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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Isaiah 45

 

 

Verse 1

ISAIAH CHAPTER 45

Cyrus’s work and strength foretold, Isaiah 45:1-4. God hath all power, Isaiah 45:5-12; will assist Cyrus, Isaiah 45:13,14. The mystery of Providence, Isaiah 45:15. Idols and their worshippers shall be destroyed, and God alone exalted, 16—21. The Gentiles come in to Christ, Isaiah 45:22-25.

His anointed, i.e. his king, whom God hath designed, and separated, and fitted, in all respects, for his work and service; in which and such-like respects divers persons are said to be anointed, who never had any material oil poured upon them, as the king of Tyrus, Ezekiel 28:14, and Christ, Isaiah 61:1, and Zerubbabel, Zechariah 4:14, and Christians, 2 Cop. 1:21 1 John 2:27. And they are thus called by way of allusion to the practice of the Jews, whose kings were frequently anointed, 1 Samuel 10:1 16:13, &c.

I have holden, or strengthened; whom I will powerfully assist, teaching his hands to war, as the phrase is, Psalms 18:34, supporting and directing his right hand to strike home.

Nations; the Babylonians, and those other nations which were confederate with them, and fought for them, as may be gathered from Jeremiah 51:9.

I will loose the loins of kings; I will weaken them, for a man’s strength consists much in his loins, and receiveth some advantage by the girding of his loins: or, I will take away their girdle, which was about their loins, to wit, their power and authority, whereof that was an ensign, of which see on Job 12:18 Isaiah 22:21.

To open before him the two-leaved gates; the great and magnificent gates of their cities and palaces, which shall be opened to him as conqueror.


Verse 2

I will go before thee, to remove all obstructions, and to prepare the way for thee, as it follows.

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; I will destroy all them that oppose thee, and carry thee through the greatest difficulties.


Verse 3

The treasures of darkness; such as have been stored up and long kept in dark and secret places, as well in Babylon, Jeremiah 50:37 51:13, as in other countries, which Cyrus conquered; and from which he took infinite treasures, as Pliny and others relate.

That thou mayest know, by the accomplishment of these predictions.


Verse 4

I have even called thee by thy name; I have called thee to this honour, and that by name; not for thy sake, but for Israel’s sake; therefore do not despise them, thou wilt find them a poor and enslaved people, neither be puffed up into a great opinion of thyself.

I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me; I knew and called thee by thy name, when thou didst neither know nor think of me; nay, when thou hadst no being.


Verse 5

I girded thee; I made thee strong and active, and fitted and disposed thee for these great and warlike enterprises. For these were the uses and significations of girding in Scripture: see 1 Kings 20:11 Psalms 18:32 45:3.


Verse 6

That they may know; that all nations may know it by my foretelling of these things so long beforehand, and by the wonderful success that I shall give thee, and by my overruling thins heart, and counsels, and victories, to the deliverance of my people according to my promise.


Verse 7

All men’s comforts and calamities come from my hand.


Verse 8

Let the skies pour down righteousness; the righteous and gracious acts of God for his people shall be so many and illustrious, as if God rained down showers of righteousness out of heaven.

Let the earth open; open itself, either to receive those showers of righteousness to be poured down from heaven, or to bring forth those fruits which might be expected from such showers.

Let them, the heavens and the earth conspiring together,

bring forth salvation; the redemption of God’s people.

Let righteousness spring up together; together with salvation. Whereas persons or people are sometimes delivered from their troubles by unjust courses, this shall be effected with righteousness, both on God’s part, who will hereby assert his own justice and faithfulness to his people; and on Cyrus’s part, who will do a most righteous and worthy action in rescuing a righteous and oppressed nation from cruel tyrants and oppressors.

I the Lord have created it; this great work of salvation, and righteousness; whereof, though Cyrus is the instrument, I am the chief author.


Verse 9

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! This woe is denounced, either,

1. Against those Jews who, hearing this and many other prophecies and promises of their deliverance out of captivity, and vet continuing in captivity, were ever prone to distrust God, and to murmur at him for punishing them so grievously, and for not making more speed to deliver them. Or,

2. Against the Babylonians, the great opposers of Cyrus, and of the deliverance of God’s people, whom they were resolved to keep in bondage, in spite of God and men. And therefore as God here makes many glorious promises to Cyrus, in order to this work; so he pronounceth a curse upon them who should endeavour to hinder it, and admonisheth the Babylonians, that they did not only fight against Cyrus, a man like themselves, but against God, the Maker and Governor of the world. For what Nebuchadnezzar spoke with respect to those three Jews, Daniel 3:15, the Babylonians spoke in their hearts, in reference to the people of the Jews, Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth; contend, if you please, with your fellow creatures, but not with your Creator.

Thy work: he turneth his speech to the potter, of whom he spake in the third person in the foregoing clause; such sudden changes of persons being usual in prophetical writings.

He hath no hands; the potter that made me had no hands, i.e. no ability or skill to make good work.


Verse 10

As it were an absurd and impudent thing for a child to quarrel with his parents, either simply for begetting him, or for begetting him of this or that sex, contrary to his desire; no better is it for any persons to quarrel with God the Maker and

Father of all things, as God is called, 1 Corinthians 8:6, for disposing of them and their affairs by his providence as he sees fit, and otherwise than they desire or expect; as. the Jews quarrelled with God for bringing them into captivity, and the Babylonians for translating the empire from them to the Persians.


Verse 11

His Maker; Israel’s Maker, who not only created him, as I did all others, but made him a new creature, and a peculiar people to myself.

Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me: the words thus rendered contain a concession or permission; and the sense may be this, Although the potter doth not give an account to the clay, nor parents to their children; yet I will so far condescend to you, as to be at your command in this matter, to give you an account of these great actions of mine, for which you quarrel with me. As for the expression, command ye me, though it seem to be harsh, yet there are instances in Scripture of such wonderful condescensions, as when it is said, that the Lord will make his people in heaven to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them, Luke 12:37. But the words seem to be better rendered interrogatively, as they are by some interpreter, Do you, or will you, ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of mine hands will ye command me? Will you not allow me that liberty which yourselves take, of disposing of my own children and works as I see fit? Must I give you an account of. these matters? Will you set bounds to me by your commands, that I shall do this, and not that, according to your good pleasure? This is intolerable boldness in you; and yet I am able to give a good account of my actions. And the account is given in the following verse.


Verse 12

I have made the earth, and created man upon it; they are wholly and solely my creatures, and therefore absolutely at my disposal.

All their host have I commanded; I have commanded them to be, or made them by my command, or the word of my power: compare Psalms 148:5.


Verse 13

I have raised him; Cyrus, who; was named before, Isaiah 45:1.

In righteousness; not in a way of absolute sovereignty, as I might have done, but most justly, to punish the wicked Babylonians, to plead the cause of the innocent oppressed ones, to manifest my own righteousness, and truth, and goodness.

Direct all his ways; guide and assist him in all his travels and marches, in all his attempts, and battles, and sieges, crowning him with success in all his undertakings.

Not for price nor reward; freely, without requiring any ransom for or from them, as is usual in such cases. Such an exact prediction of these things, which depended wholly upon the mind and will of Cyrus, is mentioned here, as an infallible evidence of the certainty of God’s foreknowledge, and of his being the only true God, because idols could discover no such things at such a distance of time.


Verse 14

The labour of Egypt; the wealth gotten by their labour. Men of stature; a tall and strong people, who yet shall use their strength not to oppose thee, but to serve thee, and to bring their labour to thee.

Shall come over unto thee; either,

1. To thee, O Cyrus: because thou wast so generous as to dismiss my people freely, I will give thee another and a better recompence, even the labour of Egypt, &c. Or,

2. To thee, O my city, or my captivity or captive people. For it is not to be neglected, that there are no less than six pronouns in this verse, all which are of the feminine gender; which seems not to agree to Cyrus. It is true which is objected by the most learned author of this part of the English Annotations, that the Scripture oft speaks of states and kingdoms in the feminine gender; but when it speaks of any particular king or emperor, it constantly speaks of him in the masculine gender, as it doth of Cyrus in this very chapter, Isaiah 45:1, and elsewhere. And thus the sense of the place seems to be this, Jerusalem shall not only be rebuilt, but the wealth and glory of other countries shall be brought to it again, as it was in former times; which although it was in part verified in Jerusalem, yet it was much more fully accomplished in the church of the gospel, which is oft expressed in Scripture under the name of Jerusalem; and in the accession of the Gentiles to that church, which began in Jerusalem, and from thence spread itself into all the parts of the world. And this sense seems best to agree with the latter part of this and with the following verse, as we shall see.

