World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

Blessings in Store for God’s People

51

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness,

you that seek the Lord.

Look to the rock from which you were hewn,

and to the quarry from which you were dug.

2

Look to Abraham your father

and to Sarah who bore you;

for he was but one when I called him,

but I blessed him and made him many.

3

For the Lord will comfort Zion;

he will comfort all her waste places,

and will make her wilderness like Eden,

her desert like the garden of the Lord;

joy and gladness will be found in her,

thanksgiving and the voice of song.

 

4

Listen to me, my people,

and give heed to me, my nation;

for a teaching will go out from me,

and my justice for a light to the peoples.

5

I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,

my salvation has gone out

and my arms will rule the peoples;

the coastlands wait for me,

and for my arm they hope.

6

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

and look at the earth beneath;

for the heavens will vanish like smoke,

the earth will wear out like a garment,

and those who live on it will die like gnats;

but my salvation will be forever,

and my deliverance will never be ended.

 


Select a resource above

1 Hearken to me, ye that follow righteousness. The Prophet now exhorts the Jews not to despair because they are few in number; for they had been cut down and diminished to such a degree that they appeared to be on the eve of being reduced to nothing, while there was little or no hope of any to succeed them. He therefore reminds them of their origin, that they may know that, though they are a small remnant, God can increase and multiply them; and he bids them contemplate their father Abraham, who, though he was a single individual, grew to a vast number, and received from God a numerous posterity. Hence they might infer that God, who, in so short a period, had multiplied their fathers, would in future multiply them also; because his power has not been diminished, and his will has not been changed.

Look to the rock of your hewing. 2121     “Regardez a la pierre dont vous avez este coupez.” “Look to the stone whence you were hewn.” Some are of opinion that Abraham is called a “Rock,” because, as Paul declares, “he was strong in faith.” (Romans 4:20.) Others assign a totally opposite meaning to this metaphor; for they think that he is called a “Rock,” because he was worn out by age, and that Sarah is called a Pit, because she was barren. But both, in my opinion, are in the wrong; for it is a simple metaphor, taken from quarries, and declares that they have descended from Abraham and Sarah, as stones are cut out of a “rock” and a “pit.” Amidst the ruin of the nation it was highly necessary that the godly should be supported by this doctrine and admonition. God had promised that the seed of Abraham should be “as the stars of heaven,” (Genesis 15:5,) and as “the sand of the sea.” (Genesis 22:17.) This promise had apparently failed amidst that desolation in which they who were left hardly differed at all from a few clusters when the vintage was ended.

But since they had already known by experience how powerful was the strength of God to create a vast people out of nothing, the Prophet bids them cherish favorable hopes, that they may not be ungrateful to God; and he addresses his discourse directly to believers, to whom this was a sore temptation. He does not speak to all, but to those only who could rely on the promise, that is, to those whom he calls “followers of righteousness;” for the country abounded with unbelievers and hypocrites, who had formerly revolted from the practice of piety; and so much the more laudable was the steadfastness of those who did not cease to follow what was right. Wherever “righteousness” is practiced, there God is listened to; and wherever unbelief reigns, reliance cannot be placed on any promise. 2222     “On ne sauroit recevoir promesse queleonque.” “No promise whatever can be believed.” Although therefore they boasted that they were the children of Abraham, yet all were not capable of receiving this doctrine.

Ye that seek Jehovah. He explains the method of “following righteousness” to consist in “seeking the Lord;” for they who make an outward shew of “righteousness,” and do not aim at this end, must have wandered during their whole life. These two things, therefore, must be joined together; namely, the practice of righteousness and seeking God.

2. For I called him alone. This application plainly shews what was the design of this exhortation of the Prophet. It was to encourage the hearts of believers to cherish the hope of a better condition. He says that he “called him one or alone,” not only because he had none along with him, when he was called out of his country, but because the Lord suffered him to dwell in the land of Canaan without children up to a worn out old age, so that he had no hope of having children, especially because Sarah (Genesis 16:2) also was barren; and when at length, as a solace for their childless condition, one son was given to them, not long afterwards he appeared to be led forth to slaughter. Yet the Lord increased and enriched him with a great number of children.

