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Government with Justice Predicted


See, a king will reign in righteousness,

and princes will rule with justice.


Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,

a covert from the tempest,

like streams of water in a dry place,

like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.


Then the eyes of those who have sight will not be closed,

and the ears of those who have hearing will listen.


The minds of the rash will have good judgment,

and the tongues of stammerers will speak readily and distinctly.


A fool will no longer be called noble,

nor a villain said to be honorable.


For fools speak folly,

and their minds plot iniquity:

to practice ungodliness,

to utter error concerning the L ord,

to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,

and to deprive the thirsty of drink.


The villainies of villains are evil;

they devise wicked devices

to ruin the poor with lying words,

even when the plea of the needy is right.


But those who are noble plan noble things,

and by noble things they stand.


Complacent Women Warned of Disaster


Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;

you complacent daughters, listen to my speech.


In little more than a year

you will shudder, you complacent ones;

for the vintage will fail,

the fruit harvest will not come.


Tremble, you women who are at ease,

shudder, you complacent ones;

strip, and make yourselves bare,

and put sackcloth on your loins.


Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields,

for the fruitful vine,


for the soil of my people

growing up in thorns and briers;

yes, for all the joyous houses

in the jubilant city.


For the palace will be forsaken,

the populous city deserted;

the hill and the watchtower

will become dens forever,

the joy of wild asses,

a pasture for flocks;


until a spirit from on high is poured out on us,

and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,

and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.

The Peace of God’s Reign


Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,

and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.


The effect of righteousness will be peace,

and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.


My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,

in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.


The forest will disappear completely,

and the city will be utterly laid low.


Happy will you be who sow beside every stream,

who let the ox and the donkey range freely.


14. For the palace shall be forsaken. Here also he describes more fully the desolation of the country; for, having mentioned in the former verse magnificent houses, he now likewise adds palaces and cities, so as to shew that there is nothing, however splendid and illustrious, that is exempted from that calamity. We see that men are dazzled by their own splendor, till they lift up their eyes to heaven; and the consequence is, that they are soothed to sleep in the midst of their wealth, and dread nothing. He therefore declares that all that was splendid, magnificent, and lofty, in Judea, cities, palaces, bulwarks, fortresses, all will be brought to nothing. When he says for ever, he again gives warning, as he formerly did, that this calamity will not last only for a single day, but that, as they had been long hardened in their vices, so it will be of long duration; for, if they had been punished only for a short time, being obstinate and intractable, they would quickly have relapsed into their natural disposition.

15. Till the Spirit be poured out upon you. Because the Prophet speaks of the Jews among whom God had determined to plant his Church, it was therefore necessary to leave to them some hope of salvation, that they might not faint amidst so great afflictions; for, while the Lord is severe towards wicked men who falsely shelter themselves under his name, yet in some manner he preserves his Church. The Prophet therefore adds this promise, that they might know that, whatever be the severity with which he punishes his people, still he is always mindful of his covenant; for he never threatens in such a manner as not to leave some ground for consolation, so as to cheer and comfort the hearts of believers, even when their affairs are utterly desperate. Besides, in order that they may fully enjoy the comfort which is offered to them, he raises their eyes to the very Author of life; and indeed we see that, when a favorable change takes place, the greater part of men fill themselves to excess with bread and wine, and, when they are pressed by famine, they neglect God and solicit the earth.

With good reason, therefore, does Isaiah say that “the Spirit” will come from on high to refresh and fertilize the earth; and he alludes, I have no doubt, to that saying of David,

“Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and thou wilt renew the face of the earth.”
(Psalm 104:30.)

Holding out this as an evidence that God is reconciled, he at the same time declares that the restoration of the Church proceeds solely from the grace of God, who can remove its barrenness as soon as he has imparted strength from heaven; for he who created all things out of nothing, as if they had formerly existed, is able to renew it in a moment.

And the wilderness become a Carmel. 342342    {Bogus footnote} In explaining this comparison of “the wilderness” to “Carmel,” commentators are sadly at a loss; but, as I remarked on a former passage, (Isaiah 29:17,) where a similar phrase occurred, 343343    {Bogus footnote} the Prophet merely, in my opinion, points out the happy effect of that restoration, namely, that the abundance and plenty of all things will prove that God is actually reconciled to his people. He says that places which formerly were “wildernesses” shall be like “Carmel,” which was a rich and fertile spot, and on that account receives its name; and that “Carmel” shall be like “a wilderness,” that is, it shall be so fertile, that if we compare what it now is with what it shall afterwards be, it may seem like “a wilderness.” It is an enlarged representation of that unwonted fertility. “Fields now barren and uncultivated shall be fertile, and cultivated and fertile fields shall yield such abundant fruit that their present fertility is poverty and barrenness, in comparison of the large produce which they shall afterwards yield;” just as if we should compare the fields of Savoy with those of Sicily and Calabria, and pronounce them to be a “wilderness.” In a word, he describes unparalleled fertility, which believers shall enjoy, when they have been reconciled to God, in order that they may know his favor by his acts of kindness.

