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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Isaiah 56:4

For this is what the LORD says: "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold firmly to My covenant,
New American Standard Bible

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Eunuch;   Isaiah;   Righteous;   Sabbath;   Thompson Chain Reference - Blessings-Afflictions;   Covenant-Keepers;   Endowments;   Faithfulness-Unfaithfulness;   Fidelity;   Gifts;   God;   Promises, Divine;   Spiritual;   The Topic Concordance - Covenant;   Giving and Gifts;   Name;   Pleasure;   Sabbath;   Strangers;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Covenant, the;   Proselytes;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   Elect, Election;   Foreigner;   Sabbath;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Proselyte;   Sabbath;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Proselytes;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Covenant;   Isaiah;   Sabbath;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Eunuch;   Isaiah, Book of;   Medicine;   Micah, Book of;   Righteousness;   Servant of the Lord;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Sabbath;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Covenant, in the Old Testament;   Eunuch;   Law in the Old Testament;   Sabbath;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Barren, Barrenness;   Circumcision;   Gentile;   Proselyte;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


56:1-66:24 PRESENT SHAME AND FUTURE GLORY

Having looked beyond the Babylonian captivity to the Jews’ imminent return to their homeland, the prophet now sees the people resettled in and around Jerusalem. What he sees causes him to realize that this is not the golden age after all. Social and religious sins once again become a characteristic of the national life of Israel. The prophet contrasts this corrupt state of affairs with conditions in the ideal Jerusalem of the future.
In this section, as in the previous sections (Chapters 40-48 and 49-55), we must remember that we are reading poetry, where the pictures are vivid and the language exaggerated. We do not need to interpret the prophecies literally (e.g. mountains do not literally have voices and trees do not literally have hands; cf. 55:12). The important consideration for the reader is not merely what the prophecies say, but what they mean.
Of particular importance is the spiritual significance of the prophecies, and this is the aspect that the New Testament emphasizes. The prophecies of Isaiah take on new meaning once Jesus Christ has come.

Thus, the glorious kingdom that God promised Israel is, above all, a spiritual kingdom centred in Jesus the Messiah (32:1-8; cf. Luke 17:21). The faithful remnant of Israel is in fact the true Israel (10:20-23; cf. Romans 9:6-7,Romans 9:27-33). The spiritual, not the natural, descendants of Abraham are the real people of God (41:8; cf. Galatians 3:29). The salvation of God is proclaimed worldwide and people of all nations join in one body to be his people (54:1-3; cf. Galatians 4:26-28). The new Jerusalem for which believers hope is not material and earthly like the old, but is spiritual and from heaven (60:1-22; cf. Revelation 21:1-4; Revelation 21:22-27).

True worshippers (56:1-8)

God reminds his people that life in the rebuilt nation must be based on his law. This applies to laws that concern social justice as well as those that concern religious practices (56:1-2).

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, some Gentile converts returned with them. Among these were several eunuchs, possibly people who were previously connected with the palaces in Babylon and Persia. The law of Moses made it plain that eunuchs were to be excluded from the tabernacle worship, probably to discourage the Israelites from making their own people eunuchs (Deuteronomy 23:1). But in the new Jerusalem all foreigners, eunuchs or otherwise, who honour God and keep his law should be allowed to worship in the temple along with godly Israelites (3-5).

Love and obedience towards God, not physical or national characteristics, are the important things in God’s sight. The temple is for the use of all people, not just Jews, because God’s mercy is for all people (6-8).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​isaiah-56.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

“Neither let the foreigner, that hath joined himself to Jehovah, speak, saying, Jehovah will surely separate me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold I am a dry tree. For thus saith Jehovah of the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant: Unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.”

Notice that the words “hold fast my covenant” in Isaiah 56:4 are the same as “keeping the sabbath days,” thus a reference to their keeping the whole law of Moses.

Why this special reference to “foreigners” and to “eunuchs”? Isaiah had already prophesied, “That a certain number of the seed of Hezekiah would serve as eunuchs in the royal palace of the king of Babylon” (2 Kings 20:18); and Daniel and his three faithful companions were among those who thus served.Pulpit Commentary, Vol. II, p. 344. There were doubtless many others of the captives who suffered the same cruel treatment. The words given here were for the encouragement of all such persons. The foreigners were included because of the likelihood that some of the Babylonians would, through human kindness, become attached to God’s people and join them; and these words were also extended to encourage them.

