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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 61

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


Messiah’s Work of Mercy and Judgment. CHAPTERS 61-66.


Here begins the third series of the later prophecies, or the seventh and last division of the whole book. Messiah’s work, chiefly in the last times, is herein laid out. Sections and sub-sections mark the artificial structure of the series, as will be noted at chapters Isaiah 61:1 to Isaiah 63:6; Isaiah 63:7-19; Isaiah , 66, for the larger divisions. This is all that is needful to say all for which there is space to say for the general use of the reader.

There are hints, in Isaiah 61:1-3, that the year of jubilee (as in the preceding chapter) was the occasion on which this prophecy was written. So, at least, thinks Dr. Kay of the “Speaker’s Commentary.” Whether or not that were the occasion, the imagery seems to be derived from what would be peculiar to such occasion.

Verses 1-3

1-3. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me Upon whom? The use which our Lord Jesus Christ at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-22) made of these words must decide that he made himself the person meant. He declared himself herein the predicted and divinely anointed Servant of Jehovah; and that he had brought glad tidings of redemption to his people. The passages in Isaiah 42:6-7; Isaiah 59:20-21, point out the same idea. He (the “Lord God”) hath sent me The “Servant of Jehovah,” the “Messiah.” See Psalms 45:7; also Mark 1:1, and Acts 10:38. The jubilee phrases are figures expressive of the work really wrought by Christ at his visible advent. The phrases are as follows: “The meek,” “the brokenhearted,” “the captives,” that is, to sin; “the prison-opening,” “the acceptable year,” “the mourners in Zion,” etc. All these were terms of jubilee specialty, and the objects mentioned were those upon which Jesus was tenderly compassionate.

Verse 4

4. And they The strong flourishing “trees of righteousness,” of Isaiah 61:3; the sound and the efficient, whom the grace of the Gospel brought out and made grand workers in Messiah’s kingdom.

Waste cities Destruction occasioned in consequence of the sins of the people in days gone by. Of this import, also, are the parallel expressions in the verse.

Verse 5

5. Strangers… sons of the alien That is, Gentiles converted to the true religion.

Your flocks The keeping of flocks was a large husbandry in Palestine. The employment of Gentile keepers denotes a breaking down of “the middle wall of partition.” All have become Christians together. All are now strong and willing workers together in the world’s great pasture-field add vineyard. Other meaning than spiritual this verse has not.

Verse 6

6. Ye shall be named… Priests… Ministers Redeemed Israel is now intermingled with crowds of converted Gentiles giving help to the building up of the “wastes” of Isaiah 61:4. Priority gives to Israel the prerogatives of the priesthood; yet all, in a sense, are embodied into “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” 1 Peter 2:5-9. See, also, Exodus 19:6. Spiritual service, rendered by Gentiles, is the wealth of the Israel, and the glory achieved by them for the divine cause shall be the fruit of Israel’s fidelity.

Verse 7

7. For your shame… double The Hebrew is perplexing. Clearly another promise is here given, possibly pursuant to Isaiah 40:2. Instead of shame for past sin and punishment, ye shall have abundant recompense. The promise in its largeness of meaning is: Instead of the former meagerness of the dispensation out of which you have emerged, you shall have the ever-expanding glory of Messiah’s new and final order of things in this world.

Their portion… they shall possess An enallage common to Isaiah, or a change from “your” to “their” occurs here. The same persons are intended. “Their portion” is the same as your “portion;” “they shall possess,” the same as you shall possess. The “double” means the far larger measure.

Confusion This refers to the disorders in general of the old state all the judgments of God on Israel’s sin.

Verse 8

8. This verse connects with Isaiah 61:1-7 by the word for, to show the attitude of Jehovah who, as God over all, now speaks toward Israel and his former oppressors.

I the Lord love judgment That which is right and just in the experience of my people, who have heretofore done evil, and have suffered by the hand of the oppressor. This, on God’s part, was right and just, but no thanks to the oppressor.

I hate robbery The oppressor has punished with gross injustice, and in sheer selfishness. Burnt offering is, with good critics, now accounted as meaning injustice, (not from the Hebrew root once supposed.) Jehovah avers his hatred of injustice toward his people, whom, and for which injustice, he now compensates with another and glorious estate, as given in Isaiah 61:1-7.

Hereafter Jehovah will direct their work their proper estate under Messiah in truth. Reward shall be the order henceforth.

Verse 9

9. Their seed shall be known Their posterity shall “be known” as a people divinely beloved; and that, too, among peoples once their oppressors.

Verse 10

10. I will greatly rejoice The Servant of Jehovah, or Messiah, is again the speaker. To him the calling that of bringing messages of salvation to Jehovah’s people is a joyful one. In preparatory adornment for this, Jehovah invests him with garments of salvation… the robe of righteousness Do not these symbolize, respectively, the estate of Messiah at his resurrection and at his ascension, as our risen Redeemer? It so seems. He, the Messiah, is thus bedecked as with a priestly coronet a tiara or costly turban. This painstaking adornment is like to that of a bridegroom in grand array; and to that of a bride when she appears in her jewels. Conceptions are here intermixed: namely, Christ and his Church, the Saviour and the saved; the Intercessor and those for whom prayer is made. The Servant of Jehovah’s priestly office avails to accomplish an orderly renown to his Church, once, and even recently, in humiliation. (See Isaiah 61:5; Isaiah 61:8; Isaiah 61:11.)

Verse 11

11. As the earth bringeth… as the garden causeth… to spring forth For similarly as the earth in detailed order brings forth her productions, and as a garden its plants, so shall the Lord Jehovah cause righteousness, or righteous and holy character, and praise, or gratitude, on account of such character, to spring forth, and become abundant to the presence and perpetual observation of all peoples. And this shall be the reward the compensating result, of all the travail undergone by the world’s priestly Messiah.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 61". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/isaiah-61.html. 1874-1909.
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