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The Testimony of Jehovah's Servant
v. 1. Listen, O isles, unto Me, and hearken, ye people, from far, the entire heathen world being called upon to give attention to the proclamation here being made: The Lord hath called Me from the womb, designating the Servant of Jehovah for His special service from the very hour of His birth; from the bowels of My mother hath He made mention of My name, the words plainly indicating that an individual is speaking, and not the entire nation of Israel, He who has received the definite name of the Messiah of Israel, for only He, properly speaking, is the Servant of Jehovah.
v. 2. And He hath made My mouth like a sharp sword, in the proclamation of His Word, Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 2:12; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid Me, as an instrument prepared for His service, and made Me a polished shaft, an arrow of unsullied purity; in His quiver hath He hid Me, to be used at the time appointed by Him,
v. 3. and said unto Me, Thou art My Servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified, the Messiah being the true Israel, He who battled with God and with men and remained victorious and was therefore elevated to the divine glory and majesty. Cf Php_2:9-11 .
v. 4. Then I said, the Messiah speaking here in His role of true human being, in the weakness which beset Him in Gethsemane, I have labored in vain, I have spent My strength for naught and in vain, being oppressed with sorrow and the fear of death in the midst of his work of atonement; yet surely, in spite of that feeling of depression and terror, My judgment is with the Lord, the cause which He represented was that of Jehovah, and My work with My God, the fruit and result of His labors being in the hand of His almighty Father. It is the same thought which we find in the story of Gethsemane: If it be possible, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine, be done.
v. 5. And now, saith the Lord that formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, as stated in verse 1, to bring Jacob again to Him, namely, the true spiritual children of Jacob, Though Israel be not gathered, rather, "and that Israel may he gathered to Him," for this is one of the purposes for which the Servant of Jehovah is prepared, yet shall I be glorious In the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My Strength, the second object of the Servant's calling being to equip Him for His work by the strength of the Lord.
v. 6. And He, Jehovah, said, It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel, those whom the Lord had chosen for His own out of the descendants of the patriarchs, Cf Matthew 15:24; I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, Isaiah 60:3, that Thou mayest be My Salvation unto the end of the earth, the Servant of Jehovah being the Savior of the whole world, the heathen being fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God. Although the children of Israel were the chosen people of the Lord, His first-born son, it remains true, nevertheless, that there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him, Romans 10:12.
v. 7. Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, the almighty and merciful Vindicator of His people, and His Holy One, who is zealous for His honor, to Him whom man despiseth, whom people generally hold in contempt, to Him whom the nation abhorreth, whom they regard as an abomination, to a Servant of rulers, one who is treated like a slave by the tyrants among men, as history relates of Jesus, Kings shall see and arise, namely, when He appears in view, princes also shall worship, being obliged to show Him due honor, because of the Lord that is faithful, since they are bound to realize that the Lord is standing behind His Servant and upholding His cause, and the Holy One of Israel, and He shall choose Thee, on account of the zeal of Jehovah for His chosen people.
v. 8. Thus saith the Lord, once more in answer to the complaint voiced in verse 4, In an acceptable time have I heard Thee, in the Messianic period, when His grace and mercy would be evident in an extraordinary measure, and in a day of salvation have I helped Thee, at the time when help came out of Zion upon the spiritual Israel; and I will preserve Thee, keeping Him from destruction in the hours of the greatest trials, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, as a Mediator of His covenant of grace, to establish the earth, the entire land of Canaan, as the type of the spiritual Israel's heritage, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages, so that all believers become partakers of the blessings originally given to Israel (these blessings, chiefly of a spiritual nature, were willfully despised by the great majority of them, but are now, in the Messianic era, to be the lasting possession of all true Israelites),
v. 9. that Thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth, to them that are in darkness, namely, the darkness of sinfulness and unbelief, Show yourselves. The reference is to the spiritual deliverance, which is the fruit of the Gospel-message. Isaiah 42:22. They shall feed in the ways, the entire number of those who are partakers of the salvation in Christ enjoying the blessings offered by Him, and their pastures shall be in all high places, the richest spiritual food in the very midst of the vanities of this world.
v. 10. They shall not hunger nor thirst, having food and drink for their souls in abundance in the Word of His grace; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them, the tribulations of this world being unable permanently to harm them; for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them, the assurances of His loving-kindness and tender mercy serving to refresh the souls in every circumstance of life.
v. 11. And I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted, all obstructions and difficulties will be removed, so that the Lord's children will have their pathway to heaven made smooth.
v. 12. Behold, these, those who belonged to the Lord by virtue of their salvation, shall come from far; and, lo, these from the North and from the West, and these from the land of Sinim, probably China, for the Lord has His own in every country of the world. For that reason the prophet inserts a powerful admonition to the whole creation to break forth in thanksgiving for the evidence of the Lord's mercy in the salvation of His people.
v. 13. Sing, O heavens, and be Joyful, O earth, all creatures everywhere raising their voices in grateful anthems, and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted His people, refreshing and healing them in the midst of their afflictions, and will have mercy upon His afflicted, giving them direct and concrete evidence of His love in the Messiah. All this, however, redounds to the glory of the Lord's Servant, since He alone receives all the credit for every soul which is saved by His mercy, as our hymns to this day expressly state.