This meant that, “The law of Deuteronomy 23:1, regarding the exclusion of eunuchs and foreigners, would be abrogated,”Ibid. during the times of the captivity for those who “kept the covenant.”

REGARDING THAT NEW NAME

“A memorial name, a name better than of sons and of daughters… an everlasting name that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5). The name here referred to is the name, Christian. Isaiah here prophesied that the name would be given, not by God’s enemies, but by himself within his house and within his walls, that is, within the church, the church being the only “house” God ever had, certainly, not the Jewish Temple, which, from the beginning was contrary to God’s will. Isaiah also prophesied that this memorial name would be “a new name” (Isaiah 62:2), and a name which the “mouth of the Lord” would give, and that it would be given after the “kings and the Gentiles had seen the righteousness of God,” that is, after the Church of Messiah had been established and after Gentiles were accepted into it. (See the discussion of the name “Christian,” in Vol. 5, (Acts) of my New Testament Series of Commentaries, pp. 333-336.)

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​isaiah-56.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs - Even the eunuchs, who have hitherto been excluded from the privileges of the people of God, and who have been regarded as a separated and degraded people, shall be admitted to the same privileges as others.

That keep my sabbaths - The word is used here in the plural, though the weekly Sabbath is probably particularly intended. It may be, however, that the word is used to represent religious observances in general (see the notes at Isaiah 56:2).

And choose the things that please me - Who will be willing to sacrifice their own pleasure and preferences to those things which I choose, and in which I delight.

And take hold of my covenant - Hold fast, or steadily maintain my covenant. On the meaning of the word ‘covenant,’ see the notes at Isaiah 28:18; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 54:10.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​isaiah-56.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.For thus saith Jehovah. Now follows a confirmation; for the sincere worshippers of God, who keep the sabbaths and follow the righteousness of the Law, though they be “eunuchs,” (97) or labor under any other obstruction, shall nevertheless have a place in the Church. He appears to annihilate in this manner all the external marks (98) in which alone the Jews gloried; for the high rank of the Church is not external, but spiritual; and although believers have no emblems of distinction in the eyes of the world, and are even despised and reproached, yet they rank high in the sight of God.

And choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant. With the “keeping of the Sabbath,” he connects obedience and adherence to “the covenant;” and hence we may readily infer that, when he spoke hitherto about the Sabbath, he had in view not an idle ceremony but perfect holiness. At the same time, he again lays a restraint on the children of God, not to make even the smallest departure from the injunction of the Law; for they are permitted to “choose,” not whatever they think fit, but that which God declares to be pleasing and acceptable to himself. Wherefore both hypocrisy and inconsiderate zeal are here condemned, when God not only contrasts his own commandments with the inventions of men, but enjoins them earnestly to “take hold of his covenant.”

(97) “According to the Law, (Deuteronomy 23:1) eunuchs could not be received into the Hebrew nation; so that their situation, in that respect, was the same as that of the foreigners who were formerly mentioned. Of what use (might such a person say) are those splendid promises to me, who cannot be admitted into the Jewish commonwealth?” — Rosenmuller.

(98)Toutes les marques exterieures.”

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​isaiah-56.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Isaiah 56:1-12 .

In Isaiah 55:1-13 the Lord speaks of this glorious everlasting salvation and the glories of His greatness, His power. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than yours, My thoughts than your thoughts" ( Isaiah 55:9 ). The blessing and the power of the Word of God. "As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, returns not thither, waters the earth that makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so is my word," the Lord declares, "that goes out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but shall accomplish that which I please. It shall prosper in the thing in which I sent it" ( Isaiah 55:10-11 ).

Now as we get into chapter 56, the Lord is giving to us, more or less, some of the conditions of our being a part of that everlasting kingdom and salvation.

Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed ( Isaiah 56:1 ).

Now even at the time of Isaiah, there were those encouragements to doing the right thing in light of the fact that the Lord's salvation was near. All through succeeding generations, God has wanted, I believe, each generation to live with that consciousness of the nearness of the coming of the Lord's kingdom. Now Peter tells us that there would come a day when men would begin to scoff at the nearness of the coming kingdom of God, declaring that "all things have just continued as they were from the beginning" ( 2 Peter 3:4 ). But Peter says, "Of this they are willfully ignorant." That God did upset the world at one time in judgment by sending the flood, they are willfully ignorant of God's intervention by catastrophe. And then Peter goes on to explain that "God is not slack concerning His promises" ( 2 Peter 3:9 ). That is the promise of the coming kingdom and the establishment of the kingdom of righteousness. He's not going to fail in that promise, but that He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. So the reason for the delay, God's waiting for man's turning to Him.