While Isaiah thus prophesies concerning the reign of Hezekiah, all this is declared by him to relate to the kingdom of Christ as its end and accomplishment; and therefore, when we come to Christ, we must explain all this spiritually, so as to understand that we are renewed as soon as the Lord has sent down the Spirit from heaven, that we who were “wildernesses” may become cultivated and fertile fields. Ere the Spirit of God has breathed into us, we are justly compared to wildernesses or a dry soil; for we produce nothing but “thorns and briers,” and are by nature unfit for yielding fruits. Accordingly, they who were barren and unfruitful, when they have been renewed by the Spirit of God, begin to yield plentiful fruits; and they whose natural dispositions had some appearance of goodness, being renewed by the same Spirit, will afterwards be so fruitful, that they will appear as if they had formerly been a “wilderness;” for all that men possess is but a wild forest, till they have been renewed by Christ. Whenever, therefore, the Church is afflicted, and when her condition appears to be desperate, let us raise our eyes to heaven, and depend fully on these promises.

16. And judgment shall dwell in the wilderness. The Prophet shews what is the actual condition of the Church, that is, when justice and judgment prevail; for men ought not to be like cattle, which seek nothing but plenty of food and abundance of outward things. And hence it is plain enough that the Jews were not confined to transitory enjoyments, so as to have their hope fixed exclusively on earthly blessings, as some fanatics imagine. They were enjoined to attend to that which was of the greatest importance, that justice and judgment should prevail; and undoubtedly they knew that true happiness consists in it. It is therefore our duty to look chiefly to this, that we should not, like hogs in a sty, judge of the happiness of life by abundance of bread and wine; for this is the end of all the blessings which the Lord bestows upon us, this is the object of our deliverance, “that we should serve him,” as Zacharias says, “in holiness and righteousness.” (Luke 1:74, 75.)

Under the terms “justice” and “judgment,” as we have already seen, he includes all that belongs to uprightness; for although these two words relate strictly to that equity which ought to be mutually cultivated among us, yet, since it is customary to describe the observation of the whole law by the duties of the second table, here the Prophet, by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, embraces also piety and the worship of God. The Prophets are accustomed to notice the chief duties of brotherly kindness, and those which belong to the second table, because by these, more than by any others, we manifest the real state of our feelings towards God.

When he declares that justice and judgment have their abode in the wilderness, as well as in the cultivated fields, this shews more clearly that the abundance of blessings promised a little before was so great that, when men saw it, they would consider that those fields which they formerly looked upon as very excellent had been comparatively barren.

17. And the work of righteousness shall be peace. A little before, he censured severely that peace which made the Jews drowsy and slothful; he now promises a different kind of repose, which will be a striking proof of the love of God, who has received them into favor, and will faithfully guard them. We ought therefore to observe the implied contrast between that brutal repose which the reprobate think that they obtain by their presumption in committing every kind of wickedness, and in which they also fall asleep, and that different kind of repose, on the other hand, which the children of God obtain by a religious and holy life, and which Isaiah exhorts us to desire, shewing that we ought fearlessly to believe that a blessed and joyful peace awaits us when we have been reconciled to God.

In this way he recommends to them to follow uprightness, that they may obtain assured peace; for, as Peter declares, there is no better way of procuring favor, that no man may do us injury, than to abstain from all evil-doing. (1 Peter 3:13.) But the Prophet leads them higher, to aim at a religious and holy life by the grace of God; for nothing is more unreasonable than that wicked men should desire to have peace, while they are continually fighting against God. That wish is indeed common; for hardly one person in a hundred shall be found who does not loudly extol peace, while at the same time every man raises up enemies to himself in the earth, and all in vast crowds disturb heaven and earth by their crimes. Now, the latter repose, being perpetual, is compared by him to the former, which is slight and momentary.

The effect of righteousness. When peace receives this designation, let us learn that, as wars proceed from the wrath of God, which we provoke by our wickedness, so peace springs from his blessing. When, therefore, we see enemies enraged to battle, and rising furiously against us, let us seek no other remedy than repentance; for the Lord will easily allay commotions when we have returned to him. He it is, as the Psalmist says, who

“maketh wars to cease to the ends of the earth, who breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in pieces, and burneth the chariots in the fire.” (Psalm 46:9.)

We have already said that these things do not relate exclusively to Hezekiah, but must be referred to Christ.

