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The Vindication and Salvation of Zion


For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

until her vindication shines out like the dawn,

and her salvation like a burning torch.


The nations shall see your vindication,

and all the kings your glory;

and you shall be called by a new name

that the mouth of the L ord will give.


You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the L ord,

and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.


You shall no more be termed Forsaken,

and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;

but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,

and your land Married;

for the L ord delights in you,

and your land shall be married.


For as a young man marries a young woman,

so shall your builder marry you,

and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,

so shall your God rejoice over you.


Upon your walls, O Jerusalem,

I have posted sentinels;

all day and all night

they shall never be silent.

You who remind the L ord,

take no rest,


and give him no rest

until he establishes Jerusalem

and makes it renowned throughout the earth.


The L ord has sworn by his right hand

and by his mighty arm:

I will not again give your grain

to be food for your enemies,

and foreigners shall not drink the wine

for which you have labored;


but those who garner it shall eat it

and praise the L ord,

and those who gather it shall drink it

in my holy courts.



Go through, go through the gates,

prepare the way for the people;

build up, build up the highway,

clear it of stones,

lift up an ensign over the peoples.


The L ord has proclaimed

to the end of the earth:

Say to daughter Zion,

“See, your salvation comes;

his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.”


They shall be called, “The Holy People,

The Redeemed of the L ord”;

and you shall be called, “Sought Out,

A City Not Forsaken.”


1. On account of Zion I will not be silent. That sad captivity being at hand, which was almost to blot out the name of the whole nation, it was necessary to confirm and encourage believers by many words, that with strong and assured confidence they might rely on these promises under the burden of the cross. Here, therefore, the Prophet, discharging that office which had been entrusted to him, openly declares that he will not be slack in the performance of his duty, and will not cease to speak, till he encourage the hearts of believers by the hope of future salvation, that they may know and be fully convinced that God will be the deliverer of his Church. He too might have been dismayed by the unbelief of that people, and might have lost courage when he saw that matters were every day growing worse, and when he foresaw that terrible vengeance. But, notwithstanding so great difficulties, he will still persist in his duty, that all may know that neither the massacre of the people nor their unbelief can prevent God from executing his promises at the proper time.

And on account of Jerusalem I will not rest. It was necessary that these things should be frequently repeated, because such is the depravity of our mind that we speedily forget God’s promises. When he says that he will not cease to speak, he likewise reminds others of their duty, that they may take courage, and expect with assured confidence their restoration, though it be long delayed, and even that their unwearied attention may answer to the voice of God which constantly addresses them. We know by experience every day how necessary this is, while Satan endeavors by every method to turn us aside from the right course.

At the same time he shews what ought to be the aim of godly teachers, namely, to spend and devote themselves entirely for the advantage of the Church; for when he says “on account of Zion,” he means that our chief care ought to be that the Church may be preserved, and that none are good and faithful teachers but they who hold the salvation of the Church so dear as to spare no labors. Some explain this as relating to prayer, but I choose rather to refer it to doctrine; and it is more natural to view it as meaning’ that no inconvenience or annoyance shall wear out his patience, and no opposition shall retard him from proceeding in the office of teaching which God has enjoined on him concerning the redemption of the Church. For if he had survived that very sad calamity, the unbelieving multitude would undoubtedly have persecuted him, as well as the other Prophets, by many reproaches; but whatever may happen, he says that he is fortified by unshaken firmness, never to be dumb through shame, but to proceed with unremitting eagerness in his course. Besides, by this form of expression he procures credit to his predictions, and maintains their authority, so that, even when he is dead, they do not cease to resound in the ears of believers.

Till her righteousness go forth as brightness. By “righteousness” he means the rights of the Church; for during the period of calamity, she appeared to be condemned. Her “righteousness,” therefore, “goes forth” when she is perfectly restored, and regains her former condition; for that righteousness lay concealed during the captivity.

And her salvation. To “righteousness” he adds “salvation,” because they whom God justifies, or to whom he re-restores their rights, do likewise regain their “salvation.” Hence we infer that we are wretched and without assistance, so long as God withholds his grace from us on account of our sins; and therefore in other passages he frequently gave the appellation of “the righteousness of God” to that which he here affirms to be the righteousness of the Church. Thus we are undone while we are destitute of the righteousness of God; that is, while we slumber in our sins, and God shews himself to be a severe judge by punishing us for them.