Now when we were living in Prescott in the first church that we had, we had a very fascinating lady who, as far as I can recall, never did attend our church, but professed to have a great love and interest in my wife and I. And she was a very interesting character. She had spent many years in China as a missionary and was a nurse at the Whipple Veterans Hospital. And I would start to talk to her about the nearness of the coming of the Lord and she'd say, "Well, yes, I believe the Lord is coming very soon for me." She said, "I'm getting up into the years and I won't be around much longer, so the coming of the Lord is very soon for me." And she had that kind of a concept of the nearness of the coming of the Lord. Well, in a sense that is very true. God's coming for each of us is soon. None of us is going to be around here too long. And if He does not come collectively for His body, the church, even so our time on earth is so short. "What is life? It is as a vapor that appears for a season or a moment and then vanishes" ( James 4:14 ). It's like the grass out there in the field which today grows up and flourishes and tomorrow is dead. And so is the short span of our life, especially when you compare the time that we are here with eternity. So the span of man upon this earth is so short. And yet in this short span of time my eternity is being established. My destiny is being determined in this short time that I am here. That's rather awesome to consider. So it behooves me to spend whatever time I have walking with the Lord, serving the Lord, and in a total commitment of myself, my energies, my life to Him because time is short.

So for Isaiah to be saying, "Hey, the time of the Lord is close," it is for each one of us. The time of the Lord is always very close. And thus, we should live with that consciousness knowing that I have only one life and it will soon be past and only what I do for Jesus Christ is going to last. Everything else is wood, hay and stubble. Everything else is going to burn. Everything else is not going to have any value at all in the eternal realm. That which I've done for myself, that which I've done for the community, that which I've done for the Muscular Dystrophy or whatever, not going to last. The only lasting things are that which I have done for Jesus Christ for His glory and in His name. So time is short. This is a perpetual message to each generation. Your time is short.

Now how does God want us to live? He wants us to keep judgment and do justice. God wants us to live a fair and honest life. God doesn't want us cheating. God doesn't want us conniving and taking advantage of someone else. God wants us to do the right thing. Do justice. Keep judgment. Do the right thing. That's what God is asking and requiring of us. And surely that is not too much to require and that is a reasonable requirement from man. What a glorious world this would be if everyone treated each other fairly, honestly, justly. "But that is not the condition of the world," you say, and you are so right. We find that there are always men who are willing to take an advantage of their position and gouge someone else because they find that they have them at an advantage. It is always a fearsome thing to be at a disadvantage to another person because you can be sure that they're going to take every advantage that they can over you.

Look what they're doing now with the oil. Knowing that we need the oil so desperately, they're taking advantage and they're just hiking the prices. And becoming inordinately wealthy. So much money they really don't know how to spend it or what to do with it. And yet there is a world that is suffering and in need and the third world is actually being destroyed and starving because of these people who have taken advantage of the fact that they possess the oil in their nation. And that the world is short on oil and so taking advantage of that fact they are gouging the world, totally disregarding those unfortunate people who cannot afford the inflation that has resulted from the increased oil prices. But that's only one example, and not to just point at one group. That is so common with human nature.

If you get in a disadvantaged position, there are men who are willing to take advantage of you. Jesus said, "Woe unto you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!" Because they were taking advantage of people. They were taking advantage of the little widows. "Woe unto you, lawyers!" They were taking advantage of people's ills, of people's problems, and becoming rich over other people's problems. Man is not fair. God wants us to be fair. And so God cries out for justice and for judgment because He said, "My salvation is near to come."

Blessed is the man that does this ( Isaiah 56:2 ),

Now God just sort of pronounces a man who will be fair, a man who will be just, a man who will be honest, he will be blessed of God.

and the son of man that lays hold on it ( Isaiah 56:2 );

The person that grabs this concept and says, "Yes, I will do unto others as I would have them to do unto me. I will be fair. I will not take advantage of a position that I may have of superiority whatever. But I will be fair." God is always for the underdog. God is always standing up for the oppressed and for the poor. And if we are guilty of oppressing people or impoverishing people, then we will find ourselves opposed to God.

Blessed is the man,

that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil ( Isaiah 56:2 ).

