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The Covenant Extended to All Who Obey


Thus says the Lord:

Maintain justice, and do what is right,

for soon my salvation will come,

and my deliverance be revealed.



Happy is the mortal who does this,

the one who holds it fast,

who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it,

and refrains from doing any evil.



Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say,

“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;

and do not let the eunuch say,

“I am just a dry tree.”


For thus says the Lord:

To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,

who choose the things that please me

and hold fast my covenant,


I will give, in my house and within my walls,

a monument and a name

better than sons and daughters;

I will give them an everlasting name

that shall not be cut off.



And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,

to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,

and to be his servants,

all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,

and hold fast my covenant—


these I will bring to my holy mountain,

and make them joyful in my house of prayer;

their burnt offerings and their sacrifices

will be accepted on my altar;

for my house shall be called a house of prayer

for all peoples.


Thus says the Lord God,

who gathers the outcasts of Israel,

I will gather others to them

besides those already gathered.


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1. Thus saith Jehovah. This is a remarkable passage, in which the Prophet shows what God demands from us, as soon as he holds out tokens of his favor, or promises that he will be ready to be reconciled to us, that our reconciliation may be secured. He demands from us such a conversion as shall change our minds and hearts, that they may forsake the world and rise towards heaven; and next he likewise calls for the fruits of repentance.

Keep ye judgment, and do righteousness. Under the names “judgment” and “righteousness,” he includes all the duties which men owe to each other, and which consist not only in abstaining from doing wrong, but also in rendering assistance to our neighbors. And this is the sum of the second table of the Law, in keeping which we give proof of our piety, if we have any. For this reason the prophets always draw our attention to that table; because by means of it our real character is better known, and true uprightness is ascertained; for hypocrites, as we have formerly seen, 9393     Commentary on Isaiah, Vol. 1, pp. 56, 57 often practice deceit by ceremonies.

For my salvation is near, and my righteousness. He assigns the reason, and at the same time points out the source and the cause why it is the duty of all to devote themselves to newness of life. It is because “the righteousness of the Lord approaches to us,” that we, on our part, ought to draw near to him. The Lord calls himself “righteous,” and declares that this is “his righteousness,” not because he keeps it shut up in himself, but because he pours it out on men. In like manner he calls it “his salvation,” by which he delivers men from destruction.

Although this discourse was addressed to the Jews, that, by sincere affection of heart, and by the practice of integrity, they might show their gratitude to God their Redeemer, yet it refers to every one of us; for the whole world is ruined in itself, if it do not obtain salvation from God alone. We must therefore attend to this exhortation, which instructs us that the nearer we are to God, so much the more powerfully ought we to be excited to the practice of godliness. Hence also Paul admonishes believers, 9494     “Admonneste les fideles.” “Cast away the works of darkness; put on the armor of light; for our salvation is nearer than we thought.” (Romans 13:11, 12)

2. Happy is the man that shall do this. When he calls those persons “happy” who, having embraced this doctrine, devote themselves to walk uprightly, he indirectly leads us to conclude that many will be deaf or disobedient; but, lest their wickedness or indifference should retard the elect, he recommends the exhortation which he has given from the advantage which it yields. Thus, in order that believers may abandon all delay, he exclaims that they are “happy” to whom it hath been given 9595     “Ausquels la grace a este faite.” “To whom grace hath been given.” to possess such wisdom.

Keeping the Sabbath. We have said that the words “justice” and “judgment,” in the preceding verse, include all the duties of the second table; but here he mentions the Sabbath, which belongs to the first table. I reply, as I have already mentioned briefly, that they who live inoffensively and justly with their neighbors, testify that they serve God; and therefore we need not wonder that the Prophet, after having glanced at the second table, mentions also the first; for both ought to be joined together In a word, Isaiah declares that he who shall obey God by keeping his law perfectly shall be “happy;” for the salvation and the righteousness of God shall belong to him. Since, therefore, men wander at random amidst their contrivances, and adopt various methods of worshipping God, he shows that there is only one way, that is, when men endeavor to frame and regulate their life by the injunction of the Law; for otherwise they will weary themselves in vain by taking other roads. In short, this is a remarkable passage, showing that nothing pleases God but keeping the Law.

