Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
God's description of His character
God addresses Him directly
Address to the people to attend to the subject
(Isa 42:8, 9).
Call to all, and especially the exile Jews to rejoice in the coming
1. my servant--The law of prophetic suggestion leads Isaiah from
Cyrus to the far greater Deliverer, behind whom the former is lost sight
of. The express quotation in
and the description can apply to Messiah alone
with which compare
Israel, also, in its highest ideal, is called the "servant" of God
But this ideal is realized only in the antitypical Israel, its
representative-man and Head, Messiah (compare
with Ho 11:1).
"Servant" was the position assumed by the Son of God throughout His
elect--chosen by God before the foundation of the world for an
Redemption was no afterthought to remedy an unforeseen evil
(Ro 16:25, 26;
Eph 3:9, 11;
2Ti 1:9, 10;
Tit 1:2, 3).
it is rendered "My beloved"; the only beloved Son, beloved in a
sense distinct from all others. Election and the love of
God are inseparably joined.
soul--a human phrase applied to God, because of the intended union of
humanity with the Divinity: "I Myself."
delighteth--is well pleased with, and accepts, as a propitiation. God could have "delighted" in no created being as a mediator (compare
Isa 42:21; 63:5;
spirit upon him--
(Isa 11:2; 61:1;
judgment--the gospel dispensation, founded on justice, the canon
of the divine rule and principle of judgment called "the law"
Isa 42:4; 51:4; 49:6).
The Gospel has a discriminating judicial effect: saving
to penitents; condemnatory to Satan, the enemy
(Joh 12:31; 16:11),
and the wilfully impenitent
has, "He shall show," for "He shall bring forth," or "cause
to go forth." Christ both produced and announced His
"judgment." The Hebrew dwells most on His producing it;
Matthew on His announcement of it: the two are joined in
marks the kind of "cry" as that of altercation by quoting it,
"He shall not strive"
street--the Septuagint translates "outside." An image from an
altercation in a house, loud enough to be heard in the street outside: appropriate of Him who "withdrew Himself" from the public fame
created by His miracles to privacy
there, shows another and sterner aspect of His character, which is also
implied in the term "judgment").
3. bruised--"It pleased the Lord to bruise Him"
(Isa 53:5, 10;
so He can feel for the bruised. As
described His unturbulent spirit towards His violent enemies
and His utter freedom from love of notoriety, so
His tenderness in cherishing the first spark of grace in the penitent
reed--fragile: easily "shaken with the wind"
Those who are at best feeble, and who besides are oppressed by calamity
or by the sense of sin.
break--entirely crush or condemn. Compare "bind up the broken-hearted"
(Isa 50:4; 61:1;
flax--put for the lamp-wick, formed of flax. The believer is the
lamp (so the Greek,
his conscience enlightened by the Holy Ghost is the wick.
"Smoking" means "dimly burning," "smouldering," the flame not quite
extinct. This expresses the positive side of the penitent's religion;
as "bruised reed," the negative. Broken-hearted in himself, but not
without some spark of flame: literally, "from above." Christ will
supply such a one with grace as with oil. Also, the light of nature
smouldering in the Gentiles amidst the hurtful fumes of error. He not
only did not quench, but cleared away the mists and superadded the
light of revelation. See JEROME, To
Algasia, Question 2.
quotes it, "send forth judgment unto victory." Matthew, under
the Spirit, gives the virtual sense, but varies the word, in order to
bring out a fresh aspect of the same thing. Truth has in itself the
elements of victory over all opposing forces. Truth is the
victory of Him who is "the truth"
The gospel judicial sifting ("judgment") of believers and
unbelievers, begun already in part
(Joh 3:18, 19; 9:39),
will be consummated victoriously in truth only at His second
Isa 42:13, 14,
Mt 12:32, 36, 41, 42,
show that there is reference to the judicial aspect of the
Gospel, especially finally: besides the mild triumph of Jesus coming in
mercy to the penitent now
there shall be finally the judgment on His enemies, when the
"truth" shall be perfectly developed. Compare
where the two comings are similarly joined
(Ps 2:4-6, 8;
Re 15:2, 4; 19:11-16).
