The fervent desire of the prophet to confirm the church in God's promises. The office of the ministers (unto which they are incited) in preaching the Gospel, and preparing the people thereto.
Before Christ 698.
THE second section of this fourth discourse contains, I. A speech of the prophetic company, representing the governors of the church of the New Testament, who first set forth the duty of the church's continual intercession for a brighter revelation of the salvation and kingdom of God, Isaiah 62:1; and secondly, explain more distinctly the attributes of that brighter revelation, such as the accession of the Gentiles and kings themselves to the church, Isaiah 62:2. A new name to be given to the church by God himself;—middle of Isaiah 62:2. The preservation of that church, as of a thing most precious and ornamental, Isaiah 62:3. Its defence against external enemies by avengers and patrons, to be raised up by God, Isaiah 62:4-5. II. We have in the second part a speech of the chorus representing the church, acknowledging, first, the singular benefit of the divine care and providence, whereby pastors and watchmen were given to it, continually interceding for a more clear revelation of the salvation of God; Isaiah 62:6. Secondly, exciting them to persevere in this duty, till God should fulfil his promises to the church; latter end of Isaiah 62:6-7. In the third part, the prophetic chorus first confirms the hope of the church by the oath wherewith God had ratified his promises of grace, Isaiah 62:8-9. Secondly, it teaches, by a figurative discourse, that all impediments being removed which might seem capable of obstructing this work of God, there should be a great conflux to the church, Isaiah 62:10.; and thirdly, it sets forth anew, and more fully explains, these promises of grace, Isaiah 62:11-12.
Isaiah 62:1. For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace— It is plain from the last verse of the preceding chapter, that this is immediately connected with it; which Vitringa refers to a prophetic choir, representing the whole body of the ministers of God, and among there particularly the apostles and evangelists, at the beginning of the Gospel. These faithful ministers of God, therefore, the apostles and their successors, say, that they will not be silent, till the righteousness of the church, that is to say, its redemption, shall go forth as brightness, and its salvation shall burn as a shining lamp or torch; that is, till the kingdom of God shall be most brightly and completely revealed, and that saying of the psalmist be fulfilled, The heavens declare his righteousness, and all people behold his glory. See Vitringa.
Isaiah 62:2. Thou shalt be called by a new name— This is fully explained by the fourth verse, and chap. Isaiah 65:15. A change of condition for the better is signified, to be expressed by some certain characteristic sign. Any thing in the style of Scripture is said to be called by a new name, whether it be adorned with new privileges or dignities, or on any account changes its condition from worse to better.
Isaiah 62:3. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory— The meaning of this metaphorical expression is, that God would hold fast in his hand, and in the very palm of it, his church, as a thing extremely dear and precious to him. The last clause should be rendered, And a royal diadem in the palm of thy God.
Isaiah 62:4. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken— The prophet had said in the second verse, that the church should be called by a new name, which name is here expressed: that is to say, a new attribute should be discovered in the church, which had hitherto not been seen in her; namely, that she should receive a husband who had till now sat as a widow. חפציאּבה Chephzi-bah, would better be rendered, my delight is in her, בעולה and Beulah, married. See Ephesians 5:25.
Isaiah 62:5. For as a young man marrieth a virgin— Bishop Lowth justly observes, that in the passage before us, instead of sons we should read builder or creator; for the word is not in the plural of בן ben, a son, but of the participle benomi, from the verb בנה banah; and is parallel and synonymous to אלהיךֶ elohaiik, thy God, in the alternate member of this sentence. Compare chap. Isaiah 54:5. This reading will clear the prophet from the idea of representing Jerusalem as guilty of incest, in marrying her sons, and at the same time will add not only grace, but likewise force to the whole verse. See chap. Isaiah 49:17. The verse so rendered will run thus:
For, as a young man marrieth a virgin, So shall thy Creator marry thee: And as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, So shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Isaiah 62:6-7. I have set watchmen, &c.— As much as to say, "since God, by the peculiar blessing of his providence, hath placed watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, who shall constantly watch for its safety; therefore do you, who are intrusted with this office, perform your parts diligently, and intercede continually with him, that he would graciously fulfil the magnificent promises which he hath made to his church." The word שׁמרים shomrim, rendered watchmen, signifies properly those priests and Levites who kept watch day and night about the temple, and is from them applied to the spiritual watch-men and ministers of the Christian church. See Vitringa.
