Isa 42:1-25. Messiah the
Antitype of Cyrus.
God's description of His character (Isa 42:1-4). God addresses Him directly
42:5-7). 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 deliverance (Isa 42:10-25).
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 Mt 12:18-20, and the description can apply to
Messiah alone (Ps 40:6; with
which compare Ex 21:6; Joh 6:38; Php 2:7). Israel, also, in its highest ideal, is
called the "servant" of God (Isa 49:3). But this ideal is realized only in the
antitypical Israel, its representative-man and Head, Messiah (compare
2:15, 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 atonement (1Pe 1:20; Re
13:8). 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). In Mt 12:18 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
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; Mt 3:17).
spirit upon him—(Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lu 4:18; Joh 3:34).
judgment—the gospel dispensation,
founded on justice, the canon of the divine rule and principle
of judgment called "the law" (Isa 2:3; compare 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 (Joh 9:39). Mt 12:18 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 Him.
2. Matthew [Mt 12:19] marks the kind of "cry" as that of
altercation by quoting it, "He shall not strive" (Isa 53:7).
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
12:15; Mt 12:34, 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; Ge 3:15); so He can feel for the bruised.
42:2 described His
unturbulent spirit towards His violent enemies (Mt 12:14-16), and His utter freedom from love
of notoriety, so Isa 42:3, His
tenderness in cherishing the first spark of grace in the penitent
reed—fragile: easily "shaken with the
11:7). Those who are at best
feeble, and who besides are oppressed by calamity or by the sense of
break—entirely crush or condemn.
Compare "bind up the broken-hearted" (Isa 50:4; 61:1; Mt
flax—put for the lamp-wick,
formed of flax. The believer is the lamp (so the Greek,
5:15; Joh 5:35): 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
truth—Mt 12:20 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"
14:6). 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 coming; Isa 42:13, 14, here, and 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 (Isa 42:2),
there shall be finally the judgment on His enemies, when the
"truth" shall be perfectly developed. Compare Isa 61:1-3, where the two comings are
similarly joined (Ps 2:4-6, 8; Re 15:2, 4; 19:11-16). On "judgment," see on Isa 42:1.
4. fail—faint; man in religion
may become as the almost expiring flax-wick (Isa 42:3), but not so He in His purposes of
discouraged—literally, "broken," that
is, checked in zeal by discouragements (compare 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 reign.
isles … wait, &c.—The
distant lands beyond sea shall put their trust in His gospel way
of salvation. Mt 12:21
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, Isa 30:18).
"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 (Isa
42:21; Jer 23:6; Ro 10:4).
"Isles" here, and in Isa 42:12,
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 (Isa 42:5-7)
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—(Ps 136:6).
6. in righteousness—rather, "for a
righteous purpose" [Lowth]. (See Isa 42:21). 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
41:2; Isa 45:13; 50:8, 9).
hold … hand—compare as to
Israel, the type of Messiah, Ho 11:3.
covenant—the medium of the covenant,
originally made between God and Abraham (Isa 49:8). "The mediator of a better covenant"
8:6) than the law (see Isa 49:8; Jer 31:33; 50:5). So the abstract "peace," for
peace-maker (Mic 5:5; Eph 2:14).
the people—Israel; as Isa 49:8, compared with Isa 42:6, proves (Lu 2:32).
7. blind—spiritually (Isa 42:16, 18, 19; Isa 35:5; Joh 9:39).
prison—(Isa 61:1, 2).
darkness—opposed to "light" (Isa 42:6; Eph 5:8; 1Pe 2:9).
8. God turns from addressing Messiah to the
Lord—Jehovah: God's distinguishing and incommunicable
name, indicating essential being and immutable faithfulness
(compare Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18; 96:5; Ho 12:5).
my—that is due to Me, and to Me
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
all … therein—all the living
creatures that fill the sea (Ps 96:11) [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 Isa 42:11, 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 renovation.
11. cities—in a region not wholly waste,
but mainly so, with an oasis here and there.
Kedar—in Arabia-Deserta (Isa 21:16; Ge
25:13). The Kedarenians led a
nomadic, wandering life. So Kedar is here put in general for that class
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 Arabia-Petræa [Vitringa].
12. glory … islands—(Isa 24:15).
13-16. Jehovah will no longer restrain His
wrath: He will go forth as a mighty warrior (Ex 15:3) to destroy His people's and His
enemies, and to deliver Israel (compare Ps 45:3).
stir up jealousy—rouse His
roar—image from the battle cry of a
14. long time—namely, during the
desolation of Israel (Isa 32:14).
holden my peace—(Compare Ps 50:21; Hab
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
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
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 Church.
make darkness light, &c.—implies
that the glorious issue would only be known by the event itself [Vitringa]. The same holds good of the
individual believer (Isa 30:21; Ps 107:7; compare Ho 2:6, 14; Eph 5:8; Heb
17. turned back …
ashamed—disappointed in their trust; the same phrase occurs
18. deaf—namely, to the voice of
blind—to your duty and interest;
wilfully so (Isa 42:20).
In this they differ from "the blind" (Isa 42:16). The Jews are referred to. He had said,
God would destroy the heathen idolatry; here he remembers that even
Israel, His "servant" (Isa 42:19),
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
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 Isa 44:2), 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 (Isa 41:8), [Gesenius]. The language, "my servant" (compare Isa 42:1), "messenger" (Mal 3:1), "perfect" (Ro
10:4; Heb 2:10; 1Pe 2:22),
can, in the full antitypical sense, only apply to Christ. So Isa 42:21 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 of Israel (Isa 42:18) 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;
he—transition from the second to the
third person. "Opening … ears," that is, though he (Israel) hath
his ears open (see on Isa 6:10). This language,
too (see on Isa 42:19), applies to Messiah as
Jehovah's servant (Isa 50:5; Ps 40:6).
21. his righteousness—not His people's,
but His own; Isa 42:24
shows that they had no righteousness (Isa 45:24; 59:16). God is well pleased with His
Son ("in whom My soul delighteth," Isa 42:1), "who fulfils all righteousness"
3:15) for them, and with them
for His sake (compare Isa 42:6; Ps
71:16, 19; Mt 5:17; Ro 10:3, 4; Php 3:9). 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
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' sake (Isa 42:21),
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 (Isa 42:7).
none saith, Restore—There is no
deliverer (Isa 63:5).
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 Jos 5:1).
25. him—Israel (Isa 42:24).
strength of battle—violence of
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; Jer 5:3).