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God’s Blessing on Israel


But now hear, O Jacob my servant,

Israel whom I have chosen!


Thus says the L ord who made you,

who formed you in the womb and will help you:

Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,

Jeshurun whom I have chosen.


For I will pour water on the thirsty land,

and streams on the dry ground;

I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,

and my blessing on your offspring.


They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,

like willows by flowing streams.


This one will say, “I am the L ord’s,”

another will be called by the name of Jacob,

yet another will write on the hand, “The L ord’s,”

and adopt the name of Israel.



Thus says the L ord, the King of Israel,

and his Redeemer, the L ord of hosts:

I am the first and I am the last;

besides me there is no god.


Who is like me? Let them proclaim it,

let them declare and set it forth before me.

Who has announced from of old the things to come?

Let them tell us what is yet to be.


Do not fear, or be afraid;

have I not told you from of old and declared it?

You are my witnesses!

Is there any god besides me?

There is no other rock; I know not one.


The Absurdity of Idol Worship

9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit; their witnesses neither see nor know. And so they will be put to shame. 10Who would fashion a god or cast an image that can do no good? 11Look, all its devotees shall be put to shame; the artisans too are merely human. Let them all assemble, let them stand up; they shall be terrified, they shall all be put to shame.

12 The ironsmith fashions it and works it over the coals, shaping it with hammers, and forging it with his strong arm; he becomes hungry and his strength fails, he drinks no water and is faint. 13The carpenter stretches a line, marks it out with a stylus, fashions it with planes, and marks it with a compass; he makes it in human form, with human beauty, to be set up in a shrine. 14He cuts down cedars or chooses a holm tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15Then it can be used as fuel. Part of it he takes and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Then he makes a god and worships it, makes it a carved image and bows down before it. 16Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he roasts meat, eats it and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Ah, I am warm, I can feel the fire!” 17The rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, bows down to it and worships it; he prays to it and says, “Save me, for you are my god!”

18 They do not know, nor do they comprehend; for their eyes are shut, so that they cannot see, and their minds as well, so that they cannot understand. 19No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals, I roasted meat and have eaten. Now shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20He feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray, and he cannot save himself or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a fraud?”


Israel Is Not Forgotten


Remember these things, O Jacob,

and Israel, for you are my servant;

I formed you, you are my servant;

O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.


I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud,

and your sins like mist;

return to me, for I have redeemed you.



Sing, O heavens, for the L ord has done it;

shout, O depths of the earth;

break forth into singing, O mountains,

O forest, and every tree in it!

For the L ord has redeemed Jacob,

and will be glorified in Israel.



Thus says the L ord, your Redeemer,

who formed you in the womb:

I am the L ord, who made all things,

who alone stretched out the heavens,

who by myself spread out the earth;


who frustrates the omens of liars,

and makes fools of diviners;

who turns back the wise,

and makes their knowledge foolish;


who confirms the word of his servant,

and fulfills the prediction of his messengers;

who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be inhabited,”

and of the cities of Judah, “They shall be rebuilt,

and I will raise up their ruins”;


who says to the deep, “Be dry—

I will dry up your rivers”;


who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd,

and he shall carry out all my purpose”;

and who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be rebuilt,”

and of the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”


1. Yet now hear. Having a little before rebuked the transgressions of the people, and declared that all deserved eternal perdition, because both the princes and the people had polluted everything by their crimes, he now mitigates that severity of punishment, and comforts the people. In this passage I consider the particle ו (vau) to mean But or Yet, as in many other passages. As if he had said, “Though grievous afflictions are about to overtake thee, yet now hear what I will do for thy sake.” The verse must be viewed in connection with the former argument, because the Lord declares that he will never permit his people to perish altogether, though they be grievously afflicted. Hence infer, that God is never so angry with his Church as not to leave some room for mercy, as we have already seen on many occasions. The consequence is, that the prophets, whenever they threaten, always add some consolation as an abatement.

But lest we should imagine that men have deserved it by their good conduct, he therefore adds, whom I have chosen; for we do not serve God, because we are entitled to it, or deserve it, but because he renders us fit by a free election. In this passage, therefore, the words Servant and Elect are synonymous, yet so that election comes first in order, and therefore David says that he was God’s “servant” before he was born, because even from his mother’s womb he had been received into God’s family. (Psalm 22:10; 71:6; 116:16.)

