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Listen to me, my people,

and give heed to me, my nation;

for a teaching will go out from me,

and my justice for a light to the peoples.


I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,

my salvation has gone out

and my arms will rule the peoples;

the coastlands wait for me,

and for my arm they hope.


Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

and look at the earth beneath;

for the heavens will vanish like smoke,

the earth will wear out like a garment,

and those who live on it will die like gnats;

but my salvation will be forever,

and my deliverance will never be ended.



Listen to me, you who know righteousness,

you people who have my teaching in your hearts;

do not fear the reproach of others,

and do not be dismayed when they revile you.


For the moth will eat them up like a garment,

and the worm will eat them like wool;

but my deliverance will be forever,

and my salvation to all generations.



Awake, awake, put on strength,

O arm of the Lord!

Awake, as in days of old,

the generations of long ago!

Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,

who pierced the dragon?


Was it not you who dried up the sea,

the waters of the great deep;

who made the depths of the sea a way

for the redeemed to cross over?


So the ransomed of the Lord shall return,

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain joy and gladness,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.



I, I am he who comforts you;

why then are you afraid of a mere mortal who must die,

a human being who fades like grass?


You have forgotten the Lord, your Maker,

who stretched out the heavens

and laid the foundations of the earth.

You fear continually all day long

because of the fury of the oppressor,

who is bent on destruction.

But where is the fury of the oppressor?


The oppressed shall speedily be released;

they shall not die and go down to the Pit,

nor shall they lack bread.

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4. Attend to me, my people. There are good reasons why the Lord so frequently demands that he shall be heard. We know by experience how slow we are to hear him, especially in adversity; and even when we would have great need of consolation, we reject it by our impatience, and faint. Each of us, therefore, the sorer are the afflictions which press upon him, ought to endeavor more earnestly to enlarge his heart, and in this way to arouse himself, and to shake off his slothfulness, that he may receive consolation. What is here demanded is attention, to sustain our hearts by patience, till the season of grace be fully come.

For the law shall go forth from me. The meaning is, that the Lord will again reign, and will arouse his Church to call on his name. Though the word Law is equivalent to the edict which God shall order to be proclaimed, when he shall be pleased to gather his Church, yet at the same time he describes his manner of reigning; namely, by his “Law” and byhis doctrine. Hence we see that wherever doctrine is rejected, God’s government is not found, that is, is not recognised by men. By judgment he means the order and administration of government, by which he shall restore his kingdom.

For a light of the peoples, He says that this will be “for a light of the peoples,” because, when God begins to reign, miserable men 2323     “Les hommes miserables de nature.” “Men who are by nature miserable.” are rescued from darkness and enlightened by the doctrine of the word.

I will reveal. This vero ארגיע (argiang) is variously expounded by commentators, because רגע (ragang) has various significations. Sometimes it signifies to “cut” and “open,” and sometimes “to be at rest.” Some therefore explain it, “I will cause to rest,” that is, “I will establish;” and that meaning is not inappropriate. Most of the Jewish writers explain it differently, but I shall not relate their crooked and harsh interpretations. I rather approve of this translation, “I will manifest judgment,” or, “I will cause judgment to break forth,” or, which means the same thing, “I will reveal;” because I think that it agrees better with the former clause. Repetitions, we know, are very customary among the Hebrew writers. Although, therefore, he employs different words, still the meaning is the same. Having formerly said that “the law shall go forth from him,” he now says that “he will reveal judgment.”

5. My righteousness is near. He confirms the former doctrine. The “righteousness” of the Lord has relation to men, who know by experience that he is “righteous.” While the people were oppressed by cruel bondage, they knew, indeed, that they were justly punished for their sins; but they might wonder that they were so much forsaken, because the worship of God ceased, and his name was blasphemed by wicked men, who pursued their wicked career without punishment. In order, therefore, to bring them some consolation, he promises that God will speedily assist them, so that all shall acknowledge that he is faithful and just. By the word “righteous” the Prophet does not mean that he renders to every one a “righteous” reward, but that he yields the best protection, and dispenses the largest kindness to his people, that he faithfully performs his promises to all believers, when he delivers them and does not suffer them to be finally overwhelmed.

This appears more clearly from the following clause, in which, for the purpose of explanation, he adds, My salvation hath gone forth; for the “righteousness” of God shone brightly in the deliverance of the people. Now, the captivity in which the Jews were held in Babylon was a kind of death, in consequence of which that deliverance is here called “Salvation.”

