Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope
"That hope for redemption", as the Targum paraphrases it; not for redemption from the Babylonish captivity, at the end of seventy years, which was now over; but for redemption and salvation by Christ; for not the people of the Jews, who stayed in Babylon, can be meant; for, as they were at liberty to go from thence by the edict of Cyrus, they can not be said to be prisoners, much less prisoners hoping for deliverance, when they had, or might have it; but rather the Jews, who were come out of Babylon, as out of a pit, wherein was no water; out of an uncomfortable state and condition, and yet in their own land were encompassed with many straits and difficulties, through the opposition they met with from many, who discouraged and hindered them in their work; but were hoping they should surmount all their difficulties, and get out of their troubles: though it seems better to understand it of such, who, about the time of the Messiah's coming, were looking for the consolation and redemption of Israel, and hoping and waiting for it; as good old Simeon, and others, who were prisoners under the former dispensation; but expecting deliverance and salvation by the Messiah. It may be applied to all sensible sinners, in every age and period of time; all men are concluded in sin, shut up under the law, and led captive by Satan; but some are not sensible of their imprisoned state, nor desirous of being out of it, nor have any hope concerning it; others groan under their bondage, long for deliverance, and are hoping for it: they hope that Christ will receive them, and save them; that he will pardon their sins; that the Spirit of God has begun a good work in them, and will perform it; and that they shall enjoy eternal glory and happiness; for all which there is good ground to hope: as that Christ will receive sinners sensible of their lost perishing condition into his arms of mercy; since he is the good Samaritan, the merciful High Priest, the compassionate Saviour; who, in his love and pity, has redeemed the sons of men; and seeing he died for sinners, even the chief of them; and therefore it need not be doubted that he will receive them; and, besides, he has made kind invitations to them to come to him, and has promised he will in no wise reject them; and has actually received sinners, and most kindly and tenderly embraced them: as also that they shall be saved by him; since complete salvation is wrought out by him, and that for such as are lost, and even the most abandoned of sinners; and which is freely to be had, not according to the works of men, or as they shall deserve; but purely through the free grace of God, and his abundant mercy in Christ: as well as that their sins shall be pardoned of God for his sake, seeing there is forgiveness with God; he has promised, proclaimed, and published it; the blood of Christ has been shed for it; and he is exalted as a Saviour to give it, and has ordered it to be preached in his name; and some of the greatest of sinners have had their sins forgiven them: likewise such have good ground to hope that the work of God is begun in them; though it may be at present but a day of small things with them; there being some light let into them, as to their state, and the way of salvation by Christ; some fear of God, and love to him, to Christ, his people, truths, ordinances, ways, and worship; sin is become odious, and Christ precious: and good reason they have to hope, and even to be confident, that this good work will be performed in them, though at times they have many fears about it; since it is in such good hands, and the glory of all the divine Persons is concerned in it; wherefore they may most safely go on to hope for eternal life, which God has promised, before the world began, is in Christ, and in his hands to give; and is the free gift of God through him, whose righteousness entitles to it, and whose grace makes meet for it; wherefore, having the one, they may truly hope for the other; for grace is a well of living water, springing up unto eternal life: such as these may well be called prisoners of hope; partakers of that grace, and as it were shut up in it, and under the influence and in the exercise of it; which is a gift of grace; is of the operation of the Spirit of God, through whose power it is exercised; is founded on the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; is encouraged by the promises of the Gospel; and is increased through the discoveries of the love of God; and deals with things unseen and future: and those who have the least share of it, as these described are supposed to have, are here encouraged "to turn to the strong hold"; by which is meant, not Judea, nor Jerusalem, nor the temple in it, nor the church of God; but rather the blessed God, as Kimchi interprets it; and indeed a divine Person is intended, even the Messiah, who is a "strong hold" for refuge, and was typified by the cities of refuge, whither the manslayer fled, and was safe; to which the allusion may well be thought to be, since one of the names of the cities of refuge was Bezer, which signifies a fortress, or strong hold; and comes from the same root as the word here used: and such who are enabled and encouraged to flee to Christ for refuge, are safe from vindictive justice, which is fully satisfied by the blood, righteousness, and atoning sacrifice of Christ; and from the law, its curses, and condemnation; Christ being made a curse for them, and having had its sentence of condemnation executed on him; and from all their sins, and the sad effects of them; from the guilt of them, and obligation to punishment by them; from Satan, and all enemies, in whose power it is not to destroy them, being out of their reach; and from the wrath of God, everlasting destruction, and the second death: and such find Christ to be a strong habitation, or a dwellingplace; where they may and do dwell safely, pleasantly, and comfortably, enjoying plenty of all good things; their bread in this munition of rocks being given to them, and their water sure unto them; and to "turn" to it is to quit all other dependencies, and to believe in Christ, and trust all with him: even today do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee;
which is said, either to the church, or rather to her prisoners, to each of them, to encourage them to flee to Christ, and trust in him; seeing, by the present declaration of grace made, they may expect to enjoy all fulness of grace, plenty of blessings, temporal and spiritual; the promise of this life, and that which is to come; all spiritual blessings in Christ, grace here, and glory hereafter. So "double" signifies anything large, sufficient, plentiful, ( Isaiah 40:2 ) ( 61:7 ) particularly the Spirit and his grace; and double comfort from him, instead of distress and trouble before experienced: according to the accents, the word for "double" is to be connected with the word "declare", and be read "this day", at this present time, however distressing it may be, or you in it be attended with uncomfortable and distressed circumstances, "I declare double" F14; double grace, as some supply it, an abundance of it; which "I will render unto thee"; to everyone of the prisoners of hope, who turn to the strong hold Christ, in whom they will find a fulness of all grace, and shall receive out of it grace for grace; double grace, a large measure of it; double to what was received under the former dispensation. Cocceius renders it "another declarer", discoverer, or shewer forth, "do I render unto thee" F15; meaning the Spirit of God, the other Comforter from the Father: Christ was the first declarer, who declared his Father, his nature, perfections, purposes, mind, and will, ( John 1:18 ) the Holy Spirit is the second, or the other declarer, who was to bring all things to remembrance spoken by Christ, and to lead into all truth, and show things to come, and to take of the things of Christ, and show them to his people, ( John 14:16 John 14:26 ) ( John 16:13 John 16:14 ) and who was sent after Christ, was received up into heaven, as his second, his deputy, to officiate in his room and stead; as this word is used sometimes of the second priest, or sagan, or deputy of the high priest, ( Jeremiah 52:24 ) .