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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Isaiah 49

 

 

Verses 1-17

In this chapter, we have not merely Isaiah speaking concerning the Christ of God; but it is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who here speaks concerning himself.

Isaiah 49:1. Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far;

It is very remarkable how constantly the isles are spoken of in this Book of Isaiah, as if it had been foreseen that, in these far-off islands of the sea, the name of Jesus would be greatly magnified. “Listen,” says the Messiah, “O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far.”

Isaiah 49:1. The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

Christ Jesus our Lord was spoken of by the spirit of prophecy from his very birth, and long before it; and when he did come into the world, and was born of the Virgin Mary, the stars of heaven spake concerning him, and guided the wise men from the East to the place where the young child lay.

Isaiah 49:2. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword;

There are no words anywhere so piercing as the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you are giving quotations from various authors, you need never write the name “Jesus” at the bottom of any of his words, for they proclaim their own origin. “Never man spake like this man.”

Isaiah 49:2. In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;

The great weapon of God against sin is his Son Jesus Christ. God has no such means of smiting evil, or effecting his purposes of love, as his own dear Son. This is the “polished shaft” which Jehovah delights to use.

Isaiah 49:3. And said unto me, Thou art my servant,

Above all others, Christ is the servant of God. He is a Son by nature, a servant by his condescension, a servant for our sakes.

Isaiah 49:3. O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

It is very wonderful that the Redeemer should here be called “Israel.” It is not more wonderful, however, than that in another place his people should he called by his name. You remember those two passages in the prophecy of Jeremiah: “This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and “This is the name wherewith he shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.” There, the people of God take their Lord’s name; and here, Christ takes the name of his people, and himself deigns to be called Israel. Nor is this an unsuitable name for him, for it is he who wrestled on our behalf, and prevailed even as Israel did at Jabbok. Jesus is a greater Prince with God than Jacob ever was. Well, then, doth Jehovah say to him, “Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

Isaiah 49:4. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for naught, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

The Messiah, prophetically looking forward, complained that, during his life on earth, he seemed to labour in vain. The nation was not saved: “he came unto his own, and his own received him not.” He wept over the guilty city of Jerusalem; but those tears did not put out the fires of vengeance. He entreated men to turn to God, but they did not and they would not repent. He seemed to labour in vain, and spend his strength for nought, and in vain.

Isaiah 49:5. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

Even though the Jewish nation be not yet gathered to Christ, his labour was not in vain. God will not suffer his Son to spend his strength for nought.

Isaiah 49:6. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

What a blessed word of cheer this is for us poor Gentiles! The favored children of Israel thought us to be little better than dogs; and, behold, we have been lifted up into the children’s place. If Israel be not gathered, the Messiah hath become a light to the Gentiles, and God’s salvation unto the ends of the earth. Yet we cannot help fervently praying, “Oh, that Israel might soon be gathered to Christ!” Her ingathering will be the time of the fullness of the Gentiles.

Isaiah 49:7. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth,

Who is this but our Divine Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God? These words are spoken of him whom man despised, of him who was despised and rejected of men, of him whom the nation abhorreth, for that favored nation still, alas! abhors the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and will not cherish towards the Christ anything but thoughts of contempt.

Isaiah 49:7. To a servant of rulers,

For, though he was the King of kings, and Lord of lords, he submitted to be a servant to the kings of the earth, and obeyed the rules of human governors. Yet,-

Isaiah 49:7. Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shalt choose thee.

The day is coming when he that was spit upon shall be the admired of all mankind. No more the crown of thorns, but many diadems of glory shall rest upon his blessed head; and all men, with loud acclaim, shall salute him as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Isaiah 49:8. Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;

It is the Lord Jesus Christ who shall establish all that is good, and cast down everything that is evil. He shall staunch earth’s bleeding wounds, and repair her wilderness wastes. Where he comes, flowers spring up all around his blessed feet.

Isaiah 49:9. That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

When Christ leads his flock, wherever they go they shall feed; and even if he leads them to the very tops of the hills, he shall make the pastures grow there for them. There is never a place where Christ leadeth us but what it is safe for us to go there. The Shepherd’s feet make pasturage for the sheep that follow him; therefore, be not afraid to go wherever he leads you, but rather rejoice that he putteth forth his own sheep, and goeth before them, for “they shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.”

Isaiah 49:10-11. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way,

Where, naturally, there could not be a way, on those pathless summits of the loftiest Alps, the Lord says, “I will make all my mountains a way,”-

Isaiah 49:11. And my highways shall be exalted.