Isaiah 62:8-9. The Lord hath sworn— The prophetic chorus here returns to its office, and, renewing its discourse, assures the church, now for a long time exposed to the persecution of her enemies, that God would most certainly procure for her times of public peace and tranquillity, in which, delivered from her enemies, and having the command of all her rights and possessions, she would rejoice in the good things granted to her by God, without any fear of enemies, amidst grateful thanks and praises to her God. The passage is metaphorical, and is to be understood of the free and undisturbed enjoyment of the spiritual blessings of religion. See Joel 2:24; Joel 3:18. Jeremiah 31:12. Zechariah 9:17.
Isaiah 62:10. Go through, &c.— The chorus, having promised in the preceding verses great things to the church, here removes an objection which might arise to the completion of that promise, and teaches, that although there might seem, from the state of the world, many and great impediments to this hope, yet that God would take care by his providence to have them removed; at the same time exhorting the people of the church, that, as was their duty, they should diligently apply themselves to promote the execution of this gracious design; that, all offences and impediments being removed, a free access should be granted to the Gentiles flowing into the bosom of the church. The expressions are metaphorical, taken from the preparations for a solemn entrance into a city. See chap. Isaiah 26:2, Isaiah 57:14, Isaiah 49:22 and Psalms 118:19. Vitringa supposes that this passage refers to some great and future reformation in the church.
Isaiah 62:11-12. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed— The scheme of this passage is so formed, that to the people of God, dispersed through all nations in a time of public affliction and persecution, the voice of the Lord may sound, even to the ends of the earth; publicly notifying that the Saviour is come to avenge his people, and to give them an ample reward for the affliction they had sustained; and that these dispersed, now collected together, and returning to Zion, should be called an holy people, the redeemed of the Lord; and that Zion herself, that is to say, the pious, who in the time of affliction and persecution had patiently expected the event, should be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken. See chap. Isaiah 40:9-10.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, With earnest zeal the prophet professes,
1. His determined purpose to labour ceaseless in the execution of his office. For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest: the concerns of God's church and people lay deeply imprinted on his heart, and therefore his sermons are frequent and urgent, and his prayers to God fervent in their behalf: until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth, till her cause should be clearly vindicated, and her enemies entirely destroyed; and so long will this prophesy endure; for Isaiah, though dead, yet speaketh. Note; (1.) The interests of Christ's kingdom are the great concern which lies upon a faithful minister's heart. (2.) In the service of immortal souls he is ready to spend and be spent. (3.) They who labour in faith, will assuredly see the fruit of their labours.
2. The prophet expresses his confidence that God would hear and answer him. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness; the persecution of righteousness with which the church is privileged through Christ, or the justice of her cause: and all kings thy glory; shall behold and admire, and desire to partake of it; as when Constantine the Roman emperor, and others after his example, declared themselves Christians; and will be more universally the case in the day of the church's triumphs. And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name; as a mark of that distinguished honour and dignity to which she shall be advanced by him who is the fountain of honour; who speaks, and it is done: see Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord; glorious in his righteousness and grace; valued by him as the richest crown which can adorn his brows; and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God; safe under his protection, as is every soul which simply and constantly depends upon him. Thus distinguished, thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate, as the Gentile world seemed to be, before the preaching of the Gospel: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, a new and honourable title, signifying, My delight is in her; and thy land, Beulah, or married; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and in his love and favour all bliss and blessedness are comprehended: and thy land shall be married; the Lamb's wife, the church of the faithful, has not yet made herself ready, till the fulness of the Gentiles is come in; then the heavenly bridegroom shall bring her home to himself, to his eternal mansions in glory. For as a young man marrieth a virgin; fond of his bride, delighting in her company, and from the union a numerous offspring is expected; so shall thy sons marry thee; united to the church in warm affection, joining in her ordinances, delighting in the communion of the saints, and seeking to increase their number: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee: the church of the faithful are the joy of the Redeemer's soul; and his delight to all eternity will be in those who here upon earth believingly and perseveringly cleave to him.
2nd, The gracious provision that God hath made for his people is here declared.
1. For their spiritual wants; giving them faithful ministers, and pouring out a spirit of prayer and supplication on them.
