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ISAIAH CHAPTER 61.
Christ and his blessed office, Isaiah 61:1-3.
The church’s repair and increase, Isaiah 61:4-6 and joy, Isaiah 61:7-11.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, as it were, to accomplish that which is foretold and promised in the foregoing chapter, whereby this appears to be either the Holy Ghost; See Poole "1 Kings 18:12"; or the Spirit of prophecy, i.e. the gift of prophecy; so we are often to understand by the Spirit, viz. the gifts; as the Spirit upon Samson, viz. the gift of valour, and courage, and strength: see 1 Corinthians 12:4, &c. Though the prophet may speak this of himself in person, yet that it is principally understood of Christ is evident, because he applieth this text unto himself, Luke 4:18, being the first text he preached upon after his baptism, at which time the Holy Ghost did descend upon him in a visible shape, of which that John, who baptized him, was an ocular witness, John 1:32,John 1:33, and so making good the truth of this prophecy; and it is said to rest upon and dwell in him, according as it is prophesied, Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1.
Hath anointed me; set me apart, i.e. both capacitating him with gifts, and commissioning him with authority; and yet more as it is applied to Christ, a power to make all effectual, from whence he hath also the name of Messiah among the Hebrews, and of Christ among the Greeks; nay, Christ alone among the prophets hath obtained this name, Psalms 45:7; and the prophet seems here to describe first who Christ is, and then what are his offices; this being the usual ceremony for the designing persons to the offices of prophets, priests, and kings, as hath been divers times shown, in all which respects it doth most eminently belong to Christ; so that the prophet doth hereby intimate both the final cause of his unction, viz. that he should execute these offices to which he was anointed; and the effect of it; that unction being upon him as the Head, it would flow from thence to his members, and so is an unction more peculiar to them; arid in a more general way it hath respect unto all the faithful, 2 Corinthians 1:21,2 Corinthians 1:22; 1 John 2:20,1 John 2:27.
To preach good tidings unto the meek: being meant of Christ, this relates to his prophetical office. Literally this points at the good news that Isaiah brought of Cyrus’s being raised up to bring them out of Babylon, now they are become meek and humble; but if it be thus taken, it must be understood of his prophecies left behind him, for he died many years before the captivity. But they chiefly signify the good tidings of the gospel, that discovers Christ come in the flesh to redeem poor sinners from the captivity of sin and Satan, such as are meek, and tremble, or afflicted, as the word signifies, because ordinary afflictions make men meek and humble; called also the poor, and our Saviour expresseth it by that word, Luke 4:18. To these the gospel, these
good tidings, are brought, Matthew 11:5. Whether by poor you understand,
1. The Gentiles, void of all grace and salvation, or tenders of it, till now. Or,
2. Properly so called, indigent and needy persons, of which sort were the greatest number that followed Christ, of which the reason might be, because Christ preached the contempt of the world and riches, which the poor would therefore sooner embrace, and the rich be more likely to oppose. Or,
3. The poor in spirit. To bind up: now follow several particular expressions to describe the same thing that he mentioned before more generally: a metaphor taken from chirurgeons, that carefully and tenderly roll up a broken bone, Hosea 6:1; and this relates to Christ’s priestly office.
The broken-hearted; the heart dejected and broken with sorrow. I am sent to ease their pains, whose consciences are wounded with a sense of God’s wrath. To proclaim liberty to the captives; those captives in Babylon, but principally to Satan, that they shall be delivered; and this appertains to Christ’s kingly office, whereby he proclaims liberty from the dominion and bondage of sin, and from the fear and terror of hell. See Isaiah 42:7. The opening of the prison to them that are bound, i.e. supposing them to be in chains and fetters, yet they should be delivered, though in the greatest bondage. The further explication of these things will be found upon Luke 4:18, because there are some passages expressly mentioned here.
To proclaim; to declare, as it respects the Jews, that their liberty is at hand.
The acceptable year, viz. the happy age of God’s grace, either which will be grateful and welcome news to them, or acceptable to God, a time wherein it pleaseth him to favour them; but this must be understood of a further extent than to Babylon, and rather unto mankind in Jesus Christ, Galatians 4:4; Titus 3:4, called a time of God’s good-will in that angelical song, Luke 2:14, on the account of those good tidings which the angel brought, Isaiah 61:10,Isaiah 61:11; called so possibly from the arbitrariness and good pleasure of God, having no respect to any satisfaction from man.
Year; not precisely, as if Christ preached but one year, the mistake of some ancients, mentioned and refuted by Irenaeus, lib. 2. ch. 38; but for time indefinitely, and may include the whole time of preaching the gospel; see Romans 10:15; which I take to be the meaning of that now, 2 Corinthians 6:2, and probably hath a pertinent allusion to the year of jubilee, which was a general release proclaimed by sound of trumpet, which relates also here to the word proclaiming, Leviticus 25:10.
The day of vengeance, viz. on Babylon, it being necessary, that where God will deliver his people, he should take vengeance on their enemies; but mystically and principally on the enemies of his church, and the spiritual ones chiefly, viz. Satan, sin, and death.
