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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Isaiah 51

Verse 1


Here is another blessed Chapter, full of Christ, and the blessings of his gospel, the Lord is calling upon his people, under several endearing characters, to attend to him, as the only source of their hope and salvation.

Verses 1-2

In opening this Chapter, and listening to the call of God in this verse, I beg to remind the Reader of the observations at the close of Isaiah 46:0 , for this is but a continuation of the same gracious subject. Indeed, the Prophet may be considered, from the beginning of Isaiah 40:0 , to the close of his prophecy, to be preaching but one and the same sermon. The text is Christ, and the whole subject is Christ, and no other. In these verses, the people, who are seeking after the Lord, are spoken to, and particularly directed, with a view to find him, to consider what they are in themselves, that they may be the better prepared to know what the Lord is in himself, and what he is to his people. This divine teaching was what Jesus told his disciples, the Holy Ghost would accomplish upon the hearts of the people. He shall convince, said Jesus, of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. And this corresponds with what is here said, of looking unto Abraham and Sarah; that is, looking so unto them, as, in their nothingness and original sinfulness, to trace our own; and to let God have, what is his most just due, all the glory of our conversion. For Abraham, the great father of the faithful, was originally an idolater; and Sarah a daughter of Eve: and both were of that stock, of whom it is truly said, there is none that doeth good, no not one. Hence, therefore, when the Lord commands his people, who are following after righteousness, and seeking the Lord, to look back, and to look in, it is in order that they may look up to Him, from whom alone cometh every good and every perfect gift. Reader! you and I shall never be able rightly to value the Lord's righteousness, until convinced that we have none of our own: then Jesus will be indeed precious as a Saviour, when we feel, and know, and are convinced, that we are poor lost sinners. Genesis 11:31 ; Romans 4:1-3 ; Joh 16:7-8 ; 1 Peter 2:7 .

Verse 3

This sweet promise comes in very blessedly, after the humbling views the Lord had bid the seekers after him to take of themselves. The Lord will give grace to the humble; and he that gives grace, gives also glory. It is He who wounds, and He who heals. James 4:6 ; Psalms 84:11 ; Deuteronomy 32:39 .

Verses 4-6

Here is another gracious call of the Lord, full of mercy and love, like the former; seemingly directed to those who have not only sought the Lord, but are joined in covenant to him, and know him. The Prophet Jeremiah hath described them under these characters, Jeremiah 50:4-5 . How truly blessed is the Lord's proclamation to all such! God owns them for his people: to them belong the whole of gospel privileges; and as all the promises in Christ Jesus are their own, because Christ is their own; so his righteousness is theirs, even forever! And all these blessings are forever; never to be forfeited, never to be recalled. They begin in the Lord; and, like the ocean which sends out all its rivers and streams, and receives them back again; so what begins in the Lord ends in him. So saith the song in heaven, Revelation 5:9 . Redemption from Jehovah is the first cause, and redemption to Jehovah is the end. Reader! doth not your heart leap for joy in the contemplation?

Verses 7-8

Here is another gracious call of the Lord, in which the subject is carried to its height: for it is to such as have not only sought the Lord, and followed after his righteousness, but have also found him. And these are the people, who, according to my apprehension, both know Christ as the Christ of God, and live upon him. The Lord himself defines their characters: The people in whose heart, saith the Lord, is my law: that is, Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, to everyone that believeth; and in whose heart he is formed, and reigns, and rules, as the hope of glory. They walk in Christ, act every grace upon Christ, and perform every duty in the strength of Christ. Jesus is their all, for life, for strength, for grace, for salvation. Reader! is it thus you know righteousness? Are you of that people, in whose heart the Lord's law is? If so, everything else is, as the Lord speaks, moths and worms. W hat are all the reproaches of men, if Jesus dwell within, and whispers peace? What are all men's despisings, if God saith, Ye are my people?

Verses 9-11

This precious portion seems to be as in answer to what had been said before. The Lord had been giving exceeding great and precious promises to his people, and now his people, as with one voice, makes the Lord a thankful answer, in prayer and praise, that God would do so. It is the language of strong faith, offered up in Christ Jesus. For the arm of the Lord is Christ, Deuteronomy 7:19 ; hence, when the Prophet complains of the little success of preaching of the gospel, he calls it the arm of the Lord, Isaiah 53:1 ; and hence the Reader will also perceive that the Prophet is celebrating Christ in that arm of the Lord, which cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon; and dried up the sea, and led his people through. For who is meant by Rahab, but Pharaoh, the dragon, the leviathan; and what sea was this but the Red Sea? This is he, saith Stephen, which was in the Church in the wilderness, Acts 7:38 . Reader, how blessed is it to trace Christ, in all the redemption of his people! See those scriptures, Habakkuk 3:8 , to the end; Psalms 74:13-14 . And observe, in this latter scripture, how the sacred writer makes that triumph of God's people over Pharaoh and his host, to be as meat to them in the wilderness; meaning, that in the experience of the Lord's victory then, they found food to keep alive their faith, in all the after exercises they were called to. And what is the final song of triumph, but the same? Isaiah 35:10 ; Revelation 15:3 .

Verses 12-16

This is the Lord's answer, agreeably to that promise, Isaiah 65:24 . And observe how the Lord proposeth comfort to his people, even in himself. As if the Lord had said, "The deliverance at the Red Sea was great; but let your joy for that deliverance be in me, the giver." Redemption is blessed, but the Author of it is more so. The Lord is the only comfort, and the comforter of his people; and how childish is it to fear man, while the Lord is our refuge! The child-like fear of the Lord will drive out all fear of men or devils; just as the fire of the sun will extinguish the fire of the hearth. Oh! for a knowledge of this, in all the circumstances of life! 2 Corinthians 1:3 .

Verses 17-23

How very beautiful and gracious is this! It seems as if the Lord would answer his people in their own words. The church had called upon him to awake; and now the Lord bids Jerusalem to rouse up herself, in his strength. The Lord puts her in remembrance how she had been exercised, and had tasted of the gall and the wormwood; but now, in redemption by Christ, she shall drink of it no more. And as a poor fretful sinner, until relieved by the redemption of Jesus, is entangled and unable to get free, like a bull in a net; so when the Son hath made the sinner free, he then is free indeed! Oh! the misery of sin! Oh! the rich salvation of Jesus! God be praised for his unspeakable gift! John 8:36 ; 2 Corinthians 9:15 .

Verse 23


Oh! for grace to seek the Lord, and to follow after righteousness! Blessed the soul, that is thus taught of God; he will hearken unto the Lord. Let it be my portion, O Lord, so to do, and to be the follower of them, who through faith and patience, inherit the promises. And surely, blessed Jesus, I shall fix my eyes, and heart, and affections, all on thee, and prize thy rich salvation while I keep in remembrance the rock from whence I was hewn, and the hole of the pit from whence I was digged.

Oh! for grace, yet in larger, fuller portions, to know the Lord, and so to know him, as to live upon him by faith, until I arrive to the full and everlasting enjoyment of him by sight! Such are the privileges of thy people: Lord, let such be mine! Then shall I not fear the reproaches of men, nor regard their revilings. Occupied with higher objects, my soul will unceasingly be engaged in contemplating thee, and the fulness of that righteousness, which is forever, and thy salvation, which is from generation to generation. Awake then, O Lord, and cause me to triumph in thy strength; and oh! that, through thee; my soul may be perpetually awake to follow thee in the regeneration, that when thou comest to make up thy jewels, I may be found among the redeemed of the Lord, which shall return and come with singing unto Zion, when everlasting joy shall be upon our heads, and we shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall fee away! Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 51". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.