Now the blessing upon the man that keeps the sabbath, keepeth the sabbath. The sabbath is an ordinance that God established with the nation of Israel as a covenant with that race of people. When God gave the law of the sabbath back in the book of Exodus, God declared in the giving of the law that it was a covenant between Him and Israel forever. Verse Exodus 31:16 of Exodus 31:1-18 , "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant." Now God established circumcision also as a perpetual covenant for these people.

But the sabbath covenant was not placed upon the Gentile world nor upon the Gentile church or Christians. And yet, a man needs a day of rest. And we would probably live to be much healthier people if we would take a day of the week off and just stay in bed. Really rest on the sabbath day. And that's what the requirement was, just really to rest. Give the body a chance to sort of recuperate. But these people, as we will find in a little bit, weren't always keeping the sabbath as they should. They began to make it a day of pleasure and recreation, which it seems that we are very guilty of doing also. Except that the sabbath is really Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown, if you want to be technical. We worship the Lord on the first day of the week.

Now in the early church when they sought to determine what relationship the Gentile believers had to the law, they determined that they should not put upon the Gentiles the yoke of bondage, the law which they were not themselves able to keep. And so in writing to the Gentiles to tell them their relationship to the law, that is the church, the Gentile church, they said, "Just keep yourselves from idols and from things that have been strangled. And if you do this, you do well."

Now later on Paul even modified that a bit when he wrote to the Corinthians and he said, "When you go to the butcher shop to buy your meat, don't ask the butcher, 'Was this meat offered as a sacrifice to an idol?'" He said, "because if he says yes then you'll have a hard time eating it. So just don't ask any questions. Just go and buy the meat and don't ask any questions for your conscience's sake. And then you're not worried about it. Because," he said, "everything is sanctified through prayer and it really doesn't matter except if in your conscience it begins to trouble you, then it becomes a real problem for you. So for conscience's sake, just when you go out to dinner and someone lays a steak in front of you, don't say, 'Did you offer this steak as a sacrifice to an idol?' Just eat what is set before you, asking no questions," he said. "Just enjoy it." And so it isn't that which goes into the mouth that defiles a man. It's that which comes out, because the heart is revealed by the things that come out of a man's mouth.

There was nothing said to the Gentile church concerning the sabbath days. So Paul writing to the church in Rome speaks about those who were weak in the faith who were vegetarians because they could not eat meat; they were fearful it might have been offered as a sacrifice to an idol somewhere. And so they became vegetarians. But he that is strong in the faith he eats meat. Now let the one who doesn't eat meat, don't let him judge the one who does. And the one who does eat meat should not be condemning the man who doesn't.

It is so easy for us to fall in the trap of thinking that everybody should live as I live, do as I think. How I would love to run the world and tell people that which they can do and that which they can't do according to my own conscience. But Paul said I am not to judge a person who has greater liberty than I have. Because before his own master he either stands or falls and God is able to make him stand, much to my amazement.

So in writing to the Colossians, Paul said, "Don't let any man judge you in respect to meat, or unto sabbath days or holy days or new moons and so forth, which were all a shadow of the things to come. For the substance or the body is of Christ" ( Colossians 2:17 ). These things were all a shadow. Keeping the sabbath days, keeping the festivals and so forth-they were all a shadow of the things to come. The real substance is of Christ, so that the sabbath day was just a shadow of what Jesus is to us, for He is our rest. And the sabbath day was a day of rest where you just rested. So Christ has become our sabbath. We are resting in the work of Jesus Christ as regards to our salvation. I'm not trying to get out there and hassle and work to be saved. I am resting. Christ is my sabbath. He is my rest and the whole sabbath day celebration was looking forward to Jesus Christ, the substance who is the rest for the believer of God. And we all are resting our salvation in Him. And that's what the whole thing was about.

So as we read of the sabbath day, we realize that Isaiah's addressing himself to Israel. It has nothing to do really with the Gentile, the Gentile church, for in the Gentile church, as Paul said, "One man esteems one day above another and another man esteems every day alike" ( Romans 14:5 ). And we esteem every day alike. Every day is the Lord's day. I get up in the morning and I say, "Well, Lord, this is Your day. What would You have me to do today?" And every day is alike to me. I don't look at the calendar to see what day of the week it is. It's the Lord's day. My life is His. And no matter what the calendar may say as far as the day of the week, it's all the Lord's day as far as I'm concerned.

But, "Blessed is the man that will keep justice, do judgment, lays hold on these. Keeps the sabbath from polluting it and keeps his hand from doing any evil."

Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people ( Isaiah 56:3 ):

We shouldn't think that we have been separated from the people of God. But God is really... And Christ, Paul said, has broken down that middle wall of partition that used to exist between the Jew and us. And He has made us to all partake of the one body in Christ. So I'm not to say, "Well, I've been separated from God's people," and think of myself as separate from them, but really we have been grafted into the root that we might partake of the fatness and the fullness of God's blessing and promise to the nation of Israel.

neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off ( Isaiah 56:3-5 ).

Now Jesus speaks of there are some men that are born eunuchs. There are some who become eunuchs for the kingdom of God's sake. That is, men who refrain from marriage in order that they might better serve the Lord. Paul the apostle would probably fit in this category. Now we think of a eunuch in a very strict sense of the word. I do not think that the Bible really looks at it or is looking at it in a strict sense of the word. I think it is a man who just determines to live a celibate life for the sake of the kingdom of God. And Paul the apostle writing to the Corinthian church encouraged the men, if they were able to handle it, to live as he did for the sake of the kingdom. For he that is married seeks how to please his wife. But he that is unmarried can just seek how he can please the Lord. And thus because it is, in many times, easier to endure hardship just yourself and many times in the proclaiming of the gospel there requires a real hardship and sacrifice, it's easier for you to make those sacrifices upon yourself than to impose them also upon a wife. And so for the sake of expediency and all, you'd be better off to stay as I am. "Yet if you can't handle it," Paul says, "go ahead and get married. No sin to it, but I would just spare you a lot of problems." And so there are those who for the kingdom of God's sake have chosen a celibate type of a life. And that is fine. The Lord said, "I will give them children, sons and daughters in a spiritual sense." And so Paul speaks of his beloved son Timothy and all, and those relationships that he had with these younger men that he more or less tutored in their spiritual walks.

Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people ( Isaiah 56:6-7 ).

Now the Jews in establishing the temple did not really follow this. They had the court of the Gentiles and if you were a Gentile you had to stay in that court, and leading into the next court were the signs warning the Gentiles at the cost of their life to stay out. Warning any Gentile from trespassing within that next area of the temple. Now Paul the apostle really got into big trouble with the Jews because they thought that he had brought an uncircumcised man into the area of the temple, the Jewish quarter within the temple. And that's what created the whole hubbub there in Jerusalem that almost resulted in Paul's being killed. However, Paul was not guilty. They thought he was guilty. But Paul was not guilty of that charge. But yet the Lord had declared, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." So He's talking about the stranger that is the person who is not a Jew who is there, who follows the Lord. God wanted him to feel an access unto God through the temple.

Now you remember that when Jesus came into the temple, He saw those moneychangers that were there and those that were selling doves. And He made a whip and He began to overturn the tables of the moneychangers and began to drive them out of the temple saying unto them that they have profaned the temple, that My Father has said, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves" ( Matthew 21:13 ). And the anger that He had for the profaning. In other words, they wouldn't let the Gentiles in, but they had all kinds of crooked kind of practices going on.

The moneychangers were men who would have their little booths there in the temple and you could only pay your offerings to God in the shekels. They would not receive Roman coinage, because they considered that unclean. You couldn't give your common Roman coinage to the Lord. So if you wanted to give an offering to God, you had to exchange your Roman coin for the temple shekel. You say, "What's so wrong with that?" Well, what was wrong with that is these guys were charging a horrible rate of exchange. In other words, they were making a markup, a percentage, and thus in essence they were skimming off money that really should have gone to the Lord. They were thieving from God in the exchanging of the shekel and in drawing a percentage for themselves they were really skimming off from God. And the same was true with the doves. You could buy a dove outside for a couple of pennies. But these guys were charging an exorbitant price, but they were in collusion with the priests. If you just brought a dove in, the priest would examine it carefully and he'd find some little flaw, and of course, you cannot offer any flawed offering unto God. So he'd say, "No, I can't offer this for you." But here this fellow had doves for sale and they had the stamp on them. They were koshers. And so, but they were charging a bigger price.

So again the idea of robbery, of thievery that was going on, and it upset Jesus. And so He quotes actually from this verse in Isaiah where God's intention that His house would be called a house of prayer for all people. That it will be open to anyone, anybody who wanted to pray unto God would be free to come in and pray unto God within the house.

So he declares,

The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him ( Isaiah 56:8 ).

The gospel that will go out into the Gentiles.

All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind ( Isaiah 56:9-10 ):

That's a tragic situation that you have a watchman that's blind.

they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter ( Isaiah 56:10-11 ).