[1.] I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night. The church militant is as a city, defended by God as a wall of fire, yet incessantly besieged by the powers of sin, Satan, and the world. The ministers of the Gospel are the watchmen appointed to give warning of approaching danger; and their station demands, (1.) Fidelity and zeal for the cause of Christ and his people. (2.) Constancy and watchful-ness, that in season and out of season they preach, rebuke, and exhort. (3.) Willingness to endure hardship and not shrink from any danger or reproach to which they may be exposed. (4.) Incessant prayer, that they may be enabled to discharge their ministry, and be supported by that Almighty grace, without which mortal spirits must faint and fail.
[2.] The prayers of the people must second the preaching of the word. Ye that make mention of the Lord, are his professing people; keep not silence, but be instant at a throne of grace; and give him no rest, for importunity will not offend him, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth, by the purity of her doctrine and discipline; by eminent holiness in the members; by their fervent love and charity one towards another; by vast accessions of converts; and, among these, the honourable of the earth. Note; (1.) God's people delight to mention his name, and to speak to his praise of the things that he hath done for their souls. (2.) Prayer is the natural and constant language of the heart touched by pardoning grace. (3.) Nothing lies nearer the hearts of the pious than the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom. (4.) Persevering importunity in prayer is sure to find an answer of peace.
2. For their temporal wants. When their enemies prevailed, their country was ravaged, and their harvest and vintage served for a spoil; but now God, having for ever broken their arm, will feed his people with abundance of good things: they shall eat their bread and drink their wine with a merry heart in the courts of his holiness, as the Priests and Levites there partook of the consecrated things, with holy sobriety and enlarged thankfulness. This may refer in part to the people of the Jews; but, though for a while they enjoyed their land, they soon were, and continue to be, dispossessed of it: therefore this must chiefly refer to the happy days of the church's prosperity, when God will give his people the abundance of outward blessings: or, (as corn and wine may also figuratively signify the rich provisions of the Gospel,) a superabundant measure of all spiritual blessings, which the saints of God shall then possess. Note; (1.) Whatever labours we employ, even for the things of this life, it is God alone who giveth the increase. (2.) Temporal gifts are then truly blessings, when we receive them as coming from God's hand, and employ them for his glory. (3.) God, who gives us of this world's good, wills that we should richly enjoy it, and praise him for his bounty. (4.) God's wine is to be drunk in the courts of his holiness with temperance and sobriety; else our blessings, abused, will prove our greatest curse.
3rdly, Though there may be an allusion, in the latter part of this chapter, to the return of the Jews from Babylon at Cyrus's proclamation, it seems, with the preceding part of the chapter, principally to belong to the Gospel-church.
1. Preparation is made for the return of captive souls. Go through, go through the gates; the prison-doors are thrown open for their escape: prepare ye the way of the people, cast up, cast up the high-way, gather out the stones: the ministers of God, as John the Baptist, must prepare the way, remove all obstacles, and make plain the road before their face; and especially lift up a standard for the people; display the banner of Christ in the Gospel, around which they must assemble, that in a body, under his guidance and protection, they may march in the highway of holiness, towards the heavenly mount of Zion.
2. The glorious appearance of Christ in his church is proclaimed, who comes as the captain of their salvation to lead the way. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, to all nations under heaven, among whom the Gospel shall be preached; say ye to the daughter of Zion, the members of the church, not only among the Jews, but the Gentiles also, Behold, thy salvation, or thy Saviour, cometh, with power and great glory, as when he first appeared in the flesh; or rather as he will appear hereafter, when his kingdom shall be established in all the world. Behold, his reward is with him; either the glory which he himself should receive as the reward of his sufferings, or that which he hath to bestow on his faithful people: and his work before him, which he undertakes to accomplish for and in the faithful, even their complete salvation from Satan, sin, death, and hell.
3. His people will then become dignified with the most honourable titles. They shall call them, The holy people; for this is their distinguishing character and their honour, that they are consecrated to God, and pure in heart: The redeemed of the Lord, this being their singular mercy, and the source of all their holiness and happiness, for both of which they are indebted to the redemption of Jesus: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken. Desolate as the church before appeared, now the greatest resort shall be made thither, and the glory of God shall be in the midst of her.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 62". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter