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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Isaiah 54

Verses 1-17

“Your Maker Is Your Husband” (54:1-17)

Chapter 54 represents an abrupt change of theme, and it contains no hint of the great climax that has been reached in the preceding chapter. Whether this effect was designed purposely by Second Isaiah himself, or whether it is the work of the prophet’s disciples who transmitted his prophecies, we do not know. On the whole one must say that there is an inner logic in the arrangement of the materials in Second Isaiah which we have examined so far. This is very unusual in prophecy, and leads to the supposition that the original prophet may well have had a hand in the arrangement of his poems. But of this we simply cannot be sure.

Chapter 54 can perhaps be considered as another recapitulation. A climax has been reached, and now the prophet looks back and in a fresh way repeats a number of old themes which he has treated before. It will thus be an interlude before the next climax is reached in chapter 55.

The theme of chapter 54 is the encouragement of Israel, with the repeated exhortation not to fear. Note the emphasis in verse 7: “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you.” The metaphorical language which the prophet uses, however, reaches back to the prophecy of Hosea, where the Covenant between God and Israel is compared to a marriage covenant; Israel is the wife who has been faithless (Hosea 1-2). Here, however, the metaphor is used in an entirely fresh way. In the first strophe (vss. 1-3), Israel is a wife who has not been producing children. That kind of barrenness is now over. Many children are to be bom, and the family tents will have to be enlarged.

In verses 4-10 the nation is addressed. The “shame” of her youth and the “reproach” of her widowhood are now over. God has espoused her to himself. “Your Maker is your husband . . . and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,” declares the prophet (vs. 5). Verse 6 continues the metaphor: here the reference is to the sad thing that evidently happened not infrequently in polygamous societies and still happens in modern Arab countries. “A wife of youth”—that is, one’s first wife—becomes old and ceases to bear children. The husband then takes himself a younger wife, leaving the older one forsaken. In the case of Israel, God has now called to her as to a wife who had once been forsaken. Verse 9 makes reference to the covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:8-17). That covenant contained the promise that never again would there be a threat of flood waters covering the whole earth. God’s “covenant of peace” with Israel is to be just as firm a commitment and as everlasting as was that with Noah (vs. 10). The final portion of the chapter (vss. 11-17) continues this assurance but uses a new metaphor, that of the building of a city. The city will be one made of “precious stones” (vs. 12). The children will all be taught by the Lord, and no one will need to have fear, for the Lord will be their protector.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Isaiah 54". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/isaiah-54.html.