That mourn; either by reason of their sufferings, or of their sins, Matthew 11:28; or the miseries of Zion. See Poole "Isaiah 57:18".
To appoint; supply it, viz. comfort or joy; or else it may refer to those accusative cases following, beauty, oil, garments. In Zion; put by a metonymy for the Jews; q.d. among the Jews; and they for the church of God, or, according to the Hebrew, for Zion.
Beauty for ashes: by ashes understand whatever is most proper for days of mourning, as sackcloth sprinkled with ashes; and these ashes, which were sprinkled on their heads, mixing themselves with their tears, would render them of a woeful aspect, which was wont to be the habit of mourners; as by beauty whatever may be beautiful or become times of rejoicing.
The oil of joy for mourning: the sense is the same with the former; he calls it
oil of joy, in allusion to those anointings they were wont to use in times of joy, Psalms 104:15; and also the same with what follows, viz. gladness for heaviness; gladness brings forth praise to God: and it is called a garment in allusion to their festival ornaments, for they had garments appropriated to their conditions, some suitable to times of rejoicing, and some to times of mourning; or else an allusion to comely garments; and
the spirit of heaviness, because heaviness doth oppress and debase the spirits. It is all but an elegant description of the same thing by a threefold antithesis.
That they might be called; that is, that they may be so, as it is usually expressed, Isaiah 58:12; Isaiah 60:18; they shall be acknowledged so, Isaiah 61:9.
Trees of righteousness: he ascribes righteousness to trees, understanding thereby persons by a metaphor, by which he means that they shall be firm, solid, and well-rooted, being by faith ingrafted into Christ, and bringing forth fruit suitable to the soil wherein they are planted, that had been as dry trees; see on Isaiah 56:3; viz. the church, the vineyard of God, and the hand by which they are planted, as in the next words.
The planting of the Lord; planted by the holy Lord, who’ being himself holy and righteous, would plant none but such; which notes also their soundness and stability, an allusion to that passage in Moses’s song, Exodus 15:17.
That he might be glorified, either in that glory which he should confer upon them, or that glory he may expect and receive from them, that so it may be evident whose handiwork it was. See Isaiah 60:21.
See Isaiah 58:12. As it is applied to gospel times, the meaning may be, that Gentilism, which was as a wilderness overgrown with briers and thorns, shall be cultivated; and those cities and provinces of the Gentiles that lay as it were waste, void of all true religion, shall now by the ministry of the word be edified in the true worship of God.
Strangers, viz. Gentiles, such as are not of, the natural race of the Jews, but Gentile converts. Or such as shall have no more than an outward profession, strangers to tho true work of grace.
Shall stand; ready to be at thy service; a like expression Isaiah 48:13.
Feed your flocks, the churches, with, the word of God. The sons of the alien; the same with strangers, or their successors.
Shall be your ploughmen and your vine-dressers: as the words describe the prosperous estate of the Jews, the meaning of them is, that they should be in such a flourishing and prosperous condition, that without their own labour they should have all inferior offices executed, either by slaves taken in war, or by persons hired for reward, which they should have riches and wealth enough to accomplish; but as they principally relate to the spiritual state of the church, so probably by strangers we may understand converted Gentiles, with their successors, meant by the
sons of aliens, which should be ready to discharge all offices for the advantage of the church, feeding the flocks, viz. the churches of Christ, with the word of God, and should manage the whole work of God’s spiritual husbandry therein: see 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. Or by strangers may be meant members of the church only by an outward profession, even they shall be some way serviceable to her in ordinary and inferior matters: The earth shall help the woman, Revelation 12:16.
But ye shall be named the Priests; for your part, ye emphatically shall be as priests; either,
1. For maintenance; as the priests of old were plentifully provided for without their labour, so shall you by the labour of strangers. Or,
2. For countenance; you shall be every where as greatly valued as the priests were wont to be; you shall be esteemed as princes; for so the word is often used, the word priest being applied not only to the sacred function, but to one that was of great note among the people, and was supplied with all necessaries from others, without any labour of his own. Thus David’s sons were called priests, or princes. Or rather,
3. For privilege; the whole body of them shall now be as peculiar and as near to God as the priests were formerly, and shall be a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9. This is most certainly true of all the faithful under the gospel; hence they have also their spiritual sacrifices, Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15-16; 1 Peter 2:5.
Ye shall eat the richs of the Gentiles: it relates to the riches of the Gentiles, which did consist most in flocks and herds: or, what you eat shall be purchased by the riches of the Gentiles.
Shall ye boast yourselves; you shall exalt yourselves, or be renowned by others. The LXX. render it, you shall be wonderful, or to admiration; or grow high by the access of that glory which they shall bring unto you, viz. in riches, parts, learning, Isaiah 60:5,Isaiah 60:11.