And so God speaking, and of course, it is interesting that God would speak of those, they were all looking for their own gain. All looking for their own welfare and their own gain. And it is interesting that the Lord would mention that in the very passage that Jesus quoted when He said, "You've made my Father's house a den of thieves, for My Father's house was to be called a house of prayer for all people." And here they are, they're greedy. Dogs that never have enough. They're all looking for their own gain.

Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as today, and much more abundant ( Isaiah 56:12 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​isaiah-56.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The basis of acceptance and blessing 56:1-8

This transitional pericope introduces the problem that the previous sections of the book posed, which I have tried to explain just above. It also begins the explanation of the solution by placing in stark contrast two opposing views of what pleases God: simply being a child of Abraham, versus living in loving obedience to God.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-56.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The prophet prefaced his shocking explanation of the spiritual acceptability of ritually unacceptable people with, "For thus says Yahweh." This was not just his opinion but divine revelation.

The Lord would give eunuchs who obeyed Him out of love: an eternal reputation, far greater than what they would have had if they had not obeyed Him, but instead had borne children to perpetuate their reputations on the earth. The Lord’s perpetuation of the Ethiopian eunuch’s reputation in Acts 8:27-39 is only one example of how God can do this. He has been remembered for his faith far longer than if he had only had sons and daughters. This promise can be very comforting to childless couples. If they follow God faithfully, He will bless them more greatly than He would bless them if they only had physical children. This promise of an eternal reward anticipates Jesus’ teaching that His disciples should pursue eternal rewards rather than treasures on earth (cf. Matthew 6:1-24).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-56.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths,.... That fear and serve the Lord; religiously observe all times of divine worship, and walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord; show regard to all the institutions of the Gospel, and perform all religious exercises, private and public, on Lord's days, and at other times:

and choose the things that please me; who do that which is wellpleasing unto God, which he has declared in his word to be acceptable to him; and do that from right principles, with right views, and of choice; not forced to it by those who have authority over them, or led to it merely by example and custom:

and take hold of my covenant; not the covenant of circumcision, as Kimchi; for what had eunuchs to do with that? but the covenant of grace, the everlasting covenant, the covenant of peace before spoken of

Isaiah 14:10, made between the Father and the Son, on account of the elect; which may be said to be taken hold of when a person by faith claims his interest in God as his covenant God; comes to Christ as the Mediator of the covenant; and deals with his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, for pardon, justification, and atonement; regards all the promises and blessings of the covenant as belonging to him and lives by faith on them, as such; so David by faith laid hold on this covenant,

2 Samuel 23:5.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​isaiah-56.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Encouragement to the Sincere; Encouragement to the Gentiles. B. C. 706.

      3 Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.   4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;   5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.   6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;   7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.   8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

      The prophet is here, in God's name, encouraging those that were hearty in joining themselves to God and yet laboured under great discouragements. 1. Some were discouraged because they were not of the seed of Abraham. They had joined themselves to the Lord, and bound their souls with a bond to be his for ever (this is the root and life of religion, to break off from the world and the flesh, and devote ourselves entirely to the service and honour of God); but they questioned whether God would accept them, because they were of the sons of the stranger,Isaiah 56:3; Isaiah 56:3. They were Gentiles, strangers to the commonwealth of Israel and aliens from the covenants of promise, and therefore feared they had no part nor lot in the matter. They said, "The Lord has utterly separated me from his people, and will not own me as one of them, nor admit me to their privileges." It was often said that there should be one law for the stranger and for him that was born in the land (Exodus 12:49), and yet they came to this melancholy conclusion. Note, Unbelief often suggests things to the discouragement of good people which are directly contrary to what God himself has said, things which he has expressly guarded against. Let not the sons of the stranger therefore say thus, for they have no reason to say it. Note, Ministers must have answers ready for the disquieting fears and jealousies of weak Christians, which, how unreasonable soever, they must take notice of. 2. Others were discouraged because they were not fathers in Israel. The eunuch said, Behold, I am a dry tree. So he looked upon himself, and it was his grief; so others looked upon him, and it was his reproach. He was thought to be of no use because he had no children, nor was ever likely to have any. This was then the more grievous because eunuchs were not admitted to be priests (Leviticus 21:20), nor to enter into the congregation (Deuteronomy 23:1), and because the promise of a numerous posterity was the particular blessing of Israel and the more valuable because from among them the Messiah was to come. Yet God would not have the eunuchs to make the worst of their case, nor to think that they should be excluded from the gospel church, and from being spiritual priests, because they were shut out from the congregation of Israel and the Levitical priesthood; no, as the taking down of the partition wall, contained in ordinances, admitted the Gentiles, so it let in likewise those that had been kept out by ceremonial pollutions. Yet, by the reply here given to this suggestion, it should seem the chief thing which the eunuch laments in his case is his being written childless.