If the question be put, “Can men obtain righteousness and salvation by their own works?” the reply will be easy; for the Lord does not offer salvation to us, as if he had been anticipated by our merits, (for, on the contrary, we are anticipated by him,) but offers himself freely to us, and only demands that we, on our part, draw near to him. Since therefore he willingly invites us, since he offers righteousness through free grace, we must make every effort not to be deprived of so great a benefit.

Again, because the Sabbath, as Moses declares, (Exodus 31:13, 17) and as Ezekiel 20:12 repeats, was the most important symbol of the worship of God, so by that figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, and which is called a synecdoche, the Sabbath includes all the exercises of religion. But we must view the Sabbath in connection with everything that attends it; for God does not rest satisfied with outward ceremony, or delight in our indolence, but demands from us earnest self­denial, that we may be entirely devoted to his service.

So that he may not profane it. This clause is commonly rendered, “That he may not profane it;“ and literally it runs thus, “From profaning it;“ and therefore we have thought it proper to prefix the word “so” to the clause, “So that he may not profane it,” in order to remove all ambiguity.

And keeping his hand, that he may abstain from all that is evil. He now adds another synecdoche, to describe the duties which men owe to each other. The amount of it is, that there is no other way of serving God aright but by sincere piety and a blameless life, as he has also included in these two parts the rule of leading a holy life. In a word, it is an exposition of true righteousness which is contained in the Law of the Lord, that we may acquiesce in it; for in vain do men seek any other road to perfection. Here also are thrown down all false worship and superstitions, and, finally, everything that is contrived by men in opposition to the word of God.

3. And let not the son who is a foreigner 9696     “The essential meaning of this verse is, that all external disabilities shall be abolished, whether personal or national. To express the latter, he makes use of the phrase בן נכר, (ben nekar,) which strictly means not ‘the son of the stranger,’ as the common version has it, but ‘the son of strangeness,’ or ‘of a strange country;’ נכר (nekar) corresponding to the German Fremde, which has no equivalent in English. ­ Alexander say. The Prophet shows that this grace of God shall be such that even they who formerly were estranged from him, and against whom the door might be said to have been shut, may obtain a new condition, or may be perfectly restored. And he meets their complaint, that they may not say that they are rejected, or unworthy, or “foreigners,” or excluded by any mark; for the Lord will remove every obstacle. This may refer both to Jews, who had been brought into a condition similar to that of foreign nations by a temporary rejection, and to the heathen nations themselves. For my own part, I willingly extend it to both, that it may agree with the prediction of Hosea,

“I will call them my people who were not my people.” (Hosea 1:10)

Joined to Jehovah. When he says that they are “joined to God,” he gives warning that this consolation belongs to those only who have followed God when he called them; for there are many “eunuchs” on whom God does not bestow his favor, and many “foreigners” who do not join themselves to the people of God. This promise is therefore limited to those who have been called and have obeyed.

By calling them “foreigners” and “eunuchs,” he describes under both classes all who appear to be unworthy of being reckoned by God in the number of his people; for God had separated for himself a peculiar people, and had afterwards driven them out of his inheritance. The Gentiles were entirely shut out from his kingdom, as is sufficiently evident from the whole of Scripture. Paul says,

“Ye were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now by Christ Jesus, ye who formerly were far off have been made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
(Ephesians 2:12, 13)

The Gentiles, therefore, might at first doubt whether or not the benefit of adoption, which was literally intended for the Jews, belonged to them. We see also how much the Apostles shrunk from it, when the Lord commanded them (Mark 16:15) to “preach the Gospel through the whole world;” for they thought that the doctrine of salvation was profaned if it was communicated indiscriminately to Gentiles as well as to Jews. The same hesitation might harass the elect people, from the time that their banishment from the holy land became a sign of the rejection of them; and therefore the Prophet commands them to dismiss their doubts.

