World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

The Servant, a Light to the Nations

42

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations.

2

He will not cry or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

3

a bruised reed he will not break,

and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice.

4

He will not grow faint or be crushed

until he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

 

5

Thus says God, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people upon it

and spirit to those who walk in it:

6

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,

I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

I have given you as a covenant to the people,

a light to the nations,

7

to open the eyes that are blind,

to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

from the prison those who sit in darkness.

8

I am the Lord, that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to idols.

9

See, the former things have come to pass,

and new things I now declare;

before they spring forth,

I tell you of them.

 


Select a resource above

1. Behold my servant. The Prophet appears to break off abruptly to speak of Christ, but we ought to remember what we mentioned formerly 150150     Commentary on Isaiah, vol. 1 p. 246. in expounding another passage, (Isaiah 7:14,) that the prophets, when they promise anything hard to be believed, are wont immediately afterwards to mention Christ; for in him are ratified all the promises which would otherwise have been doubtful and uncertain. “In Christ,” says Paul, “is Yea and Amen.” (2 Corinthians 1:20.) For what intercourse can we have with God, unless the Mediator come between us? We undoubtedly are too far alienated from his majesty, and therefore could not be partakers either of salvation or of any other blessing, but through the kindness of Christ.

Besides, when the Lord promised deliverance to the Jews, he wished to raise their minds higher, that they might look for greater and more valuable gifts than bodily freedom and a return to Judea; for those blessings were only the foretaste of that redemption which they at length obtained through Christ, and which we now enjoy. The grace of God in the return of his people would indeed have been imperfect, if he had not, at that time revealed himself as the perpetual Redeemer of his Church. But, as we have already said, the end of the captivity in Babylon included the full restoration of the Church; and consequently we need not wonder if the prophets interweave that commencement of grace with the reign of Christ, for that succession of events is mentioned in ninny passages. We must therefore come to Christ, without whom God cannot be reconciled to us; that is, unless we be received into the number of God’s children by being ingrafted, into his body. It will be evident from what follows, that the Prophet now speaks of Christ as the First-born and the Head, for to no other person could the following statements be applied, and the Evangelists place the matter beyond all controversy. (Matthew 12:17-21.)

He calls Christ his Servant, (κατ ἐξοχήν,) by way of eminence; for this name belongs to all the godly, because God has adopted them on the condition of directing themselves and their whole life to obedience to him; and godly teachers, and those who hold a public office in the Church, are in a peculiar manner denominated the servants of God. But there is something still more extraordinary, on account of which this name belongs especially to Christ, for he is called a “Servant,” because God the Father not only enjoined him to teach or to do some particular thing, but called him to a singular and incomparable work which has nothing in common with other works.

Though this name is ascribed to the person, yet it belongs to human nature; for since his divine nature is eternal, and since he has always possessed in it a glory equal and perfectly similar to that of the Father, it was necessary that he should assume flesh in order that he might submit to obedience. Hence also Paul says,

“Though he was in the form of God, he accounted it not robbery to make himself equal to God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,” etc. (Philippians 2:6.)

That he was a servant was a voluntary act, so that we must not think that it detracted anything from his rank. The ancient writers of the Church expressed this by the word “Dispensation,” by which it was brought about, they tell us, that he was subject to all our infirmities. It was by a voluntary determination that he subjected himself to God, and subjected himself in such a manner as to become also of service to us; and yet that exceedingly low condition does not hinder him from still continuing to possess supreme majesty. Hence also the Apostle says that he was “exalted above every name.” (Philippians 2:9.) he employs the demonstrative particle Behold, in order to lead the Jews to regard the event as having actually taken place; for the objects which were before their eyes might have led them to despair, and therefore he bids them turn away their eyes from the actual condition of things and look to Christ.

I will lean upon, him, or, I will uphold him. 151151     The former is found in the text of our author’s version, and the latter in his marginal reading. — Ed. אתמך (ethmoch) is interpreted by some in an active, and by others in a passive sense. If it be taken in a passive sense, the meaning will be, that God will “lean on” his Anointed in such a manner as to lay the whole charge upon him, as masters commonly do to their faithful servants; and it is a proof of extraordinary fidelity, that God the Father will deliver all things to him, and will put into his hand his own power and authority. (John 13:3, and 17:10.) Yet I do not object to the active signification, “I will raise him up,” or, “I will exalt him,” or, “I will support him in his rank;” for what immediately follows, I will put my Spirit in him, is a repetition of the same sentiment. In the former clause, therefore, he says, I will uphold him, and afterwards describes the manner of “upholding,” that he will direct him by his Spirit, meaning by this phrase that he will assist Christ in all things, and will not permit him to be overcome by any difficulties. Now, it was necessary that Christ should he endued with the Spirit of God, in order to execute that divine office, and be the Mediator between God and men; for so great a work could not be performed by human power.

