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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Isaiah 9

 

 

Verses 1-21

Isaiah 9:1. The dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation. Dr. Lightfoot infers from this, that there was much greater affliction in the first days of her vexation. All the Versions differ very widely here, a proof of the difficulty arising from the brevity and consequent obscurity of the text. Joseph Mede refers the words to the close of the preseding chapter. When at first he lightly debased the land of Zebulon and of Naphthali, as recorded in 2 Kings 15:29; and afterwards did more grievously afflict her. But in the latter day he shall make them glorious; they shall first be visited with the beams of the gospel. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

Isaiah 9:3. Thou hast multiplied the nation. Since they came under the Roman government, as is noticed by Josephus, the population had become very great.—Thou hast encreased their joy; they rejoice before thee, as with the joy of harvest.— LOWTH. The English reads, and not encreased the joy. So is our present Hebrew text. לא lo, not; but the margin reads לו lo; that is, joy to him. Kennicott has eleven manuscripts, and two of them ancient, which read, says Lowth, according to the Masoretic corrections of the Hebrew text, without the particle of negation.

Isaiah 9:5. Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning. Such is the difference between the wars of the Messiah, and those of belligerent kings. The people of this mighty God, like the three hundred with Gideon, or the men of Hezekiah, shall only have to go out, and burn the armour of their idolatrous foes. Thus Joshua burned the chariots of the Canaanites, Joshua 11:6; and so in the latter day, for seven months they shall burn the armour of Gog and Magog. Ezekiel 39:8-10. The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God; truth here fights against error, and virtue conquers vice. Love melts away the enmity of the human heart, turning the battle to the gate, and all the strong fortresses of the enemy are overcome.

Isaiah 9:6. Unto us a child is born, Jesus the son of Mary. Unto us a son is given, Christ the Son of God. So the holy fathers speak of the Lord’s nativity. The names of this Son are numerous as the plenitude of Deity. He is called Jehovah, Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 33:16. Elohim, Psalms 110:1. Adonai, Psalms 45:7. And in this text, His name shall be called Wonderful. פלא pala, or pele, as in Montanus,—wonderful, admirable, hidden, or, it is a secret, as in 13:18. This would denote the mysterious glory of the person of Christ—the Eternal born in time! The Lord of glory lying in a manger! In offices the source of all wisdom, of all sanctity, all power; yet growing in stature, and in favour with God and man. Oh adorable mysterious name.

Counsellor. יועצ yoaits. The masoretic Jews have done what they could by punctuation to disfigure this whole passage, but the word Counsellor stands as a distinct title or name in several places; and so it is pointed in LOWTH. In this character, Christ is the wisdom of God, forming and comprehending the glorious plan of redemption, laying a counsel sure for the conversion of sinners, preparing thrones of glory for his saints, and making all the evils of life work together for good. This title is always understood of one who gives, not of one who receives counsel.

The mighty God. אל גבור El-gibbor, the strong, the prevalent, the invincible God. The word is repeatedly applied to men of gigantic strength. The Lord applies to himself a Greek name of equal force. “I am Alpha and Omega— the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8.

The everlasting Father. אבי עד Abi âd, the Father of the everlasting age. The LXX, πατηρ του μελλοντος αιωνος, the Father of the world to come. The Chaldaic reads, vir permanens in æternum Christus. Christ the prince established for ever. In rabbinical theology, the Messiah’s time, and the world to come, are synonymous phrases. It is to Christ, says the apostle, “and not to angels, that God hath put in subjection the world to come.” Hebrews 2:5. So far the Arians agree with us. But if the Messiah be the Sire of the ages to come, he is equally the Sire of ages past; for his goings forth were from [ôlam] everlasting. Micah 5:2. From the womb of the morning. Psalms 110:3. Proverbs 8:22. Every rabbi accounted orthodox, expected the Messiah, the Messiah from heaven; and such indeed is the expectation at this day, of the whole oriental world. Their prayer is, “Oh that thou wouldst rent the heavens and come down— Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion.” The shekinah, or glory on the mercyseat, was to them the Messiah. Being encouraged by the promise, Psalms 85:9; Psalms 85:11, truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven; their cry in the Spirit was, “Drop down ye heavens from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, (the gentile world) and let them bring forth salvation.” Isaiah 45:8.