My arms shall judge the peoples. By “arms” he means the wide exercise of his power. That figure of speech which describes God under forms of expression drawn from the human frame occurs frequently in Scripture. Because God’s government appeared to be confined within narrow limits, or rather was not at all visible, on this account he mentions arms, by which he means that he will spread his kingdom far and wide.

6. Lift up your eyes toward heaven. When we see so great changes in the world, we are apt to think that the Church comes within the influence of the sanhe violent motion; and therefore we need to have our minds elevated above the ordinary course of nature; otherwise, the salvation of the Church will appear to hang on a thread, and to be carried hither and thither by the billows and tempests. Yet, we may see both in heaven and in earth how wisely God regulates all things, with what fatherly kindness he upholds and defends his workmanship and the frame of the world, and with what equity he provides for all his creatures. But in a remarkable manner he deigns to watch over his Church, as he has separated her from the ordinary rank.

And look upon the earth beneath. Both of the views now stated are here embraced by the Prophet; for he bids believers turn their eyes upwards and downwards, so as to perceive both in heaven and in earth the wonderful providence of God, by which he so beautifully preserves the order and harmony which he at first established. But he adds that, though heaven and earth hasten to decay, it is impossible that the Church shall fail, the stability of which is founded on God; as if he had said, “A thousand times rather shall leaven mingle with the earth than the promise on which your salvation rests shall fail of its accomplishment.”-

My salvation shall endure for ever. First of all, he mentions “salvation,” and next he speaks of “righteousness,” on which it rests as on a solid foundation. Whenever, therefore, dangers shall press upon us on every hand, let us learn to betake ourselves to this place of refuge. And with this sentiment agree the words of the Psalmist,

“The heavens shall wax old and vanish away; but thou, Lord, art always the same, and thy years are not changed.”
(Psalm 102:26, 27)

Both passages remind us that the grace of God, which he displays in the preservation of his Church, surpasses all his other works. Everything that is contained in heaven and earth is frail and fading; but God’s salvation, by which he guards the Church, is eternal, and therefore cannot be liable to these dangers.

7. Hearken to me. Because wicked men, when they enjoy prosperity, laugh at our faith, and ridicule our distresses and afflictions, on this account the Prophet exhorts believers to patience, that they may not dread their reproaches or be dismayed by their slanders. The reason assigned is, that their prosperity shall not be of long duration. Whatever may be their insolent boasting, they are already pronounced (verse 8) to be the food of moths and worms; while God holds in his hand the salvation of believers, from which they appear to be thrown to the greatest possible distance. Here we ought again to observe the repetition of the word Hearken. This is now the third time that the Lord demands a “hearing;” because, when we tremble with anxiety on account of our distresses, it is with the greatest difficulty that we rely on his promises, and therefore we need to be often roused and stimulated, till we have conquered every difficulty.

Ye that know righteousness, Here he does not address unbelievers, but those who “know righteousness;” because, though they do not intentionally reject the word of God, yet they often shut the door against his “righteousness,” so that it does not reach them, when, under the influence of adversity, they shut their ears and almost despair. In order therefore that they may receive the promises, and that they may admit consolation, the Prophet stirs up and arouses them.

A people in whose heart is my law. We must attend to the train of thought. First, he describes what kind of people the Lord wishes to have, namely, “those who know righteousness;” and next he explains what is the nature of this knowledge, that is, when the people have “the law” fixed and deeply rooted in their hearts. Without the word of the Lord there call be no “righteousness.” No laws of men, however well framed, will lead us to true righteousness, of which they may indeed give us a feeble idea, but which they never can justly describe. At the same time, he shews in what manner we ought to make progress in the law of the Lord; namely, by embracing it with the heart; for the seat of the law is not in the brain, but in the heart, that, being imbued with heavenly doctrine, we may be altogether renewed.

8. But my righteousness shall continually endure. Because the believing servants of God must endure many reproaches and slanders from the enemies of the word, the Prophet exhorts and encourages them to bear it courageously. It frequently happens that we are more deeply moved by the contumely and insults of men than by fire and sword; but we ought to reckon it praise and glory to be the object of their contempt and abhorrence. True valor springs from this consideration, that, although the world reject us as “filth and offscourings,” (1 Corinthians 4:13,) God holds us in estimation; because we maintain the same cause with himself. Let us with Moses, therefore, “prefer the reproach of Christ to the treasures of the Egyptians.” (Hebrews 11:26.) Let us rejoice with the Apostles, who

“departed from the council glad and joyful, because they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus.” (Acts 5:41.)

