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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Isaiah 26

 

 

Verses 1-14

Isaiah 26:1. In that day —

Or, rather, as we may read it now, “In this day” —

Isaiah 26:1-3. Shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Here is the song which we are to sing in this gospel day. The theme of it is God, and the city which he has builded, and which he has given to us to be our heritage for ever. “We have a strong city;” yes, beloved, a very strong one, for, although the devil has exercised all his ingenuity for these thousands of years, he has not been able to destroy it. He has thrown in the bombshell of persecution; he has tried to undermine it with his subtlety and cunning of false doctrine; but he has not been able to do anything effectually against the strong city yet. “We have a strong city;” and she is just as strong now, after all the desperate attacks that have been made upon her walls, as ever she was. Against her, the gates of hell cannot prevail. The Church of Christ is never in danger. “We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks? After noticing the security of the city, the prophet bids us “open the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.” It is the gospel minister’s business to seek to open the gates; it is the Christian’s business, in some sense, to open the gates; yea, we should all of us be endeavoring, if possible, to “open the gates, that the righteous nation “ —that is, the righteous people “may enter” into the Church. But, after all, the Lord Jesus Christ is the great Opener of the gates; he opens the gates to let his people in. And, mark you, they do not all come in at one gate. The command is, “Open ye the gates.” Some come in by means of one doctrine, and some by means of another. We are not all converted by the same agency. Some come in at the Sunday-school gate; others come in at the gate which is kept by pious parents; many come in at the gate of the preached Word; but all the gates should be open: “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.” The prophet next describes the peaceableness of this city. The gates are open, but no enemy ever enters in: for he says to the Lord, “Thou wilt keep him in peace, — peace,” as the original has it, in double peace. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” There is nothing like staying the mind on God. If you stay the mind on anything else, you cannot have perfect peace, for that something else may fail you. If you trust in horses and in chariots, horses may tire, and the wheels of the chariots may break; but he who trusteth in the Lord shall dwell “in perfect peace.” Let the earth be all in arms abroad, the believer dwells “in perfect peace,” “because he trusteth in thee.”

Isaiah 26:4-5. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: for he bringeth down them that dwell on high;

Some of you dwell so much “on high” that you do not believe the doctrine of original depravity; you are very good by nature, according to your own ideas. Well, remember this declaration of the prophet: “He bringeth down them that dwell on high.” Others of you boast of your free-will capacity, and you think you have power to do anything without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Ah! but “He bringeth down them that dwell on high.” Others of you do not know what a doubt or a fear is, but you wrap yourselves up complacently in your self-sufficiency, and say, “We are secure,” Ah! but “He bringeth down them that dwell on high.”

Isaiah 26:5. The lofty city, he layeth it low;

No one can lay God’s city low, but God can lay the lofty city low.

Isaiah 26:5-7. He layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy. The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.

God “weighs the path of the just” in scales. We read elsewhere that God weighs the spirits, and weighs our actions; here we are told that he “weighs the path of the just.” Those words, which were used by the prophet when he went to Hezekiah and said, “What have they seen in thine house?” would serve for a very striking text. But it is still more important to consider what God has seen in our house and in our hearts, for God weighs our actions; he weighs our private thoughts and our public deeds; he “weighs the path of the just.” But, according to the prophet, “the way of the just is uprightness,” even after it is weighed. Notwithstanding all the sin that is mixed with it, in the main it is “uprightness” ascending towards God.

Isaiah 26:8-9. Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Alas! it is often the case that, when God’s “judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” for a little while, and then forget it. All too often, they are like the child who merely learns his lesson by rote, and repeats it under the fear of the rod, and then forgets all about it on the morrow. They “learn righteousness,” but, soon, the effect of the warning is all gone, and then God sends fresh judgments upon the earth to teach the inhabitants further lessons.

Isaiah 26:10-12. Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD. LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them. LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

Troubled saint, what a precious passage this is for thee! Poor, tempest-tossed soul, what a glorious utterance! “Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us.” There shall come an ordinance from God, that his people shall have peace: “Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us;” so they must be good works, but those works which God did not work in us are bad ones.

Isaiah 26:13-14. O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise:

Many of us can look back to the time when we made idols of business and of worldly things; but now these lords are dead, and they shall not live again; they are buried out of our sight, and they shall not rise from their graves.

Isaiah 26:14. Therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.

And a blessed thing it is when the memory of our sins does perish, and we have no desire to be enslaved by them again.


Verses 1-21

Isaiah 26:1. In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

God is the great source of song; he “giveth songs in the night.” He can make the saddest heart to break forth into praise. One part of the prophecy concerning Christ’s coming was, “Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” The Lord might have caused us to utter nothing but groans if he had pleased; but, instead of doing so, he delights to fill our mouths with joyous songs. Let us from our heart sing this ancient song: “We have a strong city.” The Church of God is a city which has a heavenly citizenship, and other unique privileges; and it is wondrously protected, for the promise in this passage is now fulfilled: “salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.”

Isaiah 26:2. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

The city is not closed against the righteous; and if we know and love the truth, and especially-, if we know and love him who is the Truth, the gates are always open to us, and we may enter the city, enjoy its privileges, and share its protection.

Isaiah 26:3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,—

“Peace, peace,”—that is the form of the Hebrew, and it means a double peace, the perfection of peace,—a great depth of peace, the reality of peace, peace upon peace belongs to the man who trusts in the Lord. Are you vexed, and worried, and perplexed, dear friend? Are you tossed to and fro as upon a stormy sea? This verse shows you the way in which you may obtain perfect peace: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,”—

Isaiah 26:3-4. Whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

Nothing can be too hard for him, for he has “everlasting strength.” Nothing can ever happen in the future to overthrow him, for his is not decaying strength, but “everlasting strength.” Hold on to that strength, ye children of God; you may even suck honey out of this “Rock of Ages” (see margin); for there is indescribable sweetness in it: “Trust ye in the Lord for ever:”—not only sometimes, but always;—“for ever,” because there is strength in God for ever.

