The prophet praiseth God for his judgments, for his saving benefits, and for his victorious salvation.
Before Christ 715.
THE deliverance of the church, with God's terrible judgments on his enemies, having been exhibited to the prophet in vision, he assumes the person, as it were, of this delivered church, and so subjoins to his prophesy a triumphal song, or two-fold doxology, of similar argument, contained in this and the next chapter. In this first part he celebrates the great benefit conferred upon the church at this time, and extols no less the grace and power than the fidelity of God in fulfilling his promises. There are two members of this doxology; the former comprehended in Isaiah 25:1-8 the latter Isaiah 25:9-12. In the former we have, first, the proposition, with its general argument; Isaiah 25:1 namely, the purpose of celebrating the faith and truth of God, publicly shewn in avenging his church in its greatest calamity; secondly, a special declaration of that proposition, celebrating the benefits conferred upon the church at this time, with their consequences, whereof there are four gradations; the first, in Isaiah 25:2.; the second, Isaiah 25:3; Isaiah 25:5.; the third, Isaiah 25:6.; the fourth, Isaiah 25:7-8. The other member is constructed in the same manner. It contains a proposition, by which the church excites to the divine praise; Isaiah 25:9 and the arguments or reasons of that proposition, in two gradations; the first in Isaiah 25:10-11.; the second in Isaiah 25:12.
Isaiah 25:1. O Lord, thou art my God— The elegance of the prophet is observable in this verse, which he begins without any connecting particle or introduction; bursting out immediately into praise, upon a sight of the great deliverance spoken of in the last verse of the preceding chapter. It is commonly thought that the elders and teachers of the people are here introduced as the first speakers. Thy counsels of old, or from far, signify not only those long before taken, but also which had been long before declared and published by the prophets. Faithfulness and truth, is in the Hebrew, אמן אמונה emunah omen, the truest truth, or, the most faithful faith, an emphatical expression, shewing that there is the most exact analogy between the promise and the completion of the promise; so that the completion exhibits the most pure fidelity of God. Vitringa. See 1 Maccabees 4:24.
Isaiah 25:2. For thou hast made of a city, an heap— The prophet here plainly speaks of the destruction of a city; but respecting what city is meant interpreters greatly vary. Vitringa seems to have proved clearly that Babylon is meant, which was emphatically called the city; which was remarkably fortified, and which was inhabited by strangers, as the Assyrians and Babylonians are commonly called in prophetic language; and in the destruction of which the ancient believers rejoiced most especially, having therein a pledge and earnest of future deliverance, and particularly a type of the deliverance of the Christian church from persecution by the fall of spiritual Babylon. See Revelation 18:20; Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:21.
Isaiah 25:3-5. Therefore, &c.— These verses contain another gradation of this triumphal song; the meaning whereof is, that the deliverance and salvation which God had procured by his right hand for his people, reduced to extreme straits, and, as it seemed, about to perish should conciliate to him the reverence and honour of powerful and fierce nations; nay, even of those very nations which had opposed the church, and had affected empire over it, and of the city itself, the metropolis of those nations. The fourth and fifth verses should be rendered, for thou hast been, &c. a shadow from the heat: for the blast of the violent is as a winter's storm. Isaiah 25:5. As heat in a dry place, so is the tumult of my enemies. Thou breakest the heat with the shadow of a cloud. The proud singing of the violent shall be brought down. The church praises Jehovah for his protection against the violent persecution of her enemies, which she compares to a wintry storm, and to the burning heat of the sun, tempered by the intervening protection of God, like the shadow of a thick cloud. See chap. Isaiah 4:6. There seems no doubt that the strong people here spoken of means the Romans. See 1 Maccabees 8:17, &c. Isaiah 12:1, &c. and the other historians. For the mystical exposition of this prophesy, we refer to Revelation 6:7 : as before.
Isaiah 25:6. And in this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts— The words in this third gradation are to be understood partly as a commemoration of the benefit performed, partly as continuing and perfecting the prophesy concerning it. The sense of the metaphor is, that God would provide on mount Sion, for all people, matter of great and consummate joy; which should arise not from temporal causes only, but principally from spiritual ones; which should bring to the mind tranquillity, comfort, and acquiescence in its present state. See Zechariah 14. With respect to the prophetical part, this may refer primarily to the proselytes who were made to the Jewish religion after the times of the Maccabees; and secondarily to the Gospel-feast. See Matthew 8:11. Psalms 22:27; Psalms 22:31. Wines on the lees, might perhaps with more propriety be rendered, Wines from the lees; as the expression seems to denote wines which were purified and made fit for drinking.
