Isa 49:1-26. Similar to
Messiah, as the ideal Israel (Isa 49:3), states the object of His mission, His
want of success for a time, yet His certainty of ultimate success.
1. O isles—Messiah is here regarded as
having been rejected by the Jews (Isa 49:4, 5), and as now turning to the Gentiles, to
whom the Father hath given Him "for a light and salvation." "Isles"
mean all regions beyond sea.
from the womb—(Isa
44:2; Lu 1:31; Joh 10:36).
from … bowels … mention of my
name—His name "Jesus" (that is, God-Saviour) was designated
by God before His birth (Mt 1:21).
2. my mouth … sword—(Isa 11:4; Re
19:15). The double office of
the Word of God, saving and damnatory, is implied (Isa
50:4; Joh 12:48; Heb 4:12).
shaft—(Ps 45:5). "Polished," that is, free from all
rust, implies His unsullied purity.
in … quiver … hid me—Like
a sword in its scabbard, or a shaft in the quiver, Messiah, before His
appearing, was hid with God, ready to be drawn forth at the
moment God saw fit [Hengstenberg]; also
always protected by God, as the arrow by the quiver (Isa 51:16).
3. Israel—applied to Messiah, according
to the true import of the name, the Prince who had power with
God in wrestling in behalf of man, and who prevails (Ge
32:28; Ho 12:3, 4). He is
also the ideal Israel, the representative man of the nation (compare
2:15 with Ho 11:1).
in whom … glorified—(Joh
in vain—comparatively in the case of
the greater number of His own countrymen. "He came unto His own,
and His own received Him not" (Isa 53:1-3; Lu
19:14; Joh 1:11; 7:5). Only a
hundred twenty disciples met after His personal ministry was ended
yet … my judgment … with the
Lord—Ultimately, God will do justice to My cause, and
reward (Margin for "work," compare Isa 40:10;
62:11) My labors and
sufferings. He was never "discouraged" (Isa 42:4; 50:7, 10). He calmly, in spite of seeming ill
success for the time, left the result with God, confident of final
triumph (Isa 53:10-12; 1Pe 2:23). So the ministers of Christ (1Co
4:1-5; 1Pe 4:19).
5. The reason why He was confident that His
work would be accepted and rewarded, namely, because He is "glorious in
the eyes of Jehovah," &c.
to bring Jacob again to him—(Mt 15:24;
Though Israel be not gathered—metaphor
from a scattered flock which the shepherd gathers together again; or a
hen and her chickens (Mt 23:37).
Instead of the text "not," the Keri has the similar
Hebrew word, "to Him," which the parallelism favors: "And that
Israel may be gathered to Him."
"For I am glorious, &c., and My God is My strength." Then
49:6) resuming the words from
the beginning of Isa 49:5, "He
saith" (I repeat), &c. Horsley
explains, "Notwithstanding the incredulity of the Jews, Messiah shall
be glorified in the conversion of the Gentiles," reading as English
Version: but if the Keri be read, "Israel shall at one time
or other be gathered, notwithstanding their incredulity during
Messiah's sojourn on earth."
6. It is a light thing—"It is too little
that Thou shouldest," [Hengstenberg],
that is, It is not enough honor to Thee to raise up Jacob and
Israel, but I design for Thee more, namely, that Thou shouldest
be the means of enlightening the Gentiles (Isa 42:6, 7;
the preserved—namely, those remaining
after the judgments of God on the nation—the elect remnant of
Israel reserved for mercy. Lowth, with a
slight but needless change of the Hebrew, translates for
"tribes" and "preserved," the "scions"—the "branches."
7. whom man despiseth—Hebrew,
"the despised of soul," that is, by every soul, by all men (Isa 52:14, 15; 53:3; 50:6-9; Ps 22:6). Lowth
translates, "whose person is despised."
abhorreth—literally, "who is an
abomination to the nation" (Lu 23:18-23). The Jews contemptuously call Him
always Tolvi, "the crucified." I prefer, on account of
Goi, the Hebrew term for nation being usually
applied to the Gentiles, and that for people to the Jews
(Ho 1:9; so the Greek terms
respectively also Laos and Ethne, Ro 9:25), to take "nation" here collectively for
the Gentile world, which also spurned Him (Ps 2:1-3; Ac
servant of rulers—(Mt 17:27). He who would not exert His power
against the rulers (Mt 26:52, 53).