My elect. In this passage the word Elect denotes “excellent,” as in many other passages; for they who are in the very flower of their age are called chosen youths. (1 Samuel 26:2, and 2 Samuel 6:1.) Jehovah therefore calls him “an excellent servant,” because he bears the message of reconciliation, and because all his actions are directed by God. At the same time he demonstrates his undeserved love, by which he embraced us all in his only-begotten Son, that in his person we may behold an illustrious display of that election by which we have been adopted into the hope of eternal life. Now, since heavenly power dwells in the human nature of Christ, when we hear him speak, let us not look at flesh and blood, but raise our minds higher, so as to know that all that he does is divine.

In whom my soul is well pleased. From this passage we learn that Christ is not only beloved by the Father, (Matthew 3:17,) but is alone beloved and accepted by him, so that there is no way of obtaining favor from God but through the intercession of Christ. In this sense the Evangelists quote this passage, (Matthew 12:18,) as Paul also declares that we are reconciled “in the beloved” in such a manner as to be beloved on his account. (Ephesians 1:6.) The Prophet afterwards shews that Christ will be endued with the power of the Spirit, not solely on his own account, but in order to spread it far and wide.

He will exhibit judgment to the Gentiles. By the word judgment the Prophet means a well-regulated government, and not a sentence which is pronounced by a judge on the bench; for to judge means, among the Hebrew writers, “to command, to rule, to govern,” and he adds that this judgment will be not only in Judea, but throughout the whole world. This promise was exceedingly new and strange; for it was only in Judea that God was known, (Psalm 76:2,) and the Gentiles were shut out from all confidence in his favor. (Ephesians 2:12.)

These clear proofs were therefore exceedingly needful for us, that we might be certain of our calling; for otherwise we might think that these promises did not at all belong to us. Christ was sent in order to bring the whole world under the authority of God and obedience to him; and this shows that without him everything is confused and disordered. Before he comes to us, there can be no proper government amongst us; and therefore we must learn to submit to him, if we desire to be well and justly governed. Now, we ought to judge of this government from the nature of his kingdom, which is not external, but belongs to the inner man; for it consists of a good conscience and uprightness of life, not what is so reckoned before men, but what is so reckoned before God. The doctrine may be thus summed up: “Because the whole life of men has been perverted since we were corrupted in every respect by the fall of Adam, Christ came with the heavenly power of his Spirit, that he might change our disposition, and thus form us again to ‘newness of life.’” (Romans 6:4.)

2. He shall not cry aloud. The Prophet shews of what nature the coming of Christ will be; that is, without pomp or splendor, such as commonly attends earthly kings, at whose arrival there are uttered various noises and loud cries, as if heaven and earth were about to mingle. But Isaiah says that Christ will come without any noise or cry; and that not only for the sake of applauding his modesty, but, first, that we may not form any earthly conception of him; secondly, that, having known his kindness by which he draws us to him, we may cheerfully hasten to meet him; and, lastly, that our faith may not languish, though his condition be mean and despicable.

He shall not lift up his voice; that is, he shall create no disturbance; as we commonly say of a quiet and peaceable man, “He makes no great noise.” 152152     “Il ne fait pas grand bruit.” And indeed he did not boast of himself to the people, but frequently forbade them to publish his miracles, that all might learn that his power and authority was widely different from that which kings or princes obtain, by causing themselves to be loudly spoken of in order to gain the applause of the multitude. (Matthew 8:4; 9:30; 12:16; Mark 5:43; Luke 8:56.)

3. A bruised reed he shall not break. After having declared in general that Christ will be unlike earthly princes, he next mentions his mildness in this respect, that he will support the weak and feeble. This is what he means by the metaphor of “the bruised reed,” that he does not wish to break off and altogether crush those who are half-broken, but, on the contrary, to lift up and support them, so as to maintain and strengthen all that is good in them.