On "judgment," see on
4. fail--faint; man in religion may become as the almost
but not so He in His purposes of grace.
discouraged--literally, "broken," that is, checked in zeal by
Isa 49:4, 5).
ROSENMULLER not so well translates, "He shall not
be too slow on the one hand, nor run too hastily on the other."
judgment--His true religion, the canon of His judgments and righteous
isles . . . wait, &c.--The distant lands beyond sea shall put their
trust in His gospel way of salvation.
virtually gives the sense, with the inspired addition of another aspect
of the same thing, "In his name shall the Gentiles trust"
(as "wait for" here means,
"His law" is not something distinct from Himself, but is indeed
Himself, the manifestation of God's character ("name") in
Christ, who is the embodiment of the law
"Isles" here, and in
may refer to the fact that the populations of which the Church was
primarily formed were Gentiles of the countries bordering on the
5. Previously God had spoken of Messiah; now
He speaks to Him. To show to all that He is able to sustain the
Messiah in His appointed work, and that all might accept Messiah as
commissioned by such a mighty God, He commences by announcing Himself as
the Almighty Creator and Preserver of all things.
spread . . . earth--
6. in righteousness--rather, "for a righteous purpose"
God "set forth" His Son "to be a propitiation (so as) to declare His
(God's) righteousness, that God might be just, and (yet) the
justifier of him which believeth in Jesus"
(Ro 3:25, 26;
compare see on
Isa 45:13; 50:8, 9).
hold . . . hand--compare as to Israel, the type of Messiah,
covenant--the medium of the covenant, originally made between God
"The mediator of a better covenant"
than the law (see
Jer 31:33; 50:5).
So the abstract "peace," for peace-maker
the people--Israel; as
(Isa 42:16, 18, 19;
(Isa 61:1, 2).
darkness--opposed to "light"
8. God turns from addressing Messiah to the people.
God's distinguishing and incommunicable name,
indicating essential being and immutable faithfulness (compare
Ps 83:18; 96:5;
my--that is due to Me, and to Me alone.
9. former things--Former predictions of God, which were now fulfilled,
are here adduced as proof that they ought to trust in Him alone as God;
namely, the predictions as to Israel's restoration from Babylon.
new--namely, predictions as to Messiah, who is to bring all nations
to the worship of Jehovah
(Isa 42:1, 4, 6).
spring forth--The same image from plants
just beginning to germinate occurs in
Isa 43:19; 58:8.
Before there is the slightest indication to enable a sagacious
observer to infer the coming event, God foretells it.
10. new song--such as has never before been sung, called for by a new
manifestation of God's grace, to express which no hymn for former
mercies would be appropriate. The new song shall be sung when the Lord
shall reign in Jerusalem, and all "nations shall flow unto it"
(Isa 2:2; 26:1;
Re 5:9; 14:3).
ye that go down to the sea--whose conversion will be the means of
diffusing the Gospel to distant lands.
all . . . therein--all the living creatures that fill the sea
[MAURER]. Or, all sailors and voyagers
[GESENIUS]. But these were already mentioned in
the previous clause: there he called on all who go upon the sea;
in this clause all animals in the sea; so in
he calls on the inanimate wilderness to lift up its voice. External
nature shall be so renovated as to be in unison with the moral
11. cities--in a region not wholly waste, but mainly so, with an
oasis here and there.
The Kedarenians led a nomadic, wandering life. So Kedar is here put in
general for that class of men.
rock--Sela, that is, Petra, the metropolis of Idumea and the
Nabathœan Ishmaelites. Or it may refer in general to those in
Arabia-Petræa, who had their dwellings cut out of the rock.
the mountains--namely, of Paran, south of Sinai, in
12. glory . . . islands--
13-16. Jehovah will no longer restrain His wrath: He will go forth as
a mighty warrior
to destroy His people's and His enemies, and to deliver Israel (compare
stir up jealousy--rouse His indignation.
roar--image from the battle cry of a warrior.
14. long time--namely, during the desolation of Israel
holden my peace--(Compare
cry like a travailing woman, &c.--Like a woman in parturition,
who, after having restrained her breathing for a time, at last,
overcome with labor pain, lets out her voice with a panting sigh; so
Jehovah will give full vent to His long pent-up wrath. Translate,
instead of "destroy . . . devour"; I will at once breathe
hard and pant, namely, giving loose to My wrath.
