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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.


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.

5. And righteousness shall be the belt. 185185     The girdle. — Eng. Ver. Some translate it girdle; but as the Prophet represents Christ to us wearing, as it were, the emblems of royalty, I have rather translated it belt, which is also a royal emblem, in the same manner as the scepter, which he had assigned to him a little before. When Job speaks of taking away the authority of kings, he says that the Lord will ungird their belt. (Job 12:18.) To be girded with a belt, therefore, is nothing else than to be exalted to royal authority, as we shall afterwards see in another passage. (Isaiah 14:5.)

The Prophet describes two ornaments belonging to the belt. These are righteousness and truth; unless it be thought that there is a change in the order of construction, as if he had said that Christ will be girded with true righteousness; for truth is not added as if it were different from righteousness, but in order to point out the nature of that righteousness with which Christ is girded. Some think that righteousness here denotes that which Christ imparts to us, that it may dwell, not only in himself, but in his members. Faith or truth they understand to be that by which we embrace the salvation which he offers to us.

The Chaldee paraphrast explains it thus; “and the righteous shall be round about him, believing worshippers shall approach to him.” 186186     “The Targum of Jonathan renders it, and the righteous shall be round about him; that is, ‘they shall cleave to him like a girdle.’” — Jarchi. But I adopt a more simple interpretation, as if he had said, “He shall not appear like kings, clothed with purple and a crown, or girded with a belt; but righteousness and truth shall shine forth in him.” I acknowledge, indeed, that righteousness is not confined to Christ, but belongs to his members; but we must attend to the mode of expression, that Christ comes forth to govern his people girded with righteousness, which he afterwards imparts to them by the secret influence of the Spirit. If we distinguish between the word אמונה (emunah) and righteousness, I consider it to mean faithfulness or steadfastness; as if he had said that Christ never disappoints his followers, for he continues always to be like himself.

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