The phrase “go forth” means that the righteousness of the Church was hidden and, as it were, buried for a time: she deserved in the sight of God no favor; but, on the contrary, her unspeakable iniquities prevailed to such an extent that there remained nothing but God’s righteous vengeance. But here the Prophet has his eye on men who already looked upon the afflicted Church as lost, and by their pride and reproaches almost cast her down to hell.

May burn like a lamp. Finally, he compares her to the world, and says, that with respect to the world she shall be righteous, when God shall have purged away her sins and undertaken her cause. By these words the Prophet teaches that we ought always to entertain favorable hopes of the restoration of the Church, though she be plunged under thick darkness and in the grave; for although for a time she is overwhelmed and hidden, yet she has God for her avenger in heaven, who, after having chastised her moderately, will at length shew that she was the object of his care. And indeed his righteousness must be illustrious and manifest, and that for the salvation of those whom he hath chosen to be his people and heritage.

2. And the Gentiles shall see. He now states more plainly the reason why he formerly said that he would not be silent, namely, that believers may be fully convinced that salvation is not promised to them in vain.

And all the kings of the earth thy glory. Here he employs the word “glory” as meaning “salvation.” We see here the argument by which prophets must fortify themselves for perseverance, namely, that the Lord is faithful, and will at length fulfill what he has once promised, though he delay for a time. The word kings serves for amplification; as if he had said that not only mean persons and those of the lowest rank shall behold and admire the glory of God, but even “kings” themselves, who commonly look down with contempt on all that was worthy in other respects of being esteemed and honored; for they are blinded by their splendor, and maddened by their high rank, so that they do not willingly behold any rank but their own.

And thou shalt be called by a new name. By a “new name” he means “a crowded assemblage;” for the people were so completely scattered, that there was no visible body, and they appeared to be altogether ruined. Although a vast multitude of persons were led into captivity, yet, having been scattered among the Babylonians, they were driven about like the members of a body broken in pieces, and scarcely retained the name of a people; which had also been foretold to them. After having been brought back from captivity, they began again to be united in one body, and thus regained the “name” of which they had been deprived. Yet “new” denotes what is uncommon; as if the Prophet had said that the glory of the people shall be extraordinary and such as was never before heard of. We know that this took place in the progress of time; for that small band of people, while they dwelt by sufferance in their native country, could not by any extraordinary distinction arrive at so great renown; but at length, when the doctrine of the Gospel had been preached, the Jewish name became known and renowned.

Which the mouth of Jehovah shall name. He confirms what would otherwise have been hard to be believed, by promising that God will be the author of this glory; for it was not in the power of men thus to raise a Church which had sunk low and was covered with dishonor, but to God, who “lifteth up the poor from the dunghill,” (Psalm 113:7,) it was not difficult to adorn his Church by new celebrity. As there was no face of a Church for forty years, and, although the Lord had some seed, yet it was in a state so disordered and so ruinous that there was no visible people of God, he now restores to the Church its name, when he has assembled it by the word of the Gospel. This majestic work of God, therefore, ought to confirm us on this point, that we may know that he will never forsake his Church; and although wicked men tear us by their slanders, and beat and spit upon us, and in every way endeavor to make us universally loathed, let us remember that God is not deprived of his right to vindicate us in the world, whose names he has deigned to write in heaven.

Others expound the passage in a more ingenious manner, namely, that instead of Israelites they shall be called Christians. But I think that the former meaning is more agreeable to the context and to the Prophet’s ordinary language; and we ought carefully to observe those forms of expression which are peculiar to the prophets, that we may become familiar with their style. In a word, the people shall be restored, though it appears to be exterminated, and shall obtain, not from men but from God, a new name.

3. And thou shalt be a crown of glory. Isaiah proceeds with the same subject, and we need not wonder at this; for no man, by judging from the flesh, could have formed such vast conceptions and expectations. Besides, he intended to fix the hearts of believers on the kingdom of Christ, which it was the more necessary to adorn and magnify by these illustrious titles, because hitherto it was not only obscure but at a great distance. It was needful to provide against a twofold danger, that the Jews, when they saw that they were still at a very great distance from their former honor, might not, on the one hand, despise the grace of God, or, on the other hand, rest satisfied with the mere beginnings, and thus, by disregarding Christ, devote their whole attention to earthly advantages. The Prophet therefore reminds them, that the return to their native country was but the forerunner of that exalted rank which was to be expected at the manifestation of Christ.