shall see—namely the fulfilment of
God's promises (Isa 49:3, 6), "when He (shall be) a light
to the Gentiles."
arise—to reverence Thee (Ps 72:10,
11; Php 2:10).
princes also—rather, for the
parallelism, supply the ellipsis, thus, "Princes shall see and
faithful—namely, to His promises.
choose thee—as God's elect
8. Messiah is represented as having asked for
the grace of God in behalf of sinners; this verse contains God the
Father's favorable answer.
an acceptable time—"In a time of
grace" [Hengstenberg]. A limited time
(Isa 61:2; 2Co 6:2). The time judged by God to be the best
fitted for effecting the purposes of His grace by Messiah.
heard thee—(Ps 2:8; Heb
day of salvation—when "the fulness of
4:4) shall have come. The day
of salvation is "to-day" (Heb 4:7).
helped—given Thee the help needed to
enable Thee, as man, to accomplish man's salvation.
preserve—from the assaults and efforts
of Satan, to divert Thee from Thy voluntary death to save man.
covenant of the people—(See on Isa 42:6). "The people," in the singular, is
always applied exclusively to Israel.
establish the earth—rather, "to
restore the land," namely, Canaan to Israel. Spiritually, the
restoration of the Church (the spiritual Israel) to the heavenly
land forfeited by man's sin is also included.
cause to inherit … desolate
heritages—image from the desolate state of Judea during the
Babylonish captivity. Spiritually, the Gentile world, a moral waste,
shall become a garden of the Lord. Literally, Judea lying desolate for
ages shall be possessed again by Israel (compare Isa 61:7, "in their land"). Jesus, the
antitype of, and bearing the same name as Joshua (Heb 4:8), shall, like him, divide the land among
its true heirs (Isa 54:3; 61:4).
9. (Isa 42:7; Zec 9:12).
prisoners—the Jews bound in legal
them … in darkness—the Gentiles
having no light as to the one true God [Vitringa].
Show yourselves—not only see but be
seen (Mt 5:16; Mr 5:19). Come forth from the darkness of your
prison into the light of the Sun of righteousness.
in the ways, &c.—In a desert there
are no "ways," nor "high places," with "pastures"; thus the sense is:
"They shall have their pastures, not in deserts, but in cultivated and
inhabited places." Laying aside the figure, the churches of Christ at
the first shall be gathered, not in obscure and unknown regions, but in
the most populous parts of the Roman empire, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome,
&c. [Vitringa]. Another sense
probably is the right one. Israel, on its way back to the Holy Land,
shall not have to turn aside to devious paths in search of necessaries,
but shall find them in all places wherever their route lies; so
Rosenmuller. God will supply them as
if He should make the grass grow in the trodden ways and on
the barren high places.
10. Messiah will abundantly satisfy all the
wants, both of literal Israel on their way to Palestine, and of the
spiritual on their way to heaven, as their Shepherd (Isa 65:13; Mt
5:6), also in heaven (Re 7:16,
11. my—All things are God's.
mountains a way—I will remove all
obstructions out of the way (Isa 40:4).
exalted—that is, cast up (Isa 57:14;
62:10); for instance, over
valleys. Vitringa explains "mountains"
as great kingdoms, Egypt, Syria, &c., subjected to Rome, to
facilitate the spreading of the Gospel; "highways," the Christian
doctrine wherein those who join the Church walk, and which, at the
time of Constantine, was to be raised into prominence before all, and
publicly protected (Isa 35:8, 9).
12. Sinim—The Arabians and other
Asiatics called China Sin, or Tchin; the Chinese had no
special name for themselves, but either adopted that of the reigning
dynasty or some high-sounding titles. This view of "Sinim" suits the
context which requires a people to be meant "from far," and distinct
from those "from the north and from the west" [Gesenius].
13. So Re 12:12. God will have mercy on the
afflicted, because of His compassion; on His afflicted, because
of His covenant.
