The prophet seems here to launch out yet further into the prophecy of
the Messiah and his kingdom under the type of Cyrus; and, having the
great work of man's salvation by him yet more in view, he almost
forgets the occasion that led him into it and drops the return out of
Babylon; for indeed the prospect of this would be a greater comfort and
support to the believing pious Jews, in their captivity, than the hope
of that. And (as Mr. Gataker well observes) in this and similar
prophecies of Christ, that are couched in types, as of David and
Solomon, some passages agree to the type and not to the truth, other to
the truth and not to the type, and many to the type in one sense and
the truth in another. Here is,
I. A prophecy of the Messiah's coming with meekness, and yet with
power, to do the Redeemer's work,
II. His commission opened, which he received from the Father,
III. The joy and rejoicing with which the glad tidings of this should
IV. The wonderful success of the gospel, for the overthrow of the
V. The rejection and ruin of the Jews for their unbelief,
|The Messiah's Approach.
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1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my
soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring
forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be
heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall
he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set
judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
We are sure that these verses are to be understood of Christ, for the
evangelist tells us expressly that in him this prophecy was fulfilled,
Behold with an eye of faith, behold and observe, behold and
admire, my servant, whom I uphold. Let the Old-Testament saints
behold and remember him. Now what must we behold and consider
I. The Father's concern for him and relation to him, the confidence he
put and the complacency he took in him. This put an honour upon him,
and made him remarkable, above any other circumstance,
1. God owns him as one employed for him: He is my servant.
Though he was a Son, yet, as a Mediator, he took upon him the form
of a servant, learned obedience to the will of God and practised
it, and laid out himself to advance the interests of God's kingdom, and
so he was God's servant.
2. As one chosen by him: He is my elect. He did not thrust
himself into the service, but was called of God, and pitched upon as
the fittest person for it. Infinite Wisdom made the choice and then
3. As one he put a confidence in: He is my servant on whom I
lean; so some read it. The Father put a confidence in him that he
would go through with his undertaking, and, in that confidence, brought
many sons to glory. It was a great trust which the Father reposed in
the Son, but he knew him to be par negotio--equal to it, both
able and faithful.
4. As one he took care of: He is my servant whom I uphold; so we
read it. The Father bore him up, and bore him out, in his upholding
him; he stood by him and strengthened him.
5. As one whom he took an entire complacency in: My elect, in whom
my soul delights. His delight was in him from eternity, when he was
by him as one brought up with him,
He had a particular satisfaction in his undertaking: he declared
himself well pleased in him
and therefore loved him, because he laid down his life for the
sheep. Let our souls delight in Christ, rely on him, and rejoice in
him; and thus let us be united to him, and then, for his sake, the
Father will be well pleased with us.
II. The qualification of him for his office: I have put my Spirit
upon him, to enable him to go through his undertaking,
The Spirit did not only come, but rest, upon him
not by measure, as on others of God's servants, but without measure.
Those whom God employs as his servants; as he will uphold them and be
well pleased with them, so he will put his Spirit upon them.
III. The work to which he is appointed; it is to bring forth
judgment to the Gentiles, that is, in infinite wisdom, holiness,
and equity, to set up a religion in the world under the bonds of which
the Gentiles should come and the blessings of which they should enjoy.