2. Thus saith Jehovah thy Maker. Though he treated the Jews harshly, that they might be stripped of all false confidence, and might humbly betake themselves to the grace of God, he now caresses them pleasantly by a mild and gentle discourse, that they may know that by self-denial they shall sustain no loss. We must therefore supply here the following contrasts. “Thou, Jacob, art indeed nothing in thyself, but God thy Maker will not despise his work; no nobleness of birth would secure thee against perdition, but the adoption which the Heavenly Father has been pleased to bestow upon thee will be abundantly sufficient for redeeming thee.” Besides, we should keep in mind what I have often said already, that the Prophet does not speak of the first creation by which we are born to be human beings, but of the regeneration which belongs and is peculiar to the elect, that they may obtain a place in the Church of God.

He that formed thee from the womb. This is added, that men may not claim anything for themselves, as if they had moved him to shew kindness to them. By these words he also exhibits to them a hereditary covenant, by which God separated them to be his inheritance “before they were born.” (Romans 9:11.) Some think that this refers to the person of Jacob, because, by taking hold of his brother’s foot, (Genesis 25:26,) he gave a remarkable proof of his election; but this is a forced interpretation, and therefore I give a wider signification to these words, namely, that the Lord was kind and bountiful to his people from the commencement, and cut off all merits; because by free grace he “formed him,” and then freely bestowed on him all blessings.

He will help thee. Some supply the relative, “Who will help thee;” as if he had said, “Thy Helper;” but it is better to read the clause separately. 173173     “Even on the common supposition, that the words of God begin with the second clause, it is better to take ‘He will help thee’ as a short independent clause, parenthetically thrown in to complete the description, or to connect it with what follows.” — Alexander. It would be still more clear in the first person, “I will help thee;” but as to the substance of the meaning it makes no difference. The statemen t amounts to this, that he who is the Creator of the people will be ready to give his assistance when the proper time shall arrive. Let every person therefore adopt that reading which he thinks proper; but I have preferred to follow the simple and natural meaning, without supplying any word.

O beloved! The word ישרון (yeshurun) is explained in various ways. Some think that it is derived from ישר, (yashar,) which means “to be upright,” or “to please;” others from שור, (shur,) and others from אשר, (ashar.) But I rather agree with those who translate it Beloved, and derive it from the root ישר, (yashar.) This designation is also bestowed on that nation by Moses in his song; for, although some render it in that passage Upright, and in this passage also, the old rendering is more suitable, “My beloved is grown fat.” (Deuteronomy 32:15.) The Prophet adorns his nation with these titles, that the Jews may be led by past benefits to entertain hope for the future. This rule ought to be held by all believers as perpetually binding, that, after having experienced the kindness of God toward them, they should likewise expect it for the future; for otherwise they will be excessively ungrateful, and will shew that they do not rely on the promises of God, which, when they are impressed on our hearts, undoubtedly bring peace and safety; not that we should be utterly devoid of fear, but that we should strive against all dread and distrust; and therefore he again repeats, —

Fear thou not, Jacob. Such is also the import of the consolation given by Christ,

“Fear not, little flock, for my Father hath good will towards thee.” (Luke 12:32.)

And, indeed, among the dangers which threaten death on all sides, no remedy is better adapted to allay terrors than that God has been pleased to bestow his favor upon us, so that he will save us for ever. By the word “Beloved,” therefore, he again repeats that this depends on the favor and protection of God, who ascribes to himself, and entirely claims, all the good that existed among the people.

3. For I will pour waters. He continues the same subject, and at the same time explains what will be the nature of that assistance which he has promised. But we ought always to keep in remembrance that these prophecies relate to that sorrowful and afflicted period of which he formerly spoke, that is, when the people, in the extremity to which they were reduced, might think that they were altogether forsaken, and that all the promises of God were vain. Isaiah meets this doubt, and compares the people to a dry and thirsty land, which has no moisture at all. By this metaphor David also describes his wretchedness. (Psalm 143:6.) Although therefore they were worn out by afflictions, and the vital moisture was decayed, yet, that they might not throw away courage in their deepest distresses, they ought to have set before their minds this declaration of the Prophet. We, too, when we are brought into the greatest dangers, and see nothing before us but immediate death, ought in the same manner to betake ourselves to these promises, that we may be supported by them against all temptations. Yet we must feel our drought and poverty, that our thirsty souls may partake of this refreshing influence of the waters.

