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40. Comfort for God's People

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’S hand double for all her sins.

3The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. 6The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

12Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? 13Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? 14With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? 15Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. 16And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. 17All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

18To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? 19The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. 20He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. 21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: 23That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. 24Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. 25To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. 27Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

11. As a shepherd. In this verse he declares what is the nature of that work of the Lord; for since he works in various and, indeed, in innumerable ways, the hearer might have been kept in suspense as to the work which God intended to accomplish; and thus the general doctrine would have been less efficacious in exciting hope. Though he does not describe every part, yet he states in a few words that God has determined to protect and guard his Church. On this account he compares him to “a shepherd;” and under this designation he expresses his infinite love towards us, when he does not refuse to stoop so low as to perform towards us the office of “a shepherd.” In other passages, and even a little before, (Isaiah 34:2, etc.,) he described himself as armed with terrible power for the defense of his people, and a little after this he repeats the same statement; but here he ascribes to him a more amiable character, that believers may sweetly repose under his protection.

He will feed his flock. Now, although by the word “flock” he describes an elect people, whom he had undertaken to govern, yet we are reminded that God will be a shepherd to none but to those who, in modesty and gentleness, shall imitate the sheep and lambs. For this reason we ought to observe the character of the flock; for he does not choose to feed savage beasts, but lambs. We must therefore lay aside our fierceness, and permit ourselves to be tamed, if we wish to be gathered into the fold of which God promises that he will be the guardian.

He will carry them in his bosom. These words describe God’s wonderful condescension; for not only is he actuated by a general feeling of regard to his whole flock, but, in proportion to the weakness of any one sheep, he shews his carefulness in watching, his gentleness in handling, and his patience in leading it. Here he leaves out nothing that belongs to the office of a good shepherd; for the shepherd ought to observe every sheep, so as to treat it according to its capacity; and especially they ought to be supported, if they are exceedingly weak. In a word, God will be mild, kind, gentle, and compassionate, so that he will not drive the weak harder than they are able to bear.


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