The judgments of the Lord, which had been hidden from the Gentiles
he came to bring forth to the Gentiles, for he was to be a light to
IV. The mildness and tenderness with which he should pursue this
He shall carry it on,
1. In silence, and without noise: He shall not strive nor cry.
It shall not be proclaimed, Lo, here, is Christ or Lo, he is
there; as when great princes ride in progress or make a public
entry. He shall have no trumpet sounded before him, nor any noisy
retinue to follow him. The opposition he meets with he shall not strive
against, but patiently endure the contradiction of sinners against
himself. His kingdom is spiritual, and therefore its weapons are
not carnal, nor is its appearance pompous; it comes not with
2. Gently, and without rigour. Those that are wicked he will be
patient with; when he has begun to crush them, so that they are as
bruised reeds, he will give them space to repent and not immediately
break them; though they are very offensive, as smoking flax
yet he will bear with them, as he did with Jerusalem. Those that are
weak he will be tender of; those that have but a little life, a little
heat, that are weak as a reed, oppressed with doubts and fears, as a
bruised reed, that are as smoking flax, as the wick of a
candle newly lighted, which is ready to go out again, he will not
despise them, will not plead against them with his great power, nor lay
upon them more work or more suffering than they can bear, which would
break and quench them, but will graciously consider their frame. More
is implied than is expressed. He will not break the bruised
reed, but will strengthen it, that it may become a cedar in the
courts of our God. He will not quench the smoking flax, but
blow it up into a flame. Note, Jesus Christ is very tender toward those
that have true grace, though they are but weak in it, and accepts the
willingness of the spirit, pardoning and passing by the weakness of the
V. The courage and constancy with which he should persevere in this
undertaking, so as to carry his point at last
He shall not fail nor be discouraged. Though he meets with hard
service and much opposition, and foresees how ungrateful the world will
be, yet he goes on with his part of the work, till he is able to say,
Is is finished; and he enables his apostles and ministers to go
on with theirs too, and not to fail nor be discouraged, till they also
have finished their testimony. And thus he accomplishes what he
1. He brings forth judgment unto truth. By a long course of
miracles, and his resurrection at last, he shall fully evince the truth
of his doctrine and the divine origin and authority of that holy
religion which he came to establish.
2. He sets judgment in the earth. He erects his government in
the world, a church for himself among men, reforms the world, and by
the power of his gospel and grace fixes such principles in the minds of
men as tend to make them wise and just.
3. The isles of the Gentiles wait for his law, wait for
his gospel, that is, bid it welcome as if it had been a thing they had
long waited for. They shall become his disciples, shall sit at his
feet, and be ready to receive the law from his mouth. What wilt thou
have us to do?
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5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and
stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that
which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people
upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold
thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of
the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the
prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not
give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do
I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end
of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is
therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their
voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the
inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the
12 Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in
I. The covenant God made with and the commission he gave to the
which are an exposition of
Behold my servant, whom I uphold.
1. The royal titles by which the great God here makes himself known,
and distinguishes himself from all pretenders, speak very much his
Thus saith God the Lord. And who are thou, Lord? Why, he is the
fountain of all being and therefore the fountain of all power. He is
the fountain of being,
1. In the upper world; for he created the heavens and stretched them
and keeps the vast expanse still upon the stretch.
2. In the lower world: for he spread forth the earth, and made
it a capacious habitation, and that which comes out of it is
produced by his power.
3. In the world of mankind: He gives breath to the people upon
it, not only air to breathe in, but the breath of life itself and
organs to breathe with; nay, he gives spirit, the powers and
faculties of a rational soul, to those that walk therein. Now this is
prefixed to God's covenant with the Messiah, and the commission given
him, not only to show that he has authority to make such a covenant and
give such a commission, and had power sufficient to bear him out, but
that the design of the work of redemption was to maintain the honour of
the Creator, and to restore man to the allegiance he owes to God as his
2. The assurances which he gives to the Messiah of his presence with
him in all he did pursuant to his undertaking speak much encouragement
(1.) God owns that the Messiah did not take the honour of being
Mediator to himself, but was called of God, that he was no intruder, no
usurper, but was fairly brought to it
I have called thee in righteousness. God not only did him no
wrong in calling him to this hard service, he having voluntarily
offered himself to it, but did himself right in providing for his own
honour and performing the word which he had spoken.
(2.) He promises to stand by him and strengthen him in it, to hold his
hand, not only to his work, but in it, to hold his hand, that it might
not shake, that it might not fail, and so to keep him. When an angel
was sent from heaven to strengthen him in his agonies, and the Father
himself was with him, then this promise was fulfilled. Note, Those whom
God calls he will own and help, and will hold their hands.
3. The great intentions of this commission speak abundance of comfort
to the children of men. He was given for a covenant of the
people, for a mediator, or guarantee, of the covenant of grace,
which is all summed up in him. God, in giving us Christ, has with him
freely given us all the blessings of the new covenant. Two glorious
blessings Christ, in his gospel, brings with him to the Gentile
world--light and liberty.
(1.) He is given for a light to the Gentiles, not only to reveal
to them what they were concerned to know, and which otherwise they
could not have known, but to open the blind eyes, that they might know
it. By his Spirit in the word he presents the object; by his Spirit in
the heart he prepared the organ. When the gospel came light came, a
great light, to those that sat in darkness,
And St. Paul was sent to the Gentiles to open their eyes,
Christ is the light of the world.