“I will throw up causeways.” God will make a way for you to get at him if you want to get at him. If you are willing to make a way for God, he will make a way for you; the gulf shall be bridged, the mountain shall be leveled.

Isaiah 49:12. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.

“The land of Sinim” signifies China. Is it not strange that, in this Book, we should find mention of the land of Sinim, the country of China? But God has a people there, and they shall come to him. I was delighted, last Tuesday, to meet with a brother who had broken bread with us at the Lord’s table; he was a poor Chinaman, so he had helped to fulfill this prophecy:

“These shall come from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.”

Isaiah 49:13-15. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Will God ever forget his ancient people, the Jews? Never! They forget their God, but Jehovah never forgets his chosen people: “They may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Isaiah 49:16. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;

“I cannot work, I cannot even open the palm of my hand without seeing the memorials of my chosen people: ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.’”

Isaiah 49:16-17. Thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.

For God is full of kindness to his people, and cannot forget them. Oh, that they would never forget him!


Verses 1-23

Isaiah 49:1-2. Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; the Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;

Our Lord Jesus, that great Prophet of the Church, was in a special manner the Lord’s in the matter of his birth. A wondrous holy mystery hangs about his birth at Bethlehem, — he was, in that respect, the Lord’s in a very remarkable sense. “He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword.” You know how our Lord’s mouth, or the Word of his gospel that issues from his mouth, is like a sharp sword — how it conquers, — how it cuts its way, — how, wherever it comes, it pierces “even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” “’In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me.” You know how the protecting hand of God ever covered Christ, and how his gospel is ever sheltered by the providence of God.

Isaiah 49:3. And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

It is wonderful condescension on Christ’s part to take the name of his Church so that he himself is called “Israel” in this passage; and there is another passage, equally remarkable, where the Church is allowed to take one of the names of Christ: “This is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” Such an intermingling of interests, such a wonderful unit is there between Christ and his Church, that these twain are truly one.

Isaiah 49:4. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

Our Saviour did, in his earthly ministry, to a large extent labour in vain. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, yet how few of them recognized him as the good Shepherd. He told his disciples that, after he returned to his Father, those who believed in him should do even greater things than he had done. That promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost; and since then it has been fulfilled over and over again in the history of the Christian Church.

Isaiah 49:5. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

What though the Jews still reject the Messiah, their sin does not affect his honour. His glory is still as great as ever it was in the esteem of the Most High.

Isaiah 49:6. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

What a blessed passage this is for you and for me, beloved! Strangers to the commonwealth of Israel were we; but, now, we who were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Jesus, and so are made fellow-heirs with the seed of Abraham, partakers of the self-same covenant blessing as the father of the faithful enjoys. In this let us exceedingly rejoice; and for this, let us praise and magnify the name of the Lord.

Isaiah 49:7. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, —

What a true picture this is of the way in which the Jews still treat the promised Messiah! To this day, they gnash their teeth at the very mention of the name of Jesus of Nazareth; and the bitterest words of blasphemy that are ever uttered by human lips come from the mouth of Israel against the Lord Jesus: “him whom the nation abhorreth,” —

Isaiah 49:7. To a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

The Father has chosen Christ to be the precious corner-stone of the eternal temple, and he has also chosen all the living stones that are to be joined to him for ever.

Isaiah 49:8-9. Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

Dear brethren, what honour the Lord has put upon Christ! In proportion as he has been the despised of men, and the abhorred of the Jewish nation, God has made him to be his own delight, his Well-beloved. He displays through him the marvels of his saving power for his own glory. I pray that it may be displayed in our midst just now, and in the way mentioned here: “I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness. Shew yourselves.” Come, beloved, after you receive such a message as this from God’s mouth, what prison can hold you? What darkness can conceal you? The word of Christ shall break your bonds asunder, and change your darkness into the glory of noonday. May this gracious work be done for any of you. who are prisoners here!

Isaiah 49:10. They shall not hunger nor thirst; —

To the woman at the well, Christ said, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” That is a parallel to this passage:

“They shall not hunger nor thirst; “ —

Isaiah 49:10. Neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

Oh, the wondrous sweetness of these exceeding great and precious promises! They are all concerning Christ, you see; undoubtedly, they are given with an eye to us, but yet much more with an eye to him, that he may be glorified in the deliverance and guidance of his people, in the protection of them from danger, and in the abundant provision for the supply of all their needs. It would not be for Christ’s honour to let you die of thirst, poor thirsty one; it would not glorify him to lead you where there were no springs of water. Be sure, then, that God will always do that which will glorify his Son, and he will therefore deal well with you for his sake.

Isaiah 49:11-12. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.