And let not the eunuch say. By the same figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he includes under this designation all who bore any mark of disgrace which kept them apart~ from the people of God; for “eunuchs,” and those who had no children, appeared to be rejected by God and shut out from the promise which the Lord had made to Abraham, that “his seed should be as the stars of heaven, (Genesis 15:5) and as the sand of the sea.” (Genesis 22:17) In a word, he warns all men against looking at themselves, that they may fix their minds exclusively on God’s calling, and may thus imitate the faith of Abraham, (Genesis 15:6) who did not look at either his own decayed body or the barren womb of Sarah, so as through unbelief to dispute with himself about the power of God, but hoped above all hope. (Romans 4:18­20) The Prophet addresses persons who were despised and reproached; for, as Peter says,

“there is no respect of persons with God, but in every nation he who feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted by him.” (Acts 10:34, 35)

4. For thus saith Jehovah. Now follows a confirmation; for the sincere worshippers of God, who keep the sabbaths and follow the righteousness of the Law, though they be “eunuchs,” 9797     “According to the Law, (Deuteronomy 23:1) eunuchs could not be received into the Hebrew nation; so that their situation, in that respect, was the same as that of the foreigners who were formerly mentioned. Of what use (might such a person say) are those splendid promises to me, who cannot be admitted into the Jewish commonwealth?” — Rosenmuller. or labor under any other obstruction, shall nevertheless have a place in the Church. He appears to annihilate in this manner all the external marks 9898     “Toutes les marques exterieures.” in which alone the Jews gloried; for the high rank of the Church is not external, but spiritual; and although believers have no emblems of distinction in the eyes of the world, and are even despised and reproached, yet they rank high in the sight of God.

And choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant. With the “keeping of the Sabbath,” he connects obedience and adherence to “the covenant;” and hence we may readily infer that, when he spoke hitherto about the Sabbath, he had in view not an idle ceremony but perfect holiness. At the same time, he again lays a restraint on the children of God, not to make even the smallest departure from the injunction of the Law; for they are permitted to “choose,” not whatever they think fit, but that which God declares to be pleasing and acceptable to himself. Wherefore both hypocrisy and inconsiderate zeal are here condemned, when God not only contrasts his own commandments with the inventions of men, but enjoins them earnestly to “take hold of his covenant.”

5. I will give to them in my house. Here we see that all men, however unworthy, may obtain admission into the kingdom of God: he alludes to Jerusalem, and to the temple in which the Lord placed a memorial of his name. No place was given in it to any but to the Jews alone; and they would have reckoned the temple to be polluted, if any of the Gentiles had entered into it. Hence also a serious insurrection arose against Paul for having brought into the temple uncircumcised persons. The Lord now admits, without distinction, those whom he previously forbade; and indeed he set aside this distinction, when we, who were the children of strangers, were brought by him into the temple, that is, into his Church, which is not confined, as formerly, within those narrow limits of Judea, but is extended through the whole world.

A place and a name. יד (yad) is here put for place, as in many other passages. It might also be supposed to denote “authority,” or “power;“ for they shall be elevated to such dignity as to be accounted the children of God.

Better than of sons and of daughters. A question may arise, Does the Lord compare the Jews who were at that time in the Church, with the believers whom he shall afterwards place in their room; or, does he contrast the future condition of the people with their condition at that time? For it is certain that “the name” of the Gentiles is “better” than that of the Jews, who were “cut off on account of their unbelief;“ and we have succeeded in their room, “as wild olives ingrafted into a good olive tree,” as Paul says. (Romans 11:24) The meaning’ might therefore be, that “eunuchs” and “foreigners” shall have “a better name” than children and domestics, who were regarded as God’s heritage. But I choose rather to explain it in a different manner, namely, that the dignity of believers shall be higher under Christ than it was under the Law. The patriarchs had a very excellent “name,” when they called upon God as their Father, and were joined in covenant with him; but the grace of God has been far more abundantly poured out upon us since the coming of Christ; and therefore we have obtained in him a far more excellent name.

A perpetual name. He calls this name “perpetual,” because it is written in heaven, where it shall live and flourish throughout all ages. Wicked men wish to have their name made illustrious in this world, and labor to promote their reputation, that the remembrance of their name may last for ever; but it is fading and of short duration. But far different is this name; for it makes us heirs of the heavenly kingdom, so that in the presence of angels we are reckoned to be the children of God.

We might also interpret מבנים (mibbanim) to mean, “than the name which is derived from children; 9999     “A place and name more excellent than that which comes from children.” ­ Doederlein.
“More excellent and longer lived than that name which the fathers of families procure for themselves by the succession of posterity.” ­ Rosenmuller.
for men, by having children, do in some respect perpetuate their own name. He promises that this name shall be far more excellent. But I prefer to follow the former exposition.