(2.) He is sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, as Cyrus did,
to bring out the prisoners; not only to open the prison-doors,
and give them leave to go out, which was all that Cyrus could do, but
to bring them out, to induce and enable them to make use of their
liberty, which none did but those whose spirits God stirred up. This
Christ does by his grace.
II. The ratification and confirmation of this grant. That we may be
assured of the validity of it consider,
1. The authority of him that makes the promise
I am the Lord, Jehovah, that is my name, and that was the name
by which he made himself known when he began to perform the promise
made to the patriarchs; whereas, before, he manifested himself by the
name of God Almighty,
If he is the Lord that gives being and birth to all things, he will
give being and birth to this promise. If his name be Jehovah,
which speaks him God alone, we may be sure his name is jealous,
and he will not give his glory to another, whoever it is that
stands in competition with him, especially not to graven images.
He will send the Messiah to open men's eyes, that so he may turn them
from the service of dumb idols to serve the living God, because, though
he has long winked at the times of ignorance, he will now maintain his
prerogative, and will not give his glory to graven images. He will
perform his word because he will not lose the honour of being true to
it, nor be ever charged with falsehood by the worshippers of false
gods. He will deliver his people from under the power of idolaters
because it looks as if he had given his praise to graven images when he
gives up his own worshippers to be worshippers of images.
2. The accomplishment of the promises he had formerly made concerning
his church, which are proofs of the truth of his word and the kindness
he bears to his people
"Behold, the former things have come to pass; hitherto the Lord
has helped his church, has supported her under former burdens, relieved
her in former straits; and this in performance of the promises made to
the fathers. There has not failed one word,
1 Kings 8:56.
And now new things do I declare. Now I will make new
promises, which shall as certainly be fulfilled in their season as old
ones were; now I will bestow new favours, such as have not been
conferred formerly. Old-Testament blessings you have had abundantly;
now I declare New-Testament blessings, not a fruitful country and
dominion over your neighbours, but spiritual blessings in heavenly
things. Before they spring forth in the preaching of the gospel
I tell you of them, under the type and figure of the former
things." Note, The receipt of former mercies may encourage us to hope
for further mercies; for God is constant in his care for his people,
and his compassions are still new.
III. The song of joy and praise which should be sung hereupon to the
glory of God
Sing unto the Lord a new song, a New-Testament song. The giving
of Christ for a light to the Gentiles
was a new thing, and very surprising.
The apostle speaks of it as a mystery which, in other ages, was not
made known, as it is now revealed, that the Gentiles should be
Now, this being the new thing which God declares, the newness of the
song which is to be sung on this occasion is this, that whereas,
before, the songs of the Lord were very much confined to the temple at
Jerusalem (David's psalms were in the language of the Jews only, and
sung by them in their own country only; for, when they were in a
strange land, they hung their harps on the willow-trees and could not
sing the Lord's song, as we find,
now the songs of holy joy and praise shall be sung all the world over.
The Gentile nations shall share equally with the Jews in New-Testament
blessings, and therefore shall join in New-Testament praises and acts
of worship. There shall be churches set up in Gentile nations and they
shall sing a new song. The conversion of the Gentiles is often foretold
under this notion, as appears,
It is here promised that the praises of God's grace shall be sung with
joy and thankfulness,
1. By those that live in the end of the earth, in countries that
lie most remote from Jerusalem. From the uttermost parts of the
earth have we heard songs,
This was fulfilled when Christianity was planted in our land.
2. By mariners and merchants, and those that go down to the sea,
that do business in great waters, and suck the riches of the sea, and
so make themselves masters of the fulness thereof and all that is
therein, with which they shall praise God, and justly, for it is his,
The Jews traded little at sea; if therefore God's praises be sung by
those that go down to the sea, it must be by Gentiles. Sea-faring men
are called upon to praise God,
3. By the islands and the inhabitants thereof,
Let them declare his praise in the islands, the isles of the
Gentiles, probably referring to the islands of Greece.
4. By the wilderness and the cities thereof, and the villages of
Kedar. These lay east from Jerusalem, as the islands lay west, so
that the gospel songs should be sung from the rising of the sun to the
going down of the same. The whole Gentile world had been like an
island, cut off from communication with God's church, and like a
wilderness, uncultivated and bringing forth no fruit to God; but now
the islands and the wilderness shall praise God.
5. By the inhabitants of the rock, and those that dwell on
the tops of the mountains, not only the Gentiles, but the poorest
and meanest and most despicable, those that dwell in cottages, as well
as those that inhabit cities and villages. The rude and most
barbarous, as the mountaineers commonly are, shall be civilized by the
gospel. Or by the inhabitants of the rock may be meant the inhabitants
of that part of Arabia which is called Petræa--the rocky.