Nor will he quench the smoking flax. This metaphor is of the same import with the former, and is borrowed from the wicks of lamps, which may displease us by not burning clearly or by giving out smoke, and yet we do not extinguish but trim and brighten them. Isaiah ascribes to Christ that forbearance by which he bears with our weakness, which we find to be actually fulfilled by him; for wherever any spark of piety is seen, he strengthens and kindles it, and if he were to act towards us with the utmost rigor, we should be reduced to nothing. Although men therefore totter and stumble, although they are even shaken or out of joint, yet he does not at once cast them off as utterly useless, but bears long, till he makes them stronger and more steadfast.

God gave a manifestation of this meekness when he appointed Christ to begin the discharge of his office as ambassador; for the Holy Spirit was sent from heaven in the shape of a dove, which was a token of nothing but mildness and gentleness. (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32.) And indeed the sign perfectly agrees with the reality; for he makes no great noise, and does not render himself an object of terror, as earthly kings commonly do, and does not wish to harass or oppress his people beyond measure, but, on the contrary, to soothe and comfort them. Not only did he act in this manner when he was manifested to the world, but this is what he daily shows himself to be by the gospel. Following this example, the ministers of the gospel, who are his deputies, ought to shew themselves to be meek, and to support the weak, and gently to lead them in the way, so as not to extinguish in them the feeblest sparks of piety, but, on the contrary, to kindle them with all their might. But that we may not suppose that this meekness holds out encouragement to vices and corruptions, he adds —

He shall bring forth judgment in truth. Although Christ soothes and upholds the weak, yet he is very far from using the flatteries which encourage vices; and therefore we ought to correct vices without flattery, which is in the highest degree inconsistent with that meekness. We ought therefore to guard diligently against extremes; that is, we must neither crush the minds of the weak by excessive severity, nor encourage by our smooth language anything that is evil.

That we may better understand who those persons are towards whom, following the example of Christ, we ought to exercise this mildness, we ought to weigh carefully the Prophet’s words. He calls them “a bruised reed” and “smoking wick.” These words do not apply to those who boldly and obstinately resist, nor to those who are fierce and headstrong; for such persons do not deserve this forbearance, but rather must be broken and crushed, as by the strokes of a hammer, by the severity of the word. While he praises meekness, he at the same time shews to whom it is adapted, and at what time and in what manner it ought to be employed; for it is not suitable to hardened and rebellious persons, or to those whose rage sends forth flames, but to those who are submissive, and who cheerfully yield to the yoke of Christ.

The word smoking shews that he maintains and cherishes not darkness, but sparks, though feeble and hardly perceptible. Wherever then there is impiety and stubbornness, there we must act with the utmost severity, and exercise no forbearance; but, on the other hand, where there are vices that have not gone beyond endurance, yet by gentleness of this nature, instead of encouraging, we must correct and reform them; for we must always pay regard chiefly to truth, of which he speaks, that vices may not be concealed, and thus acquire a secret corruption, but that the weak may be gradually trained to sincerity and uprightness. These words, therefore, relate to those persons who, amidst many deficiencies, have integrity of mind, and earnestly desire to follow true religion, or, at least, in whom we see some good beginning. It is clearly shewn by many passages (Matthew 12:39; 22:18; 23:13) how severely Christ deals with despisers; for he is constrained to employ “a rod of iron” to crush those who do not submit to be governed by his shepherd’s crook. As he justly declares that “his yoke is easy, and his burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30,) to willing disciples, so with good reason does David arm him with “a scepter of iron” (Psalm 2:9) to break his enemies in pieces, and declare that he will be wet with their blood. (Psalm 110:6, 7.)

4. He shall not faint, nor be discouraged. The Prophet alludes to the preceding verse, and confirms what he formerly said, that Christ will indeed be mild and gentle towards the weak, but that he will have no softness or effeminacy; for he will manfully execute the commission which he has received from the Father. This is what he means when he says that “he shall not faint;” and in this verb יכהה (yichheh) there is an allusion to a former verse, in which he spoke of “smoking flax.” Now, he shews what is the true moderation of meekness, not to turn aside to excessive indulgence; for we ought to use it in such a manner as not to swerve from our duty. Many persons wish to profit by the name of gentleness, so as to gain the applause and esteem of the world, but at the same time betray truth in a base and shameful manner.

