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The Peaceful Kingdom


A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.


The spirit of the L ord shall rest on him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the L ord.


His delight shall be in the fear of the L ord.


He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

or decide by what his ears hear;


but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.


Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,

and faithfulness the belt around his loins.



The wolf shall live with the lamb,

the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

and a little child shall lead them.


The cow and the bear shall graze,

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.


The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,

and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.


They will not hurt or destroy

on all my holy mountain;

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the L ord

as the waters cover the sea.


Return of the Remnant of Israel and Judah

10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

11 On that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.


He will raise a signal for the nations,

and will assemble the outcasts of Israel,

and gather the dispersed of Judah

from the four corners of the earth.


The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,

the hostility of Judah shall be cut off;

Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,

and Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim.


But they shall swoop down on the backs of the Philistines in the west,

together they shall plunder the people of the east.

They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab,

and the Ammonites shall obey them.


And the L ord will utterly destroy

the tongue of the sea of Egypt;

and will wave his hand over the River

with his scorching wind;

and will split it into seven channels,

and make a way to cross on foot;


so there shall be a highway from Assyria

for the remnant that is left of his people,

as there was for Israel

when they came up from the land of Egypt.


1. But there shall come forth a rod. As the description of such dreadful calamities might terrify the godly, and give them reason for despair, it was necessary to hold out consolation; for when the kingdom was destroyed, cities thrown down, and desolation spread over the whole country, there might have been nothing left but grief and lamentation; and therefore they might have tottered and fallen, or been greatly discouraged, if the Lord had not provided for them this consolation. He therefore declares what the Lord will afterwards do, and in what manner he will restore that kingdom.

He pursues the metaphor which he employed towards the conclusion of the former chapter; for he had said that Jerusalem would be destroyed, as if a forest were consumed by a single conflagration. (Isaiah 10:33,34.) Its future desolation would be like that of a country formerly covered with forests, when the trees had been cut down, and nothing could be seen but ashes. That those things which are contrasted may answer to each other, he says, that out of the stock will come forth a branch, which will grow into a tree, and spread its branches and fruits far and wide. I have therefore preferred translating גזע (gezang) a dry stock, rather than a root, though it makes little difference as to the meaning, but the former expresses more fully what the Prophet meant, namely, that though the stock be dry, the branch which shall spring from it shall be more excellent than all the forests.

Hence we infer that this prediction applies solely to the person of Christ; for till he came no such branch arose. It certainly cannot be applied to Hezekiah or Josiah, who, from their very infancy, were brought up in the expectation of occupying a throne. Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:8) did not attain the thousandth part of that elevated rank which the Prophet extols. We see, therefore, that to the wretched and almost ruined Jews, consolation was held out in the Messiah alone, and that their hope was held in suspense till he appeared. At the time of his appearance, there would have been no hope that the kingdom would be erected and restored, if this promise had not been added; for the family of David appeared to be completely extinct. On this account he does not call him David, but Jesse; because the rank of that family had sunk so low, that it appeared to be not a royal family, but that of a mean peasant, such as the family of Jesse was, when David was unexpectedly called to the government of the kingdom. (1 Samuel 16:1; 2 Samuel 7:8.) So then, having sustained this calamity and lost its ancient renown, it is denominated by the Prophet the family of Jesse, because that family had no superiority above any other. Accordingly, I think that here, and not towards the conclusion of the former chapter, the consolation begins.

Amidst such frightful desolation they might doubt who should be their deliverer. He therefore promises that one will spring even out of a dry trunk; and he continues, as I mentioned a little before, the same metaphor of a forest, because it is far more beautiful than if he had said in plain language that the Messiah would come. Having threatened that the forest would be entirely cut down, he adds, that still a branch will arise out of it, to restore the abundance and magnificence of the consumed forest; that is, Christ, who should be the deliverer of the people. How low his beginning was, it is unnecessary to explain. Undoubtedly, he was so far from having anything splendid or attractive, that with the exception of his birth, everything, to the view of the flesh, was inconsistent with the character of the Redeemer. Even his birth was almost obscured; for who would have thought that a poor carpenter (Mark 6:3) was descended from a royal family? Again, where was Christ born, and how had he been brought up? In short, his whole life having been mean and even contemptible, he suffered a most disgraceful death, with which he had to begin his kingdom. Yet he grew to an immeasurable height, like a large tree from a small and feeble seed, as he himself shows, (Matthew 13:31, 32; Mark 4:32,) and as we see by daily examples; for in the uninterrupted progress of his kingdom the same things must happen as were seen in his person.