Perhaps the neighbouring countries shared in the joy of the Israelites
when they returned out of Babylon and some of them came and joined with
them in their praises; but we find not that it was to any such degree
as might fully answer this illustrious prophecy, and must conclude that
it reaches further, and was fulfilled in that which many other
prophecies of the joy of the nations are said in the New-Testament to
be fulfilled in, the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ.
When they are brought into the church they are brought to give glory to
the Lord; then they are to him for a name and a praise, and they make
it their business to praise him. He is glorified in them and by
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13 The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up
jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall
prevail against his enemies.
14 I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and
refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I
will destroy and devour at once.
15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their
herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the
16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I
will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make
darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These
things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.
17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed,
that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye
are our gods.
It comes all to one whether we make these verses (as some do) the song
itself that is to be sung by the Gentile world or a prophecy of what
God will do to make way for the singing of that song, that evangelical
I. He will appear in his power and glory more than ever. So he did in
the preaching of his gospel, in the divine power and energy which went
along with it, and in the wonderful success it had in the pulling
down of Satan's stronghold,
He had long held his peace, and been still, and refrained himself,
while he winked at the times of the ignorance of the Gentile world
and suffered all nations to walk in their own ways
but now he shall go forth as a mighty man, as a man of war, to
attack the devil's kingdom and give it a fatal blow. The going forth of
the gospel is thus represented,
Christ, in it, went forth conquering and to conquer. The ministry of
the apostles is called their warfare; and they were the soldiers
of Jesus Christ. He shall stir up jealousy, shall appear more
jealous than ever for the glory of his own name and against idolatry.
1. He shall cry, in the preaching of his word, cry like a
travailing woman; for the ministers of Christ preached as men in
earnest, and that travailed in birth again till they saw Christ formed
in the souls of the people,
He shall cry, yea, roar, in the gospel woes, which are more
terrible than the roaring of a lion, and which must be preached along
with gospel blessings to awaken a sleeping world.
2. He shall conquer by the power of his Spirit: He shall prevail
against his enemies, shall prevail to make them friends,
Those that contradict and blaspheme his gospel, he shall prevail to put
them to silence and shame. He will destroy and devour at once all the
oppositions of the powers of darkness. Satan shall fall as lightning
from heaven, and he that had the power of death shall be destroyed. As
a type and figure of this, to make way for the redemption of the Jews
out of Babylon, God will humble the pride, and break the power, of
their oppressors, and will at once destroy and devour the
Babylonian monarchy. In accomplishing this destruction of Babylon by
the Persian army under the command of Cyrus, he will make waste
mountains and hills, level the country, and dry up all their
herbs. The army, as usual, shall either carry off the forage or
destroy it, and by laying bridges of boats over rivers shall turn them
into islands, and so drain the fens and low grounds, to make way for
the march of their army, that the pools shall be dried up. Thus, when
the gospel shall be preached, it shall have a free course, and that
which hinders the progress of it shall be taken out of the way.
II. He will manifest his favour and grace towards those whose spirits
he had stirred up to follow him, as
Those who ask the way to Zion he will show the way, and lead in it,
Those who by nature were blind, and those who, being under convictions
of sin and wrath are quite at a loss and know not what to do with
themselves, God will lead by a way that they knew not, will show
them the way to life and happiness by Jesus Christ, who is the way, and
will conduct and carry them on in that way, which before they were
strangers to. Thus, in the conversion of Paul, he was struck blind
first, and then God revealed his Son in him, and made the scales to
fall from his eyes. They are weak in knowledge, and the truths of God
at first seem unintelligible; but God will make darkness light
before them, and knowledge shall be easy to them. They are weak in
duty, the commands of God seem impracticable, and insuperable
difficulties are in the way of their obedience; but God will make
crooked things straight; their way shall be plain, and the yoke
easy. Those whom God brings into the right way he will guide in it. As
a type of this, he will lead the Jews, when they return out of
captivity, in a ready road to their own land again, and nothing shall
occur to perplex or embarrass them in their journey. These are great
things, and kind things, very great and very kind; but lest any should
say, "They are too great, too kind, to be expected from God by such an
undeserving people as that of the Jews, such an undeserving world as
that of the Gentiles," he adds, These things will I do unto
them, take my word for it I will, and I will not forsake
them; he that begins to show this great mercy will go on to do them
III. He will particularly put those to confusion who adhere to idols
notwithstanding the attempts made by the preaching of the gospel to
turn them from idols
They shall be turned back, and greatly ashamed, that trust in graven
images. The Babylonians shall when they see how the Jews, who
despise their images, are owned and delivered by the God they worship
without images, and the Gentiles when they see how idolatry falls
before the preaching of the gospel, is scattered like darkness before
the light of the sun, and melts like snow before its heat. They shall
be ashamed that ever they said to these molten images, You are our
gods; for how can those help their worshippers who cannot help
themselves, nor save themselves from falling into contempt? In times of
reformation, when many turn from iniquity, and sin, being generally
deserted, becomes unfashionable, it may be hoped that those who will
not otherwise be reclaimed will be wrought upon by that consideration
to be ashamed of it.
