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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 42

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, [in whom] my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

Ver. 1. Behold my servant.] Cyrus partly, but Christ principally [Matthew 12:18] {See Trapp on "Matthew 12:18"} [Philippians 2:7] A servant he was, yet not menial, but magisterial; that he was one or other is admirable, and well deserveth an Ecce Behold.

Whom I uphold.] That he faint not under the weight of his Mediatorship, and the importable burden of my wrath, which he must suffer for a season. Some render it "whom I lean upon." See 2 Kings 5:18; 2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 7:13.

Mine elect, or choice one.] Cyrus was so. [Isaiah 43:10 John 6:27; John 6:29; John 10:36] See the notes on Matthew 12:18. Cyrus was so singular a man, saith Herodotus, (a) that no Persian ever held himself worthy to be compared unto him. And of his court Xenophon (b) hath this memorable saying, that though a man should seek or choose blindfold, he could not miss of a good man. How much more truly may this be spoken of the Lord Christ and his people?

In whom my soul delighteth.] ευδοκησε. God affected Cyrus, [Isaiah 45:3-4; Isaiah 44:28] but nothing so well as Christ. [Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5] Once God repented him that he had made man; but now it is otherwise.

He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.] Who shall all cry, "Grace, grace unto it," to see mercy rejoicing against judgment. See on Matthew 12:18.


Verse 2

Isaiah 42:2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

Ver. 2. He shall not cry, nor lift up.] See on Matthew 12:19. Cyrus was a very mild and gentle prince, so that his Persians called him their father, but his son, Cambyses, their lord, as Herodotus (a) recordeth. Christ’s government (b) is much more gentle; he will not by a loud and terrible voice frighten broken spirits, or rule them with rigour, &c. Christians must likewise put away all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour. And "be ye kind one to another, tender hearted." [Ephesians 4:31-32] This is to be like unto Christ - all whose actions, whether moral or mediatory, were either for our imitation or instruction.


Verse 3

Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

Ver. 3. A bruised reed shall he not break,] i.e., A contrite heart, [Psalms 51:17] in whom there shall appear to be anything of Christ, though never so little: that are faithful in weakness, though but weak in faith, as he was who cried out, Lord, I believe, help mine unbelief; [Mark 9:24] and another, Invoco te fide quamvis languida, fide tamen. (a) See on Matthew 12:20.

He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.] Unto victory, saith the evangelist, after the Septuagint. Truth will prevail, sincerity proceed to perfection. "The righteous also shall hold on his way: and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." [Job 17:9] Where there is truth of grace, there will be victory. Bernard never went from God without God. And holy Bradford would never give over any good duty till he found something coming in - as in confession, till his heart melted; in begging pardon, till it was quieted; in seeking grace, till it was quickened, &c.


Verse 4

Isaiah 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Ver. 4. He shall not fail, nor be discouraged.] Non erit tristis nec turbulentus; so the Vulgate hath it. He shall be master of his passions, and keep an even state of his looks and motions, whatever befall, as they report of Socrates. He shall not knit his brows, or chide - which was Eli’s fault, [1 Samuel 3:13] but is Christ’s commendation - so Lud. de Dieu rendereth it. He shall not make to smoke (so Junius from Isaiah 42:3), nor shall he bruise any one.

Until he have set judgment.] See on Isaiah 42:3.

And the isles shall wait for his law.] Heb., Shall with desire expect his doctrine.


Verse 5

Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

Ver. 5. Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out.] Heb., And they that stretched them out; noting the Trinity in unity. {as Deuteronomy 6:4} Some pagans concluded the world must needs have had a beginning, otherwise we could not know whether the egg or the bird, the seed or the plant, the day or the night, the light or the darkness, were first.


Verse 6

Isaiah 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

Ver. 6. I the Lord have called thee.] To the Mediatorship.

And will hold thine hand.] Working wonders by thee, and with thee.

And will keep thee.] That thou be not crucified till thine hour be come, and that thou despair not when thou sufferest.

And give thee for a covenant of the people,] i.e., For that "angel of the covenant," [Malachi 3:1] and that thou mayest reconcile all the elect in one body to me by thy cross, &c. [Ephesians 2:16]

For a light to the Gentiles.] See Isaiah 9:2.