Isaiah 25:7-8. And he will destroy, &c.— Vitringa thinks, with the Chaldee, that the covering and vail here spoken of mean Death; that mighty ruler, who covers the whole race of men with his black garment, and hides them in obscure night; that by the face of this covering, which is the face of death, are meant the miseries, calamities, afflictions, and persecutions, which believers in that country should sustain on account of their religion, under various forms and appearances; as well as the ministers of those evils, the instruments of Satan, the irreligious kings and princes of the world; and that by the taking away, or swallowing up the face of this covering, are designed the abolition of this persecution and trouble, and the entire destruction of all the public persecutors of the true church, in that land more especially. The comparison is fine, and worthy of our prophet; and the next verse is exegetical of it, wherein, however, such great and excellent things are said, that it does not become us to affix any mean or limited sense to them; for though the words primarily refer to the public persecutions of those times, yet there can be no doubt that they have a much higher reference, as appears abundantly from 1 Corinthians 15:54. See also Revelation 20:14 and, respecting their historical completion, a remarkable passage in 1 Maccabees 14:6, &c. For the rest, they will not have their full and ultimate completion till that day, when there shall be no more death, and God himself shall wipe away all tears from all eyes. See Revelation 21:4.
Isaiah 25:9. And it shall be said— This verse contains the proposition of the antistrophe, or antiphonal part of this doxology, wherein the people may be supposed to sing in reply to the former part, which as we have observed, was the song of the elders. It was to be sung on that day, or at that time, in which God had wrought his wonders for the salvation of his people. The expressions are strong and glowing, and are well suited to that state of mind which is the consequence of high favours and signal deliverances vouchsafed from God.
Isaiah 25:10-12. For in this mountain shall the hand of the Lord— In these verses we have a confirmation of the proposition; and they contain two arguments for the confidence and rejoicing of the people of God; the one taken from Moab, Isaiah 25:10-11.; the other from the Babylonians, their true or mystical enemies. The judgment upon Moab is set forth under two figures; the first in the 10th verse, the meaning whereof is, that God would entirely tread down, break, and destroy the power of Moab, to their extreme disgrace. In the second, God is compared to a swimmer, swimming in the land of Moab as it were in a great sea or river, stretching forth his hands to the utmost limits of Moab, and beating down with his arms whatever opposed him. The single idea of the comparison rests in the stretching out the hands, and beating down with them the opposing water. We learn from the history of those times, that the Moabites were great enemies to, but were entirely subdued by, the Maccabees, who fought many battles with them, till at length they were discomfited, &c. See 1 Maccabees 5:7, &c. Mystically, by the Moabites and Babylonians are to be understood the adversaries of the kingdom of Christ. Compare the 12th verse with the second, and see Vitringa.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here the triumphant song of God's people for their deliverance; either that of the Jews, for the ruin of Babylon, and the destruction of the kings of Assyria; or that of the faithful for the fall of spiritual Babylon; or of both, the former being typical of the latter.
1. The prophet in the person of the people of God, resolves to praise and exalt the name of Jehovah, for all his wondrous works of mercy to his believing people, and judgment on their enemies, according to his faithfulness in the never-failing promises of his word. And nothing would engage him to this honourable work so heartily, as the consciousness of an interest in the favour of this glorious and exalted Jehovah, thou art my God, and I will praise thy name. Note; (1.) They who can say,
My God, are bound to praise him evermore. (2.) The wonders of providence and creation are marvellous; but those of redemption greater still, and will be the everlasting subject of the songs in glory.
2. He particularly mentions two instances of God's faithfulness and truth, for which he would exalt him. (1.) For the destruction of the oppressor, thou hast made of a city, an heap, &c. As Babylon now is, Rome will be; the former was a palace of strangers, ch. Isaiah 23:13 so is the latter, succeeding to the former Pagan inhabitants: the one now lieth in ruins, and such will the fate of the other be, to perish for ever, and never be built again. (2.) For the protection of the poor, whose strength God is in every time of trouble, covering them as with a cloud from the scorching heat of temptation, and preserving them from the storm of the terrible ones, interposing, as a wall, to ward off the tempest. Thus God preserved his people in Babylon, and brought them out safely, and so will do under all the persecutions of antichrist; and, in general, under every distress, his people who fly to him will find him a very present help in trouble.