14. Zion—the literal Israel's complaint,
as if God had forsaken her in the Babylonian captivity; also in their
dispersion previous to their future restoration; thereby God's mercy
shall be called forth (Isa 63:15-19; Ps 77:9, 10;
15. (Isa 44:21; Ps 103:13;
16. Alluding to the Jews' custom (perhaps
drawn from Ex 13:9) of
puncturing on their hands a representation of their city and temple, in
token of zeal for them [Lowth], (So 8:6).
17. Thy children—Israel (Isa 49:20,
21; Isa 43:6). Jerome reads, for "Thy children," "Thy builders";
they that destroyed thee shall hasten to build thee.
haste—to rebuild thy desolate
shall go forth—Thy destroyers shall
leave Judea to Israel in undisturbed possession.
18. As Zion is often compared to a bride
54:5), so the accession of
converts is like bridal ornaments ("jewels," Isa 62:3; Mal
3:17). Her literal
children are, however, more immediately meant, as the context refers to
their restoration; and only secondarily to her spiritual
children by conversion to Christ. Israel shall be the means of the
final complete conversion of the nations (Mic 5:7; Ro
as a bride—namely, binds on her
19. land of thy destruction—thy land
once the scene of destruction.
too narrow—(Isa 54:1,
2; Zec 10:10).
20. children … after …
other—rather, "the children of thy widowhood," that is, the
children of whom thou hast been bereft during their dispersion in other
lands (see on Isa 47:8) [Maurer].
give place—rather, "stand close to
me," namely, in order that we may be the more able to dwell in
in the narrow place [Horsley].
Compare as to Israel's spiritual children, and the extension of
the gospel sphere, Ro 15:19, 24; 2Co 10:14-16. But Isa 49:22 (compare Isa 66:20) shows that her literal children are
primarily meant. Gesenius translates,
21. Who, &c.—Zion's joyful wonder at
the unexpected restoration of the ten tribes. Secondarily, the
accession of spiritual Israelites to the mother church of Jerusalem
from the Gentiles is meant. This created surprise at first (Ac
10:45; 14:27; 15:3, 4).
lost … am desolate, a captive, and
removing to and fro—rather, "bereaved of … have been
barren, an exile and outcast" [Horsley].
She had been "put away" by Jehovah, her husband (Isa 50:1); hence her wonder at the children
begotten to her.
22. lift … hand—that is, beckon to
(see on Isa 13:2).
bring … sons in … arms—The
Gentiles shall aid in restoring Israel to its own land (Isa 60:4;
66:20). Children able to
support themselves are carried on the shoulders in the East; but
infants, in the arms, or astride on one haunch (Isa 60:12). "Thy sons" must be distinct from "the
Gentiles," who carry them; and therefore cannot primarily refer
to converts among the Gentiles.
23. lick … dust—that is, kiss thy
feet in token of humble submission.
for they … not … ashamed …
wait for me—The restoration of Israel shall be in answer to
their prayerful waiting on the Lord (Isa 30:18,
19; Ps 102:16, 17; Zec 12:10; 14:3).
24. the prey—Israel, long a prey to
mighty Gentile nations, whose oppression of her shall reach its highest
point under Antichrist (Da 11:36, 37, 41, 45).
lawful captive—the Jews justly
consigned for their sins (Isa 50:1) as
captives to the foe. Secondarily, Satan and Death are "the mighty"
conquerors of man, upon whom his sin give them their "lawful" claim.
Christ answers that claim for the sinners, and so the captive is set
free (Job 19:25; 14:14; Mt 12:29; Ho 6:2, where Isa 49:4 shows the primary reference is to
Israel's restoration, to which the resurrection
corresponds; Isa 26:19; Eph 4:8; Heb 2:14, 15). Others not so well translate, "the
captives taken from among the just Israelites."
25. (Isa 53:12; Ps 68:18;
contend with him, &c.—(Isa 54:17).
26. feed … own flesh—a phrase for
internal strifes (Isa 9:20).
own blood—a just retribution for their
having shed the blood of God's servants (Re 16:6).
sweet wine—that is, must, or new wine,
the pure juice which flows from the heap of grapes before they are
pressed; the ancients could preserve it for a long time, so as to
retain its flavor. It was so mild that it required a large quantity to
intoxicate; thus the idea here is that very much blood would be
all flesh shall, &c.—the effect on
the world of God's judgments (Isa 66:15, 16, 18, 19;
Re 15:3, 4).