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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Isaiah 54

 

 

Verses 1-10

Isaiah 54:1. Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

In this Western clime, we do not know all the misery which was felt by Eastern women who were childless; they were looked down upon and despised; yet here God bids them sing. And, dear friends, if you and I feel as if our hearts have become barren, so that we cannot think of God or raise our thoughts towards him as we would desire; if we feel that we have become useless, and for that reason our spirit is greatly depressed, let us give heed to this sweet, this charming exhortation of Jehovah: “Sing, O barren soul; break forth into singing, and cry aloud;” for God can turn our barrenness into fruitfulness, and make us to rejoice exceedingly before him. If we are now sighing and crying because we are not what we ought to be, or what we want to be, God can, in the richness of his grace, make us all that we desire. Therefore let us begin to be joyful even before the miracle of mercy is wrought; let us have unbounded faith in God, and expect him to bless us, even while we are in our lowest state.

Isaiah 54:2-3. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habituations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

This was good news for the poor Gentiles, who were so long spiritually barren, but whose seed was to spread all over the earth. This prophecy has been already fulfilled in a great measure, and the very wording of it is a direction to us if we desire to see the Church of God increased. Make ready for God’s blessing, you who are pining and groaning for greater things than these; God is about to bless you. Enlarge your tents; lengthen the cords, and strengthen the stakes; prepare for the coming blessing, for you are to have better and brighter days than you have ever yet known. Therefore be no more sad, but look forward with joyful anticipation to the good things in store for you.

Isaiah 54:4. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

I am not going to interpret the passage in its strict connection, but to use it for our comfort and instruction. O you that are cast down, you poor trembling ones that fain would be at one with God, but feel as if you could not find him, believe in the Lord your God, and trust in his Son, Jesus Christ, for there are glad times coming for you! All your former dabs of sadness shall be forgotten, and you shall have such joy and delight as you can hardly imagine at present.

Isaiah 54:5. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Oh, what a blessing that is! This is a wide-spread mercy: “The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” My soul, come and hide beneath the shadow of these earth-covering wings, for there is room for thee beneath their welcome shelter; and, once there, thou shalt not be banished from that sacred spot, for it is written, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” “Thy Maker is thine husband,” united to thee in eternal wedlock; therefore, be of good comfort.

Isaiah 54:6. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

Poor rejected one, has the world cast thee off? Do its sinful pleasures pall upon thee now? Listen: “The Lord hath called thee.” Thou art divorced from the world that thou mayest be for ever united to him.

Isaiah 54:7-8. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.

What words of comfort lie here to those of the Lord’s people who have fallen into spiritual darkness, and come upon evil days! God still remembers you; his wrath is but for a moment, and will swiftly pass away; but his age-enduring kindness which sweeps across the boundless eternity shall be with you for ever.

Isaiah 54:9-10. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

Oh, for grace, oh, for the help of the Holy Spirit to lay hold upon these precious promises, and to feed thereon!


Verses 1-16

Try and suck all the sweetness that you can out of this chapter while we read it. The personal application of a promise to the heart by the Holy Spirit is that which is wanted. The honey in Jonathan’s wood never enlightened his eyes until he dipped the point of his rod into it and tasted it. Try and do the same. This chapter is the wood wherein every bough doth drip with virgin honey. Sip: taste be satisfied.

Isaiah 54:1-3. Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shall break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Yet, they are called upon to praise God before the mercy comes. “Sing, O Barren,” whilst yet barren. Sing, O desolate one, while yet desolate; and thou who art narrowed and confined for space, thank God that he is about to enlarge thee, and begin already to stretch thy cords and strengthen thy stakes. We ought to act upon faith, and sing upon faith. The songs which are made at the sight of mercy are very sweet, but the songs that are sung before the mercy comes are those which are most acceptable to God. We may say of the sonnets of faith, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”

Isaiah 54:4. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

The dark past, the dreary past, shall be so obliterated with abounding mercy that they shall forget it. Thy memory of it shall not be painful. It shall only be as a foil behind the bright diamond of mighty mercy, if thou dost remember it at all.

Isaiah 54:5. For thy maker is thine husband;

Bound to thee by the dearest, closest, and most enduring ties.

Isaiah 54:5-7. The LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall be called. “For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment”—

Not “a moment,” but “for a small moment.”

Isaiah 54:7-8. Have I forsaken thee: but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment: but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee; saith the LORD thy Redeemer.