The Prince of peace. The literal reading is שׂר שׁלום Sar Shalom. St. Paul understands the mediatorial glory of Christ in the sublimest sense, as on the cross reconciling all things to himself, both in heaven and in earth. The prophets regard the Messiah as contending with the rebellious gentiles, solely with a view to the introduction of universal peace, by restoring man to the image of God, and by imparting peace to the conscience, which passeth all understanding. See more on Zechariah 9:10.

Isaiah 9:7. Of the encrease of his government and peace there shall be no end. This is the current language of all the prophets, and of the whole of the new testament. He shall bruise the serpent’s head. His kingdom, the living stone cut out of the mountain without hands, shall fill the whole earth. The isles shall wait for his law, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. He will complete our redemption, vanquish our foes, restore righteousness and hope to fallen man. His love is an ever-burning flame;—why then should our love be cold to him?

Isaiah 9:8. The Lord sent a word to Jacob. Here a new chapter should begin. The words that follow contain a strong remonstrance against the ten tribes for their presumption and pride, though their attempts against Jerusalem had failed. The prophets of that age held the sentences of nations in their hands; and their words were bold, as became the heralds of heaven.

Isaiah 9:11. The Lord shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him. Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, hired by Ahaz, came to Damascus and slew Rezin, and justly too, for making war on his unoffending neighbour. 2 Kings 16:9.

Isaiah 9:12. The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind—shall devour Israel. Thus the Lord continued his strokes till Samaria “was cut short,” and the people few in number, as the prophet had said.

Isaiah 9:20. They shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm. The flesh of his children and friends, when pressed with the horrors of famine in the siege, and all as rebels expecting to be put to the sword. Jeremiah 19:9.

REFLECTIONS.

The birth of a prince designed to fill the throne, has ever excited the liveliest joy of a nation. They see in this infant a rising sun, a brilliant day of affluence and peace, and all that can augment the glory of the land. They see justice reigning on the bench, and truth established in society. The birth of a prince is in fact the birth of a son and heir in every house. What then must have been the joy of angels and of saints, to see the Son of God manifested in the flesh. Rejoice, ye heavens; be glad, oh earth; for the Lord hath visited and redeemed his people. Kings and prophets have waited to hail the day.

But this joy is greater, this day is brighter, because it has always opened anew in the day of trouble. It is a joy that gladdens all hearts, and disperses the darkest gloom from the church. It is the best wine to comfort Zion when sick and afflicted, the balm of Gilead that never fails to cure. When Adam was hiding in the garden, that word revived his soul, already dead with sin—the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.

In like manner, when Abraham was walking in darkness, having no child, that one voice chased it all away;—Sarah shall have a son.

So to David, grieving that the pious efforts of his life, and the breathings of his soul to build a temple for the Lord, were not accepted, how cheering was the promise: I will raise up of thy seed [the Messiah] to reign as long as the sun and moon shall endure, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. This is the promise also to the church, I will give you the sure mercies of David.

To the same effect was the healing balm applied to king Hezekiah, when told that all his treasures should go to Babylon. The prophet in the next words cries out, Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith the Lord. Say to Zion, her warfare is accomplished, her Messiah is born, for faith realizes futurity. Hark! his herald is crying in the desert, prepare ye the way of the Lord. See his messengers running on the mountains, and saying to the cities of Judah, Behold your God. His strong arm shall rule for him; he shall feed his flock like a shepherd.

The prophet Micah also, swallowed up of grief to foresee the Assyrians devour the land, destroy the people, and burn the temple; yea, to see the Judge of Israel, (for he delicately avoids a painful word) smitten with a rod on the cheek-bone, was consoled, that a prince should be born in Bethlehem, whose goings forth were of old from everlasting; a prince who should ultimately banish ills, and restore to Zion the golden age of pristine innocence, glory, and joy.

And what else at this tremendous crisis could comfort Judah, when her army was slaughtered, her people captured, her cities burned, her rulers in a state of torpor. Oh daughter of Zion, wipe thine eyes, hear the prophet’s song: Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. Look, for thou shalt weep no more.

Now, if this first, this last, this best promise has ever cheered the church in her deepest gloom, let it be an ever-flowing fountain of joy in every heart. Let us look at troubles no more; but look to the Saviour, and walk upon the waves till we gain the peaceful shore.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 9:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/isaiah-9.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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