World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
The Ingathering of the Dispersed
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
1. Arise, be bright. He now shows what is the efficacy of that word of which he formerly 150150 “Au chapitre precedent.” “In the preceding chapter.” spoke; for he raises up a prostrate and afflicted Church, and restores her to her brightness; and, because he represents the person of God, he now declares his authority. For this reason he employs the form of command, that the word spoken might be more efficacious; as if, in the exercise of absolute power, he put the Church in possession of that happier condition which he had promised. The amount of what is said is, that believers may know that he does not scatter his words in the air, but speaks with effect.
He bids her “arise,” because he formerly told her to “lie down;” and these two words stand in contrast with each other. Of Babylon he formerly said, “Come down, sit in the dust.” (Isaiah 47:1) Of the Jews themselves he said, “My people shall sit in the dust.” On the other hand, he says, “Arise, arise, put on the garments of thy beauty.” (Isaiah 52:1) Thus, by what may be called the stretching out of his hand, he lifts up the Church again, that she who had formerly been prostrated, and covered all over with filth and pollution, may regain her seat of honor.
For thy brightness is come. That the darkness of afflictions may not overwhelm the Jews with despair, he says that the light which had been hidden would soon afterwards arise, alluding to the alternation of day and night. As if he had said, “The Lord, having compassion upon thee, will rescue thee out of this darkness in which thou liest; thou hast been sufficiently punished; it is time that thy condition should begin to be improved.” By the word brightness, therefore, he metaphorically denotes salvation and prosperity, as by “darkness” he formerly denoted a calamitous state of the Church.
The glory of Jehovah. He mentions at the same that this light will arise from no other quarter than from God’s smiling countenance, when he shall be pleased to display his grace; for everything goes well when the Lord shines upon us by his light; and, when he turns away from us, nothing that can befall us is more wretched and unhappy.
2. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth. He now exhibits in a stronger light, by means of comparison, that grace which he formerly mentioned; that we may form some idea how much God loves his elect, and how extraordinary is the privilege which he bestows upon them. The amount of what he says is, that, while we are weighed down by innumerable afflictions, and while the whole world, as it were, sinks under them, God will take care of his people., in order to enrich them with various benefits. He shows, therefore, that the light of grace and favor, which he mentioned, will not be indiscriminately enjoyed by all, but will be peculiar to the people of God.
We have said that the word “brightness” denotes a prosperous condition of the Church; but let us not judge of this condition from outward appearance; for the Prophet rises higher, and I have no doubt that his discourse relates to spiritual light and brightness. Otherwise that mode of expression which he afterwards employs, “The Gentiles shall walk to thy brightness,” (verse 3) would not be appropriate. Besides, this is clearly demonstrated by the connection between this chapter and the preceding; for he says that this covenant is continued in the word and Spirit. Finally, from the contrast it may easily be inferred that the happiness promised to the Church is different from that which consists in meat and drink, or tranquillity and peace, and other conveniences; and indeed never afterwards was there any period in which the darkness of afflictions overwhelmed all the Gentiles, while the Jews enjoyed peace and prosperity. Since, therefore, the condition of the Church is separated from the whole world, that benefit which Isaiah puts into the possession of the Church is spiritual, and the brightness which he promises is spiritual; and consequently, these things relate to the spiritual kingdom of Christ, when the light of the Gospel shone in every part of the world, and foreign nations were enlightened by it. To this also relates what follows, —
The Lord will arise upon thee; for although he shows that the favor of God will be visible by manifest tokens and effects, yet he does not leave out that which is of the greatest importance, that believers will truly feel that he is their Father, so as to expect salvation from him. Hence infer that we are overwhelmed by darkness till God shine upon us with the testimony of adoption by free grace. I speak of all mankind; for Isaiah informs us that this life-giving light proceeds from God alone, in order to declare that it is a special gift of God.
Secondly, it ought to be observed that the Church alone, that is, the elect of God, are partakers of this brightness. Hence it follows, that it is not a common or natural gift, but a gift by which the Lord relieves us from an ordinary defect of human nature. Thus also we perceive that there is no light or brightness but in the Church; for the rest of men, though they think that they enjoy light and brightness, are overwhelmed by darkness, from which they cannot be extricated in any other way than by the light of the Gospel.
And his glory shall be seen upon thee. He adds the word “glory,” because, after having embraced us by his favor, the Lord continues more and more to increase his acts of kindness toward us.
3. And the Gentiles shall walk. He confirms what we have already said, that there is no other light of men but when the Lord shines on them by his word. All indeed acknowledge this; but they do not set so high a value as they ought on this benefit, and imagine it to be something of an ordinary kind, which naturally belongs to all men. But he shows that this grace is supernatural, and therefore it ought to be distinguished from nature; which is clearly shown by the repetition of the words upon thee, in the preceding verse.
First, then, we ought to believe that this benefit comes from God alone; and secondly, that all are not indiscriminately partakers of it, but only the elect, on whom the Lord shines by undeserved favor, so as to take them out of the ordinary rank of men. This is done by Christ, who is called “the Sun of Righteousness,” because we are enlightened as if by his rays. (Malachi 4:2) Besides, the Prophet declares that this favor shall be spread far and wide by the Jews; which is also intimated by the words of the covenant,
“In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” (Genesis 22:18)
To thy brightness. If one nation only had enjoyed the light, it would have been of no advantage to the rest; but, so far as the doctrine of the Gospel has been spread throughout the whole world, Judea has held out the light to the Gentiles formerly blinded, in order to point out the way. By making the brightness peculiar to a single nation, he shows that in no other way could the world be enlightened, or come to share in this benefit, than by seeking light from that word which proceeded from the Jews, and was heard at Jerusalem, where the lamp of the Lord was kindled, and where the Sun of Righteousness arose, that from it he might diffuse his light to all the ends of the earth, as we have formerly seen, “Out of Zion shall go forth the Law.” (Isaiah 2:3) There is, therefore, no light but from the doctrine of the prophets; so that they who withdraw from it falsely boast of walking in the light.