6. The children of the foreigner who shall be joined to Jehovah. He repeats the same thing which he had formerly said, that God will open the doors of his temple to all men without distinction, so that there shall no longer be a distinction between the Jew and the Greek. He declares that those whom God brings into a state of friendship with himself by the word, which is the bond of our adoption, are “joined to God.” This is “the betrothing in mercy and faithfulness” which is mentioned by Hosea. (Hosea 2:19, 20) Not only does he grant to them a temple in which they may adore him as the body of the people were wont to do, but he assigns to them a more honorable rank, that they, nay minister to him; that is, God acknowledges as priests or Levites those who were formerly heathens.

And that they may love the name of Jehovah. We must observe the end of the calling, which is here stated; for he says that they shall be God’s ministers on condition that they love his name. Thus hypocrites are here excluded; for the calling joins two things together, that we serve God, and that our service be with a ready and cheerful disposition of mind. There can be no worship of God, if we do not willingly and readily yield obedience. What is said about alms, that “God loveth a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:7) ought to be applied to every part of life, that we render to God willing service.

Whosoever shall keep my Sabbath. He again mentions the Sabbath; and we have said that under this word is included the whole worship of God. In observing it the people overlooked that which was of the highest importance; for, by resting satisfied with outward ceremony, they neglected the truth, that is, reformation of life. The Lord enjoined them to rest in such a manner as to keep both their hands and their minds from all crime and wickedness.

And shall embrace my covenant. Here he describes the zeal and steadfastness of those who submit themselves to God and cleave to his word; and therefore, if we are joined to God by a covenant, we ought to hold by it constantly, and adhere firmly to sound doctrine, so that it may not be possible to withdraw or separate us from him in any manner.

7. These will I bring. By these modes of expression he describes what he had formerly stated, that foreigners who were formerly excluded from the Church of God, are called to it; so that henceforth the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision shall be abolished. This cannot refer to proselytes, who were received into the number of God’s people by circumcision, for that would have been nothing new or uncommon; but he testifies that the grace of God shall be diffused throughout the whole world; and this cannot be accomplished without uniting the Gentiles to the Jews so as to form one body, which happened when the difference between circumcision and uncircumcision was taken out of the way. There is therefore nothing now to prevent Gentiles from ministering to God, seeing that they have been called into the temple, that is, into the assembly of believers. Not only so, but we saw a little before, that the priesthood is removed from the tribe of Levi, not only to the whole body of the people, but even to foreigners.

How strongly the Jews abhor this sentiment is well known; for, although they read these words of the Prophet, yet they reckon it to be utterly monstrous that the Gentiles should be called to this distinguished benefit of God which was especially intended for them. Yet the Prophet’s meaning is so plain, that it cannot without the greatest impudence be called in question. He extols this grace from the fruit which it yields; for true and perfect happiness is, to be reconciled to God and to enjoy his favor. We know, indeed, that wicked men indulge excessively in mirth; but that mirth is turned into gnashing of teeth, because the curse of God rests upon it. But God fills the hearts of believers with the most delightful joy, not only by showing that he is reconciled to them, but by the manifestation of his favor and kindness in their prosperity. Yet their highest joy is that which springs from “peace” of conscience, which Paul ascribes to “the kingdom of God,” (Romans 14:1-7) and which we enjoy when we are reconciled to God by Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Their burnt-offerings and sacrifices shall be acceptable. He promises that their sacrifices shall be acceptable to him, because all have been called on this condition, that they shall offer themselves and all that they have to God. By the word “sacrifices,” he means such spiritual worship of God as is enjoined in the Gospel; for the Prophet spoke in accordance with what was customary in his time, when the worship of God was wrapped up in a variety of ceremonies. But now, instead of sacrifices, we offer to God praises, thanksgivings, good works, and finally ourselves. When he declares that they shall be acceptable, let us not imagine that; this arises from their own value or excellence, but from God’s undeserved kindness; for he might justly reject them, if he looked at them in themselves. This ought to be a spur to excite in us a strong desire to worship God, when we see that our works, which are of no value, are accepted by God as if they had been pure sacrifices.

He adds, On my altar; because in no other manner could the sacrifices be acceptable to God than “on the altar,” by which “they were sanctified.” (Matthew 23:19) Thus all that we offer will be polluted, if it be not “sanctified” by Christ, who is our altar.