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him. He now begins to speak of Christ plainly and without a figure; for it was enough to have represented the consolation under that figure, in order that the full contrast between the burning of the wood and its springing up anew might be made manifest. Two states of the people are described by him; for, after having explained the calamity, he next added the hope of restoration, though the commencement of it was from a slender branch. But now he plainly shows what will be the nature of the redemption, and what will be the condition of Christ and of his kingdom.

Some think that this should rather be viewed as referring to Hezekiah; but how groundless that opinion is we have already shown; 179179     See page 372. for when he was born, David had still a flourishing reputation, and the rank of royalty belonged to his descendants; and Hezekiah was very far from attaining that greatness which is shortly afterwards described. Now, hence we infer that the spiritual kingdom of Christ was formerly promised to the ancient people, because his whole strength, power, and majesty, is here made to consist in the gifts of the Spirit. Although Christ was not deficient in gifts of this kind, yet as he took upon him our flesh, it was necessary that he should be enriched with them, that we might afterwards be made partakers of all blessings of which otherwise we are destitute; for out of his fullness, as John says, we must draw as from a fountain. (John 1:16; 7:37, 38.)

The Spirit of the Lord We must keep in view what I mentioned a little ago, that this refers to Christ’s human nature; because he could not be enriched with the gift and grace of the Father, except so far as he became man. Besides, as he came down to us, so he received the gifts of the Spirit, that he might bestow them upon us. And this is the anointing from which he receives the name of Christ, which he imparts to us; for why are we called Christians, but because he admits us to his fellowship, by distributing to us out of his fullness according to the measure (Ephesians 4:7) of undeserved liberality? And undoubtedly this passage does not so much as teach us what Christ is in himself, as what he received from the Father, that he might enrich us with his wealth.

The spirit of wisdom and understanding. Though it is not necessary to bestow great attention on single words, yet if any person wish to draw a slight distinction between wisdom and understanding, I consider it to be this, that the word wisdom comprehends generally all that relates to the regulation of the life, and that understanding is added for the sake of explaining it; for if we are endowed with this wisdom, we shall have sagacity enough. Counsel means that judgment by which we can thread our way through intricate affairs; for understanding would not be sufficient, if there were not also counsel, that we might be able to act with caution in doubtful matters. The word might is well enough known. Knowledge differs little from understanding; except that it relates more to the act of knowing, and thus declares what has taken place. The fear of the Lord means a sincere desire to worship God.

The Prophet does not here enumerate all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as some have thought. Out of this passage the Papists have foolishly and ignorantly drawn their sevenfold grace, and some of the ancients fell into a similar blunder. He enumerates only six kinds; but they have added a seventh out of their own head. But as one error commonly follows another, they have chosen to limit the gifts of the Spirit to the number seven, although in other parts of Scripture (John 14:17; 2 Timothy 1:7) he receives numerous and lofty commendations drawn from the variety of the effects which he produces. Besides, it is very evident that it is through the kindness of Christ (Galatians 5:22, 23) that we are partakers of other blessings than those which are here enumerated, of meekness, chastity, sobriety, truth, and holiness; for these proceed from none else than from Christ. He does not mention, therefore, all the gifts which were bestowed on Christ, for that was unnecessary; but only shows briefly that Christ came not empty-handed, but well supplied with all gifts, that he might enrich us with them.