And my salvation for ever and ever. Because the death of wicked men would yield to us small consolation, if we were not saved, he shews what will be our condition, namely, that we shall never be left destitute of “God’s righteousness and salvation.” But the comparison may appear to be inappropriate, when he contrasts the destruction of the wicked with his righteousness. Far more clearly and suitably it might have been thus expressed: “though the reprobate indulge in mirth, yet they shall speedily perish; but believers, though they appear to be dead, shall live.” Again, because he makes no mention of us, and commends only the eternity of God’s righteousness, it may be objected, that to us who are almost overwhelmed this is of no avail. But by these words the Prophet instructs us, that in our afflictions we ought to seek consolation from the thought, that our health and salvation are, as it were, shut up in God; for, so long as men trust or rely on themselves, they cannot cherish any good hope that does not speedily decay; and therefore we ought to turn our hearts to God, whose “mercy endureth from everlasting to everlasting on them that fear him,” as David says, “and his righteousness to children’s children.” (Psalm 103:17.)

Because salvation is founded on the goodness of God, Isaiah reminds us of it, that men may be reduced to nothing, and that confidence may be placed in God alone. The meaning may be thus summed up, “Salvation is in God, that by it he may preserve, not himself, but us; righteousness is in God, that he may display it for our defense and preservation.” Accordingly, from the eternity of God’s “salvation and righteousness” we ought to infer that the servants of God cannot possibly perish; which agrees with the passage quoted a little before from David,

“Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. The children of thy servants shall dwell, and their posterity shall be established for ever.” (Psalm 102:27, 28.)

Thus we see how he applies this eternity to the children of God, who do not subsist in themselves, but in God, and have the foundation of their salvation in him.

9. Awake, awake. Here the Prophet instructs us, that, when God cheers us by his promises, we ought also to pray earnestly that he would perform what he has promised. He does not comfort us in order to render us slothful, but that we may be inflamed with a stronger desire to pray, and may continually exercise our faith. The Prophet speaks according to our feelings; for we think that God is asleep, so long as he does not come to the relief of our wants; and the Lord indulges us so far as to permit us to speak and pray according to the feeling of our weakness. Believers therefore entreat the Lord to “awake,” not that they imagine him to be idle or asleep in heaven; 2424     “Non pas qu’ils le pensent oisif ni endormi au ciel.” but, on the contrary, they confess their own sluggishness and ignorance, in not being able to form any conception of God, so long as they are not awaro of receiving his assistance. But yet, though the flesh imagine that he is asleep, or that he disregards our calamities, faith rises higher and lays hold on his eternal power.

Put on strength, O arm of Jehovah. He is said to “awake” and “put on strength,” when he exhibits testimonies of his power, because otherwise we think that he is idle or asleep. Meanwhile, the Prophet, by addressing the arm of God which was concealed, holds it out to the view of believers as actually present, that they may be convinced that there is no other reason why they are so bitterly and painfully afflicted by their enemies than because God has withdrawn his aid. The cause of the delay has been already shewn, that they had estranged themselves from God.

In ancient days. By the term “ancient days” he shews that we ought to bear in remembrance all that the Lord did long ago for the salvation of his people. Though he appears to pause and to take no more care about us, still he is the same God who formerly governed his Church; and therefore he can never forsake or abandon those whom he takes under his protection.

In ages long ago past. This repetition tells us still more clearly, that we ought to consider not only those things which have happened lately, but those which happened long ago; for we ought to stretch our minds even to the most remote ages, that they may rise above temptations, which otherwise might easily overwhelm us.

Art thou not it that crushed the proud one? 2525     “Here is a noble mixture of lively figures; the Prophet first addressing himself to the Lord, as if he were fast asleep, tired with fatigue and labor; then painting him in a martial posture, dressing himself in arms, and putting on his accoutrements; then raising his courage by a narration of his former valorous performances, Art not thou that Arm which cut off the Egyptian Rahab, when with all the strength of his kingdom he pursued the naked Israelites to the further banks of the Red Sea? Certainly thou art the same, not at all decayed in strength, but able to do as much for thy people now, as for their fathers then.” — White. The numerous testimonies of grace which God had displayed in various ages are here collected by the Prophet, so that, if a few are not enough, the vast number of them may altogether confirm the faith of the Church. But, since it would be too tedious to draw up an entire catalogue, he brings forward that singular and most remarkable of all such events, namely, that the people were once delivered from Egypt in a miraculous manner, for I have no doubt that by Rahab 2626     “Par Rahab, que nous avons traduit l’orgueilleuse.” “By Rahab, which we have translated The proud.” he means proud and cruel Egypt; as it is also said,

“I will mention Rahab and Babylon among my friends.”
(Psalm 87:4.)

