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26. A Song of Praise

In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. 2Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. 3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

5For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust. 6The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy. 7The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. 8Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. 9With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. 10Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. 11 Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.

12 Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. 13O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. 14 They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. 15Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth. 16 Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them. 17Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord. 18We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. 19Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

20Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

10. The wicked man will obtain favour. 167167    {Bogus footnote} Isaiah contrasts this statement with the former. He had said that the godly, even when they are afflicted, or see others afflicted, still rely on the love of God, and trust in him. But now he declares, on the other hand, that the wicked cannot be brought in any way to love God, though he endeavor, by every sort of kindness, to draw and gain them over; and that, whatever aspect the Lord assume towards them, they do not become better.

This verse appears, at first view, to contradict the former, in which the Prophet said, that the justice of God is acknowledged in the earth, when he executes his judgments, and shews that he is the Judge, and punishes the transgressions of men; while he says here that the wicked cannot in any way be led or persuaded to worship God, and that they are so far from being made better by the chastisements, that even acts of kindness make them worse. The good effect of chastisements certainly does not appear in all; for wicked men do not at all profit by them, as we see in Pharaoh, whom chastisements and scourges rendered more obstinate. (Exodus 7:13.) But although he spoke indiscriminately about “the inhabitants of the earth,” yet he strictly included none but God’s elect, with whom indeed even some hypocrites share the profit that is gained; for sometimes, though reluctantly, they are moved by reverence for God, and are restrained by the dread of punishments. 168168    {Bogus footnote} But as the Prophet here describes sincere repentance, by “the inhabitants of the earth” he means only the children of God.

Some view it as a question, “Shall favor be shewn to the wicked?” or, “Why should the wicked man obtain favor?” as if the Prophet insinuated that they do not deserve that God should deal gently with them. But I choose rather to explain it thus, “Whatever may be the acts of kindness by which God draws the wicked, they will never learn to act uprightly.” The Prophet therefore has limited the statement made in the former verse.

In the land of upright actions he will deal unjustly. This is added in order to shew more strongly the baseness of this ingratitude. It was a sufficiently heinous offense that they abused the acts of God’s kindness, and by means of them became more rebellious; but it is their crowning wickedness, that “they deal wickedly in the land” which the Lord had consecrated to himself. What he now says relates to Judea, but may be extended also to other countries in which God is now worshipped; but at that time there was no other country on which Isaiah could bestow that title, for in no other was there any knowledge of God. (Psalm 76:2.)

Thus he calls Judea “the land of upright actions.” I give this interpretation, because, since the Prophet employs נכחות (nekōchōth) in the feminine gender, the word upright cannot apply to men. 169169    {Bogus footnote} He therefore bestows this title, because the law was there in full force, (Psalm 76:1, 2.) and that nation had been peculiarly chosen by God; and it was added, as I have already said, in order to exhibit more strongly the ingratitude of the nation. Some extend it indiscriminately to the whole world, because, wherever we live, God supports us on the condition of our maintaining uprightness. This is too far-fetched; but, since God has now spread abroad his kingdom in every direction, wheresoever men call on his name, that is “the land of upright actions;” 170170    {Bogus footnote} so that we are worthy of double condemnation, if, after having been stimulated by benefits so numerous and so great, we do not testify our gratitude by the practice of godliness and by good works.

When he adds, that the reprobate will not behold the majesty of the Lord, this does not in any degree palliate, but rather doubles their criminality; because it is base and shameful indolence not to observe the glory of God which is openly manifested before our eyes. The wicked are thus rendered the more inexcusable, because, how numerous soever may be the methods by which the Lord makes known his name, still they are blind amidst the clearest light. There is never any lack of testimonies by which the Lord openly manifests his majesty and glory, but, as we have formerly seen, 171171    {Bogus footnote} few consider them. God manifests his glory not only by the ordinary works of nature, but likewise by some astonishing miracles and demonstrations, by means of which he gives us abundant instruction about his goodness, wisdom, and justice. Wicked men shut their eyes, and do not observe them, though in trifling matters they are very clear-sighted; and the Prophet now censures them severely for this wickedness.

Others think that it is a threatening against the reprobate, they shall not behold the majesty of the Lord, as if they did not deserve to obtain this view of the works of God. Though this is true, yet, as this clause is closely connected with the former, the Prophet continues to censure the indolence of those who do not direct their minds to the works of God, but, on the contrary, become stupid. On this account, we ought to think it the less wonderful that so few repent, though very many demonstrations of the righteousness of God are openly made; for infidelity is always blind to behold the works of God.


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