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18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.
19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger
that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind
as the LORD's servant?
20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the
ears, but he heareth not.
21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he
will magnify the law, and make it honourable.
22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of
them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are
for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith,
23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and
hear for the time to come?
24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did
not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not
walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.
25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and
the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about,
yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to
The prophet, having spoken by way of comfort and encouragement to the
believing Jews who waited for the consolation of Israel, here turns to
those among them who were unbelieving, for their conviction and
humiliation. Among those who were in captivity in Babylon there were
some who were as the evil figs in Jeremiah's vision, who were sent
thither for their hurt, to be removed into all the kingdoms of the
earth, for a reproach and a proverb,
In them there was a type of the Jews who rejected Christ and were
rejected by him, and then fell more than ever under the curse, when
those who believed were inheriting the blessing; for they were broken,
and ruined, and remain dispersed unto this day. Observe,
I. The call that is given to this people
"Hear, you deaf, and attend to the joyful sound, and look you
blind, that you may see the joyful light." There is no absurdity in
this command, nor is it unbecoming the wisdom and goodness of God to
call us to do that good which yet of ourselves we are not sufficient
for; for those have natural powers which they may employ so as to do
better than they do, and may have supernatural grace if it be not their
own fault, who yet labour under a moral impotency to that which is
good. This call to the deaf to hear and the blind to see is like the
command given to the man that had the withered hand to stretch it
forth; though he could not do this, because it was withered, yet, if he
had not attempted to do it, he would not have been healed, and his
being healed thereupon was owing, not to his act, but to the divine
II. The character that is given of them
Who is blind, but my servant, or deaf as my messenger? The
people of the Jews were in profession God's servants, and their priests
and elders his messengers
but they were deaf and blind. The
may be understood as spoken to the Gentile idolaters, whom he calls
deaf and blind, because they worshipped gods that were
so. "But," says he, "no wonder you are deaf and blind when my own
people are as bad as you, and many of them as much set upon
1. He complains of their sottishness--they are blind; and of their
stubbornness--they are deaf. They were even worse than the Gentiles
themselves. Corruptio optimi est pessima--What is best becomes, when
corrupted, the worst. "Who is so wilfully, so scandalously, blind
and deaf as my servant and my messenger, as Jacob who is my servant
and as their prophets and teachers who are my messengers? Who is blind
as he that in profession and pretension is perfect, that should come
nearer to perfection than other people, their priests and prophets? The
one prophesies falsely, and the other bears rule by their means; and
who so blind as those that will not see when they have the light
shining in their faces?" Note,
(1.) It is a common thing, but a very sad thing, for those that in
profession are God's servants and messengers to be themselves blind and
deaf in spiritual things, ignorant, erroneous, and very careless.
(2.) Blindness and deafness in spiritual things are worse in those that
profess themselves to be God's servants and messengers than in others.
It is in them the greater sin and shame, the greater dishonour to God,
and to themselves a greater damnation.
2. The prophet goes on
to describe the blindness and obstinacy of the Jewish nation, just as
our Saviour describes it in his time
Seeing many things, but thou observest not. Multitudes are
ruined for want of observing that which they cannot but see; they
perish, not through ignorance, but mere carelessness. The Jews in our
Saviour's time saw many proofs of his divine mission, but they did not
observe them; they seemed to open their ears to him, but they did not
hear, that is, they did not heed, did not understand, or believe, or
obey, and then it was all one as if they had not heard.