How needful this consolation was to the Jews has been remarked by me a little before, and may be easily learned from their condition, which history plainly declares to have been wretched and unhappy. To us also, in the present day, amidst this distracted condition of the Church, it is highly necessary, that we may not be discouraged because our number is small, and that we may hope that God will increase his Church by unexpected methods. We behold a very clear and striking testimony of this in the blessing by which the Lord increased, even to extreme old age, the posterity of Abraham, who was childless and solitary. That promise relates not to the Jews only, but to other nations; and on this account also he

“was no longer called Abram, but Abraham.”
(Genesis 17:5.)

3. Surely Jehovah will comfort Zion. The Prophet shews that in the person of Abraham there was exhibited an example which applies to all ages; for, as the Lord suddenly produced from one man so numerous an offspring, so he will also people his Church by wonderful and unknown methods, and not once only, but whenever she shall be thought to be childless and solitary. In like manner, Paul, after having spoken of the faith of Abraham and praised his excellence, applies that doctrine to each of us, that

“he believed in hope against hope, and that his mind was not driven hither and thither, but that he was fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able also to perform, though it appeared to be incredible and at variance with all reason.”
(Romans 4:18-21.)

He will comfort all her desolations. This may be explained to mean, “The Lord will comfort his Church, not only when she shall be in a flourishing condition, but likewise when she shall be desolate and reduced to solitude;for she must have been laid desolate, and her frightful ruins must have brought her to the verge of destruction, before she felt the aid which is here described.

And will make her desert like a place of delights. The Prophet here alludes to a passage in the writings of Moses, in which he relates that man was at first placed in “the garden of Eden,” (Genesis 2:15,) that is, in “a place of delights,” from which he was driven out by his own fault. (Genesis 3:24.) Now we, who have been deprived of that blessing which he bestowed on our first parent, are exiles throughout the whole world, and are deprived of that paradise. Accordingly, whenever great calamities happen, and the order of events is overturned, and everything is thrown into wretched desolation and ruin, let us know that we are punished for our unbelief and for our heinous sins; and let us remember that sentence which was pronounced on our first parent, or rather on all mankind; and that in every part of life, but especially when we see the condition of the Church ruined and overturned. The earth, which otherwise would abound in blessings of every kind, has been reduced to solitude through our fault; and the Church, which would flourish everywhere, has been ruined and laid desolate.

Joy and gladness. He means that the change shall be so great that the Church will no longer groan or complain; for, so long as the Church was oppressed by a harsh captivity, nothing could be heard in her but mouming and lamentation. Now restored, she shall rejoice and render thanksgiving to God. Thus we are also exhorted to gratitude, that we may burst out into praise and thanksgiving to God, when we have had experience of his goodness.

4. Attend to me, my people. There are good reasons why the Lord so frequently demands that he shall be heard. We know by experience how slow we are to hear him, especially in adversity; and even when we would have great need of consolation, we reject it by our impatience, and faint. Each of us, therefore, the sorer are the afflictions which press upon him, ought to endeavor more earnestly to enlarge his heart, and in this way to arouse himself, and to shake off his slothfulness, that he may receive consolation. What is here demanded is attention, to sustain our hearts by patience, till the season of grace be fully come.

For the law shall go forth from me. The meaning is, that the Lord will again reign, and will arouse his Church to call on his name. Though the word Law is equivalent to the edict which God shall order to be proclaimed, when he shall be pleased to gather his Church, yet at the same time he describes his manner of reigning; namely, by his “Law” and byhis doctrine. Hence we see that wherever doctrine is rejected, God’s government is not found, that is, is not recognised by men. By judgment he means the order and administration of government, by which he shall restore his kingdom.

For a light of the peoples, He says that this will be “for a light of the peoples,” because, when God begins to reign, miserable men 2323     “Les hommes miserables de nature.” “Men who are by nature miserable.” are rescued from darkness and enlightened by the doctrine of the word.