In chains they shall come over; they shall be taken captive by thee, and willingly submit themselves to thee; which was accomplished in the conversion of the Gentiles, whose subjection to God’s church is oft expressed in Scripture under such metaphors as this; as Psalms 45:5 149:8, &c.; Psalms 68:18, compared with Ephesians 4:8.

They shall make supplication, unto thee; to obtain thy favour and society.

Surely God is in thee, or, with thee. We plainly discern that God is on thy side, or in the midst of thee; and therefore we desire to join ourselves with thee.

There is none else, there is no God; we are now convinced that thou art the only true God, and that idols are vain and empty nothings; which was but very obscurely fulfilled in Cyrus’s time, but was most evidently and eminently accomplished in the days of the Messiah, of whom Cyrus was a type; as also this deliverance of the Jews from Babylon by Cyrus was a type of the redemption of God’s people by Christ.


Verse 15

These are the words of the prophet, drawn from him by the contemplation of the great and various works and dispensations of God towards his church, and in the world.

That hidest thyself, to wit, from thy people for a season. Thy counsels are deep and incomprehensible, thy ways and carriages are past finding out, and full of beautiful variety. Sometimes thou hidest thy face, and withdrawest thy help from thy people, and sometimes thou dost show thyself to be their God and Saviour, as it follows. And therefore it is meet that we should patiently wait for the accomplishment of these glorious things here promised to us. And this admonition is most fitly inserted here, to prevent the mistakes of God’s people, and to intimate that these promises were not to be speedily executed, but that they must expect and prepare for many and sharp afflictions before that time should come, which yet should end in their salvation.


Verse 16

They; the idolatrous Gentiles, as it is explained in the end of the verse, opposed to Israel in the beginning of the next verse.

Makers; either the artificers, or the chief masters that set them on work, and consequently all their worshippers; although the makers being most guilty, and the cause of the sins of others, might justly expect a higher degree of confusion.


Verse 17

With an everlasting salvation; not for a short time, as it was in the days of the judges and of the kings, under whom their dangers and calamities did frequently return upon them; but unto all ages, as it follows; whence it appears that he speaks not only nor chiefly of their deliverance out of Babylon, which was far from being complete or perpetual, as appears both from Scripture, as Ezra 9:8, and elsewhere, and from other authors; but of their redemption by Christ, by which this was truly and fully verified unto a great number of Israelites after the flesh, and especially unto the mystical, God’s church and people, who are frequently called in Scripture by that name; as the ordinances and privileges of the gospel are commonly described in the Old Testament by expressions borrowed from the Levitical dispensation. And that this is the meaning of the place is evident from Isaiah 45:22, wherein all the ends of the earth are said to be sharers in this salvation.


Verse 18

This description of God is here added, either,

1. To detect the vanity of idols, by asserting that none was to be owned as the true God besides that one God who made the heavens and the earth, and the inhabitants thereof. Or,

2. To demonstrate God’s sufficiency to fulfil all these glorious promises made to his church, because he made the world of nothing, and upholds it by the word of his power; and withal to discover God’s goodness to mankind, inasmuch as he did not create the earth in vain, but for the use and comfort of men, that it might be a fit habitation for them; whence it was easy to infer that God would much more be gracious to his own people.


Verse 19

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: the heathen idols deliver their oracles darkly and doubtfully, in obscure cells and caverns of the earth, or out of the bellies of their priests; but I have delivered my oracles to Israel publicly and plainly, as one that was neither afraid nor ashamed to utter my mind, lest I should be convinced of folly and falsehood; which was the case of idols.

Seek ye me in vain; serve and worship me for nought. As I appointed them work, so I promised, and from time to time have given, and shall give, them abundant recompence for their service; whereas the Gentiles seek to their idols in vain, for they can do them no good, as is observed in the next verse.

I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right; I require nothing of my people which is not highly just and good; whereas the idols commanded their worshippers to do many sinful and shameful things, even in their worship, as is notoriously known.