In like manner Ezekiel calls the king of Egypt “a Dragon.”

“Behold, I am against thee,O Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon, who dwellest in the midst of thy rivers.”
(Ezekiel 29:3.)

It is sufficiently evident, and is universally admitted, that the Prophet here calls to remembrance the miraculous deliverance of the people from Egypt. “If at that time the pride of Egypt was tamed and subdued, if the dragon was put to flight, why should we not hope for the same thing?”

By putting the question, if it be the same arm, he argues from the nature of God; for this could not be affirmed respecting the “arm” of man, whose strength, though it be great, is diminished and fails through time? Milo, who had been very strong, when he became old and looked at his arms, groaned because the strength which he possessed at an earlier period had now left him. But it is not so with God, whose strength no lapse of time can diminish. These words ought to be read ἐμφατικῶς emphatically, “Art thou not it?“ For he shews that the Lord is the same as he formerly was, because he remains unchangeable.

10. Which dried up the sea. Though Isaiah does not relate all the miracles which God performed when he brought out his people from the bondage of Egypt, yet he intended to include in a few words all that are related by Moses, that the Jews, having been briefly addressed, might consider the various ways in which the Lord had demonstrated his power. The drying up of the Red Sea is mentioned, not only on account of the extraordinary excellence of the miracle, but because the numerous miracles which preceeded it were directed to this end, that the people, rescued from unjust violence and tyranny, might pass into the promised land. Accordingly, the Prophet expressly mentions that a way was opened up for the redeemed. From this example we ought to consider what God will be to us, so as to draw this conclusion, that in future God will always be like himself, as is evident from the context.

11 Therefore the redeemed by Jehovah shall return. He now describes more plainly what he had briefly remarked; for, after having related the magnificent works of God, by which he formerly displayed his power in Egypt, in order to deliver his people, he concludes that neither the sea, nor the lofty rocks, nor the whirlpools, nor even hell itself, can prevent him from leading forth his people out of Babylon. And in order to confirm it more fully, and to apply that example, he calls them “redeemed,” that they may know that, when God calls himself the deliverer of his people, this belongs to them, and that they may not doubt that, in delivering them, he will produce such an example as had been already exhibited; for the reason is the same.

Shall come to Zion. Namely, to that place where he wished that men should call on his name, that the temple may be rebuilt and the pure worship of God restored; for, since the Jews, during the Babylonish captivity, ought to expect the same aid as had been obtained by their fathers, because God was in like manner the Redeemer of the children also, they were superior to the fathers in one respect, that God had at that time chosen Mount Zion, in which he had promised that his rest would be eternal. (Psalm 132:14.) But since the work of God, which Isaiah promises, was worthy of admiration, on this account, he exhorts the people to praise and thanksgiving.

With a song. רנה (rinnah) may indeed be taken simply for “rejoicing;” but, as it frequently denotes the praise which is rendered to God when we acknowledge his benefits, I prefer to take it in that sense in this passage. 2727     “J’aime mieux le prendre pour cantique en cest endroit-ci.” “I prefer to take it for a song in this passage.” The meaning is, that there will be a great and unexpected change, so that they shall have very abundant ground of joy and thanksgiving. When he says that joy shall be on their head, he alludes to the chaplets of flowers with which they were wont to adorn themselves at banquets. He adds that “they shall obtain joy,” which denotes that their enjoyment shall be solid and lasting. Lastly, for the purpose of amplification, he adds that all sorrow shall be banished, that they may not dread what frequently happens, that joy, by a sudden change, shall give place to mourning. (Proverbs 14:13.) Yet the Prophet instructs them, though they groan and are sorrowful, to wait patiently for that issue which he promises.

12. I, I am. Here the Lord not only promises grace and salvation to the Jews, but remonstrates with them for refusing to believe him, and for valuing his power less than they ought. It is exceedingly base to tremble at the threatenings of men to such a degree as to care nothing about God’s assistance; for he displays his power for this purpose, that he may at least fortify; us against every attack. Accordingly, by an excessive fear of men we betray contempt of God.