Verse 7

Isaiah 42:7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, [and] them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Ver. 7. To open the blind eyes.] By the preaching of the gospel. [Acts 26:18 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 Revelation 3:18]

To bring out the prisoners from the prison.] To free poor souls from the tyranny of sin and terror of hell. This should make us say to Christ, as one did once to Augustus for a deliverance nothing so great, Effecisti, Ceesar, ut viverem et morerer ingratus, Let me do mine utmost, I must live and die in thy debt.


Verse 8

Isaiah 42:8 I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Ver. 8. I am the Lord.] I, and no heathen petty god, as I have plainly and plentifully proved, nemine contradicente.

That is my name.] God, though he be above all name (when Manoah inquired after his name, the answer was, It is wonderful - i.e., far above thy conception), yet here we have his proper name, Jehovah, which is also called his glory, because incommunicable to any creature.

And my glory will I not give to another.] To his Son Christ he hath given it, [John 17:2] who, although he is Alius, another yet he is not Aliud different from the Father, but of the same nature and essence. God hath given being to all things, life to many, sense to others, reason to men and angels, his glory he will not give to any. Excellently hereupon Bernard, (a) My glory I will not, &c.; what then wilt thou give us, Lord? what wilt thou give us? My peace, saith he, I give you; my peace I leave unto you. It is enough for me, Lord; I thankfully take what thou leavest, and leave what thou keepest to thyself, &c.


Verse 9

Isaiah 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

Ver. 9. Behold, the former things are come to pass.] The prophecies are fulfilled.

Before they spring forth, I tell you of them.] Therefore I am the true God undoubtedly, and the doctrine of my prophets is true assuredly, veriora quam quae ex tripode. Siquidem Satan etsi semel videatur verax, millies est mendax, et semper fallax.


Verse 10

Isaiah 42:10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, [and] his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.

Ver. 10. Sing unto the Lord a new song.] The disputation being ended, and God having clearly got the better, the prophet singeth this gratulatory song, and calleth upon others to bear a part with him therein, and especially for Christ and his benefits before mentioned.

Ye that go down to the sea,] i.e., That dwell toward the west of Judea.


Verse 11

Isaiah 42:11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up [their voice], the villages [that] Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.

Ver. 11. Let the wilderness.] Ye that dwell eastward. It was called the wilderness, because but thinly inhabited.

The villages that Kedar doth inhabit.] The most fierce and savage people, cicurated and civilised by the gospel preached among them, as it is with us at this day, whose ancestors were most barbarous and brutish, as Cicero (a) testifieth.

Let the inhabitants of the rock.] Or, Of Petra, the chief city of Arabia Petraea.


Verse 12

Isaiah 42:12 Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.

Ver. 12. Let them give glory.] See Isaiah 42:10.


Verse 13

Isaiah 42:13 The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.

Ver. 13. The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man.] Or, As a giant. And here, by an elegant hypotyposis, (a) the fierce wrath of God against his foes is set forth to the life, and appointed also to be sung for a second part of the ditty - viz., Christ’s conquest over sin, death, and hell, whereby we are made "more than conquerors."

He shall cry, yea, roar.] Iubilabit atque etiam barriet; he shall make a hideous and horrible noise, such as the Roman soldiers did of old when they began the battle, and as the Turks do at this day on purpose to frighten their enemies. (b)


Verse 14

Isaiah 42:14 I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, [and] refrained myself: [now] will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.

Ver. 14. I have long time holden my peace.] As a travailing woman biteth in her pain as long as she is able. So had God, for causes best known to himself, forborne a long while to appear for his people and to avenge them of their enemies. But now Patientia laesa fit furor: Deique patientia quo diuturnior, est minacior. Now down goeth Dagon and the devil’s whole kingdom before this jealous giant.

Now will I cry like a travailing woman.] Which when she can bear no longer, sets up her note, and is heard all the house over. This is very comfortable. God is pained, as it were, for his people - in all their afflictions he is afflicted; he longs for their deliverance, which therefore shall not be long ere it come.


Verse 15

Isaiah 42:15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.

