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The spirit of the Lord 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 Lord.

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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.