Verse 20

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together; to debate the business with me concerning the divinity of your idols, and hear what I have said, and am now about to say again, in that matter.

Ye that are escaped of the nations; the remnant of the Gentiles, which shall survive those great and many destructions which I am bringing upon the heathen nations for their abominable idolatries and other wickedness. Let these dreadful judgments upon others, and God’s singular mercy in sparing you, awaken you to a more impartial and serious consideration of this point, and cast off those idols, which have now discovered their own vanity and inability to help those who serve them and trust in them.

They have no knowledge; they hereby discover their deep ignorance and stupidity.

That set up in a high place, where it may be seen and worshipped.


Verse 21

Let them take counsel together, to maintain the cause of their idols.

Who hath declared this? this great work of which I have spoken, concerning Babylon’s destruction, and the redemption of God’s people.

A just God and a Saviour; whereas the gods of the heathens are neither just nor saviours to their people, but wicked, and the authors and abettors of all sorts of wickedness; and so far from being either able or willing to save their worshippers, that they are the chief occasion of their utter destruction.


Verse 22

Upon these considerations, I advise all people upon earth, from one end to the other, to cast away their idols, and to turn their eyes and hearts to me, expecting salvation from me, and from me only; and their labour shall not be in vain; for they shall be saved: the imperative being put for the future, as Genesis 42:18, and oft elsewhere. And this is not only an exhortation to the Gentiles to turn from idols to God, but a prediction that they shall turn to him, and look upon Christ, who shall be the author of salvation to all that obey him, whether Jews or Gentiles, which is confirmed by the following verse.


Verse 23

I have sworn by myself, which is the highest and most solemn oath that is possible, Hebrews 6:13, and therefore signifies that the matter here sworn is of an extraordinary importance.

The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness; it is not a vain word rashly uttered, and afterwards never remembered nor observed, but what I sincerely speak, and will most faithfully and infallibly perform.

Shall not return, to wit, unto me void, or without effect, as this phrase is more fully delivered, Isaiah 55:11. It is a metaphor from ambassadors, who sometimes return to their princes without any success in their business.

Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear; not only the Jews, but a people of all nations, shall worship me, and submit to my laws; which is signified by an outward act, the bowing of the knee, Which is a posture of reverence and subjection; and by one eminent part of God’s worship, which is swearing by his name.


Verse 24

Shall one say; or, shall he say; each or every one of those whom he now said that they should bow their knees to God, and swear by him, Isaiah 45:23. Or, it shall be said; such active verbs being oft used impersonally.

In the Lord; by or from God alone, or the Messiah, who is the true Jehovah as well as man. Have I righteousness, to justify me from all things, from which I could not be justified by the law of Moses, as is said, Acts 13:39. This plainly points us to the Messiah, whose very name is, The Lord our Righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6, and whose great business it was to bring in everlasting righteousness, Daniel 9:24, and who is made unto us of God righteousness, 1 Corinthians 1:30. Strength; support and assistance to bear all my burdens, and overcome all my enemies, and perform all my duties. The sense is, the Gentiles shall expect and obtain from Christ both justification, or forgiveness of sins by his blood, and sanctification by his Spirit.

To him shall men come; the Gentiles shall come to God and Christ, either,

1. By constraint or necessity, to be judged by him at the last day; or,

2. Willingly, by prayer to seek, and by faith to receive, righteousness and strength from him; which seems better to agree with the foregoing clause, which speaks of true believers only. Coming to Christ is put for believing on him, Matthew 11:28 John 5:40 6:35-37, and elsewhere.

And all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed; or, but (as this particle is oft rendered)

all that are, & c. But all his implacable enemies shall be brought to shame and punishment.


Verse 25

All the seed of Israel; all Israelites indeed, whether Jews or Gentiles; all believers, who are frequently called God’s Israel in Scripture, as Psalms 24:6 Romans 9:6 11:26 Galatians 6:16.

Justified; acquitted both from real guilt before God, and from all false aspersions before the world; for this justification of the true Israel is opposed to their enemies being ashamed, Isaiah 45:24, which seems to design their public shame and confusion before God and men.

Shall glory; shall not only receive him, but shall rejoicer and triumph in him as their God and portion.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 45:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-45.html. 1685.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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