I will reveal. This vero ארגיע (argiang) is variously expounded by commentators, because רגע (ragang) has various significations. Sometimes it signifies to “cut” and “open,” and sometimes “to be at rest.” Some therefore explain it, “I will cause to rest,” that is, “I will establish;” and that meaning is not inappropriate. Most of the Jewish writers explain it differently, but I shall not relate their crooked and harsh interpretations. I rather approve of this translation, “I will manifest judgment,” or, “I will cause judgment to break forth,” or, which means the same thing, “I will reveal;” because I think that it agrees better with the former clause. Repetitions, we know, are very customary among the Hebrew writers. Although, therefore, he employs different words, still the meaning is the same. Having formerly said that “the law shall go forth from him,” he now says that “he will reveal judgment.”

5. My righteousness is near. He confirms the former doctrine. The “righteousness” of the Lord has relation to men, who know by experience that he is “righteous.” While the people were oppressed by cruel bondage, they knew, indeed, that they were justly punished for their sins; but they might wonder that they were so much forsaken, because the worship of God ceased, and his name was blasphemed by wicked men, who pursued their wicked career without punishment. In order, therefore, to bring them some consolation, he promises that God will speedily assist them, so that all shall acknowledge that he is faithful and just. By the word “righteous” the Prophet does not mean that he renders to every one a “righteous” reward, but that he yields the best protection, and dispenses the largest kindness to his people, that he faithfully performs his promises to all believers, when he delivers them and does not suffer them to be finally overwhelmed.

This appears more clearly from the following clause, in which, for the purpose of explanation, he adds, My salvation hath gone forth; for the “righteousness” of God shone brightly in the deliverance of the people. Now, the captivity in which the Jews were held in Babylon was a kind of death, in consequence of which that deliverance is here called “Salvation.”

My arms shall judge the peoples. By “arms” he means the wide exercise of his power. That figure of speech which describes God under forms of expression drawn from the human frame occurs frequently in Scripture. Because God’s government appeared to be confined within narrow limits, or rather was not at all visible, on this account he mentions arms, by which he means that he will spread his kingdom far and wide.

6. Lift up your eyes toward heaven. When we see so great changes in the world, we are apt to think that the Church comes within the influence of the sanhe violent motion; and therefore we need to have our minds elevated above the ordinary course of nature; otherwise, the salvation of the Church will appear to hang on a thread, and to be carried hither and thither by the billows and tempests. Yet, we may see both in heaven and in earth how wisely God regulates all things, with what fatherly kindness he upholds and defends his workmanship and the frame of the world, and with what equity he provides for all his creatures. But in a remarkable manner he deigns to watch over his Church, as he has separated her from the ordinary rank.

And look upon the earth beneath. Both of the views now stated are here embraced by the Prophet; for he bids believers turn their eyes upwards and downwards, so as to perceive both in heaven and in earth the wonderful providence of God, by which he so beautifully preserves the order and harmony which he at first established. But he adds that, though heaven and earth hasten to decay, it is impossible that the Church shall fail, the stability of which is founded on God; as if he had said, “A thousand times rather shall leaven mingle with the earth than the promise on which your salvation rests shall fail of its accomplishment.”-

My salvation shall endure for ever. First of all, he mentions “salvation,” and next he speaks of “righteousness,” on which it rests as on a solid foundation. Whenever, therefore, dangers shall press upon us on every hand, let us learn to betake ourselves to this place of refuge. And with this sentiment agree the words of the Psalmist,

“The heavens shall wax old and vanish away; but thou, Lord, art always the same, and thy years are not changed.”
(Psalm 102:26, 27)

Both passages remind us that the grace of God, which he displays in the preservation of his Church, surpasses all his other works. Everything that is contained in heaven and earth is frail and fading; but God’s salvation, by which he guards the Church, is eternal, and therefore cannot be liable to these dangers.




Advertisements