This belongs to the whole Church of God. I know we might refer it all to the Church in general, but I invite you tonight to remember that what belongs to the Church as a body belongs to every member of that mystical body. Therefore, feast here. Be not afraid. Take these words as spoken to you even to you — by God the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 54:9-10. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

What more can he say than to you he hath said? What surer pledges can he give? Oh! rest, rest, rest, sweetly rest, on this sure word of covenant love. Then let the mountains move. He told you they would. Then let the hills of your comfort sink. He told you they would. But even then, when earth itself doth reel, and the very pillars of the universe are snapped, he standeth still the same. “I have sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.”

Isaiah 54:11. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

Built with jewels.

Isaiah 54:12. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

They must be rare sights if the windows are so rare. If the windows be of agate, what are the sights that are seen through them? And if the very gates and doors are carbuncles what must there be in the house of love within? If the very borders and the outside fringes of the royal domains of heaven be of precious stones, what must it be to be there? Remember that the best thing in this world is trodden under feet in the world to come; for we are told that the streets are paved with gold. Men hunt after it here, and tread on it there, for they have nothing better there than this world can possibly afford them.

Isaiah 54:13. And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD

It must be a greater privilege, than windows of agates and gates of carbuncle, to see our children — to see all the children of God — taught by his own Spirit.

Isaiah 54:13. And great shall be the peace of thy children.

That is the most precious pearl of all, with its soft radiance, precious to the soul.

Isaiah 54:14-15. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me:

Enemies will come, but God will not be with them.

Isaiah 54:15-16. Whosoever, shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire,

For he cannot blow any more than God lets him. He is God’s creature. The maker of the weapons of war is still in the hands of God.

Isaiah 54:16. And that bringeth forth an instrument for his work: and I have created the waster to destroy.

When he does his worst, he is only doing what I meant he should do. The divine decree of God still, with its mighty circle, doth encompass the worst deed of man, and overrules it all for the good of his Church.


Verses 1-17

The precious promises, contained in this chapter, belong in the first place to the Church of God; but, as that which belongs to the Church, really belongs to every member of it, we shall not be acting dishonestly with the Scripture if we, who are believers, personally take home to ourselves every drop of comfort that we can find here.

Isaiah 54:1. Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child:

Sing, even though thou art barren. Do not postpone thy song until God’s promise is fulfilled unto thee; but sing even whilst thou art desolate and forlorn, and let faith pitch the key-note. Let me, therefore, entreat any of you, who are disconsolate and sad, to give heed to the words of the prophet, and even now begin to sing. Give to God songs in the night; imitate the nightingale, and sing though not a star is to be seen.

Isaiah 54:1. For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

After all, we who have the deepest sorrow have the highest joy, and if we are sometimes desolate, we need not wish to change with those who always keep the even tenor of their way. If we have great downs, we also have great ups; if the valleys be deep, blessed be God the hills are high, and the view from their summits is glorious. Let us be thankful even if our lot is a hard one, if we are the Lord’s, “for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.”

Isaiah 54:2-3. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

This is another act of faith; — not only singing before the mercy comes, but getting ready to receive it before it is in sight, stretching the curtains and the cords in order to have room to house the blessing which has not yet arrived. Carnal reason says, “When we have the children, we will enlarge the tent; when we have gathered the congregation, we will build a house of prayer;” but faith says, “I will enlarge my heart that it may be able to take in the blessing which is sure to come. I will be big with expectation. I will open my mouth wide, — not when I see the blessing, but before I see it, that God may place the blessing in my open, empty mouth.” May the Lord graciously give us enlarged expectations; for, according to our faith, so shall it be unto us!

Isaiah 54:4. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

Here is a third line for faith to run upon, namely, that of courage. Before you are strong, before you have been lifted up out of your weakness, be of good courage, and fear not; for, if you walk by faith, and trust in the Lord with all your heart, you shall never have any cause to be ashamed of having done so. The Lord will always honour your faith because your faith honours him. Be of good cheer, for you shall yet have good reason to rejoice; and all those days, that you are now ashamed to think of, in which you lived without God, and without Christ, your days of sad and terrible widowhood, shall be so completely surpassed by the abundance of mercy which you shall receive from the Lord, that you shall not remember them any more.