3. The effect of God's interposition would be either the humiliation and conviction, or the utter ruin of his foes. They are called strong people, terrible nations, terrible ones; but however dreadful they may appear to others, they must stoop before God, and bow in fear before his rod of correction; repenting and glorifying his mercy, or breaking under the rod of his judgments, and glorifying his justice: their branch, or their song, brought low; either in the dust of abasement, or in the place of torment; where, as a branch cast out, they would be burned, and their mirth be changed into eternal mourning. Note; (1.) The formidable appearance of our foes is often ready to intimidate us; but if the Almighty God be for us, the terrible shall be brought low, and even death, the king of terrors, be subdued. (2.) When the judgments of God, however heavy, lead men to fear before him, and to do no more wickedly, they become the choicest blessings; and judgment, as well as mercy, shall then furnish matter for a song.
2nd, We have a key to open this scripture, 1 Corinthians 15:54 and see therein some of the great and precious promises of life and immortality brought to light by the Gospel.
1. Under the image of a royal feast, Matthew 22:1; Matthew 22:46 a view is presented to us of the Gospel-dispensation. The Lord of Hosts, the Lord Jesus, the great master of the feast in this mountain, the church of his faithful redeemed, makes unto all people a feast; some of all nations will partake of it, Gentiles as well as Jews; and the invitation thereto is universal, whosoever will let him come; there is here enough and to spare; for it is a feast of fat things, full of marrow, and of wine on the lees well refined, plenty, and of the best sort, is provided; there is nothing wanting which a soul hungering and thirsting after righteousness can need; pardon, peace, grace, strength, consolation, glory; all are ready, and a more refreshing provision to the soul, than the best-spread table to the famished; or than the strongest wines to the faint. Blessed and happy are they, who sincerely accept of the invitation to this feast!
2. The Lord Jesus will also destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people: as malefactors led to execution with their faces covered, so had the sons of men by sin forfeited their lives to divine justice; or as the dead wrapped in grave-clothes, so were we dead in trespasses and sins, till Christ, first in promise, and then in reality, came to redeem us from going down to the pit, by paying the ransom for us, and also to rescue us from the death of sin by his quickening Spirit: and the vail that is spread over all nations, of gross darkness and spiritual ignorance, will soon be dispelled before him the Light of life, like the shadows of the night before the rising sun.
3. Even death itself shall be a vanquished foe. He will swallow up death in victory; not only by his own resurrection leading captivity captive, and quickening his people dead in trespasses and sins; but by the final destruction of death, when all the bodies which sleep in dust shall rise at the great day of Jesus's appearing and glory, and especially those of his saints shall be raised to glory and honour, and mortality be thus swallowed up of life. Note; (1.) What joy and consolation does the faith of Jesus impart, which thus enables us to triumph over the king of terrors, and cry, O death, where is thy sting? (2.) Whatever burdens this corruptible body feels now, we may well say they are light afflictions which endure but for a moment; and we may patiently and cheerfully endure them, because of our hope in the end of a glorious resurrection.
4. All grief and shame will then be done away. As a tender parent, our divine Lord shall dry up his children's tears; no sins will then awaken their sorrows, or afflictions disturb their repose; no reproach blacken their character, or oppressor vex and grieve them, but everlasting joy be upon their heads; their beauty of holiness without spot; and their enemies will behold them clothed with glory, and wonder and perish. How light then should every sorrow sit, how easy ought we to be under the malignant aspersions or perverse unkindness of men, when we shall in a moment come to endless bliss, and shine as stars in the firmament for ever and ever?
5. Great will be the joy of the faithful in that day. By faith and hope, they often triumphed here below; but the consummation of their bliss in glory they waited and devoutly wished for. And lo! glad tidings of great joy; he is come! he is come! this is our God, our Jesus, our salvation, our joy; eternity shall hear his praise. Note; (1.) They who by faith wait in hope shall not be disappointed. (2.) In glory all the praise will be ascribed to Jesus, and every crown be laid at his blessed feet.
6. The perpetuity of this blessedness in glory is ensured by the Lord's dwelling in the midst of his faithful people. In this mountain his hand shall rest, his presence be ever manifested, his power engaged to preserve them, and all his goodness to make them eternally happy.
7. The enemy shall be utterly destroyed. Moab, the representative of all the foes of God's church and people, spiritual and temporal, shall be trodden down, as mire in the street. As the swimmer spreads his hands, so will the Lord stretch forth his arm of vengeance, executing his judgment on the proud, and spoiling the spoiler. All the fortresses of Moab shall fall, and their utter destruction be certain, sudden, and irrecoverable. And thus shall all the antichristian powers perish at last, and Satan, death, and hell, be cast together into the burning lake, Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:14-15.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 25". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany