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4

For you have been a refuge to the poor,

a refuge to the needy in their distress,

a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.

When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm,

5

the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place,

you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds;

the song of the ruthless was stilled.

 

6

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,

of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

7

And he will destroy on this mountain

the shroud that is cast over all peoples,

the sheet that is spread over all nations;


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4. For thou hast been a strength to the poor. Hence we see the fruit of conversion, namely, that the Lord raises us from the dead, and brings us, as it were, out of the grave, stretching out his hand to us from heaven, to rescue us even from hell. This is our first access to him, for it is only in our poverty that he finds the means of exercising his kindness. To us in our turn, therefore, it is necessary that we be poor and needy, that we may obtain assistance from him; and we must lay aside all reliance and confidence in ourselves, before he display his power in our behalf. This is the reason why he visits us with chastisements and with the cross, by which he trains us, so that we may be able to receive his assistance and grace.

A refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat. It is not without good reason that Isaiah adorns this description by these comparisons; for numerous and diversified temptations arise, and, in order to bear them courageously, it is necessary that the weak minds of men should be strengthened and fortified. On this account he says that God will be “a strength to the poor, a refuge from the storms, and a shadow from the heat;” because, whatever may be the nature of the dangers and assaults which threaten them, the Lord will protect his people against them, and will supply them with every kind of armor.

The breath of the strong or of the violent ones. In this passage, as in many others, (Genesis 8:1; Exodus 15:10; 1 Kings 19:11,) רוח (rūăch) signifies “the blowing of the wind,” and denotes the tremendous violence with which wicked men are hurried along against the children of God; for not only do they “breathe out threatenings and terrors,” (Acts 9:1,) but they appear to vomit out fire itself.

A storm or flood against the wall. This is to the same purport as the former; for by this figure he means, that wicked men, when they obtain liberty to do mischief, rush on with such violence that they throw down everything that comes in their way, for to overthrow and destroy walls is more than if the water were merely flowing over the fields.

5. As the heat in a dry place. If the Lord did not aid when violent men rush upon us, our life would be in imminent danger; for we see how great is the rage of wicked men, and if the Lord overturn walls, what can a feeble man do against him? These things therefore are added in order to magnify the grace of God, that we may consider what would become of us if the Lord did not render assistance.

Yet there are two ways in which commentators explain this passage. Some understand it to mean, that wicked men will be consumed by God’s indignation, in the same manner as the violence of the heat burns up the fields which are in themselves barren. Others render it in the ablative case, As if by heat, and make the meaning to be, “Though wicked men, relying on their power, are so violent, yet the Lord will prostrate them in a moment, as if they were overpowered ‘by heat in a dry place.’” But I consider the meaning to be different, for, after having shewn how great is the rage of wicked men against believers, he adds:

Thou wilt bring them down, O Lord. Alluding to the metaphor of the deluge, which he had formerly used, he says, “Thou wilt quench their heat, which would otherwise consume us, even as rain, or a shower, falling from heaven, quenches the heat that scorched the thirsty fields.” And thus the passage flows naturally; for the other interpretation is forced, and does violence, as the saying is, to the letter.

The noise of the strong ones will he lay low. 140140    {Bogus footnote} This clause is tortured in various ways. Some think that זמיר (zĕmīr) means seed; others that it means a root; as if he had said, that God will not only destroy wicked men, but will utterly root them out. This meaning would be probable, were it not opposed by the metaphor of the heat. In my opinion, therefore, it is more correctly interpreted by others to mean “singing and shouting,” or “cutting off,” although even those interpreters do not fully succeed in getting at the meaning of the Prophet. He therefore confirms the preceding statement, that the violence of wicked men, or the shouting which they haughtily and daringly set up, will presently be laid low, as the heat of the sun is overpowered by the falling rain, which is meant by the shadow of a cloud

6. And the Lord of hosts shall make. This passage has received various interpretations. Some think that the Prophet threatens the Jews, and threatens them in such a manner as to invite various nations to a banquet. This mode of expression is also found in other passages, for the Lord is said to fatten the wicked for the day of slaughter. Those commentators think that, as if the Jews were exposed as a prey to the Gentiles on account of their impiety, the Gentiles are invited to a banquet; as if the Lord had said, “I have prepared a splendid entertainment for the Gentiles; the Romans shall plunder and prey on the Jews.” But, in my opinion, that view of the passage cannot be admitted, nor will it be necessary for me to give a long refutation of it, after having brought forward the true interpretation. Others explain it as if Isaiah were speaking of the wrath of God in this manner, “The Lord will prepare a banquet for all nations; he will give to them to drink the cup of his anger, that they may be drunken.”

But the Prophet had quite a different meaning, for he proceeds in making known the grace of God, which was to be revealed by the coming of Christ. He employs the same metaphor which is also used by David, when he describes the kingdom of Christ, and says, that

“the poor and the rich will sit down at this feast,
and will eat and be satisfied.” (Psalm 22:26, 29.)

By this metaphorical language he means, that no class of men will be excluded from partaking of this generous provision. Formerly it seemed as if the Lord nourished the Jews only, because they alone were adopted, and, as it were, invited to the feast provided for his family; but now he admits the Gentiles also, and extends his beneficence to all nations.

Will make for all nations a feast of fat things. This is an implied contrast when he says, to all nations, for formerly he was known to one nation only. (Psalm 76:1.) By “a feast of fat things” is meant a banquet consisting of animals that have been well fattened.

Of liquids purified. 141141    {Bogus footnote} Some render the Hebrew word שמרים, (shĕmārīm,) dregs, but inaccurately, for it means “old wines,” such as the French call, vins de garde, “wines that have been long kept,” and that are preferable to ordinary wines, especially in an eastern country, where they carry their age better. He calls them liquids which contain no dregs or sediment.

In short, it is sufficiently evident that he does not here threaten destruction against Gentiles or Jews, but that both are invited together to a very splendid banquet. This is still more evident from Christ’s own words, when he compares the kingdom of heaven to a marriage-feast which the King prepared for his Son, to which he invites all without exception, because those who were at first invited refused to come. (Matthew 22:2, 3.) Nor have I any doubt that he speaks of the preaching of the gospel; and as it proceeded from Mount Zion, (Isaiah 2:3,) he says that the Gentiles will come to it to feast; for when God presents to the whole world spiritual food for feeding souls, the meaning was the same as if he had prepared a table for all. The Lord invites us at the present day, that he may fill and satisfy us with good things; he raises up faithful ministers to prepare for us that feast, and gives power and efficacy to his word, that we may be satisfied with it. 142142    {Bogus footnote}

In this mountain. As to the word mountain, though the servants of God do not now come out of the mountain to feed us, yet by this name we must understand the Church; for nowhere else can any one partake of this food. That feast is not set down in streets and highways, the table is not spread everywhere, and this banquet is not prepared in all places. In order that we may feast, we must come to the Church. That place was mentioned, because there alone God was worshipped, and revelations proceeded from it; as also the gospel came forth from it. When he says that this banquet will be rich and sumptuous, the design of this is to commend the doctrine of the gospel; for it is the spiritual food with which our souls are fed, and is so exquisitely delightful that we have no need of any other.

7. And he will destroy the face of the covering. 143143    {Bogus footnote} Here also commentators differ, for by the word covering is meant the disgrace with which believers are covered in this world, so that the glory of God is not seen in them; as if he had said, “Though many reproaches oppress the godly, yet God will take away those reproaches, and will make their condition glorious. I pass by other interpretations; but, in my opinion, the true meaning is, that the Lord promises that he will take away the veil by which they were kept in blindness and ignorance; and therefore it was by the light of the gospel that this darkness was dispelled.

In that mountain. He says that this will be in mount Zion, from which also the light of the word shone on the whole world, as we have already seen. (Isaiah 2:3.) This passage, therefore, must unavoidably be referred to the kingdom of Christ; for the light did not shine on all men till Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, arose, (Malachi 4:2,) who took away all the veils, wrappings, and coverings. And here we have another commendation of the gospel, that it dispels the darkness, and takes away from our eyes the covering of errors. Hence it follows, that we are wrapped up and blinded by the darkness of ignorance, before we are enlightened by the doctrine of the gospel, by which alone we can obtain light and life, and be fully restored. Here, too, we have a confirmation of the calling of the Gentiles, that is, of our calling; for not only the Jews, but all nations, which formerly were buried in every kind of errors and superstition, are invited to this banquet.




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