Hence it is evident how sinful it is to be agitated by the terrors of men, when God calls us to repose. And indeed it is amazing ingratitude in men, who, when they hear that God is on their side, derive no hope from his magnificent promises, so as to venture boldly to exclaim, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31.) The consequence is, that when dangers arise, they are terrified and confounded, and attribute far more to the power of mortal man in attacking than to the power of God in defending. Justly, therefore, does he upbraid the Jews with not fortifying themselves by these promises, and with not rendering themselves invincible against every danger; for God is treated with the highest dishonor when we doubt his truth, that is, when we are so completely overcome by human terrors that we cannot rest on his promises.

The repetition, I, I, is highly emphatic. He who promises consolation is the God of truth, against whom neither the strength nor the contrivances of men will be of any avail. When thou distrustest him, it follows that thou dost not consider who he is.

That thou shoudest be afraid of a man. He describes how frail, fading, transitory: and unsubstantial is the condition of men, in order to exhibit more fully their criminal stupidity in preferring a shadow and smoke to God. He shews that men, so long as they are mindful of God, cannot be struck down by fear. Consequently, when we are stunned by dangers that assail us, it follows that we have forgotten God; and therefore he adds, —

13. And hast forgotten Jehovah thy Maker. It is not enough to imagine that there is some God, but we ought to acknowledge and embrace him as ours. When he calls him “Maker,” this must not be understood to refer to universal creation, but to spiritual regeneration, as we have already explained under other passages. In this sense Paul calls us (τὸ ποίημα) “the workmanship of God,” (Ephesians 2:10,) because he hath created us to every good work. Thus, if we remember our creation and adoption, these beginnings may encourage us to hope for continued progress, that we may not be ungrateful to God, when he has proved his veracity by undoubted experience.

Who hath stretched out the heavens and founded the earth. To the special kindness which God had exercised towards his people he likewise adds his boundless power which he contrasts with the weakness of men, whom he formerly compared to withered grass. (Isaiah 40:7.) He demonstrates that power by his works, so that they who do not perceive it must be exceedingly stupid; for we cannot tum our eyes in any direction without perceiving very abundant testimonies of divine goodness and power, which, however, are briefly described by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, when he says that it is “He who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth.” It is therefore the greatest folly and indolence to forget him, for so numerous are the signs and testimonies which recall him to the remembrance of men.

And hast dreaded continually. He follows out the same comparison. “What are men,” says he, “that thou shouldst dread them, if thou compare them to God, who promises thee his assistance?” Assuredly, God is grievously blasphemed, if we refuse to believe that he is more powerful to preserve than enemies are to destroy us; and therefore the Lord bids us consider who and what he is, how vast and extensive is his power, that we may not dread the fury of a mortal man, who vanishes like a whirlwind or like smoke.

14. The exile hasteneth to be loosed. This verse is expounded in various ways; for some think that it refers to Cyrus, and take the word, צעה (tzoeh) 2828     “Que nons avons traduit banni.” “Which we have translated banished.” in a transitive sense, and explain it to mean, “Causing to migrate.” 2929     That is, they treat it as the Kal participle of an active verb, signifying “Banishing,” and not as the participle of a passive or neuter verb, signifying “Banished,” or “Wandering.” — Ed. But it is more customary to interpret it as meaning one who is imprisoned and oppressed, or an exile who wanders about without any settled abode. Now, the Jews were not only exiles but captives, so that they were not at liberty to return to their native land; and therefore I explain it as referring to the Jews.

But still there are two senses in which it may be understood, either that the Prophet reproves their excessive haste, in impatiently desiring to return, or that the Prophet means that their return to their native country is immediately at hand, that they may not sink under the discouragement of long delay; as if he had said, that the time when they must prepare for departure will speedily arrive. The second of these expositions has been more generally approved; and I adopt it the more readily, because it agrees best with the context.

But it may appear strange that he should say that the people will quickly return, since their captivity was of long duration. Yet with good reason does God say that that event will come quickly which he delays till a fit season; for, although to us it may appear to be long, yet, being appropriate and suitable, the time is short. And indeed it was a short time, if we look at the condition of that monarchy, which was so vast and strong that it appeared as if it could never be destroyed. Thus, what appears to be long in the promises of God will appear to be short, provided that we do not refuse to lift up our eyes to heaven. This meaning is confirmed by what immediately follows.

That he may not die in a pit. Such then is God’s haste to come early to deliver his people; that they may come forth safely out of the dungeon. The Lord does not promise to his people some sudden assistance, that he may only bring them out of prison, but also that, after having been delivered, they may be the objects of his kindness; for he promises everything necessary for their food and support, that they may be convinced that God will always take care of them; and he is wont not only to assist his people for a moment, but to remain with them continually.