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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 51

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged.

Ver. 1. Hearken unto me, ye that follow after righteousness.] Heb., Ye that pursue or follow hard after it, as Paul did. [Philippians 3:13-14] The speech is directed to those Jews that embraced the gospel; persuading them to persist in the faith, "in nothing terrified by their adversaries," since Almighty God would keep and help them, as he had done faithful Abraham and Sarah, their ancestors; to whom also he would of stones raise up sons (a) in the conversion of the Gentiles, and could do it as easily as he had hewed the Hebrews, that great nation, out of aged Abraham, and superannuated Sarah; who are here compared to a dry rock, and a deep pit.

And to the hole of the pit whence ye were digged.] Est honesta periphrasis actus coniugalis. The word here used is of the same root with Nekebah, the female kind of all creatures.


Verse 2

Isaiah 51:2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah [that] bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.

Ver. 2. Look unto Abraham your father.] "Look" and again "look." "Hearken" and again "hearken." These poor Jews, before the coming of Christ in the flesh, were vino somnoque sepulti, drunk with the cup of God’s fury, [Isaiah 51:17] and so fast asleep, that they needed to be thus roused and raised up to the hope of better times, which now were at hand.

And unto Sarah that bare you.] By the force of her faith also, [Hebrews 11:11] her son Isaac was emeritae fidel filius. Now these domestic examples are alleged to assure them that God could do the like again in respect of spiritual children, Abraham’s right seed. [Galatians 4:22-31]

For I called him alone.] Be not ye therefore troubled at your aloneness.

And blessed him, and increased him.] God’s benediction is his benefaction; the Pope’s is not so; fumos vendit, fumo pereat.


Verse 3

Isaiah 51:3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Ver. 3. For the Lord shall comfort Zion.] (As once he did Abraham) by multiplying her children, giving her good store of converts. These were the apostles and the primitive Christians, those earthly angels, who made the world, which before was as a waste wilderness, to become a most pleasant and plentiful paradise. Chrysostom somewhere calleth them angels, and saith that they were puriores coelo afflictione facti, more clear than the azured sky.

Joy and gladness shall be found in them.] See Isaiah 35:10.

Thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.] Paul as the precentor sweetly sings and gives the note to us all, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us," &c. [Ephesians 1:3-7]


Verse 4

Isaiah 51:4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.

Ver. 4. Hearken unto me.] See on Isaiah 51:2.

For a law shall proceed from me,] i.e., The gospel of grace, that "perfect law of liberty," "the law of the spirit of life." [Romans 8:2]

And I will make my judgment to rest.] I will firmly and irrevocably establish the government of my word and Spirit in the Church for a secure guide to bring it to eternal life. Some (a) render it thus, "My judgment," i.e., my gospel, shall be for a light of the people, whereby I will give rest. So that here is a double effect of the gospel, viz., saving light, and peace of conscience.


Verse 5

Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness [is] near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

Ver. 5. My righteousness,] i.e., My faithfulness, or my Son, that Sun of righteousness, is already on the way, (a) and will be with you forthwith.

And mine arm shall judge the people,] i.e., All that set themselves against the Lord and against his Christ, [Psalms 2:2] these shall feel his power to their perdition, even the force of both his arms.

The isles shall wait upon me.] They shall stretch out their souls as a line (so the word importeth), and direct them toward Christ.

And on mine arm shall they trust,] i.e., On my power, or on my gospel promises.


Verse 6

Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.

Ver. 6. Lift up your eyes to the heavens.] Man hath a muscle more than ordinary to draw up his eyes heavenward.

And look upon the earth beneath.] How fast and firm it standeth. [Ecclesiastes 1:4] Yet the whole engine shall be changed. [2 Peter 3:10]

Shall die in like manner.] Or, Like a louse, as some render it.

But my salvation shall be for ever.] The gospel, together with the spiritual benefits thereby, shall outlast heaven and earth.


Verse 7

Isaiah 51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.

Ver. 7. Hearken unto me.] See on Isaiah 51:2.

Ye that know righteousness.] With a knowledge apprehensive, and affective also.

The people in whose heart is my law.] And not in your heads only.

Fear ye not the reproach of men.] Tertullian thinketh that our Saviour alludeth to this of Isaiah in Luke 6:22. We should not be scoffed out of our religion, but patiently suffer "cruel mockings."