Isaiah 26:5-6. For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.

You see, there is one city which God builds, and another city which he pulls down. Observe this solemn truth:” For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low;”—that city which is perched on the hill of self-righteousness, and lifted, as it were, almost to heaven by the pride of man,—God will pull it down. It is part of God’s glory to lift up that which is down, and to cast down that which is up; for when men exalt themselves, they shall be abased; and when they humble themselves, they shall be exalted. “He bringeth it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down.” Oh, if there is anyone here who is trusting in himself, depending upon his own good doings, and reckoning that he will be saved by his own merits, you will have to come down from that high place, my friend; that fine castle of yours will be; left without one stone upon another, and the poorest child of God in all the world shall set his foot upon the loftiest pinnacle of your grand palace. God will bring it down so that “the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy,” shall tread on it.

Isaiah 26:7. The way of the just is uprightness:

Or, as it might be better rendered, “The way of the just is an even path.” The righteous shall steadily and safely stand in it, while others find themselves sometimes up and sometimes down, and their path shall be slippery and perilous.

Isaiah 26:7. Thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.

God judges us by weight, not by appearance; not by what we seem to be, but by what we are in the balances of the sanctuary.

Isaiah 26:8-9. Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night;

Some poor darkened spirit will, I trust, be able to join in this utterance of the prophet. It is night-time with you now; you are not enjoying the light of God’s countenance; but be very thankful that you can say, “With my soul have I desired thee in the right.” If you are not a child of God, you will be able to do without God; but the fact that some of you cannot be happy except you are living in the light of God’s love, proves that you belong to him. A child can be content without a stranger’s smile, but if the one who is looking at him is his father, just because he is his father’s child he must have the assurance of that father’s love, or else he cannot be happy.

Isaiah 26:9-10. Yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.

There are none so blind as those who will not see, and there are plenty of such people about. They say that they cannot see this, and they cannot see that; but the truth is that they willfully shut their eyes, and disregard the everlasting light.

Isaiah 26:11. LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.

You know what our Lord Jesus said concerning the rich man, “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his, bosom.” He would not look at Lazarus while he was lying at his gates, but now he is obliged to look at Lazarus lying in Abraham’s bosom. He would not relieve him, nor give him even a crumb from his table, but now he begs that Lazarus may be sent, to dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool his parched tongue. “They will not see” now; no, “but they shall, see, and be ashamed for their envy towards the people of the Lord.

Isaiah 26:12. LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us:

We may be attacked and assailed for a little while, we may be tossed to and fro; but “Thou wilt ordain peace for us:”

Isaiah 26:12. For thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

We have no works in which we can glory; for even if we have an abundance of good works, they are all God’s work in us, and we give him all the praise for them; and because he has thus wrought in us, we expect that he will give us peace.

Isaiah 26:13-15. O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou, hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.

The Jews were scattered and diminished. When they sinned against God, they were exiled; but when the Lord returned to them in favor, he multiplied them, and brought them home again.

Isaiah 26:16. Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

And it was well for them that they did so. God’s true child does not get angry against his Father when he whips him; but, being chastened, he begins to pray; and blessed is that chastening that drives us to our knees: “They poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.”

Isaiah 26:17-18. Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

Here is the poor Church of God in sore trouble; she says she has been disappointed, her bitterest pangs have not brought her what she expected. What shall happen then? God will interpose.

Isaiah 26:19. Thy dead men shall live,—

We shall rise with all that belong to Christ at the first and blessed resurrection, and all our dead hopes and our dead expectations shall rise too.

Isaiah 26:19. Together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

As the soft showers cause the buried bulbs to spring up, so will God’s gentle grace fall on men’s hearts, and they shall arise, though they seemed to be dead before; and at the last great day, the sound of the archangel’s trumpet shall be like a soft vernal shower which brings up the flowers of the earth, and—

“From beds of dust, and silent clay,

To realms of everlasting day,”—

the bodies of the saints shall rise. O blessed hope! let us look for its fulfillment. Let us make this a part of our song. There is a city that hath foundations, and there is a resurrection which will enable us to enter into that city, to dwell there for ever. Oh, come let us sing of the New Jerusalem, and of the white-robed multitudes that shall dwell therein.

Isaiah 26:20. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee:

Enter into the secret Chambers of communion with your Lord, where you shall be shut out from the world. Enter into the chambers of defense, where God will guard you. Enter into the chambers of devotion, where God shall meet with you.

Isaiah 26:20-21. Hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.


Verse 20-21

We will read a short passage in the Book of the prophet Isaiah, commencing with the twenty-sixth chapter, and the twentieth verse.

Isaiah 26:20. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

There is never a flood for the wicked without an ark for the righteous. Never shall a storm sweep over the earth till God hath prepared a great rock wherein his people may be hidden.

Isaiah 26:21. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

The earth has often covered up the evidences of human guilt. Blood shed in battle has soaked into the soil, and men have forgotten the violence of tyrants and conquerors, but the earth shall disclose her blood. Sin, though it be sown in the earth, shall spring up like wheat, but to a terrible harvest. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”

This exposition consisted of readings from Isaiah 26:20-21; and Isaiah 27:1-9.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 26:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/isaiah-26.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, September 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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