If these things had not been added, we might have supposed, as the Jews commonly do, that the restoration of this kingdom was carnal, and might have imagined that Christ was poor and destitute of all blessings. Accordingly, the Prophet afterwards shows that the gifts of the Spirit are laid up in him, first, generally, and next, particularly; that we may go to him to obtain whatever we want. He will enlighten us with the light of wisdom and understanding, will impart to us counsel in difficulties, will make us strong and courageous in battles, will bestow on us the true fear of God, that is, godliness, and, in a word, will communicate to us all that is necessary for our life and salvation. All gifts are here included by the Prophet, so that it is excessively foolish to attempt to conceal those which do not belong to the present enumeration.

He shows that they dwell in Christ, in order that they may be communicated to us. We are also called his fellows, (Psalms 45:7,) because strength proceeds from him as the head to the individual members, and in like manner Christ causes his heavenly anointing to flow over the whole body of his Church. Hence it follows that those who are altogether barren and dry have no interest in Christ, and falsely glory in his name. Whenever therefore we feel that we are in want of any of these gifts, let us blame our unbelief; for true faith makes us partakers of all Christ’s benefits. We ought therefore to pray to the Lord not to permit the lusts of the flesh to rule in us, that Christ may wholly unite us to himself. It should also be observed, that we ought to ask all blessings from Christ alone; for we are mistaken if we imagine that anything can be obtained from the Father in any other way.

3. And will make him sagacious. 180180     And shall make him of quick understanding. (Heb. scent, or smell.) — Eng. Ver. The verb ריח, (riach,) which is here put in the Hiphil conjugation, signifies literally to smell; but may also be explained in an active sense, as meaning to give a keen smell; which agrees better, I think, with this passage, so that this sagacity may be also included among the gifts of the Spirit. And this effect is peculiarly applicable to the person of Christ, namely, that far beyond what the godly are able to conceive, he is endowed with shrewd discernment for governing his people. We ought to attend, first of all, to the metaphor in the verb smell, which means that Christ will be so shrewd that he will not need to learn from what he hears, or from what he sees; for by smelling alone he will perceive what would otherwise be unknown. 181181     “And his delight shall be in the fear of Jehovah. His delight, הריחו, (haricho,) his snuffing up with pleasure, his pleasurable sensations. So the verb רוח (riach) signifies, when followed by the preposition ב, as in Leviticus 26:31, Amos 5:21. The expression is equivalent to, but stronger than that of David in Psalm 1:2, בתורת יהוה חפצו, (bethorath Yehovah Chephtzo,) in the law of the LORD is his delight.” — Stock

In the fear of the Lord. This phrase is viewed by the greater part of commentators as meaning that all the feelings of the heart will be manifest to Christ, so that he will easily judge who are the sincere worshippers of God. But let the reader inquire if it be not a more appropriate meaning, that the fear of God denotes a fixed rule of judging. He expressly distinguishes between the heavenly judgment of Christ and earthly judgments, in order to inform us, that the outward mask of holiness or uprightness is of no avail in his presence.

And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes. The meaning is, “When we come to the judgment-seat of Christ, not only will outward actions be brought to trial after the manner of human governments, but the life of men will be examined by the standard of true godliness. It does not belong to man to penetrate into the hearts; and those whom we suppose to be very excellent men have frequently nothing but a hollow mask; but Christ judges not from outward appearance, (Luke 11:17; John 2:25,) for he thoroughly knows and searches our inmost thoughts. His judgment, therefore, is quite different from that of men, who, with all their acuteness and quick sagacity, fall into the most shameful mistakes.” Hence it follows that none can be the true worshippers of God but those whom Christ approves. They cannot obtain his approbation, unless they offer a pure and upright mind; for a false and hollow mask cannot deceive him.