Verse 8

Isaiah 51:8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.

Ver. 8. For the moth shall eat them up.] They shall be crushed before the moth, [Job 4:19] that is, easily be destroyed, and their own consciences shall grub upon them too throughout all eternity.

But my righteousness shall be for ever.] Bear therefore bravely all contumelies and contempts of men.


Verse 9

Isaiah 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. [Art] thou not it that hath cut Rahab, [and] wounded the dragon?

Ver. 9. Awake, awake, O arm of the Lord.] God had promised what his holy arm should do for his people, [Isaiah 51:5] now they beg of him to use it, and bestir himself for their relief and rescue; and this they do magno affectu atque animi impetu, heartily wishing the coming of Christ and the declaration of the gospel to their salvation.

Awake, as in the ancient days.] God seemeth sometimes to be asleep, and we must wake him; to delay, and we must quicken him; to have lost his compassions, which yet never fail, and we must find them for him.

Art not thou it that hath cut Rahab?] Or, Hewed Egypt with thy ten plagues successively, though she were a proud and potent state.

And wounded the dragon.] Or, Crocodile; that is, Pharaoh, [Psalms 74:14] whom thou didst put to pain, even the "pains of a travailing woman" (as the word signifieth), when he sank "as a millstone in the mighty waters."


Verse 10

Isaiah 51:10 [Art] thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?

Ver. 10. Art not thou it which hath dried the sea?] And canst not thou do as much again for thy poor people? This is an excellent way of arguing with God in prayer - viz., from his ancient acts.


Verse 11

Isaiah 51:11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy [shall be] upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; [and] sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Ver. 11. Therefore the redeemed of the Lord, &c.] This is God’s answer, as some; or the good people’s confidence, as others, that God would deliver them now, as he had done their forefathers from Pharaoh.

And everlasting joy.] As a fair and precious crown. [2 Timothy 4:8] Some make it a metaphor from those that carry heavy burdens on their heads; St Paul calleth it a "weight of glory."

They shall obtain joy.] See Isaiah 35:10.


Verse 12

Isaiah 51:12 I, [even] I, [am] he that comforteth you: who [art] thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man [that] shall die, and of the son of man [which] shall be made [as] grass;

Ver. 12. I, even I, am he that comforteth you.] This is certainly an answer to that supplication, [Isaiah 51:10] and it comprehendeth a reprehension and an expostulation about their pusillanimity, which was more than womanly. Therefore it followeth,

Who art thou?] (a) Heb., Thou woman, thou hen hearted creature.

That thou shouldest be afraid of a man?] Heb., Sorry man, ab homine misero, aerumnoso, damnato ad mortem, ab hoste faeneo, An enemy of clouts, as we say. We trouble ourselves oft through ignorance; in the dark everything scares us.


Verse 13

Isaiah 51:13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where [is] the fury of the oppressor?

Ver. 13. And forgettest the Lord thy maker.] Thou considerest not wisely (1.) How fearfully and wonderfully thou art made; (2.) What a mighty power God put forth in the creation of the whole world; all which he will rather unmake again than thou shalt want seasonable help.

And hast feared continually every day.] Peior est morte timor ipse mortis.

And where is the fury of the oppressor?] q.d., It is but fury, and not power, and that not illimited neither; for "in the thing wherein they deal proudly, I am above them." [Exodus 18:11]


Verse 14

Isaiah 51:14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail.

Ver. 14. The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed,] i.e., Deliverance is even at the next door by; or, it is a description, saith Diodate, of the believers’ readiness in answering with the motion of their hearts to God’s calling and deliverance.


Verse 15

Isaiah 51:15 But I [am] the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts [is] his name.

Ver. 15. For I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea.] Or, I the Lord thy God am he that stilleth the sea when the waves of it roar; how much more then can I curb and control the rage of man! "Surely," saith David, "the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain"; where the Septuagint have it, It shall keep holiday to thee, εωρταζει σοι.


Verse 16

Isaiah 51:16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou [art] my people.

Ver. 16. And I have put my words in thy mouth.] O Isaiah, my servant; but especially, O Christ, my Son.