From far-away China, they must come to Christ; the result of his death is not left to haphazard. Some say that his death did something or other, which, somehow or other, will benefit somebody or other; but we never speak: in that indefinite way. We know that Christ, by his death, did eternally redeem his people, and we are quite sure that he will have all those for whom he laid down the ransom price. He died with a clear intent, a definite purpose; and for the joy that was set before him, he “endured the cross, despising the shame.” “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” The divine intent and purpose of the death of Christ cannot possibly be frustrated. He reigneth from the tree, and he shall win and conquer world without end.

Isaiah 49:13. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

How? Why, by the very coming of Christ, by his birth at Bethlehem, and all the blessings which come with the Incarnate God, his afflicted ones are consoled, and all his people are divinely comforted. Shall we not, then, rejoice in Christ, who is himself so full of joy that he teaches the very heavens to sing, and the mountains to break forth into praise?

Isaiah 49:14. But Zion said, —

Hear the lament of the poor Jewish Church, like a castaway left all alone, —

Isaiah 49:14. The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

When we are glad In the Lord, and are singing out our heart’s joy, there is pretty sure to be someone or other who sorrowfully sighs,” The Lord hath forsaken me.” — People say that there never was a feast so well furnished but that somebody went away unsatisfied; but God will not have it so at his festivals; and hence, the rest of the chapter shows how the Lord comforted this poor Zion, whose lamentation and mourning he had heard. Notice how he begins: —

Isaiah 49:15. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?

“Can a woman” — the tenderer parent of the two, — “forget her child,” —her own child, her feeble little child that still depends upon her for its nutriment and life, — “her sucking child,” — .

Isaiah 49:15. Yea, they may forget, —

It is just possible; there have been such monstrosities: “they may forget,” —

Isaiah 49:15. Yet will I not forget thee.

“Yet, saith the Lord, should nature change,

And mothers monsters prove,

Sion still dwells upon the heart Of everlasting love.”

How that gracious assurance should comfort the little handful, the “remnant weak and small” of God’s people among the Jews! How it should also comfort any of God’s servants who are under a cloud, and who have lost for a while the enjoyment of his presence!

Isaiah 49:16. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; —

Where they must be seen, and where he can do nothing without touching his people while doing it. When a name is engraven on the hand with which a man works, that name goes into his work, and leaves its impress on the work.

Isaiah 49:16-17. Thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.

Jerusalem, the very Jerusalem that is in Palestine, shall be rebuilt. God will remember her walls, and the Church of God in Israel shall yet rise from that sad low estate in which it has been these many centuries; and all God’s cast-down ones shall be comforted, and his churches, that seem to be left to die, shall be raised up again, for our God is no changeling. His heart does not come and go towards the sons of men.

“Whom once he loves, he never leaves,

But loves them to the end.”

Isaiah 49:18. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee.

What are all converted Gentiles doing, after all, but coming to the one Church? It is no longer a matter of Jew or Gentile, but all who believe are one in Christ Jesus. Let poor Zion rejoice that she herself is enriched by the conversion of these far-off sinners of the Gentiles.

Isaiah 49:18. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.

Converts are the garments of the church, her bridal array, her ornaments and her jewels. I wish that all churches thought so; but many of them think that gorgeous architecture, the garnishing of the material building in which they meet, and the sound of sweet music, and the smell of fragrant incense and choice flowers, make up the dignity and glory of a church; but they do no such thing. Converts are the true glory of a church: “Thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament; and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.”

Isaiah 49:19-20. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, —

The children of thy childlessness, — so it runs, — the children of thy widowhood. It was strange that she should have children then; it is not so among in m, but it is so with the Church of God: “The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other,” —

Isaiah 49:20-23. Shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; —

I have heard this passage quoted as a reason why there should be a State Church, — that kings should nourish the Church, — Henry VIII., for instance, and George IV. It was poor milk, I am sure, that they ever gave the Church of God. Yet I have no objection whatever to this text being carried out to the full, — ay, to the very letter, — only mind where the kings are to be put. What place does the verse say that they are to occupy? “They shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet.” There is no headship of the Church here, nothing of that sort; the kings are to be at the feet of the Church, and that is what the State ought to do, submit itself to God, and obey his commands, and give full liberty to the preaching of the gospel. This is all that the true Church of Christ asks, and all she can ever fairly take if she is loyal to her Lord.

Isaiah 49:23. And thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

“Jehovah.” “Thou shalt understand the greatness of thy God, his infiniteness, his majesty, his all-sufficiency. ‘Thou shalt know that I am the I AM.’”