The Glorification of Zion by Jehovah's Servant
v. 14. But Zion, the capital of the chosen people as type of the Church of God, said, The Lord hath forsaken me, the God of the covenant having apparently turned against her, and my Lord hath forgotten me, her Bridegroom and Husband was utterly estranged from her. It is an expression of the deepest affliction of the soul, which is obsessed by the fear and terror of hell. Upon this the Lord Himself answers with words of glorious consolation,
v. 15. Can a woman forget her sucking child, the tiny infant in her arms; that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? It is the strongest comparison which the Lord can find for human understanding. But His love and mercy surpass even the intense love of the fondest mother. Yea, they may forget, it may so happen that a human mother will so far forget herself and deny the call of natural affection, yet will I not forget thee, the heavenly Father's love is so inexpressibly great and burning that He actually finds it impossible not to feel the compassion of love toward those that are His
v. 16. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands, as a token that the picture of the Lord's pity is indelibly impressed upon His heart and mind, that He has it before the eyes of His mind always; thy walls are continually before Me, He has them before Him in their proper and correct reconstruction; He sees His Church as a beautiful and perfect building, a habitation of His Holy Spirit.
v. 17. Thy children shall make haste, hurrying to the side of their mother as though they could not come fast enough to save and to glorify her; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee, leaving Zion in undisturbed possession of her city.
v. 18. Lift up thine eyes round about and behold, so the Lord's consoling admonition proclaims, all these, the people gained for the Lord by the proclamation of the Gospel, gather themselves together and come to thee, to join the Church. As I live, saith the Lord, with a solemn oath of reassurance, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, like a bride putting on her rich garments, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee as a bride doeth, as she girds her robes about her. The Church is pictured with a host of her children about her, their great number serving as her choicest ornament.
v. 19. For thy waste and thy desolate places and the land of thy destruction, the land of Judah with its many sacked cities and ruined farms being a type of the Church's desolation in consequence of the Babylonian captivity, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away, the destroyers of the land being crowded out of the land by the increasing number of Jerusalem's children, by the growing number of believers in the Messianic era.
v. 20. The children which thou shalt have, the spiritual offspring of Zion, after thou hast lost the other, those that were born to her during the time of the exile, shall say again in thine ears, this would surely come to pass once more that they would clamor, The place is too strait for me, too narrow for their increasing number; give place to me that I may dwell, providing enough room for those who would be born anew by the Spirit of God in the Word.
v. 21. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, in joyful surprise, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, before and during the Babylonian captivity, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? Zion was childless and unfruitful, rejected of her Lord and left by the wayside; she thought she had been utterly forsaken. And who hath brought up these? the children which now come with the demand that they be given sufficient room to spread out in the land. And once more her surprised question is sounded, Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? The Church cannot grasp the mercy of the Lord as it is revealed in this rich blessing. The Lord now gives a most solemn answer:
v. 22. Thus saith the Lord God, the all-powerful Ruler and Sovereign of the universe, Behold, I will lift up Mine hand to the Gentiles, in a signal which bids them come, and set up My standard to the people, a guide directing them in the right way; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, the spiritual children of Israel born in the midst of heathenism, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders, in eager submission to the rule of the King of Peace.
v. 23. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, protecting and nurturing the Church, and their queens thy nursing mothers, fostering the cause of the believers in every conceivable manner; they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, in the attitude of submission and worship, and lick up the dust of thy feet, giving due homage to the Church on account of the obvious protection which the Lord gives to those that trust in Him; and thou shalt know, by the powerful proof thus given, that I am the Lord, the evidence to that effect being continuous and overwhelming; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for Me, this being a promise which applies to the believers of all times. Moreover, the Lord now answers an objection which might be made in view of the fact that the children of Zion were still in the power of the enemies:
v. 24. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty or the lawful captive, the entire band of captives, delivered? this being the somewhat dubious question put by the more timid, who see nothing of the promised deliverance.
v. 25. But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty, those whom the enemies thought they were holding most securely, shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, overcoming those who made war on His chosen people, and I will save thy children, therefore the future is so secure.
v. 26. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh, in revenging the wrongs done to His people; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine, in a slaughter brought upon them by Jehovah; and all flesh, all people of the world, shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob, invincible in His power. Thus the Lord promises to bring Zion to the knowledge of His grace and love by imparting His salvation, while His judgment upon the enemies of His Church causes them to acknowledge His sovereign power and covenant faithfulness.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 49". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19