Isaiah 54:5. For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Oh, how blessed it is that Jehovah, Israel’s God, the Lord of hosts, is the God of the whole earth; so that we poor Gentiles may come and hide under the shadow of his wings; and what a joy it is to all believers that this great God has united us in the sacred bonds of marriage with himself! “Thy Maker is thine Husband.” Oh, what bountiful provision will such a Husband make for us! How well will he comfort us! How abundantly will he bless us! So let our hearts be glad in him.

Isaiah 54:6. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

Some of you know what it is to have had your affections betrayed, and your hearts broken by unfaithful friends. Now the Lord calls you to come close to himself, that you may prove his faithfulness, and so forget your past sorrows in your present and future joy.

Isaiah 54:7-8. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.

These choice words do not need any explanation, this blessed plaster only needs to be applied to the wounded heart, and it will heal it at once. If the Lord will but speak these sentences into our souls, so that we may know that they are really meant for us, our rapture will be complete. Let me read these verses again: “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith Jehovah thy Redeemer,” — thy God, — thy next of kin, — thine Advocate and Champion. What a blessed name is this, and what a wonderful combination is this, — Jehovah, thy next of kin!

Isaiah 54:9-10. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed;

There is nothing really stable about them; all things that are visible must melt and flow away.

Isaiah 54:10. But my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

What gracious words are these! What majesty there is in such consoling sentences as these! They remind us of Mr. Paxton Hood’s lines, —

“All his words are music, though they make me weep, Infinitely tender, infinitely deep.”

Isaiah 54:11. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, —

Where art thou? Hast thou come in here to seek the consolation thou canst not find anywhere else? Then see how God lays himself out to comfort thee; he has put into human language the true sympathy for thee that he feels in his heart; and again he says to thee, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted,” —

Isaiah 54:11. Behold, I will lay thy stone, with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

Thou shalt have done with the rough tossing of the troubled sea; and thou shalt come to land, — to a royal city which hath foundations of sapphire, — to a king’s palace where even the stones shall be stained with rich vermilion such as only princes use in their costly buildings: “I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.”

Isaiah 54:12. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

See what riches belong to the Church of the living God; and, as I have already reminded you, everything that belongs to the Church belongs to every member of it. So we expect to see our Lord’s face through a window of agate, and to go through a gate of carbuncle to meet him in the place of communion, which shall itself be enriched with all manner of precious stones. Yes, and everything that has to do with us, — even the very “borders” of our life shall be laid with “pleasant stones.” Happy are all ye who are the favorites of heaven, the beloved of the Lord. Blessed are ye even in your basket and your store; blessed in the common things of your life, as well as in the choicest parts of your Christian experience.

Isaiah 54:13. And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD

Our children are often our greatest care. We ask, “How shall they be educated? Where shall we place our boys and our girls?” Put them under the care of God; for, as Elihu said to Job, “Who teacheth like him?”

Isaiah 54:13-14. And great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.

The man who has the fear of God within his heart need have no fear of anybody else.

“Fear him ye saints, and you will then Have nothing else to fear;

Make you his service your delight.

He’ll make your wants his care.”

Isaiah 54:15. Behold, they shall surely gather together,

You will have enemies, even if you lead the most blameless life that can be lived; for the absolutely blameless One had many cruel enemies who hounded him to death.

Isaiah 54:15. But not by me:

God is not with them, for he is on your side.

Isaiah 54:15. Whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.

Oh, how often, and how mysteriously, and how terribly God has smitten the enemies of his people! The hand of the Lord has gone out against them as it went out against Sennacherib and his host, in the days of good king Hezekiah.

Isaiah 54:16. Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

Even over the most wicked and the most powerful of men, there is the supremacy of God; and deep and mysterious though the doctrine is, yet divine predestination applies even to such sinners as Judas Iscariot, and the vilest of the vile in all times; and herein is our confidence, — that God is greater than death, and the devil, and hell, he is supreme above all the malice and craft and cruelty of the worst and the greatest of men.

Isaiah 54:17. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; —

“No weapon” of any kind — however cunningly made, or however deftly handled, — “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;” —

Isaiah 54:17. And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.

The tongue — that worst of weapons, whose wicked words are sharper than swords, — is like a condemned criminal.

Isaiah 54:17. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

Did I not rightly say that these precious promises belong not only to the whole Church of God as a body, but also to each individual member of that Church?

Isaiah 54:17. And their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

If, then, your righteousness is found in God, in God you shall find everything else that you need for time and for eternity. God grant this unto each one of us, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 54:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/isaiah-54.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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