      Now suitable encouragements are given to each of these.

      I. To those who have no children of their own, who, though they had the honour to be the children of the church and the covenant themselves, yet had none to whom they might transmit that honour, none to receive the sign of circumcision and the privileges secured by that sign. Now observe,

      1. What a good character they have, though they lie under this ignominy and affliction; and those only are entitled to the following comforts who in some measure answer to these characters. (1.) They keep God's sabbaths as he has appointed them to be kept. In the primitive times, if a Christian were asked, "Hast thou kept holy the Lord's day?" He would readily answer, "I am a Christian, and dare not do otherwise." (2.) In their whole conversation they choose those things that please God. They do that which is good; they do it with a sincere design to please God in it; they do it of choice, and with delight. If sometimes, through infirmity, they come short in doing that which pleases God, yet they choose it, they endeavour after it, and aim at it. Note, Whatever is God's pleasure should without dispute be our choice. (3.) They take hold of his covenant, and that is a thing that pleases God as much as any thing. The covenant of grace is proposed and proffered to us in the gospel; to take hold of it is to consent to it, to accept the offer and come up to the terms, deliberately and sincerely to take God to be to us a God and to give up ourselves to him to be to him a people. Taking hold of the covenant denotes an entire and resolute consent to it, taking hold as those that are afraid of coming short, catching at it as a good bargain, and as those that are resolved never to let it go, for it is our life: and we take hold of it as a criminal took hold of the horns of the altar to which he fled for refuge.

      2. What a great deal of comfort they may have if they answer to this character, though they are not built up into families (Isaiah 56:5; Isaiah 56:5): Unto them will I give a better place and name. It is supposed that there is a place and a name, which we have from sons and daughters, that is valuable and desirable. It is a pleasing notion we have that we live in our children when we are dead. But there is a better place, and a better name, which those have that are in covenant with God, and it is sufficient to counterbalance the want of the former. A place and a name denote rest and reputation; a place to live comfortably in themselves, and a name to live creditably with among their neighbours; they shall be happy, and may be easy both at home and abroad. Though they have not children to be the music of their house, or arrows in their quiver, to keep them in countenance when they speak with their enemies in the gate, yet they shall have a place and a name more than equivalent. For, (1.) God will give it to them, will give it to them by promise; he will himself be both their habitation and their glory, their place and their name. (2.) He will give it to them in his house, and within his walls; there they shall have a place, shall be planted so as to take root (Psalms 92:13), shall dwell all the days of their life,Psalms 27:4. They shall be at home in communion with God, as Anna, that departed not from the temple night nor day. There they shall have a name. A name for the good things with God and good people is a name better than that of sons and daughters. Our relation to God, our interest in Christ, our title to the blessings of the covenant, and our hopes of eternal life, are things that give us in God's house a blessed place and a blessed name. (3.) It shall be an everlasting name, that shall never be extinct, shall never be cut off; like the place and name of angels, who therefore marry not, because they die not. Spiritual blessings are unspeakably better than those of sons and daughters; for children are a certain care and may prove the greatest grief and shame of a man's life, but the blessings we partake of in God's house are a sure and constant joy and honour, comforts which cannot be embittered.

      II. To those that are themselves the children of strangers.

      1. It is here promised that they shall now be welcome to the church, Isaiah 56:6; Isaiah 56:7. When God's Israel come out of Babylon, let them bring as many of their neighbours along with them as they can persuade to come, and God will find room enough for them all in his house. And here, (as before) we may observe,