So far as relates to the former clause, exiles and slaves could perceive nothing but ground for despair, when they beheld the outward condition of things, since, after having returned and been restored to their country, they made very little progress in building the temple. Accordingly, he bids them look to God, that they may expect from him the glory which is concealed from the eyes of flesh, and, knowing that they are dear and precious in his sight, may be fully satisfied with this, till he adorn them more bountifully by the hand of Christ.

And the diadem of the kingdom. He calls the Church God’s crown, because God wishes that his glory should shine in us; and in this it is proper that we should behold and admire the inconceivable goodness of God, since, notwithstanding that we are by nature filthy and corrupted, and more abominable than the mire of the streets, yet he adorns us in such a manner that he wishes us to be “the diadem of his kingdom.” Let us therefore be aroused by this goodness of God to the desire of leading a holy life, that his image may more and more be formed anew in us.

4. Thou shalt no more be called forsaken. He meets a difficulty which might occur to the minds of believers, seeing that they were forsaken and abandoned, while at the same time they were called a “diadem” and a “crown.” Seeing that they were hated and abhorred by all nations, and sometimes even lay prostrate at the feet of their enemies, and no assistance of any kind was seen, it might appear ridiculous that they should receive these names, and thus be elevated to heaven and placed in the hand of God. He therefore means that the people, though for a time they resemble a divorced and forsaken woman, shall yet be restored so as to change their condition and name; as if he had said, “This divorce shall not be perpetual; God will at length receive thee to himself.” Thus, although the Church seems to be “forsaken,” and has the appearance of a divorced woman, yet the Lord will put an end to her afflictions and miseries.

For they shall call thee, My good-pleasure in her. He teaches that this proceeds from the “good-pleasure of God;” that is, from his undeserved favor, that nothing may be ascribed to the merits or excellence of men; as he says in Hosea,

“I will espouse thee to me in mercy and compassions.”
(Hosea 2:19.)

And thus he shews that they shall be prosperous for no other reason than because God, out of his infinite goodness, will graciously condescend to receive into favor those whom he had abandoned. Although this relates strictly to the Church, yet let us learn in general that it is by the favor and bounty of God that cities and kingdoms are restored to their former condition, which, while he was angry and offended, appeared to be ruined. The Prophet, therefore, holds out to the consideration of the Jews the source of all the calamities which they had suffered, when he testifies that when God is reconciled to them, they will be happy; for we may gather from it that formerly God was angry with them, when their condition was wretched and miserable.

And thy land shall be married. This metaphor, by which he denotes the restoration of the people, is highly beautiful, and conveys twofold instruction. He shews that the state of variance between God and the Church shall be terminated; first, because she shall be received as a wife by her appeased husband; and secondly, because the multitude of people will take away the reproach of widowhood. The earth is, in some sense, married to its inhabitants, as trees to vines; and, on the other hand, when it is stripped of its inhabitants, it is said to be a widow.

For the good-pleasure of Jehovah is in thee. He again repeats and confirms what has been already said, that it is owing to the undeserved kindness of God that the Church is restored, that she remains in her condition, that the earth receives its inhabitants; for when God turns away his face and is angry with us, nothing can be looked for but destruction, and nothing can be expected from the aid or strength of men.

5. For as a young man marrieth a virgin. This verse contains nothing more than an explanation and confirmation of the preceding verse. Now there appears to be a sort of contradiction in this respect, that in the latter clause he makes God the only Husband of the Church, while in the former clause he assigns to her many husbands. But the solution is easy; for, when this marriage of the Church is spoken of, there is but one Husband, that is, God, who always claims for himself that title; and that is fulfilled in Christ, to whom, as Paul says, the pastors “espouse the Church as a chaste virgin.” (2 Corinthians 11:2.) Yet this does not prevent the metaphor of marriage from being employed to describe that unity of faith which all the children of God have with their mother, the Church. Nay more, it is consistent with God being the Husband of his Church, that he marries to his Church all the nations that are assembled to her; for, when she is without children, she may be said to be widowed and solitary. This is said, therefore, even with respect to God, who, by ratifying with his guidance the sacred amity between the members of his Church, extends the effect of marriage to the whole body.

And hence it ought to be inferred, that the Church of God shall be truly populous, that is, shall have many children, when she is united to God her Husband; for we must begin with God, that he may preside over his Church, and that under his guidance we may be gathered into her bosom; for then shall the marriage be truly sacred. But for this a vast multitude of people will not constitute a church, but rather an abominable brothel; as we see that in Popery there is boasting of the name of God, and yet the majesty of God is dishonored in it by frightful sacrilege.

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