Ver. 15. I will make waste mountains and hills.] I will rather invert the order of nature, and mingle heaven and earth together, than my Church shall want seasonable help. I will also remove all obstacles by sending fire upon the earth, [Luke 12:49] and bring every high thought into a holy obedience. [2 Corinthians 10:5]


Verse 16

Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way [that] they knew not; I will lead them in paths [that] they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Ver. 16. And I will bring the blind by a way.] This was fulfilled, in the letter, to the Jews brought back from Babylon, where they had been close prisoners, and, in the mystery, to all Christ’s converts - more especially to that blind boy presented to Bishop Hooper, martyr, the day before his death, at Gloucester, where the boy had not long before suffered imprisonment for confessing the truth. (a)

I will make darkness light before.] By bringing them out of darkness into my marvellous light. [1 Peter 2:9]


Verse 17

Isaiah 42:17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye [are] our gods.

Ver. 17. They shall be greatly ashamed.] Heb., Be ashamed with shame; because disappointed and defeated, as the Papists oft have been when they have fought against Protestants, in that Bellum Hussiticum in Germany especially; and yet Bellarmine hath the face to say that the Catholics were never yet worsted by the heretics, as they call us, in a set battle.


Verse 18

Isaiah 42:18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.

Ver. 18. Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind.] Ye who, as so many sea monsters or deaf adders, will not hear, and as so many blind moles will not see, by a petulant blindness, and of obstinate malice; such were the scribes and Pharisees, who winked hard with their eyes, and wilfully shut the windows, lest the light should come in unto them. See more of this in the notes on Isaiah 6:1-13, Isaiah 29:1-24.

That ye may see.] In nature, Caecorum mens occulatissima est. We read of Didymus Alexandrinus, that though blind, yet he wrote commentaries; and of two of Archbishop Ussher’s aunts, that being blind from their cradles, they taught him first to read, such was their readiness in the Scriptures. But this was rare; and in spirituals it is otherwise, till God enlighten both organ and object.


Verse 19

Isaiah 42:19 Who [is] blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger [that] I sent? who [is] blind as [he that is] perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant?

Ver. 19. Who is blind, but my servant?] Who so blind as he that will not see? Israel was God’s peculiar, and had the light of his law, yet were blind as beetles.

Or deaf, as my messenger?] The priests and Levites. [Malachi 2:7] Such were the Papist dolts till awakened by the Reformation.

Who is blind as he that is perfect?] The elders of the people, who arrogated to themselves perfection (a) [Isaiah 65:5 Romans 2:17-20] as likewise the Popish perfectists, the Jewish doctors with their pretended Mashlamnuthas, and the Turkish Mussulmans - i.e., perfectionaries.


Verse 20

Isaiah 42:20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.

Ver. 20. But observest not,] viz., For holy practice.

But he heareth not.] viz., For any good purpose, he heareth not "what the Spirit saith to the churches."


Verse 21

Isaiah 42:21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make [it] honourable.

Ver. 21. The Lord is well pleased; he will magnify his law, &c.] Or, To magnify his law and make it honourable - sc., by recompensing so highly those that observed it; this he did for his "righteousness’ sake" - i.e., of his free grace and fidelity; but these are none such, they are practical Antinomians, and to me to the diametrically opposite.


Verse 22

Isaiah 42:22 But this [is] a people robbed and spoiled; [they are] all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

Ver. 22. But this is a people robbed and spoiled.] And all too little, unless they were better. Jerome expoundeth this of the destruction of the Jews by the Romans, after their voluntary blindness and malice showed against Christ, at what time they were pulled out of holes and privies, spoiled, slaved, sold thirty a penny.


Verse 23

Isaiah 42:23 Who among you will give ear to this? [who] will hearken and hear for the time to come?

Ver. 23. Who among you will give ear to this?] Magna nimirum haec sunt, sed paucis persuasa. We shall have much ado to make you believe these things, though your liberties, lives, and souls lie upon it.


Verse 24

Isaiah 42:24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

Ver. 24. Who gave Jacob for a spoil?] Omnia magno adfectu sunt pronuncianda, debentque singula membra huius orationis expendi. This is a very remarkable passage. Let us cry out, "Oh the severity!" and beware. Cavebimus autem si pavebimus. Moreover, we will beware if we are terrified.


Verse 25

Isaiah 42:25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid [it] not to heart.

Ver. 25. And it hath set him on fire.] When the country was wasted, the city and temple burnt and ruined. Read Josephus, Lege, inquam, et luge. I say read and weep.

And he laid it not to heart.] This was worse than all the rest. Like a sleepy man (fire burning in his bed straw) he crieth not out, when others haply lament his case, that see afar off, but cannot help him.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 42:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-42.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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