III. The care God will take of the honour of his own name,
notwithstanding their blindness and deafness, especially of his word,
which he has magnified above all his name. Shall the unbelief and
obstinacy of men make the promise of God of no effect? God forbid,
No, though they are blind and deaf, God will be no loser in his glory
The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; not well
pleased with their sin, but well pleased in the manifestation of his
own righteousness, in rejecting them for rejecting the great salvation.
He speaks as one well pleased,
Ah! I will ease me of my adversaries; and
I will be comforted. The scripture was fulfilled in the casting
off of the Jews as well as in the calling in of the Gentiles, and
therein the Lord will be well pleased. He will magnify the law
(divine revelation in all the parts of it) and will make it
honourable. The law is truly honourable, and the things of it are
great things; and, if men will not magnify it by their obedience to it,
God will magnify it himself by punishing them for their disobedience.
He will magnify the law by accomplishing what is written in it, will
magnify its authority, its efficacy, its equity. He will do it at
last, when all men shall be judged by the law of liberty,
He is doing it every day. What is it that God is doing in the world,
but magnifying the law and making it honourable?
IV. The calamities God will bring upon the Jewish nation for their
wilful blindness and deafness,
They are robbed and spoiled. Those that were impenitent and
unreformed in Babylon were sentenced to perpetual captivity. It was for
their sins that they were spoiled of all their possessions, not only in
their own land, but in the land of their enemies. They were some of
them snared in holes, and others hidden in prison-houses.
They cannot help themselves, for they are snared. Their friends cannot
help them, for they are hidden; and their enemies have forgotten them
in their prisons. They, and all they have, are for a prey and for a
spoil; and there is none that delivers either by force or ransom, nor
any that dares say to the proud oppressors, Restore. There they
lie, and there they are likely to lie. This had its full accomplishment
in the final destruction of the Jewish nation by the Romans, which God
brought upon them for rejecting the gospel of Christ.
V. The counsel given them in order to their relief; for, though their
case be sad, it is not desperate.
1. The generality of them are deaf; they will not hearken to the voice
of God's word. He will therefore try his rod, and see who among them
will give ear to that,
We must not despair concerning those who have been long reasoned with
in vain; some of them may, at length, give ear and hearken. If one
method not take effect, another may, and sinners shall be left
(1.) We may all of us, if we will, hear the voice of God, and we are
called and invited to hear it.
(2.) It is worth while to enquire who they are that perceive God
speaking to them and are willing to hear him.
(3.) Of the many that hear the voice of God there are very few that
hearken to it or heed it, that hear it with attention and application.
(4.) In hearing the word we must have an eye to the time to come. We
must hear for hereafter, for what may occur between us and the grave;
we must especially hear for eternity. We must hear the word with
another world in our eye.
2. The counsel is,
(1.) To acknowledge the hand of God in their afflictions, and, whoever
were the instruments, to have an eye to him as the principal agent
"Who gave Jacob and Israel, that people that used to have such
an interest in heaven and such a dominion on earth, who gave them
for a spoil to the robbers, as they are now to the Babylonians
and to the Romans? Did not the Lord? You know he did; consider
it then, and hear his voice in these judgments."
(2.) To acknowledge that they had provoked God thus to abandon them,
and had brought all these calamities upon themselves.
[1.] These punishments were first inflicted on them for their
disobedience to the laws of God: It is he against whom we have
sinned; the prophet puts himself into the number of the sinners, As
"We have sinned; we have all brought fuel to the fire; and there
are those among us that have wilfully refused to walk in his ways."
Jacob and Israel would never have been given up to the robbers if they
had not by their iniquities sold themselves. Therefore it is,
because they have violated the commands of the law, that God has
brought upon them the curses of the law; he has not dropped, but
poured upon him the fury of his anger and the strength of
battle, all the desolations of war, which have set him on fire
round about; for God surrounds the wicked with his favours. See
the power of God's anger; there is no resisting it, no escaping it.
See the mischief that sin makes; it provokes God to anger against a
people, and so kindles a universal conflagration, sets all on fire.
[2.] These judgments were continued upon them for their senselessness
and incorrigibleness under the rod of God. The fire of God's wrath
kindled upon him, and he knew it not, was not aware of it, took
no notice of the judgments, at least not of the hand of God in them.
Nay, it burned him, and, though he could not then but know it
and feel it, yet he laid it not to heart, was not awakened by
the fiery rebukes he was under nor at all affected with them. Those who
are not humbled by less judgments must expect greater; for when God
judges he will overcome.