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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Isaiah 52

Verses 1-6

The Promise of Redemption

v. 1. Awake, awake! Put on thy strength, O Zion, arousing herself from her dejection and assuming the proper confidence in view of the happy message which is now proclaimed; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the Holy City, in view of her coming elevation and glorification, for the restoration of Jerusalem was a type of the renewal of the Church of God in the Messianic era; for henceforth, after the consecration by the redemption of the Messiah, there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean, any one not in communion with the God of the covenant. In the Zion of the New Testament the Lord Himself reigns in an uninterrupted rule of mercy, the outward membership of hypocrites not being regarded as a true membership.

v. 2. Shake thyself from the dust, where she had occupied the seat of mourners, arise and sit down, O Jerusalem, on the throne which was properly her place; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion, who is here still regarded as an exile nation, but with the fetters of her captivity broken.

v. 3. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for naught, He Himself having given them into the power of their enemies, but without receiving anything in return; and ye shall be redeemed without money, since the Lord would not offer the enemy tyrants any money to release His people. The Lord intended to use His almighty power in bringing deliverance to His people, in overthrowing the hosts of the enemy.

v. 4. For thus saith the Lord God, the all-powerful Jehovah, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there, to enjoy the privilege of guests, not to be placed into bondage, this feature being added by the Egyptians against Jehovah's will; and, at a later date, the Assyrian oppressed them without cause, without justification, in inexcusable tyranny.

v. 5. Now, therefore, what have I here, in the case of the Babylonian exile, saith the Lord, that My people is taken away for naught? He received no return for his act in permitting the Chaldeans to take Israel captive. They that rule over them make them to howl, their oppressors making boisterous noises, saith the Lord, and My name continually, every day, is blasphemed, since the enemies would not acknowledge His hand as He shaped events in their favor, but blasphemously ascribed their success to themselves and to their idols.

v. 6. Therefore My people shall know My name, in view of such behavior on the part of the oppressors; therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak, powerful for the deliverance of His people and for the overthrow of all enemies; behold, it is I, the Lord is known for fulfilling-His promises. It is the same Lord upon whose power and mercy we depend in all vicissitudes of life, knowing that He is the one true God.

Verses 7-12

The Messengers of Redemption

v. 7. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, namely, those of the salvation of Israel, of Zion, that publisheth peace, announcing that all devastating warfare is now ended, that bringeth good tidings of good, preaching with glad acclaim, that publisheth salvation, making the fact of redemption known throughout the nation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth, He has entered upon His rule. During the exile, indeed, the Lord had given the heathen power over the kingdoms of the world and even over Israel, but now that His people is delivered from the bondage of Babylonia, He has once more established His Kingdom of Grace over Israel, just as He has once more assumed the reins of the world government, never to relinquish them again. The picture which is here drawn is one of perfect Messianic conditions, the beauty of the Messianic era with its wonderful Gospel proclamation.

v. 8. Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice, as they see the messengers approaching; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye, very plainly and unmistakably, when the Lord shall bring again Zion, when He Himself shall return to his city. Such shouts of rejoicing are now inserted in order to emphasize the full extent of the deliverance gained.

v. 9. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem, the ruins of the city themselves being regarded as mourning on account of the downfall of the city; for the Lord hath comforted His people, placing them once more into their ancient heritage, He hath redeemed Jerusalem, tearing it out of the hands of the enemies.

v. 10. The Lord hath made bare His holy arm, in preparing for a mighty punishment, in the eyes of all the nations, before the eyes of the unbelieving, mocking enemies; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God, being obliged to witness in what manner the Lord brings deliverance to His people. The description now goes back to the first moments of the deliverance from Babylon.

v. 11. Depart ye, depart ye, the Lord urges the returning Jews, go ye out from thence, from the midst of idolatrous Babylon, touch no unclean thing, anything connected with idolatry; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord, namely, those belonging to the Temple, which the exiles took back with them to Jerusalem. Cf Ezra 1:7-1 Kings :. The expression refers to the need of consecration in the Lord's work in all times, under all circumstances.

v. 12. For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight, in a precipitate hurry, as at the time of the exodus from Egypt; for the Lord will go before you, their Ruler Himself being their guide, and the God of Israel will be your rearward, bringing up the rear and thus sheltering them on both sides and giving them the full security needed in all their ways. Thus the believers are ever and everywhere secure against the evil plans of their enemies, the Lord Himself being their Guide and their Protector.

Verses 13-15

The Suffering of Jehovah's Servant.

The closing verses of chapter 52, according to the somewhat unsatisfactory division of the chapters in this instance, present a summary of the entire next chapter, setting forth the unparalleled humiliation of the Servant of Jehovah, followed by His triumphant exaltation.

v. 13. Behold, My servant shall deal prudently, prospering His cause, bringing it to a successful conclusion in spite of its great difficulty; He shall be exalted and extolled, to a position of triumphant power, and be very high. The entire verse has been understood by Lutheran commentators as referring to the resurrection, the ascension, and the sitting at the right hand of God on the part of the Messiah.

v. 14. As many were astonied at thee, filled with astonishment and aversion; His visage was so marred, more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men, that is, His entire appearance had been so disfigured by the extremity of the sufferings to which He was subjected that it was almost beyond comprehension how a human being could endure such an excess of misery;

v. 15. so, on the other hand, shall He sprinkle many nations, cause the heathen to shrink apart with terror, as when a heavy weight dropped into water causes it to splash in all directions; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him, rendered speechless by the sudden appearance of Jehovah's Servant on the last day, Matthew 24:30; Revelation 6:15-Nehemiah :; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider, since they find that to be coming true which they considered impossible. After this introductory summary the prophet sets forth his message in greater detail.

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Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 52". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.