And kings to the brightness of thy rising. He alludes to the dawn; for, as the morningstar begins the day in one quarter only of heaven, and immediately the sun enlightens the whole world, so the daybreak was first in Judea, from which the light arose and was afterwards diffused throughout the whole world; for there is no corner of the earth which the Lord has not enlightened by this light. He mentions “kings,” that they might not imagine that none but the common people would come to this light, but princes and nobles, who in other respects are greatly delighted with their high rank. But now he confers on the Church the very highest honor, that she shines with such brightness as to attract to herself nations and princes. He calls it “the light” of the Church; not that she has any light from herself, but borrows it from Christ, as the moon borrows from the sun.
4. Lift up thine eyes round about. By a variety of expressions he confirms that promise of the restoration of the Church which appeared to be altogether incredible. Nor was it easy to convince the Jews of this, while the state of their affairs was so wretched and confused. At that time the kingdom of Judah alone remained, and grew less every day, till it was utterly ruined; but when the people were led into captivity amidst that frightful dispersion and melancholy ruin, everything was so desperate that it appeared as if the Church were entirely ruined. It was therefore proper to confirm this doctrine by a variety of expressions, that hearts naturally prone to distrust might no longer doubt. For this reason he leads the Jews to look at the event as actually at hand, though it was at a great distance; that they might not hesitate any more than if it were already placed before their eyes.
He bids believers lift, up their eyes on high, that is, above human thought; for, so long as we fix them on the outward condition, we cannot obtain the fruit of these promises. He adds, “round about,” that they may fully believe that the nations will come, not from one quarter only, but from every direction, that they may be united in one body. And not only does he promise a remedy and an end of the dispersion which was yet to take place, as it is said elsewhere, “He will gather the dispersed of Israel,” (Psalm 147:2; Isaiah 56:8) but this gathering is more extensive; for it means that there will be a wonderful revolution in the world, so that they who formerly were strangers and dispersed shall be united in one body. Finally, it denotes the extension of the Church to the farthest boundaries of the earth. There is also an implied contrast, by which he points out the wretched and afflicted condition in which the world was, before it was gathered together under the direction of Christ.
Thy sons shall come from far. Some think that by “sons” are meant those who are stronger and more steadfast in faith, and by daughters those who are weaker. But I do not think that the Prophet intended to convey such ingenious distinctions; 151151 “There is more probability in Knobel’s suggestion, that the Prophet made his picture true to nature by describing the sons as walking, and the daughters as being carried.” Alexander. and therefore I consider the plain meaning to be, that both sons and daughters shall run together to the Church; that is, that the Church shall have sons and daughters, not only at home but abroad, and in the most distant parts of the world; that the womb of the Church shall not be limited to any corner of the world, but shall be extended as far and wide as there shall be space throughout the whole world.
5. Then shalt thou see. These things appear, at first sight, to be somewhat inconsistent with each other, that formerly he spoke of the fact as present, and now foretells it as future. But formerly he spoke of the eyes of faith, which beholds those things which do not fall under the senses of men, and now he speaks of the actual event; or, at least, he intended by the present tense to point out the certainty; but now, in order that believers may continue to exercise patience, he limits the same statement. Besides, although those things which the Lord promises are concealed, for a time, from the eyes of men, yet believers perceive them by faith; so that they have a firm belief and expectation of the accomplishment of them, however incredible they may appear to others.
Thou shalt shine, or, thou shalt overflow. As the verb נהר (nahar) signifies both “to shine” and “to overflow,” so it may be rendered either way. 152152 “As to נהר, (nahar,) the difficulty is in choosing between its two admitted senses of ‘flowing,’ (Isaiah 2:2) and of ‘shining,’ (Psalm 34:5) The former is preferred by Jerome, who translates it afflues; by Junius and Tremellius, who have conflues; and by the English and Dutch versions, the latter of which refers it to the confluence of crowds produced by any strange occurrence. Vitringa makes it mean to flow out, and Lowth to overflow with joy. But all the latest writers of authority give the word the same sense as in Psalm 34:5, which is well expressed by Henderson in strong though homely English, thou shalt look and brighten up.” — Alexander We may refer it to that joy with which the Church is filled and overflows, when it is enlarged in this manner, or to the ornament with which it shines and dazzles. 153153 “Qui la fait reluire.” “Which causes it to shine.”
Thou shalt tremble. He now mentions “trembling,” and connects it with splendor or joy; and this may appear to be inconsistent with the meaning assigned to the former clause. But I have no doubt that he intended, by this word, to express the astonishment and even amazement with which the Church shall be seized, when she shall perceive that this strange and unexpected honor has been obtained by her, and that she has been elevated to so high a rank of honor. As if he had said, “The extent of the work will be so great as to exceed thy expectation.” It is not, therefore, the “trembling”’ which is produced by some danger or some melancholy event, but such as commonly arises in matters of great importance, which exceed the capacity of our understanding, when we are struck with amazement, and almost think that we dream, and this “trembling” agrees very well with joy.