I remember that there were in a populous city two preachers, one of whom boldly and loudly reproved vices, while the other endeavored to gain the favor of the people by flatteries. This fawning preacher, who was expounding the Prophet Jeremiah, lighted on a passage full of the mildest consolation, and having found, as he imagined, a fit opportunity, began to declaim against those harsh and severe reprovers who are wont to terrify men by thunderbolts of words. But on the following day, when the Prophet changed his subject and sharply rebuked wicked men with his peculiar vehemence of style, the wretched flatterer was constrained to encounter bitter scorn by retracting the words which were fresh in the recollection of all his hearers. Thus the temporary favor which he had gained speedily vanished, when he revealed his own disposition, and made himself abhorred by the good and the bad.

We must therefore distinguish between the submissive and the obstinate, that we may not abuse that mildness by using it on every occasion. Yet Isaiah declares that Christ’s fortitude will be unshaken, so that it shall surmount every obstacle; for by these words, Till he put judgment, he means that the ministry of Christ will be so efficacious that the fruit of his doctrine shall be manifested. He does not merely say, “Till he shall have made known the will of his Father,” but “Till he establish judgment,” that is, as we formerly said, the proper exercise of government. Christ’s ministry, therefore, he testifies, will not be unfruitful, but will have such efficacy that men shall be reformed by it.

This must not be limited to the person of Christ, but extends to the whole course of the gospel; for he not only discharged the embassy committed to him for three years, but continues to discharge the same embassy every day by means of his servants. Yet we are reminded that it is impossible for us to discharge that office without being laid under the necessity of suffering many annoyances, and sustaining contests so severe and dangerous, that we shall be almost overwhelmed and ready to abandon everything. Still we must not desist, but persevere constantly in our duty, and run to the very end; and therefore the Prophet testifies that Christ will be so steadfast that he will pursue his calling to the end; and, following his example, we ought boldly to persevere.

And the isles shall wait for his law. Here he employs the word Law to mean “doctrine,” as the Hebrew word for “law” is derived from a verb which signifies to teach; 153153     That is, תורה (torah), “a law,” is derived from ירה (yarah), which in the Hiphil conjugation, הורה (horah), signifies “he taught.” — Ed. and thus the prophets are accustomed to speak of the gospel, in order to shew that it will not be new or contrary to what was taught by Moses.

The isles. We have formerly shewn that the Hebrew writers give the name of isles to countries beyond the sea.

The Prophet confirms the former statement, by which it was declared that Christ had been appointed not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles, though they had nothing in common with the Jewish commonwealth. In short, that promise relates to all nations, that the advantages of this restoration and reformation may be shared by every part of the world.

By the word wait, he means that the elect will eagerly embrace the gospel offered to them; for the Lord displays in it the power of his election, when “they who wandered in darkness,” (Matthew 4:16,) as soon as they hear the voice of the gospel, embrace it with the utmost eagerness, and although they formerly wandered, like scattered and lost sheep, yet hear immediately the voice of the shepherd, and cheerfully submit to him, as Christ himself has also spoken. (John 10:16.) Hence we learn that the saying of Augustine is exceedingly true, “that many sheep wander out of the folds, while wolves frequently dwell within the folds.” This attention is the work of God, when men who thought that they were wise give up their own judgment, and have to learn the gospel of Christ, so as to depend entirely on this teacher.

5. Thus saith Jehovah. He confirms what he said in the beginning of the chapter about the reign of Christ, that he will renew and restore all things; and as this might be thought to be incredible, he has here added a magnificent description of the power of God, by which our faith ought to be confirmed, especially when the outward aspect of things is directly contrary. On this account he brings forward clear proofs of the power of God, that all may be aroused by the mention of them, and may be convinced that he who created all things out of nothing, who spread out the heavens, who produced vegetation, who gave life to animals, and who upholds and defends all things by his power, will easily perform what he promises concerning the reign of Christ. These forms of expression remind us that we ought always to consider the power of God, that we may be fully convinced of the authority and undoubted certainty of his word; for it is not without reason that Isaiah makes this preface, but in order to remove every doubt, because nothing is too hard for God, who keeps the whole world in subjection to his authority; and in the following chapters he will employ similar modes of expression.

האל (hael) is rendered by some “powerful,” and by others “God;” but it is of little consequence, for the meaning is the same; because he exhibits his power and majesty, and adorns him with this variety of titles, that we may know that he will easily restore all that is fallen and laid low.

