judgments on the day of the LORD (Isaiah 26:9). They will then become acquainted with it. The faithful have insight in the judgments of the LORD. They say that His judgments hit the earth. With “the earth” is often meant the limited area where God’s order reigns. That is the western world that has been Christian, and also Israel. When that order is not taken into account, His judgments come on that area.

The effect of these judgments is for a much larger area, because through these judgments “the inhabitants of the world” learn what righteousness is. By “the world” here is meant the unlimited area, wherever people live, regardless of whether or not He commanded ordinances there.

Verses 10-11

The Wicked Is Devoured

The wicked one ignores all judgments, he does not let himself be warned by them, he does not repent. By “the wicked” (singular) is usually meant the antichrist. The hardening of the wicked is so great that even if there were to be an offer of grace, he would turn it down (Isaiah 26:10). He lives in a land of uprightness, that is Judah, but he does not act accordingly. It is not because of the circumstances, but because of the incorrigible wickedness of man. A favorable environment works nothing out if the heart is not directed towards God. Even though the wicked has learned God’s righteousness in judgment, he does not get to know the essence of righteousness. He remains a declared adversary of God and His people.

God’s hand is threateningly lifted up (Isaiah 26:11) to strike those who have committed themselves to the wicked, that is, all the wicked who have chosen the antichrist (John 5:43). But they are blind to the threat, they do not want to see it. However, the moment irrevocably comes when they will realize that God’s fire has devoured them because of their opposition. Then it is forever too late to repent.

The Lord Jesus speaks about a rich man who is in eternal pain (Luke 16:19-Obadiah :). This man does not ask for deliverance from hades. He does wish that others will not end up there (Luke 16:28). The Lord then points out that only God’s Word can convince someone to repent (Luke 16:31).

Verse 12

Peace for the God-fearing

Against the terrible fate of the wicked and all who have followed him, stands the portion of the faithful remnant. On the wicked came fire (Isaiah 26:11), on the remnant comes peace now that the LORD is in the land (Isaiah 26:12). It is the peace which the LORD possesses, not a peace which they themselves have worked out. It is the perfect peace, the peace which is real peace, which the LORD gives to those who trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

For peace with God, He accomplished the work all by Himself through His Son. Through faith in the Son and His work on the cross, they have peace in their hearts in view of their sins. He has also done everything necessary for their peace on earth through their deliverance from the hand of their enemies, even though He has enabled them to help Him. They say of their contribution that He has done it for them (cf. Ephesians 2:10). Through that work they live in peaceful circumstances on earth and there is no more hostile power that can disturb this peace.

Verses 13-15

Remembrance of Unfaithfulness and Grace

They confess the “LORD” as “our God”. With this they express the restoration of the relationship with Him. In the Person of the once rejected Son of God they now acknowledge the LORD their God. From that restored relationship they think back to the time that other nations ruled them (Isaiah 26:13), that is during “the times of the Gentiles”, as the Lord Jesus calls them (Luke 21:24). The cause of this is that they started to serve other gods (Hebrew ba’alenu = rule over us; this verb is related to the word ba’al that points to the idols). The nations that rule are still there now because Israel is still dependent on friendly powers. But then that time is over. They then only honor the Name of the LORD.

The nations that have ruled them will not revive (Isaiah 26:14). They are defeated forever and will never oppress God’s people again. They will not even be thought of again. [N.B. They will rise once physically, but that will be to be judged forever (John 5:28-Joel :).] Opposite to that, there is the multiplication of God’s people (Isaiah 26:15; Isaiah 9:2). This will be for the glorification of the LORD (Proverbs 14:28). In view of that multiplication, the borders of the land have been removed and widened to “all the borders of the land” (cf. Isaiah 54:2-Leviticus :). It is the fulfillment of God’s land vows to Abraham (Genesis 13:14-Esther :).