      (1.) Upon what terms they shall be welcome. Let them know that God's Israel, when they come out of Babylon, will not be plagued, as they were when they came out of Egypt, with a mixed multitude, that went with them, but were not cordially for them; no, the sons of the strangers shall have a place and a name in God's house provided, [1.] That they forsake other gods, all rivals and pretenders whatsoever, and join themselves to the Lord, so as to become one spirit,1 Corinthians 6:17. [2.] That they join themselves to him as subjects to their prince and soldiers to their general, by an oath of fidelity and obedience, to serve him, not occasionally, as one would serve a turn, but to be constantly his servants, entirely subject to his command, and devoted to his interest. [3.] That they join themselves to him as friends to his honour and the interests of his kingdom in the world, to love the name of the Lord, to be well pleased with all the discoveries he has made of himself and all the memorials they make of him. Observe, Serving him and loving him go together; for those that love him truly will serve him faithfully, and that obedience is most acceptable to him, as well as most pleasant to us, which flows from a principle of love, for then his commandments are not grievous,1 John 5:3. [4.] That they keep the sabbath from polluting it; for the stranger that is within thy gates is particularly required to do that. [5.] That they take hold of the covenant, that is, that they come under the bonds of it, and put in for the benefits of it.

      (2.) To what privileges they shall be welcome, Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 56:7. Three things are here promised them, in their coming to God:-- [1.] Assistance: "I will bring them to my holy mountain, not only bid them welcome when they come, but incline them to come, will show them the way, and lead them in it." David himself prays that God by his light and truth would bring them to his holy hill,Psalms 43:3. And the sons of the stranger shall be under the same guidance. The church is God's holy hill, on which he hath set his King, and, in bringing them to Zion Hill, he brings them to be subjects to Zion's King, as well as worshippers in Zion's holy temple. [2.] Acceptance: "Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar, and be never the less acceptable for being theirs, though they are sons of the stranger." The prayers and praises (those spiritual sacrifices) of devout Gentiles shall be as pleasing to God as those of the pious Jews, and no difference shall be made between them; for, though they are Gentiles by birth, yet through grace they shall be looked upon as the believing seed of faithful Abraham and the praying seed of wrestling Jacob, for in Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision. [3.] Comfort. They shall not only be accepted, but they themselves shall have the pleasure of it: I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. They shall have grace, not only to serve God, but to serve him cheerfully and with gladness, and that shall make the service the more acceptable to him; for, when we sing in the ways of the Lord, then great is the glory of our God. They shall go away and eat their bread with joy, because God now accepts their works,Ecclesiastes 9:7. Nay, though they came mourning to the house of prayer, they shall go away rejoicing, for they shall there find such ease, by casting their cares and burdens upon God, and referring themselves to him, that, like Hannah, they shall go away and their countenance shall be no more sad. Many a sorrowful spirit has been made joyful in the house of prayer.

      2. It is here promised that multitudes of the Gentiles shall come to the church, not only that the few who come dropping in shall be made welcome, but that great numbers shall come in, and the door be thrown open to them: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The temple was then God's house, and to that Christ applies these words (Matthew 21:13), but with an eye to it as a type of the gospel church, Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 9:9. For Christ calls it his house,Hebrews 3:6. Now concerning this house it is promised, (1.) That it shall not be a house of sacrifice, but a house of prayer. The religious meetings of God's people shall be meetings for prayer, in which they shall join together, as a token of their united faith and mutual love. (2.) That it shall be a house of prayer, not for the people of the Jews only, but for all people. This was fulfilled when Peter was made, not only to perceive it himself, but to tell it to the world, that in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him,Acts 10:35. It had been declared again and again that the stranger that comes nigh shall be put to death, but Gentiles shall now be looked upon no longer as strangers and foreigners, Ephesians 2:19. And it appears by Solomon's prayer, at the dedication of the temple, both that it was primarily intended for a house of prayer and that strangers should be welcome to it, 1 Kings 8:30; 1 Kings 8:41; 1 Kings 8:43. And it is intimated here (Isaiah 56:8; Isaiah 56:8) that when the Gentiles are called in they shall be incorporated into one body with the Jews, that (as Christ says, John 10:16) there may be one fold and one Shepherd; for, [1.] God will gather the outcasts of Israel. Many of the Jews that had by their unbelief cast themselves out shall by faith be brought in again, a remnant according to the election of grace,Romans 11:5. Christ came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24), to gather their outcasts (Psalms 147:2), to restore their preserved (Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 49:6), and to be their glory,Luke 2:32. [2.] He will gather others also to him, besides his own outcasts that are gathered to him. Or, though some of the Gentiles have come over now and then into the church, that shall not serve (as some may think) to answer the extent of these promises; no, there are still more and more to be brought in: "I will gather others to him besides these; these are but the first-fruits in comparison with the harvest that shall be gathered for Christ in the nations of the earth, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in." Note, The church is a growing body: when some are gathered to it we may still hope there shall be more, till the mystical body be completed. Other sheep I have.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​isaiah-56.html. 1706.
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