6. I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness. He again repeats the name of God, in which we ought to supply what he stated in the former verse about his power. It is generally thought that this points out the end of Christ’s calling, that he was sent by the Father to establish “justice” among men, who are destitute of it so long as they have not Christ, and, being given up to all the corruptions of crimes and vices, are held captive under the tyranny of Satan. But because the word “righteousness” has a more extensive signification, I pass by that ingenious distinction; for it is not even said that he shall be called “to righteousness,” but this phraseology ought to be viewed as equivalent to the adverbial expression, “righteously,” or “in a holy manner.” I rather suppose the meaning to be, that Christ was “called in righteousness,” because his calling is lawful, and therefore shall be firm and secure. We know that what is not done in a proper and regular manner cannot be of long duration. Or perhaps it will be thought preferable to view it thus, that God, in appointing Christ to restore the Church, seeks no reason but from himself and his own righteousness; but it is certain that this word denotes stability, as if he had said, “faithfully.”

And will hold thee by thy hand. By “the holding of the hand” he means the immediate assistance of God; as if he had said, “I will direct and establish thee in the calling to which I have appointed thee. In a word, as thy calling is righteous, so I will defend and uphold thee, as if by taking hold of thy hand I were thy leader.”

I will keep thee. This word “keep” plainly shews what is the meaning of holding by the hand, namely, that Christ will be directed by the Father in such a manner that he shall have him as his protector and guardian, shall enjoy his assistance, and, in short, shall feel his presence in all things.

And will place thee for a covenant. He now states the reason why God promises that he will be a guardian to Christ. Besides, the Prophet spoke of the Jews and the Gentiles separately; not that they differ by nature, or that the one is more excellent than the other, (for all need the grace of God, (Romans 3:23,) and Christ has brought salvation to all indiscriminately,) but because the Lord assigned the first rank to the Jews, (Matthew 10:6,) it was therefore proper that they should be distinguished from the others. Accordingly, before “the partition-wall” (Ephesians 2:14) was thrown down, they excelled, not by their merit, but by the favor of God, because with them in the first instance the covenant of grace was made.

It may be objected, “Why is Christ appointed to a covenant which was ratified long before? for, more than two thousand years before, God had adopted Abraham, and thus the origin of the distinction was long previous to the coming of Christ.” I reply, the covenant which was made with Abraham and his posterity had its foundation in Christ; for the words of the covenant are these, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” (Genesis 22:18.) And the covenant was ratified in no other manner than in the seed of Abraham, that is, in Christ, by whose coming, though it had been previously made, it was confirmed and actually sanctioned. Hence also Paul says, “that the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ,” (2 Corinthians 1:20,) and in another passage calls Christ “the minister of circumcision, to fulfill the promises which were given to the fathers.” (Romans 15:8.) Still more clearly does he declare that Christ is “the peace” of all, so that they who were formerly separated are united in him, and both they who were far off and they who were near are thus reconciled to God. (Ephesians 2:17.) Hence also it is evident that Christ was promised, not only to the Jews, but to the whole world.

For a light of the Gentiles. We have here another clear proof of the calling of the Gentiles, since he expressly states that Christ was appointed to be “a light” to them. He calls him a light, because the Gentiles were plunged in the deepest and thickest darkness, at the time when the Lord illuminated none but the Jews. Now, then, the blame lies solely with ourselves, if we do not become partakers of this salvation; for he calls all men to himself, without a single exception, and gives Christ to all, that we may be illuminated by him. Let us only open our eyes, he alone will dispel the darkness, and illuminate our minds by the “light” of truth.

7. That thou mayest open the eyes of the blind. Here he explains more fully for what end Christ shall be sent by the Father, that we may see more clearly what advantage he yields us, and how much we need his assistance. He reminds all men of their “blindness,” that they may acknowledge it, if they wish to be illuminated by Christ. In short, under these metaphors he declares what is the condition of men, till Christ shine upon them as their Redeemer; that is, that they are most wretched, empty, and destitute of all blessings, and surrounded and overwhelmed by innumerable distresses, till they are delivered by Christ.

Now, though the Prophet addresses Christ himself, yet he has in his eye believers, that they may know that in him they ought to trust, and may not doubt that a remedy will be provided for all their distresses, if they implore his aid. God does not here enjoin Christ what he shall do, as if he needed to be taught or to receive commandments; but he addresses him for our sake, that we may know why the Father sent him; as he says also, (Psalm 2:7, 8,) “I will make known the decree; ask of me, I will give thee the Gentiles;” for in that passage the rank and authority of Christ are declared, that we may know that the Father has bestowed on him the highest authority, in order that we may more securely place all our hope and confidence in him.