Verses 16-18

The Distress of the Remnant

These verses describe the deep anxieties and entreaties of the God-fearing in Israel during the “distress,” which is the time of the antichrist’s reign of terror, the time of great tribulation, “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jeremiah 30:7). They remember their extreme helplessness to free themselves or others. They acknowledge that for them it has been a chastisement of the LORD (Isaiah 26:16). They have been so impressed that they have not shouted in their distress, but “could only whisper a prayer”. Their distress was not only caused by the foreign domination, but also by the grief for their sins. Distress is often the reason for people to seek God. This is prophetically illustrated by the brothers of Joseph who repent in prison (Genesis 42:17-Song of Solomon :).

They realize that before the LORD they have suffered the pains of someone in in labor (Isaiah 26:17). Later they will discover that the Son was born long before the woes attacked them (Isaiah 66:7). All the pains seemed at first glance to be in vain as well, for no child was born, but only wind, nothing. They were not able to give salvation, nor was there any expansion of the people through new births (Isaiah 26:18).

Verse 19

Faith in the Resurrection

Isaiah 26:19 is the answer to the confession of the previous verse. It puts us back in the time of Isaiah. The hymn of praise just sung in faith contains a great encouragement for faith, namely that God keeps His promises. He does so in the resurrection (Hebrews 11:39-Matthew :). Here we find the truth of the resurrection in the Old Testament (cf. Job 19:25-Daniel :).

Thinking about the resurrection in the future gives strength to live today from faith in the future. In this faith Isaiah calls for rejoicing, because unlike the dead oppressors (Isaiah 26:14) the pious will rise from the dead. Isaiah speaks to the LORD about “Your dead.” These are “the dead in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:16), “the dead who die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13). Unlike Isaiah 25, where we find a wonderful reference to the resurrection (Isaiah 25:8), this is about the resurrection of Israel as a people.

Possibly Isaiah by “Your dead” means the revival of the lost and dead ten tribes of Israel and by “my corpse”, as it also can be translated, means the restoration of the people of Israel as a whole (Hosea 6:2). Israel will rise from the dead as it were (Ezekiel 37:1-2 Samuel :; Daniel 12:2; Romans 11:15). This happens when the LORD re-establishes the connection with His people, a connection that has not been definitively broken, but temporarily interrupted.

The dew is a picture of blessing, refreshment and life-giving power. Thus is the LORD for His people (Hosea 14:6). Dew, which means the newly formed remnant of His people (Micah 5:6; Psalms 110:3), belongs to the dawn of the day, to the light. Night and death are over. Life has been given back to those who “lie in the dust”, to those with whom hardly anything of life could be seen anymore. “The earth will give birth to the departed spirits”, life can emerge from the dead and grow and blossom undisturbed and come to full maturity as a fruit to the glory of the LORD. The acceptance of the remnant is nothing but life from the dead (Romans 11:15).

Verses 20-21

A Little While of Indignation

Until the indignation is over (Zephaniah 3:8), the LORD offers His people – the faithful remnant, the one hundred and forty-four thousand (Revelation 7:1-Ruth :) – shelter. That shelter is for protection against His indignation which must rage for a little while, at the end of the three and a half years of great tribulation (Isaiah 26:20; Daniel 12:12). Evil on earth, “the iniquity” especially of His apostate people directed against the faithful of His people, compels Him “to come out from His place” (Isaiah 26:21). Heaven will open and He will appear on earth to judge (Revelation 19:11-Nehemiah :). All sins will be brought to light.

This judgment is a foreshadowing of the last judgment, when also the dead will be judged (Revelation 20:11-Ezra :). Then all unsolved murders will be solved. What to think of the millions killed by Stalin and Hitler, for example. Also all other forms of injustice that have never been punished will be brought to light. Criminals who committed suicide after committing their crimes will no longer be covered by the earth. All will be summoned to the great white throne and will be judged in accordance with their iniquity. Righteousness will come and prevail. Christ, the Righteous, has the last word.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 26". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.