Isaiah 49:23. For they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

Glory be to his holy name, none that wait for him shall ever have cause to be ashamed; may we all be of that blessed number, for Christ’s sake! Amen.


Verses 1-26

Isaiah 49:1-3. Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken, ye people from, far; The LORD hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; and said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

Our Lord became, by his incarnation,-by his very birth so marvelous and mysterious, He became that servant of Jehovah by whom God would be glorified. He was, as it were, hidden away, like a sword in its master’s scabbard,-concealed and protected, like an arrow hidden in its owner’s quiver,-until the time came for God to use him, and then God did use him both as a sharp sword and as a polished shaft.

Isaiah 49:4. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

The Jews, as a nation, were not gathered unto Christ, the highly favoured people, as a whole, did not believe in him. He was expressly sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, yet John was obliged to write, “He came unto is own and his own received him not.” So few became his personal followers that it really appeared as if his life-work had been a failure; but he did what all God’s true servants must do, he referred his work to the Lord. He said, “Surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work (or, my record) with my God.” If we are faithful, that is all that our gracious Master requires of us; we are none of us bound to be successful. If we bear our sincere testimony to the truth, and everybody rejects it, our reward will be none the less in the day when the Lord calls us to give as account of our stewardship. If you, my brother or my sister, are loyal to him whose servant you are, when your Lord comes again, he will say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: .... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Isaiah 49:5-6. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Though Jesus seemed to fall with the Jews, he has succeeded in a far greater measure with the Gentiles, for great multitudes of them have gladly accepted him as their Saviour.

Isaiah 49:7-8. Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee:

Jehovah will bless his Anointed, he will accomplish his great purposes of love and mercy through him.

Isaiah 49:8-9. And I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages, That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves.

This is Christ’s work today, to call out the forgotten ones who are hidden away in the oubliettes, of the Bastille of Despair. He comes and calls them, “Go forth, .... show yourselves;” and at his bidding they appear, even as Lazarus came forth from the grave at his command. Now listen; this is what becomes of those who come out of sin’s prison at Christ’s call. They become his sheep:-

Isaiah 49:9. They shall feed in the ways,-

On their way to the one great fold on the hill-tops of glory, they shall find suitable and sufficient pasture: “They shall feed in the ways,”-

Isaiah 49:9-10. And their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

Now recall those verses from the Revelation that we read just now, and note what blessings the good Shepherd has prepared for his sheep even while they are upon this earth.

Isaiah 49:11-13. And I will make all my mountain, a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people,

Well may heavens and earth and mountains sing when they have such a theme for their songs as this,

Isaiah 49:13-14. And will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

Zion said so, but it was not true; hear what the Lord says:-

Isaiah 49:15-16. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;

However unnatural an earthly mother may prove, God will never forsake or forget one of his children.

“’Yet,’ saith the Lord, should nature change

And mothers monsters prove,

Sion still dwells upon the heart of everlasting love.’”

Isaiah 49:16-21. Thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste, thy destroyer and they that make thee waste shall go forth of thee. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all that gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me, give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?

Oh, that we might often have such a glad surprise as this, and be made to marvel at the Lord’s gracious dealings with us!

Isaiah 49:22-26. Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

The enemies of the Lord’s people are his enemies too, and he will overthrow them in his own good time, and make the whole world know that he is their Saviour and Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

This exposition consisted of readings from Revelation 7:9-17; and Isaiah 49.


Verses 13-26

Isaiah 49:13. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

When God blesses his Church, he blesses the world through her. Hence, heaven and earth are invited to be glad in the gladness of the Church of God. Oh, that God would visit his church; nay, he has already done so, and I feel inclined to cry out, as the text does, “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth: and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people.”

Isaiah 49:14. But Zion said, the LORD hath forsaken me, and my LORD hath forgotten me.

We often judge contrary to the truth; and when God is blessing us, we dream that he has forgotten us. Oh, wicked unbelief; cruel unbelief! It robs God of glory; it robs us of comfort. It snatches the song out of our mouth, and fills our soul with groaning: “Zion said, the LORD hath forsaken me, and my LORD hath forgotten me.”

Isaiah 49:15. Can a woman forget the sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee.

The child is in a condition in which it reminds the mother of itself; her sucking child, her own child. Can she forget it? It is not according to nature, —

“’Yet,’ saith the Lord, ‘should nature change,

And mothers monsters prove,

Zion still dwells upon the heart Of everlasting love.’”

What is true of God’s Church as a whole, is true of every member of it. If any of you think that God has passed over you, one of his believing children, you think what is untrue. He cannot do it. It would be contrary to his nature. As long as he is God, he must remember his people.