8. I am Jehovah. Hence infer what is the nature and extent of the disease of unbelief, since the Lord can hardly satisfy himself with any words to express the cure of it. By nature we are prone to distrust, and do not believe God when he speaks, till he entirely subdue our stubbornness. Besides, we continually fall back into the same fault through our levity, unless he employ many bridles to restrain us. Again, therefore, he returns to that confirmation of which we have spoken formerly, that his promises may remain unshaken.

This is my name. הוא (hu) is sometimes taken for a substantive, so as to be a proper name of God; 154154     “There is no sufficient ground for the opinion that the pronoun הוא (ha) is ever used as a divine name, cognate and equivalent to Jehovah. In this case the obvious and usual construction is entirely satisfactory.” — Alexander. but I explain it in a more simple manner, “It is my name,” that is, “Jehovah is my own name, and cannot lawfully be given to any other.” In a word, by this expression he seals all that was said about the office of Christ, and adds as it were a seal to the promise: “He who declareth these things testifieth that he alone is God, and that this name dwelleth in him alone.”

And I will not give my glory to another; that is, “I will not suffer my glory to be diminished, which it would be, if I were found to be false or fickle in my promises.” He therefore declares that he will abide by his promises, because he wishes to vindicate his glory and preserve it entire, that it may not be in any respect diminished.

This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that the glory of God is chiefly visible in his fulfillment of what he has promised. And hence we obtain a singular confirmation of our faith, that the Lord never deceives, never swerves from his promises, and nothing can hinder what he has once determined. But since Satan, by amazing arts, endeavors to obscure this glory of God, and to bestow it on men and on false gods, he therefore testifies that he will not permit himself to be regarded as fickle or deceitful in his promises.

Nor my praise to graven images. A contrast is drawn between the only God and idols with reference to time; for, had not God been the Redeemer of his people, unbelievers would have boasted as if true religion had been false and useless. God therefore declares that he will not permit wicked men to triumph by oppressing the Church; and, beyond all doubt, God has hitherto spared us, and still deals so gently with us, in order that he may not expose his Gospel to the blasphemous reproaches of the Papists. We ought to draw from this a universal doctrine, namely, that the Lord wishes that his glory may remain unimpaired; for he defends and maintains it everywhere with the utmost zeal, in order to shew that he is exceedingly jealous of it, (Exodus 20:5,) and does not permit the smallest part of it to be given to another.

9. The former things. He now recalls to remembrance the former predictions, by the fulfillment of which he shews that confidence ought to be placed in him for the future; for what we have known by actual experience ought to tend greatly to confirm our belief. It is as if he had said, “I have spoken so frequently to your fathers, and you have found me to be true in all things; and yet you cannot place confidence in me about future events: the experience of past transactions produces no effect upon you, and does not excite you to do better.” God’s favors, therefore, ought to be mentioned by us in such a manner that, whenever our salvation lies concealed in hope, we may rest on the word of God, and be confirmed by it during the whole course of our life.

Behold! they came. 155155     “By the former things he means those things which had been done in order to protect and deliver the Hebrew nation from the power of barbarians; and those things which Jehovah had foretold by his prophets came, that is, they happened.” — Rosenmiiller. By the adverb behold, he points out, as with the finger, that they had learned by experience, that God is not false, and did not; speak in vain by the prophets; because clear proofs openly testified and proclaimed the truth of God.

Before they spring forth. 156156     “That is, before they took place, as in Isaiah 43:12. The metaphor is taken from plants, which put forth the buds and flowers before their fruits are visible. (Genesis 2:5; Exodus 10:5.) The meaning is, that God does not foretell those things which have already begun to be accomplished, and which sagacious men may conjecture to be future; but before anything has happened, from which a conjecture may be formed as to future events.” — Rosenmuller. He distinguishes God from idols by this mark, that he alone knows and predicts future events, but idols do not; know them. As to the greater part of the responses which were given by the gods of the Gentiles, we have formerly seen that they were either false or ambiguous; for they who relied on them were often shamefully deceived, and this is the reward which they richly deserved. And if at first sight the event corresponded, this plunged them deeper in eternal perdition; and by the righteous judgment of God it was brought about that Satan imposed upon them by such delusions. Far otherwise was it with the sacred oracles, by which the Church, for her own advantage and salvation, was at one time brought to repentance, and at another time encouraged to entertain favorable hope, that she might not sink under the burden of punishments. It remains a settled principle, that all that God has foretold is verified by the event; for he rules and directs all things by his providence.




Advertisements