I will pour my Spirit. Jehovah himself explains what he means by waters and rivers, that is, his Spirit. In another passage the Spirit of God is called “water,” but in a different sense. When Ezekiel gives the name “water” to the Holy Spirit, he at the same time calls it “clean water,” with a view to cleansing. (Ezekiel 36:25.) Isaiah will afterwards call the Spirit “waters,” but for a different reason, that is, because by the secret moisture of his power he quickens souls. But these words of the Prophet have a wider signification, because he does not speak merely of the Spirit of regeneration, but alludes to the universal grace which is spread over all the creatures, and which is mentioned in Psalm 105:30, “Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and he will renew the face of the earth.” As David declares in that passage that every part of the world is enlivened, so far as God imparts to it secret vigor, and next ascribes to God might and power, by which, whenever he thinks fit, he suddenly revives the ruinous condition of heaven and earth, so now for the same reason Isaiah gives the appellation “water” to the sudden renewal of the Church; as if he had said that the restoration of the Church is at God’s disposal, as much as when he fertilizes by dew or rain the barren and almost parched lands.

Thus the Spirit is compared to “water,” because without Him all things decay and perish through drought, and because by the secret watering of his power he quickens the whole world, and because the barrenness occasioned by drought and heat is cured in such a manner, that the earth puts on a new face. This is still more fully explained by the word which he afterwards employs, Blessing.

4. And they shall spring up. These words contain nothing more than what I quoted from Psalm 104:30, that, when the Spirit of God has been sent forth, the whole face of the earth is renewed, and those fields which formerly were burnt up with thirst are green and flourish, just as the herbs grow, after having been watered by the rains. By these metaphors he extends the view of this subject, and more fully shews that it is quite as easy for God to enlarge by additional offspring the Church, which was desolate, and which had been reduced to ruinous and frightful solitude, as to impart to the earth the power of bringing forth. Yet, though he does not speak of regeneration, still we may apply to it this statement; because he speaks of the restoration of the Church, the chief part of which is the new creature by which the Lord restores his image in the elect. This doctrine may indeed be drawn from it and more copiously explained, but we must first explain the Prophet’s design, and lay open the plain and natural meaning of his words.

5. One shall say. Hitherto the Prophet has spoken metaphorically, but now expresses his meaning plainly without any figure of speech. He shews what is the nature of that vegetation and herbage of which he spoke. It means that out of all nations the Lord will gather his people, and will bring into his Church those who were formerly strangers, and will raise up and enlarge his Church, which formerly appeared to be reduced to nothing; for all shall flock to her from every quarter, and shall wish to be enrolled in the number of believers, as it is also said,

“Behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia; that man was born there.” (Psalm 87:4.)

That passage, though hitherto it seemed to be obscure, through the mistakes of interpreters, is exceedingly well adapted to the illustration of this prophecy, that believers, who might have been terrified and ashamed on account of their diminished numbers, (for we know that but a small number returned from captivity,) might cherish hope of that illustrious and magnificent grace of Redemption which had been celebrated by the prophets. To meet these views, that Prophet, whoever he was, that was the author of the psalm, declares that the Babylonians and Egyptians shall be citizens of the Church, and that the Ethiopians and Tyrians, and those who formerly were strangers, shall come for the purpose of being enrolled among the people of God. “Now,” says he, “Jerusalem lies waste; but one day God will not only gather those who are scattered, but will also call others from every quarter, and will unite in one body those who are now at the greatest variance, so that they shall boast of being citizens of Jerusalem, and shall belong to the body of the chosen people as much as if they had been natives.” The same thing is taught in this passage by the Prophet Isaiah, from whom the author of the psalm undoubtedly borrowed that sentiment.

And another shall be called by the name of Jacob. The general meaning is, that there will be a vast assembly of men, who shall be united in faith and in obedience to the one true God. But as, in a registration, every person either pronounces or writes his own name, the Prophet, keeping his eye on this custom, employs the following modes of expression, — “One shall write with his hand, I am God’s, and shall take the surname of Israel; another shall acknowledge that he is God’s, and shall be called by the name of Jacob.” He describes something new and uncommon, for he who formerly had nothing to do with God shall boast that God hath adopted him. “To be called” is in this place equivalent to the French phrase, Se reclamer, that is, “to declare one’s self to belong to a person;” just as formerly, when he spoke of women to whom the name of their husbands served for a protection, he introduces them as saying, “Let thy name be called on us,” that is, “Let us be named by thy name.” (Isaiah 4:1.)

Although Isaiah appears, in this passage, to distinguish between those who in express terms shall declare that they belong to the people of God, and shall wish to be named by the name of Jacob, yet both clauses refer to the same persons, because to be a child of God, and to be an Israelite, are two things closely connected, for God determines that the Church shall be the mother of all his children. Yet it ought to be remarked, that none are the lawful citizens of the Church but those who submit to the government of God. If the Prophet had passed by the name of God and mentioned “Jacob” and “Israel,” still we must have begun with the Head, from whom proceeds all relationship both in heaven and in earth; but, that there may be no remaining ambiguity, he has twice described this order, that none are reckoned to belong to the seed of Jacob but they who obey God.