For your shame ye shall have double: See Poole "Isaiah 40:2". Supply honour. Though you have been little accounted of among your enemies, yet now you shall be greatly in their esteem, Zechariah 9:12; you shall have double damages.
In their portion, viz. of honour that God will give them; the same thing with the former: or, in their inheritance which God shall restore to them; and that either,
1. For worth and value through God’s blessing upon it. Or,
2. For room and space, and that possibly by reason of the few that will return to inhabit there, viz. only a tenth part, Isaiah 6:13; or that which he shall give them out of their enemy’s land.
Therefore; or rather, because; being rendered as a reason of their rejoicing, because of the doubling of their portion, in which sense it is taken Isaiah 16:14.
Everlasting joy; of long continuance here, and everlasting hereafter; or to be perpetually remembered on their anniversary festivals: though this had its accomplishment in their return from Babylon, yet was it most signally made good in that great change for the better which they should find in the gospel state, in the enlargement of Christ’s kingdom and increase of his people, with whom they should ever rejoice together.
For I the Lord love judgment: q.d. They have suffered a great deal of hardship under their enemies, and I will do them right; for I love justice in myself, and in them that practise it. Or he gives a reason why he will recompense those strangers that did so freely minister to his people.
I hate robbery; all things gotten by injustice, though it be for sacrifice. As God will not accept of that which cost nothing, so much less of that which is the effect of rapine and oppression; a foundation whereon most of our abbeys and monasteries were built, viz. to expiate some great crimes. And thus by making God a receiver, they did interpretatively make him a confederate. I will direct their work in truth; either, I will lead and guide them so that they shall do all things in sincerity; they shall do good works, and to good ends; they shall now love truth, and walk in truth, and serve him in spirit and truth: or, I will reward them: or, I will make their work stable and firm. Truth notes stability; See Poole "Isaiah 16:5"; work being here put metonymically for the reward of work, proportionably to their work.
I will make an everlasting covenant: q.d. Though you have broken covenant with me, and I have seemed to forsake you in giving you up to captivity; yet I will renew my ancient covenant made with your fathers, confirmed with the blood of Christ, and it shall be everlasting, never to be abrogated, viz. it shall be continued in the Gentiles that shall come in your rooms, that for breach of covenant were broken off.
Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles i.e. eminently; a promise of the increase of the church; such shall be their prosperity and multiplying, that they shall be known abroad by their great increase. Or else the meaning is, The church shall have a seed of the Gentiles, the borders of the church shall be enlarged; whereas it hath been confined as it were to one corner of the world, now it shall remain in one nation alone no more, but shall fill all the nations of the earth.
They are the seed which the Lord hath blessed; they shall be known to be the seed of Abraham, partly by their holy conversation, and partly by their exceeding blessings, it being the seed that the Lord had so often promised to bless. There shall be such visible characters of God’s love to them, and of God’s grace in them.
I will greatly rejoice: this by a prosopopoeia is spoken in the person of the church, wherein she doth thankfully acknowledge God’s kindness to her in the forementioned promise, expressed here in the greatness of her affection, with reference both to her present deliverance from Babylon, and to the happiness of her gospel state.
In the Lord; or, because of the Lord, or of the goodness of the Lord towards me; a usual form of gratulation, 1 Samuel 2:1; Habakkuk 3:18; Luke 1:47; or thus, I will not rejoice so much in my deliverance as in the Lord.
My soul shall be joyful in my God: this clause is to the same purpose, save only she varies the expression: q.d. Yea, I do it with my whole soul.
With the garments of salvation; with salvation as with a garment; so in the next with righteousness as with a robe. The meaning is, The salvation that God will work for me will render me as beautiful and considerable as they are that are clothed with the richest garments, as bridegrooms usually are, and brides with their jewels, or as venerable as kings in their princely robes; my sackcloth will now be turned into robes; or, I shall be compassed about with glory, as garments do compass the body.
With the robe of righteousness, i.e. either with the fruits and effects of his love and many favours to the church, in which sense righteousness is taken, Psalms 112:3,Psalms 112:4,Psalms 112:9, compared with 2 Corinthians 9:9; Isaiah 51:6,Isaiah 51:8; she should see the righteousness of God in fulfilling all these promises. Or that righteousness of Christ imputed to us, which we are said to put on, Romans 13:14; or those graces imparted to us, and acted in a holy life.
As the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth: by this and the other metaphor he shows not only the reviving of the blessings of the church after they had been as it were dead in the winter of affliction, but the great plenty and abundance of blessings that should break forth; that which had been as a wilderness shall be as a paradise, pointing at the effects of his grace and bounty.
So the Lord God will cause righteousness to spring forth, i.e. his great work of salvation shall break out and appear.
And praise, as the natural product and fruit of it; his own glory being the principal end of making his righteousness to appear and manifest itself.
Before all nations: these things will not be done in a corner, but will be eminently conspicuous in the sight of all the world, for which purpose those hymns penned by the godly will ever be famous in the churches of Christ to all ages, as of Moses, Hannah, Mary, Zacharias, Simeon, &c.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 61". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany