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12. Songs of Praise

1And in that day thou shalt say, I will give thanks unto thee, O Jehovah; for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away and thou comfortest me. 2Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for Jehovah, even Jehovah, is my strength and song; and he is become my salvation. 3Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. 4And in that day shall ye say, Give thanks unto Jehovah, call upon his name, declare his doings among the peoples, make mention that his name is exalted. 5Sing unto Jehovah; for he hath done excellent things: let this be known in all the earth. 6Cry aloud and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; for great in the midst of thee is the Holy One of Israel.

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1. And thou shalt say in that day. Isaiah now exhorts all the godly to thanksgiving. Yet the exhortation has also this object, that the promise may be more fully believed; for he seals it with that exhortation, that they may be convinced that it is certain, and may not think that they are deluded by unfounded hope, when a form of thanksgiving is now given, and, as it were, put into their mouth; and this would not have been the case, if there had not been just and solid grounds. At the same time, he points out the purpose which the Lord has in view in doing good in his Church. It is, that the remembrance of his name may be extolled; not that he needs our praise, but it is profitable to ourselves. We ought also to consider the honor which he bestows upon us, when he condescends to make use of our services for extolling and spreading the glory of his name, though we are altogether useless and of no value.

Thou shalt say. He addresses the whole people as if he were addressing one man, because it was their duty to be so united as to be one. We also are taught by the same example that we ought to be united together, that there may be one soul and one mouth, (Romans 15:6,) if we desire to have our prayers and thanksgivings accepted by God.

Though thou wast angry with me. The leading thought of this song is, that God, though he was justly offended at his people, yet was satisfied with inflicting a moderate chastisement, and showed that he was willing to be pacified. The particle כי (ki) being sometimes expressive of a cause, some render it, I will praise thee, O Lord, because, having been angry with me, still thou art immediately reconciled; but as it sometimes signifies though, 193193     Lowth remarks that the Hebrew phrase is exactly the same with what we find in Romans 6:17. But thanks be to God that ye were the slaves of sin, but have obeyed from the heart; that is, that whereas, or though ye were the slaves of sin; yet ye have now obeyed from the heart the doctrine on the model of which ye were formed. “For thou wast angry. That is, whereas thou wast angry, now hast thou forgiven and comforted me.” — Stock.
    FT185 He also is become my salvation. — Eng. Ver.

    FT186 In the margin he adds, “or, of salvation.”

    FT187 Call upon his name, (or, Proclaim his name.) — Eng Ver.

    FT188 Declare his doings among the people. — Eng. Ver.
I have adopted the rendering which I considered to agree best with this passage.

Believers, therefore, first acknowledge their guilt, and next ascribe it to the mercy of God that they have been freed from their distresses. The words being in the future tense, the following interpretation might also be adopted: — “The temporal chastisement will not prevent thee from having at length compassion on me, and from giving me ground of joy and comfort.” Whichsoever of these views be taken, this sentiment ought to be carefully observed; for as soon as a conviction of God’s anger seizes our minds, it prompts us to despair, and if it be not seasonably counteracted, it will speedily overwhelm us. Satan also tempts us by all methods, and employs every expedient to compel us to despair. We ought, therefore, to be fortified by this doctrine, that, though we feel the anger of the Lord, we may know that it is of short duration, (Psalm 30:5,) and that we shall be comforted as soon as he has chastened us.

When we have been relieved from distresses, let us call to remembrance that our punishment is ended, not because we have paid to the justice of God what we had deserved, but because through his fatherly love he spares our weakness. This confession belongs properly to the godly and elect; for though the chastisements of the godly and ungodly appear to be the same, yet the reasons of them are exceedingly different. The wrath of the Lord against the ungodly is perpetual, and the chastisements which are inflicted on them are forerunners of everlasting destruction: no alleviation or consolation is promised to them. But the godly feel that the wrath of God is of short duration, and encourage their hearts by hope and confidence; for they know that God will be gracious to them, since he has declared that he punishes their sins for no other reason than to train them to repentance, that they may not perish along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:32.)

2. Behold, God is my salvation. Though it is proper to behold by faith the salvation of God in the midst of our afflictions, yet here Isaiah speaks of knowledge derived from experience; for he lays down a form of a joyful song, in which God shows by outward signs that he is pacified towards his Church. Such is also the import of the phrase הנה, (hinneh,) Behold; for now the brightness of God’s countenance, which had been hidden for a time, shines forth, so that they can point to it as with the finger. Since, therefore, our punishments fill us with dread, and it is impossible for our minds not to be overclouded by our sins, as if we had no interest in God’s salvation, or as if it were withdrawn from us, the Prophet describes here a change of feeling, when God is reconciled to us. But this prediction relates chiefly to the coming of Christ, which first exhibited fully the salvation of God.

I will trust and not be afraid. He adds, that when we are fully convinced that salvation is laid up for us in God, this is a solid foundation of full confidence, and the best remedy for allaying fears. But for this we must have trembled, and been uneasy and distressed, and tortured by painful emotions. Hence, we conclude, that confidence proceeds from faith, as an effect from its cause. By faith we perceive that salvation is laid up for us in God, and a calm and peaceful state of mind arises from it; but when faith is wanting there can be no peace of conscience. Let us therefore know that we have made good progress in faith, when we have been endued with such confidence as the Prophet describes.

Besides, this confidence ought to have the chief place in our hearts, (Colossians 3:15,) so as to banish all fear and dread; not that we are free from all distress and uneasiness, but that assurance will at length be victorious. Yet we must keep in mind what I said, that the Prophet here speaks of the cheerfulness which believers, who had formerly been almost overwhelmed under the load of temptations, obtain, when God is reconciled to them.

For the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength. He states more clearly and more expressly that believers will have good reason to sing, because they will have known by experience that they are strong in their God, as indeed redemption was an illustrious display of the power of God. Since Isaiah does not describe the benefit of a single day, but that which God had determined to carry forward till the coming of Christ, it follows that there are none who sincerely and heartily sing the praises of God, but those who, convinced of their weakness, seek to obtain strength from God alone in answer to prayer. Nor is he here called a part or an aid of our strength, but our complete strength; for we are strong, so far as he supplies us with strength.

And my song. The reason why he is called The song of the godly is, that he bestows on them so much kindness for the purpose of exciting them to perform the duty of thankfulness. Hence we conclude that the beginning of joy springs from the favor of God, and that the end of it is the sacrifice of praise. (Psalm 50:23; Hoseah 14:2; Hebrew 13:15.) Thus, the hearts of the godly ought to be trained to patience, that they may not cease to bless God; but in a state of joy and prosperity their mouth is opened, so that they loudly proclaim God’s benefits. But since the ungodly freely indulge in despising God, and, having laid their consciences asleep, riot like brutes in drunken mirth, and never awake to praise God, Christ justly curses their joy.

Wo to you that laugh, for ye shall mourn; your joy shall be turned into grief, and your laughter into qnashing of teeth.
(Luke 6:25.)

And he hath become my salvation. 194194    {Bogus footnote} If it be thought better to take this clause in the past tense, the meaning will be, that believers sing joyfully, because God hath saved them. But it will be most appropriate to take it in the future tense, and he will become my salvation; that is, God not only hath been salvation to his people, but will be so to the end; for believers ought not to confine their attention to the present benefit, but to extend their hope to the uninterrupted progress of his favor.




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