18. And my people shall dwell. As we have said that spiritual righteousness is that which has its seat in the hearts of men, we must say the same thing about peace, which is the fruit of it. Accordingly, when quiet habitations and resting-places are here mentioned, let us remember the saying of Paul, “justified by faith, we have peace with God.” (Romans 5:1.) When Christ says that he “leaves” this peace to the disciples, (John 14:27,) he affirms that “it cannot be given by the world;” and we ought not to wonder at this, for, as the same Apostle Paul informs us in another passage, “this peace surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7.) Having obtained this righteousness, we are no longer restless or alarmed within, as when we feel in the gnawings of conscience the wrath of God. A bad conscience is always alarmed, and harassed by wretched uneasiness.

Wicked men must therefore be uneasy, and distressed by a variety of terrors; for where righteousness is banished that peace cannot be found; and where Christ reigns, there alone do we find true peace. Assured peace, therefore, is enjoyed by none but believers, who appeal to the heavenly tribunal, not only by their piety, but by their reliance on the mercy of God. Hence we infer that Christ does not yet reign where consciences are uneasy, and tossed by the various waves of doubts, as must be the case with Papists and all others who are not built on the sacrifice of Christ and the atonement obtained through him.

19. And the hail. We have already said that the prophets are accustomed frequently to describe under figures the reign of Christ; for they borrow their metaphors from an earthly kingdom, because our ignorance would make it almost impossible for us to comprehend, in any other way, the unspeakable treasure of blessings. The meaning is, “The Lord will remove from his people distresses and annoyances, and will make them fall on others;” because here we are liable to various storms and tempests, and must endure rain, hail, showers, winds, and tempests. He says that God, by his wonderful providence, will prevent all distresses from doing any injury to believers, because he will drive their violence in another direction.

By forests he means unfrequented and desert places, where there are no crowds of men. Hence we learn that, when we are under the guardianship of Christ, we are protected from inconveniences and dangers, but that, at the same time, various storms and tempests are ready to burst on our heads. But the Lord is our deliverer, who turns away in another direction the evils that are approaching, or rescues us when we are in danger.

And the city shall be situated to a low place. 344344    {Bogus footnote} In order to confirm what he had said about peace, he says, that “cities,” which shall be situated on level ground, will be out of danger; for at that time it was customary to build on high and elevated places, that the access to them might be more difficult. “Such,” says he, “will be God’s protection of his people, that they will not need the ordinary fortifications, because the city may be safely set down in valleys; and even although it be liable to the attacks of enemies, it will sustain no inconvenience, for the hand of the Lord will protect it.” We must not therefore seek safety by relying on our defences, lest we be immediately driven from our nest; but since our heavenly Father deigns to provide for our safety, let us be satisfied with having him for our protector and guardian. 345345    {Bogus footnote}

20. Blessed are ye. He shews how great will be the change, when Christ shall begin to reign; for he had formerly said that so great would be the desolation, that “thorns and briers” would overspread the holy land, costly houses would be thrown down, and cities and palaces would be levelled with the earth. This would happen, when the incessant attacks of enemies should lay that country desolate. But now he says that they shall be blessed, because God will give them abundant produce of all fruits. That fertility which might have been described in simple language, he illustrates by figures, that they shall “sow in marshes,” and shall “send forth their cattle” into the fields without dread of losing them.

By waters some understand a rich and fertile soil; but the universal particle כל, (chōl,) all, leads me to take a different view; as if he had said, “Places which were overrun with waters shall be fit for sowing, and there will be no reason to fear that the water shall spoil our fields.” We are accustomed also to drive away oxen, and asses, and other animals, from fields, and especially from sown fields, that they may not eat the corn. But here he says that the corn will grow so thick and plentifully, that it shall be necessary to send oxen and asses to crop the early blade, as is commonly done when the corn is luxuriant. 346346    {Bogus footnote}

He calls them blessed, in accordance with the usage of the Hebrew language, because their labor will never be unprofitable. If it be objected that, under the reign of Christ, such fertility has never been seen, I acknowledge that, even when God has shewn the highest kindness to his people, still there have always been visible marks of the curse, which was entailed on mankind by the fall and revolt of Adam. (Genesis 3:17.) But since Christ has restored to believers the inheritance of the world, with good reason do the prophets assert that he would renew the earth, so as to remove its filthiness and restore that beauty which it had lost. They who complain that it is not yet fulfilled, ought to consider whether or not they themselves are purified from every stain of sin. And if they are still at a great distance from spiritual righteousness, let them be satisfied with enjoying the blessing of God according to the measure of regeneration, the full enjoyment of which we must not expect to obtain, till, freed from the pollution of the flesh, we shall bear the perfect image of God.

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