15. I will destroy all My foes.
mountains--in Palestine usually planted with vines and olives in
terraces, up to their tops.
islands--rather, "dry lands." God will destroy His foes, the heathen,
and their idols, and "dry up" the fountains of their oracles, their
doctrines and institutions, the symbol of which is water, and their
schools which promoted idolatry [VITRINGA].
16. blind--God's people, Israel, in captivity, needing a guide. In
the ulterior sense the New Testament Church, which was about to be led
and enlightened by the Son of God as its leader and shepherd in the
wilderness of the Roman empire, until it should reach a city of
habitation. "A way . . . they knew not," refers to the various means
ployed by Providence for the establishment of the Church in the world,
such as would never have occurred to the mind of mere man. "Blind," they
are called, as not having heretofore seen God's ways in ordering His
make darkness light, &c.--implies that the glorious issue would
only be known by the event itself [VITRINGA].
The same holds good of the
Ho 2:6, 14;
17. turned back . . . ashamed--disappointed in their trust; the same
phrase occurs in
18. deaf--namely, to the voice of God.
blind--to your duty and interest; wilfully so
In this they differ from "the blind"
The Jews are referred to. He had said, God would destroy the heathen
idolatry; here he remembers that even Israel, His "servant"
from whom better things might have been expected, is tainted with this
19. my servant--namely, Israel. Who of the heathen is so blind?
Considering Israel's high privileges, the heathen's blindness was as
nothing compared with that of Israelite idolaters.
my messenger . . . sent--Israel was designed by God to be the herald
of His truth to other nations.
perfect--furnished with institutions, civil and religious, suited to
their perfect well-being. Compare the title, "Jeshurun," the
perfect one, applied to Israel (compare
as the type of Messiah [VITRINGA]. Or translate,
the friend of God, which Israel was by virtue of descent from
Abraham, who was so called
[GESENIUS]. The language, "my servant" (compare
can, in the full antitypical sense, only apply to Christ. So
plainly refers to Him. "Blind" and "deaf" in His case refer to His
endurance of suffering and reproach, as though He neither saw nor heard
(Ps 38:13, 14).
Thus there is a transition by contrast from the moral blindness
to the patient blindness and deafness of Messiah [HORSLEY].
20. observest--Thou dost not keep them. The "many things" are
the many proofs which all along from the first God had given Israel of
His goodness and His power
(De 4:32-38; 29:2-4;
Ps 78:1-72; 105:1-45).
he--transition from the second to the third person. "Opening . . .
ears," that is, though he (Israel) hath his ears open
This language, too (see on
applies to Messiah as Jehovah's servant
21. his righteousness--not His people's, but His own;
shows that they had no righteousness
(Isa 45:24; 59:16).
God is well pleased with His Son ("in whom My soul
"who fulfils all righteousness"
for them, and with them for His sake (compare
Ps 71:16, 19;
Ro 10:3, 4;
Perhaps in God's "righteousness" here is included His faithfulness
to His promises given to Israel's forefathers [ROSENMULLER]; because of this He is well pleased with
Israel, even though displeased with their sin, which He here reproves;
but that promise could only be based on the righteousness of
Messiah, the promised seed, which is God's
22. holes--caught by their foes in the caverns where they
had sought refuge [BARNES]. Or bound in
subterranean dungeons [MAURER].
prison-houses--either literal prisons, or their own houses, whence
they dare not go forth for fear of the enemy. The connection is:
Notwithstanding God's favor to His people for His righteousness'
they have fallen into misery (the Babylonish and Romish captivities and
their present dispersion), owing to their disregard of the divine law:
spiritual imprisonment is included
none saith, Restore--There is no deliverer
23. A call that they should be warned by the past judgments of God to
obey Him for the time to come.
24. Who--Their calamity was not the work of chance, but
God's immediate act for their sins.
Jacob . . . Israel . . . we--change from the third to the first person;
Isaiah first speaking to them as a prophet, distinct from them; then
identifying himself with them, and acknowledging His share in the
nation's sins (compare
strength of battle--violence of war.
it--the battle or war (compare
knew not--knew not the lesson of repentance which the judgment was
intended to teach
(Isa 5:13; 9:13;