Isaiah 49:16. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;

How appropriately Christ can say this when he looks on the nail-prints, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands”! As I said, this morning, Jesus can give nothing, he can take nothing, he can do nothing, he can hold nothing, without remembering his people: “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” How I love that verse of Toplady’s hymn that speaks of this blessed truth! —

“My name from the palms of his hands Eternity will not erase;

Impress’d on his heart it remains In marks of indelible grace:

Yes, I to the end shall endure,

As sure as the earnest is given;

More happy, but not more secure,

The glorified spirits in heaven.”

Isaiah 49:16-17. Thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste;

There shall be many of them. Converts shall be added to the church in great numbers. They shall hurry up; they shall not be long in coming. Very often they delay too long. The promise is, “Thy children shall make haste.”

Isaiah 49:17. Thy destroyers and they that make thee waste shall go forth of thee.

I wish this were carried out. If it were, many of the churches of Christ, which are plagued with false doctrines and worldly habits, which are laying them waste, would be delivered from those curses. The enemies outside the walls, however malicious they are, will never be so mischievous as the traitors inside the fortress. Save Troy from the wooden horse, and save Zion from the traitors in her midst, that seek to do her harm.

Isaiah 49:18. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold; all these gather themselves together, and come to thee.

There is a great company coming. The church is going to be increased. Have faith in God. We are not going to receive them now by ones and twos; we thank God we receive them by tens and scores. They are coming by hundreds and by thousands; let us expect them. By faith, let us see them even now coming.

Isaiah 49:18. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth.

What an ornament to a church her converts are! These are our jewels. We care nothing for gorgeous architecture or grand music in the worship of God. Our true building is composed of our converts; our best music is their confession of faith. May God give us more of it!

Isaiah 49:19-21. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?

Sometimes a church is brought very low; there are no additions, there is no unity, everything is breaking up, and going to pieces. When God visits that church, what a change is seen! Then people come flocking to it, and the church wonders whence the converts came. May the Lord make us wonder in that fashion! It will take a great deal to astonish us, after all these years of mercy; yet the Lord can do it. It may be he will make these latter days to be better than the former. Though we have had nearly forty years of blessing together, he may yet increase it, and give us to rejoice yet more and more.

Isaiah 49:22. Thus saith the LORD GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

We do not mind how they are brought if they do but come; some in the arms, and some after the Oriental method of putting the child on the shoulder. When God lifts up his hand, great wonders of mercy and grace are wrought.

Isaiah 49:23. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers:

It will take a long time before they learn that art, for kings and queens have generally been destroyers of the Church of Christ. Those will be grand days when kings shall be the nourishers of the Church, and queens her nursing mothers.

Isaiah 49:23. They shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet:

I have heard the first part of this verse quoted as an argument for the union of Church and State: “Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers.” I have not the slightest objection, if they will bow down to the Church “with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of her feet.” What is proposed to us is that the Church should bow down to the State, with her face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of the feet of the state, by becoming obedient to rules and regulations made by princes and parliaments. This is not according to the mind of God, nor according to the heart of his people.

Isaiah 49:23. And thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

If we wait for Christ, for his coming, for the help which he brings, for the salvation that is wrought by him, we shall not be ashamed.

Isaiah 49:24-25. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. The mighty may hold their prey with a strong hand; but there is a stronger hand that will deliver the captive. It is Jehovah, the Saviour, the Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob, who says, “I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” Here is a divine promise for every parent to plead: “I will save thy children.” May the Lord give you grace to claim that promise, even now, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.


Verses 24-26

Isaiah 49:24. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?

Yes, this shall happen when God makes bare his arm, and stretches it forth to rescue his captive people.

Isaiah 49:25-26. But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

This is the promise of Christ to his Church, both the Jewish and the gentile Church. He will deliver her from all her afflictions and distresses, and her enemies shall feed upon their own flesh, or, they shall be overthrown by mutual enmities. As it was, of old when those that were confederate against Israel suddenly fell to quarreling, and slew each other, so is it, sooner or later, in the battle between truth and error. By-and-by, there is a split in the adversaries’ camp, and they devour one another. Let any wrong thing alone, and it will break in pieces of itself. All real and abiding cohesion is gone when men seek to be united against the Lord, and against his Anointed. They shall confute one another, or they shall eat their own words, and so they shall, as it were, feed upon their own flesh.

This exposition consisted of readings from Isaiah 49:24-26; Isaiah , 50.

 


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 49:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/isaiah-49.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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