Hence we easily see what is the Prophet’s meaning; for he shews that the Church, so long as she is destitute of the blessing of God, withers and gradually falls into decay; but that, when the Spirit of God has been poured out, she is quickened, and at length gathers strength, not only for recovering her former condition, but so as to grow by wonderful increase beyond expectation. Let us remember, however, that the Prophet does not speak of the order of nature, as if the new children of the Church were born such from the womb, because no person gains such high rank by his own industry; but when they who formerly were aliens have been regenerated by faith, he says that they will eagerly enrol their names, in order to testify that they are the children of God. Thus he describes a change which surpasses nature and all the conceptions of men, when out of the accursed race of Adam is formed a spiritual Israel.

Some think that the Prophet here expresses the small number of believers, when he says, “One shall be called, another shall write;” but that argument has little weight, and even the context furnishes an easy refutation of their error. In my opinion, we should rather understand him to mean that the Church shall be collected in crowds out of various and distant nations; because God will assemble strangers under his authority, and will stir them up to boast sincerely, and not in empty words, that they belong to his people. It ought also to be observed, that true faith cannot stand without breaking forth immediately into confession; for such is the import of these four words, “To be called by the name of Israel, To write, To be known, To say, I am the Lord’s;” for they who sincerely worship God ought not to be dumb, but to testify both by actions and by words what they carry inwardly in their hearts. They profess to be the servants of God, and glory in his name during the whole course of his life.

6. Thus saith Jehovah. The Prophet now does nothing else than confirm the preceding doctrine, which was highly necessary; for the hearts of men, being prone to distrust, are easily dismayed by adversity, and may be encouraged by one or more exhortations. It was not superfluous, therefore, to employ many words in confirming them; because we never ascribe as much as we ought to ascribe to the power of God, but are distracted by a variety of thoughts, and are too strongly attached to the present state of things.

The King of Israel, and his Redeemer. After having made use of the unutterable name of God, the Prophet calls him also “King” and “Redeemer;” because it is not enough that we perceive the power of God, if we are not convinced of his good-will towards us. In order, therefore, that his promises may produce their proper effect upon us, he mentions not only his glory, but also his goodness, that we may know that it extends to us. It might be thought absurd that he called him “King,” while there was scarcely any people; but believers ought to rely on this promise, that they might behold the kingdom by faith, and contemplate it as future, though they did not behold it with their eyes. And indeed this doctrine would never have penetrated their hearts, when they were reduced to the greatest extremity, and were almost overwhelmed with despair, if the way had not been opened by’ this preface. But when God familiarly addresses us, and declares that he is united to us, fairly, allured by so gentle an invitation, rises up out of hell itself.

I am the first. By these words he does not assert God’s eternity, but shews that He is always like himself, that they may hope that He will be to them in future what they have found him to be in the past. But why, it may be asked, does he speak in this manner to believers, who knew it well? I reply, though men believe God, yet they do not acknowledge him to be what he is, and sometimes ascribe less to him than to the creature. The Prophet, therefore, wishes that our minds should be pure and free from every false imagination, and that we should raise them to heaven, that they may be altogether fixed on God alone. Besides, it was necessary that the people, who had been so terribly distressed, should be fortified against such violent attacks, that they might firmly keep their ground.

7. And who as I? Here the Lord compares himself with idols, as we have already seen in another passage. In the present instance the object is, that, when they were fiercely insulted by the Babylonian conquerors, they might not be discouraged, or think that their hopes were disappointed; for the taunts which were hurled at them by wicked men were exceedingly harsh and insolent. “Where is their God?” (Psalm 79:10.) “Why does he not assist you?” Such blasphemies might shake the minds of believers, and disturb them in such a manner that they would throw away hope and confidence; and therefore the Prophet dwells more earnestly on this matter, in order to confirm believers more and more. That mournful calamity of the nation was like a dark cloud, which prevented believers from seeing the face of God; and in the meantime unbelievers danced for joy, as if the power of their gods had shone forth in full brightness. In order to dispel that darkness of error, the Prophet shows that still undoubted marks and proofs of the glory of God are distinctly visible, so as to distinguish him from idols; that is, because in due time he publicly made known what was future, that the Jews might recognize him to be a righteous Judge in chastisements, and yet might hope that he would be reconciled and gracious.