4. For he will judge the poor in righteousness. 182182     But with righteousness shall he judge the poor. — Eng. Ver. Here he shows that Christ will be the guardian of the poor, or, he points out the persons to whom the grace of Christ strictly belongs, namely, to the poor or meek; that is, to those who, humbled by a conviction of their poverty, have laid aside those proud and lofty dispositions which commonly swell the minds of men, till they have learned to be meek through the subduing influence of the word of God. He therefore declares that he will be the protector and guardian, not of all men whatsoever, but of those who know that they are poor, and destitute of everything good. This was also declared by Christ to John’s disciples, when he said that the gospel is preached to the poor. (Matthew 11:5.) Who are they that are capable of receiving this doctrine? Not all men without exception, but those who, having laid aside the glory of the flesh, betake themselves to that heavenly protection.

There is, therefore, an implied contrast, namely, that Christ does not rule over the rich, that is, over those who are swelled with a false opinion of themselves. Though he invites all men to come to him, still the greater part refuse to submit to his government. The poor alone allow themselves to be governed by him. This passage teaches us, that if we are desirous to be protected by the power of Christ, we must lay aside all pride, and put on the spirit of meekness and modesty. That spiritual poverty which the Prophet recommends to all the members of Christ is, to have no lofty views, but to be truly humbled by a conviction of our poverty and nakedness, so as to depend on Christ alone. When we have been brought to this state of mind, the faithful King and Guardian will undertake to secure our salvation, and will defend us to the last against all our enemies. We also learn whom Christ invites to come to him: Come to me, all ye that labor and are burdened. (Matthew 11:28.) We must, therefore, labor and be pressed down by the weight of our burden, if we wish to feel and know his assistance.

And will reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. We must attend to the order which is here observed by the Prophet. He places poverty first, and then meekness; because we must first be poor before we become meek. So long as we think that we are somebody, (Acts 5:36,) and are carried away by a vain confidence in ourselves, our heart is filled with pride and self-conceit, and cannot yield or submit; but when we are convinced of our poverty, we lose courage, and, subdued and overpowered, begin to groan under the burden. The condition of Christ’s people, therefore, is here described, as he had formerly illustrated the nature of the king himself. Hence also we ought to learn, that those precious gifts of the Spirit with which we saw a little before that Christ was furnished, 183183     See page 374. are not bestowed by him on all men whatsoever, but on the poor and the meek; for the word judge denotes government, a very important part of which is, that Christ imparts to us the gifts which he received from the Father, that he may live in us, and that we may live in him.

And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth. The Prophet here extols the efficacy of the word, which is Christ’s royal scepter. By the rod of his mouth is meant a scepter which consists in words, and in the second clause he repeats the same idea by the phrase, the breath of his lips; as if he had said, that Christ will have no need to borrow aid from others to cast down his enemies, and to strike down everything that opposes his government; for a mere breath or a word will be enough. The statement may be general, since believers also must die, so as to be renewed to a spiritual life; and in this sense the gospel is called a sword appropriated for the slaying of sacrifices. (Romans 15:16.) But the latter part of the verse calls for a different interpretation. If any one choose to make a distinction, the striking of the earth will apply equally to the reprobate and the elect; as the gospel is

a two-edged sword, piercing even to the most hidden and secret feelings of the heart, and discerning the thoughts and affections. (Hebrews 4:12.)

Yet it wounds the former in a very different manner from that in which it wounds the latter. By mortifying in the elect a sinful nature, it kills their lusts, that they may become a living sacrifice, and a sacrifice of sweet-smelling savor; but it strikes the wicked in a manner altogether destructive, for they rot and die, and to them it is even, as Paul says, a savor of death to death. (2 Corinthians 2:16.) I should be willing enough to consider both effects as described here at the same time, were it not that it is opposed by the custom of the Hebrew language; for the Hebrew writers often repeat the same sentiment in different words.