For my house shall be called a house of prayer. Formerly the temple was appointed for the Jews alone, whom in an especial manner the Lord desired to call upon him; for, when Paul shows that the Jews have a superiority over the Gentiles, he says that λατρεία, that is, “the worship of God,” is theirs. (Romans 9:4) Thus by an extraordinary privilege, such as the rest of the nations were not permitted to enjoy, a temple was built among them. But now the distinction has been removed, and all men, to whatsoever nation or place they belong, are freely admitted into the temple, that is, into the house of God. This temple has been enlarged to such a degree, that it extends to every part of the whole world; for all nations have been called to the worship of God.

Here we have the manifest difference between the Law and the Gospel; for under the Law the true worship of God was observed by one nation only, for whose sake the temple was especially dedicated to him; but now all are freely admitted without distinction into the temple of God, that they may worship him purely in it, that is, everywhere. We must attend to the form of expression, which is customary and familiar to the Prophets, who employ, as we have already said, figures that correspond to their own age, and, under the name of “Sacrifices” and of “the Temple,” describe the pure worship of God. He paints the spiritual kingdom of Christ, under which we may everywhere “lift up pure hands,” (1 Timothy 2:8) and call upon God; and, as Christ saith, God is not now to be adored in that temple, but “the true worshippers worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

For this reason we see a fulfillment of this plain prophecy, namely, that “to all peoples the house of God hath become the house of prayer,” that all may “call upon him, Abba, Father,” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) that is, in every language; that henceforth the Jews may not boast that they alone have God. Thus the prophets were under a necessity of accommodating their discourse to their own time, and to the ordinary services of religion, that they might be understood by all; for the time of full revelation was not yet come, but the worship of God was clothed with various figures. Yet undoubtedly the temple, which had been consecrated to the name of God, was actually his house; for he testified by Moses that he would be in all places where he made mention of his name, (Exodus 20:24) and Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, said, “When they shall come to pray in this house, thou wilt hear in heaven, in thy habitation.” (1 Kings 8:30) And accordingly Christ reproves the Jews for “turning his Father’s house into a den of robbers,” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17) and connects this passage with a passage in the book of the Prophet Jeremiah 7:11

Christ calls the temple “the house of prayer,” with reference to that time when the Gospel had not yet been published; for although he was come, he was not yet known, and the ceremonies of the Law were not abolished. But when “the vail of the temple was rent,” (Matthew 27:51) and pardon of sins was proclaimed, these applauses of the temple ceased along with other ceremonies; for God began to be everywhere called upon by “all peoples.”

Yet it must here be observed that we are called into the Church, in order that we may call on God; for in vain do they boast who neglect prayer and true calling upon God, and yet hold a place in the Church. In whatever place we are, therefore, let us not neglect this exercise of faith; for we learn from the words of Isaiah, as it is also said, (Psalm 50:14) that this is the highest and most excellent sacrifice which God demands; so that the holiness of the temple consists in prayers being there offered continually.

8. The Lord Jehovah saith. Isaiah again confirms what he formerly testified as to the restoration of the people; for although he extolled in lofty terms the grace of God, by which he would deliver his people, yet the condition of the Church was such that promises of this kind appeared to be ridiculous. Such repetitions, therefore, are not superfluous, but were necessarily added in order to strengthen feeble minds, that they might be fully convinced of that which was otherwise incredible.

Who gathereth the outcasts of Israel. It is with reference to the subject in hand that he bestows on God this title; for it belongs to him to gather a scattered church, and the same words, “he gathereth the outcasts of Israel,” are used here in the same sense. (Psalm 147:2) Thus he promises that he will assemble them, and not them only, but that he will add to them various “peoples,” that the Church may be very numerously increased and multiplied. Whenever therefore we are drawn by various calamities of the Church to doubt as to his gathering them together, we ought to interpose this shield: “It belongeth to the Lord to gather the dispersed of Israel; and, though they are widely dispersed and scattered, yet he will easily and perfectly restore them.”

Still more will I gather upon him his gathered. I willingly keep by the literal meaning of the words of the Prophet. על (gnal) that is, “To,’ or “Upon;“ for he appears to me to have in view what he had said in the former verse, that the temple would be opened to all peoples; and he means that he will yet add many others to the Jews who have been gathered. This actually happened; for not only did he gather the dispersed in Babylon, but he also gathered other dispersions, which were frequent and almost of daily occurrence. Nor has he ever ceased to gather; so that he has added a large mass to those who have been gathered.