Shall call. The word call may be taken in two senses, so as to refer either to foreknowledge or to action; for, as God governs all things by his providence, so he knows everything that is future, and gives evidence of his foreknowledge. It is unnecessary to give ourselves much trouble about the meaning of this word, for it is very evident that the Prophet ascribes to God both the foreknowledge and the government of all things. But for my own part, I rather think that it refers to action. “Shall there be found among the gods of the nations any one that can call, that is, raise up, announce, and appoint deliverers? Does not this plainly shew that I alone am God?” Thus he defies idols, to whom groundlessly men ascribe any power. By the word which he immediately adds, shall tell it, he magnifies the special grace of God, in deigning to reveal his purpose to the elect people by the prophets.

Since I appointed the people of the age. By “the people of the age” some understand all nations, the singular number being used instead of the plural, because, as soon as the Lord multiplied the nations, he separated them from each other, and established that order which should last through future ages. Others extend it to all the creatures, viewing the stars as one people, the vegetable tribes as another, and in like manner animals as another, and so forth. But when I examine the matter closely, I am constrained to adopt an opposite opinion, namely, that the Lord speaks of his own people, and calls them: ‘the people of the age,” because they are preferred to all others. Other nations, indeed, were unquestionably more ancient. The Egyptians boasted of their antiquity, and so did the Arcadians and others. But Abraham was brought out of Mesopotamia, (Genesis 11:31; Acts 7:2,) when the Chaldees were in a highly flourishing condition, and lived at home a solitary individual, as if at his death the remembrance of him should quickly perish, while the neighboring countries were highly populous, and were eminent in other respects.

The antiquity of Israel, therefore, ought not to be estimated from the number of years, or from the outward condition of things, but from the election of God; and hence also the foundations of Jerusalem are called eternal. (Psalm 78:69.) It is therefore as if he had said, “Before idols were framed by men, I determined that I should have a Church, which should last for ever.” This “people,” therefore, is the most ancient and most excellent of all, though others may come before it either in time or in rank; for, as all things were created for the sake of man, so all men were appointed to be of service to the Church; so that there are none, though occupying a higher eminence, that do not sink to a lower rank; for the Church is the body of Christ, which nothing can exceed in antiquity or excellence. To adopt the fables of the Jews, that Jerusalem was founded from the very beginning, would be absurd, because in this passage there is no reference to dates; but yet we ought to hold by this principle, that the elect people holds a higher rank than the heathen nations, in consequence of approaching more nearly to God, who is the fountain of eternity.

Let them tell. This permission shews that it is vain for men to expect a revelation from idols, which, if they tell anything, delude by tricks, and by words of doubtful meaning, those who consult them, as we have already mentioned.

8. Fear not. Isaiah now explains the reason why he formerly spoke of the power of God, that is, in order to confirm the faith of the people. From the preceding statements he draws this conclusion, — “Since the Lord is so powerful, and governs all things at his pleasure, the people whom he hath taken under his protection ought not to fear.”

Have I not since then made thee hear? He next repeats what he had already said, that God not only brought assistance secretly to the Jews, and suddenly, as if by legerdemain, made his appearance when he was least expected, but kept their faith alive by many predictions, and, in short, gave manifest proofs of his fatherly kindness, so that his divinity was clearly perceived. It would be of no advantage to us that God knows and can do all things, if it were not also revealed how great concern he takes in our salvation. Although, therefore, he wishes that many things should be unknown to us, yet he communicates everything that is useful or advantageous for us to know. מאז, (meaz,) from then, means a long period; or, if it be thought better, it denotes an opportunity; for the Lord reveals his secrets to the elect, when he sees a fit season; but the former interpretation appears to me to be more simple.

Therefore ye are my witnesses. He means what I have already remarked, that the people cannot plead the excuse of ignorance for not being satisfied with one God; for he has abundantly revealed himself to them, so as to give a testimony concerning himself. The object intended to be gained by our knowledge of the glory of God is, that we should profess his truth before men, as has been already said, if we do not wish to extinguish the light which he hath brought to us by his Spirit. Again, we cannot be “witnesses to God” if we are not confirmed by his truth; for a testimony proceeding from a doubtful opinion would be of no avail, and therefore we must be taught by the Word of God, so as to have a fixed and unhesitating hope of salvation.

And there is no strong God. 174174     “There is no God. Heb., Rock. — (Eng. Ver.) In this passage, as in many others, he applies to God the epithet strong; for it is not enough to acknowledge God’s eternal essence, if we do not also ascribe strength to him. But for this, we shall leave him nothing but a bare and empty name, as is done by wicked men, who with the mouth confess God, and afterwards ascribe his power to this and to that.

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