Isa 51:1-23. Encouragement
to the Faithful Remnant of Israel to Trust in God for Deliverance, Both
from Their Long Babylonian Exile, and from Their Present
1. me—the God of your fathers.
ye … follow after
righteousness—the godly portion of the nation; Isa 51:7 shows this (Pr 15:9; 1Ti
6:11). "Ye follow
righteousness," seek it therefore from Me, who "bring it near," and
that a righteousness "not about to be abolished" (Isa 51:6, 7); look to Abraham, your father
51:2), as a sample of how
righteousness before Me is to be obtained; I, the same God who blessed
him, will bless you at last (Isa 51:3); therefore trust in Me, and fear not
man's opposition (Isa 51:7, 8, 12, 13). The mistake of the Jews, heretofore,
has been, not in that they "followed after righteousness," but in that
they followed it "by the works of the law," instead of "by faith," as
Abraham did (Ro 9:31, 32; 10:3, 4; 4:2-5).
hole of … pit—The idea is not,
as it is often quoted, the inculcation of humility, by reminding men of
the fallen state from which they have been taken, but that as Abraham,
the quarry, as it were (compare Isa 48:1), whence their nation was hewn, had been
called out of a strange land to the inheritance of Canaan, and blessed
by God, the same God is able to deliver and restore them also (compare
2. alone—translate, "I called him when
he was but one" (Eze 33:24).
The argument is: the same God who had so blessed "one" individual, as
to become a mighty nation (Ge 12:1; 22:7), can also increase and bless the small
remnant of Israel, both that left in the Babylonish captivity, and that
left in the present and latter days (Zec 14:2); "the residue" (Isa 13:8, 9).
3. For—See for the argument, see on Isa 51:2.
the garden of the Lord—restoration of
the primeval paradise (Ge 2:8; Eze 28:13; Re 2:7).
melody—Hebrew, "psalm." God's
praises shall again be heard.
4. my people—the Jews. This reading is
better than that of Gesenius: "O peoples
… nations," namely, the Gentiles. The Jews are called on to hear
and rejoice in the extension of the true religion to the nations; for,
at the first preaching of the Gospel, as in the final age to come, it
was from Jerusalem that the gospel law was, and is, to go forth
law … judgment—the gospel
dispensation and institutions (Isa 42:1, "judgment").
make … to rest—establish firmly;
light, &c.—(Isa 42:6).
5. righteousness … near—that is,
faithful fulfilment of the promised deliverance, answering to
"salvation" in the parallel clause (Isa 46:13; 56:1; Ro 10:8,
9). Ye follow after
"righteousness"; seek it therefore, from Me, and you will not have far
to go for it (Isa 51:1).
arms—put for Himself; I by My
judge—(Isa 2:3, 4; Ps 98:9).
isles, &c.—(Isa 60:9).
arm—(Ro 1:16), "the power of God unto (the Gentiles
as well as the Jews) salvation."
6. (Isa 40:6, 8; Ps
102:26; Heb 1:11, 12).
vanish away—literally, "shall be torn
asunder," as a garment [Maurer];
which accords with the context.
in like manner—But Gesenius, "Like a gnat"; like the smallest and
vilest insect. Jerome translates, as
English Version, and infers that "in like manner" as man, the
heavens (that is, the sky) and earth are not to be annihilated, but
changed for the better (Isa 65:17).
righteousness—My faithfully fulfilled
promise (see on Isa 51:5).
7. know righteousness—(See on Isa 51:1).
8. (See on Isa 50:9;
4:18-20). Not that the
moth eats men up, but they shall be destroyed by as
insignificant instrumentality as the moth that eats a garment.
9. Impassioned prayer of the exiled Jews.
ancient days—(Ps 44:1).
Rahab—poetical name for Egypt (see on
dragon—Hebrew, tannin. The
crocodile, an emblem of Egypt, as represented on coins struck after the
conquest of Egypt by Augustus; or rather here, "its king," Pharaoh (see
on Isa 27:1; Ps 74:13, 14; Eze 32:2, Margin; Eze 29:3).
10. it—the arm.
Art not Thou the same Almighty power that
… ? dried the sea—the Red Sea (Isa 43:16; Ex
11. (Isa 35:10).
Therefore—assurance of faith; or else
the answer of Jehovah corresponding to their prayer. As surely as God
redeemed Israel out of Egypt, He shall redeem them from Babylon, both
the literal in the age following, and mystical in the last ages (Re 18:20,
21). There shall be a second
exodus (Isa 11:11-16; 27:12, 13).
singing—image from the custom of
singing on a journey when a caravan is passing along the extended
plains in the East.
everlasting joy—(Jude 24).
sorrow … flee away—(Re 21:4).
12. comforteth—(Isa 51:3; Isa
son of man—frail and dying as his
be made as grass—wither as grass
13. (Isa 40:12, 26, 28), the same argument of comfort drawn
from the omnipotence of the Creator.
as if … ready,
&c.—literally, "when he directs," namely, his arrow, to
destroy (Ps 21:12; 7:13; 11:2) [Maurer].
14. captive exile—literally, one
bowed down as a captive (Isa 10:4) [Maurer]. The scene is primarily Babylon, and the
time near the close of the captivity. Secondarily, and antitypically,
the mystical Babylon, the last enemy of Israel and the Church, in which
they have long suffered, but from which they are to be gloriously
pit—such as were many of the ancient
dungeons (compare Jer 38:6, 11, 13; Ge 37:20).
nor … bread … fail—(Isa
33:16; Jer 37:21).
15. divided … sea—the Red Sea. The
same Hebrew word as "make to rest" (Isa 51:4). Rather, "that terrify the sea," that
is, restrain it by My rebuke, "when its waves roar" [Gesenius]. The Hebrew favors Maurer, "that terrify the sea so that the waves
roar." The sense favors Gesenius (Jer 5:22;
31:35), or English
Version (Isa 51:9, 10, which favors the special reference to
the exodus from Egypt).
16. Addressed to Israel, embodied in "the
servant of Jehovah" (Isa 42:1),
Messiah, its ideal and representative Head, through whom the elect
remnant is to be restored.
put my words in thy mouth—true of
Israel, the depository of true religion, but fully realized only in
Israel's Head and antitype, Messiah (Isa 49:2;
50:4, 5; 59:21; De 18:18; Joh 3:34).
covered … in … shadow of …
hand—protected thee (see on Isa
plant—rather, "fix" as a tabernacle;
so it ought to be rendered (Da 11:45).
The "new creation," now going on in the spiritual world by the Gospel
2:10), and hereafter to be
extended to the visible world, is meant (Isa 65:17; 66:22; compare Isa 13:13; 2Pe 3:10-13).
Zion—Its restoration is a leading part
in the new creation to come (Isa 65:17, 19).
17. Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem,
drunk—Jehovah's wrath is compared to
an intoxicating draught because it confounds the sufferer under it, and
makes him fall (Job 21:20; Ps
60:3; 75:8; Jer 25:15, 16; 49:12; Zec 12:2; Re 14:10); ("poured out without mixture"; rather,
"the pure wine juice mixed with intoxicating drugs").
of trembling—which produced trembling
wrung … out—drained the last
drop out; the dregs were the sediments from various substances, as
honey, dates, and drugs, put into the wine to increase the strength and
18. Following up the image in Isa 51:17, intoxicated and confused by the cup of
God's anger, she has none to guide her in her helpless state; she has
not yet awakened out of the sleep caused by that draught. This cannot
apply to the Babylonish captivity; for in it they had Ezekiel and
Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, as "guides," and soon awoke out of that
sleep; but it applies to the Jews now, and will be still more
applicable in their coming oppression by Antichrist.
19. two—classes of evils, for he
enumerates four, namely, desolation and
destruction to the land and state; famine and the
sword to the people.
who shall be sorry for thee—so as to
give thee effectual relief: as the parallel clause, "By whom shall I
comfort thee?" shows (La 2:11-13).
20. head of all … streets—(La 2:19;
wild bull—rather, "oryx" [Jerome], or gazelle [Gesenius], or wild goat [Bochart]; commonly in the East taken in a net, of a
wide sweep, into which the beasts were hunted together. The streets of
cities in the East often have gates, which are closed at night; a
person wishing to escape would be stopped by them and caught, as a wild
animal in a net.
21. drunken … not with wine—(Isa 29:9; compare Isa 51:17, 20, here; La 3:15).
22. pleadeth … cause—(Ps
35:1; Jer 50:34; Mic 7:9).
no more drink it—(Isa 54:7-9). This cannot apply to Israel
after the return from Babylon, but only to them after their final
23. (Isa 49:26; Jer
25:15-29; Zec 12:2).
Bow down that … go
over—Conquerors often literally trod on the necks of
conquered kings, as Sapor of Persia did to the Roman emperor Valerian
(Jos 10:24; Ps 18:40; 66:11, 12).