That I may plant the heavens, &c.] God doth as great a wonder, in saying to Zion, "Thou art my people," in the work of renovation, as if he had made a new world. "Whosoever is in Christ is a new creature," or a new creation. [2 Corinthians 5:17] Christ is called, "The beginning of the creation of God." [Revelation 3:14] Some, by "planting the heavens and laying the foundation of the earth" here, understand the state of the gospel, called by St Peter a "new heaven and a new earth"; and the same, they say, is called by our Saviour "regeneration" in Matthew 19:28, "Ye which have followed me in the regeneration," &c.; and by the author to the Hebrews, "The world to come." [Hebrews 2:5]


Verse 17

Isaiah 51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, [and] wrung [them] out.

Ver. 17. Awake, awake.] Suscita te, suscita te. As the Church had stirred up the arm of the Lord to awake, [Isaiah 51:9] so here he doth the Church, cheering her up, and, as it were, drinking to her in a cup of nepenthe, after her bitter cup of gall and aloes, which she had drunk to drunkenness, and had none to guide her, [Isaiah 51:18] as a drunken man had need to have.

That hast drunk at the hand of the Lord.] Herein happy yet, that God had a hand in the mingling of thy cup; who, being a wise and gracious physician and father, would be sure not to overdo; for "he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust." [Psalms 103:14]

The cup of his fury.] Or, His cup of poison; [Deuteronomy 32:24; Deuteronomy 32:33] so thou mistakest it, and therefore sputterest as if poisoned indeed. [Lamentations 3:19]

Thou hast drunk the dregs.] Crassamentum, that thick stuff that settleth in the bottom, and usually is reserved for the worst of wicked ones, [Psalms 75:8] while the saints sip only of the top of the cup. (a) See Ezekiel 23:1-49; Ezekiel 34:1-31.

Of the cup of trembling.] Poeuhtm horrifieentissimum bibisti, exsuxisti, The cup of concussion or horror, as a just punishment of thy cup of slumbering and security, wherein thou hadst before caroused. [Isaiah 29:9-10]


Verse 18

Isaiah 51:18 [There is] none to guide her among all the sons [whom] she hath brought forth; neither [is there any] that taketh her by the hand of all the sons [that] she hath brought up.

Ver. 18. There is none to guide her.] This was a point next the worst, as we say. She was without prudent and pious magistrates and ministers, or other friends to advise her; and so she was δισκακοδαιμων - twice miserable. Christ hath promised all his, "I will not leave you destitute," or orphans.

Among all her sons.] Who should see to their aged parents and sublevate them, as pious Aeneas did, and as Scipio, who therehence had his name; but Zion’s sons were themselves in a dreadful plight, [Isaiah 51:20] and in an ill case to relieve their mother.


Verse 19

Isaiah 51:19 These two [things] are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee?

Ver. 19. These two things are come unto thee.] As they seldom are separated; as some write of the asp, that he never wanders alone without his companion.

Who shall be sorry for thee?] Condole and comfort thee.

Desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword,] i.e., Desolation by famine, and destruction by the sword; or, as some will have it, desolation by famine and sword, and want of consolation. {as Isaiah 51:18}

By whom shall I comfort thee?] By whom but by myself, when thou art at thy greatest under, and even forsaken of thy hopes. See Isaiah 51:12.


Verse 20

Isaiah 51:20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.

Ver. 20. Thy sons have fainted.] Fame, macie, tabe, vulnere, utterly disabled to relieve thee. [Isaiah 51:18]

As a wild bull in a net.] Taken in a toil, where he struggles and strives, foams and fumes, but cannot get out.


Verse 21

Isaiah 51:21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:

Ver. 21. Thou afflicted and drunken.] With a dry drunkenness, which thou canst not so easily sleep out. [Isaiah 51:17]


Verse 22

Isaiah 51:22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God [that] pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, [even] the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:

Ver. 22. Behold I have taken.] Though man could not. Where human help faileth, divine help beginneth.

Thou shalt no more drink it.] i.e., Not of a long time, till thy last devastation by the Romans.


Verse 23

Isaiah 51:23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.

Ver. 23. But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee.] Who shall drink it not to drunkenness only, as thou hast done, but unto madness. [Jeremiah 25:10] Belshazzar and his Babylonians did so; the revenging hand of God was afterwards upon Antiochus, Vespasian, and his children; Antichristians drink of the wine of God’s wrath. [Revelation 14:10]

Bow down.] This passage setteth forth their extreme cruelty and thrasonical insolence. But the case shall be altered. [Revelation 3:9]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 51:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-51.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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