And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. Christ is armed with the breath of his lips to slay the wicked. But perhaps this second clause was added by Isaiah for the purpose of amplification; and, indeed, to slay is much more than to strike. As it belongs to the gospel to cast down all men without exception, its effect on the reprobate may be said to be accidental, to slay them with a deadly stroke. In this way the Prophet would add a particular case to the general statement, intimating that the wicked fall under the sword of Christ to their everlasting destruction, because they are not set apart to be sacrifices. 184184     The force of these repeated allusions to Romans 15:16 will be best understood by consulting the Author’s Commentary on that remarkable passage. — Ed. However this may be, this latter clause must undoubtedly be limited to the wicked alone; and it is added, because that efficacy does not immediately appear in the preaching of the gospel, but, on the contrary, many ridicule, and jeer, and treat as a fable all that is said about Christ and his word. But though they do not immediately feel its power, yet they will not be able to escape it, and will at length be slain by a deadly wound.

But the Prophet’s meaning, I think, is not yet fully explained; for he does not speak only of the inward feeling by which wicked men are moved, whether they will or not, but of the wickedness itself, which will be removed and driven away by the power and efficacy of this scepter, as Paul also explains; for he undoubtedly alludes to this passage when he speaks of the destruction of Antichrist.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:7,8.)

Thus he explains to us the meaning of the Prophet; for he shows that Christ will never be without enemies, who will endeavor to overturn his kingdom, and to hinder or retard the course of the gospel; otherwise these words of the Prophet would have been spoken in vain. But Christ will drive away some of their number, and the whole of them together, and their very head and leader, by the sound of his doctrine.

Thus also Paul recommends a twofold use of doctrine, demanding from a pastor that

he shall be qualified not only to teach, but likewise
to refute those who oppose. (Titus 1:9.)

A pastor ought not only to feed his flock, but also to protect and guard them against every injury. This is what Christ performs, and therefore he is provided with necessary armor, that he may contend successfully against the falsehoods of Satan, and the cruelty of tyrants, and every kind of enemies.

Hence it is evident that wicked doctrines cannot be driven away by any other method than by the gospel. In vain will the magistrate employ the sword, which undoubtedly he must employ, to restrain wicked teachers and false prophets; in vain, I say, will he attempt all these things, unless this sword of the word go before. (Deuteronomy 13:5.) This ought to be carefully observed in opposition to the Papists, who, when the word fails them, betake themselves to new weapons, by the aid of which they think that they will gain the victory. They are even so impudent as to boast that heretics cannot be refuted by the word, though both the Prophet and Paul lay down no other method.

When the Prophet says, by the breath of his lips, this must not be limited to the person of Christ; for it refers to the word which is preached by his ministers. Christ acts by them in such a manner that he wishes their mouth to be reckoned as his mouth, and their lips as his lips; that is, when they speak from his mouth, and faithfully declare his word. (Luke 10:16.) The Prophet does not now send us to secret revelations, that Christ may reign in us, but openly recommends the outward preaching of doctrine, and shows that the gospel serves the purpose of a scepter in the hand of Christ, so far as it is preached, and so far as it is oral, if we may use the expression; otherwise it would have been to no purpose to mention the mouth and the lips. Hence it follows that all those who reject the outward preaching of the gospel shake off this scepter, as far as lies in their power, or pull it out of the hand of Christ; not that the efficacy which he mentions depends on the voice of men, but so far as Christ acts by his ministers; for he does not wish that their labor should be fruitless, without sacrificing the elect to obedience, (Romans 15:16,) and slaying the reprobate; as Paul in another passage boasts that there will be speedy vengeance against all unbelievers and rebels.

Here we must again call to remembrance what is the nature of Christ’s kingdom. As he does not wear a golden crown or employ earthly armor, so he does not rule over the world by the power of arms, or gain authority by gaudy and ostentatious display, or constrain his people by terror and dread; but the doctrine of the gospel is his royal banner, which assembles believers under his dominion. Wherever, therefore, the doctrine of the Gospel is preached in purity, there we are certain that Christ reigns; and where it is rejected, his government is also set aside. Hence it is evident how foolishly the Papists boast that the Church belongs to them, when they order Christ himself to be silent, and cannot endure the sound of his voice, but proclaim aloud, with distended cheeks, their own edicts, laws, decrees, and tyrannical regulations.

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