The Divine mercies encourage to confidence in God. (1-4) His judgments. (5-11) His people exhorted to wait upon Him. (12-19) Deliverance promised. (20,21)
Verses 1-4 "That day," seems to mean when the New Testament Babylon shall be levelled with the ground. The unchangeable promise and covenant of the Lord are the walls of the church of God. The gates of this city shall be open. Let sinners then be encouraged to join to the Lord. Thou wilt keep him in peace; in perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, in all events. Trust in the Lord for that peace, that portion, which will be for ever. Whatever we trust to the world for, it will last only for a moment; but those who trust in God shall not only find in him, but shall receive from him, strength that will carry them to that blessedness which is for ever. Let us then acknowledge him in all our ways, and rely on him in all trials.
Verses 5-11 The way of the just is evenness, a steady course of obedience and holy conversation. And it is their happiness that God makes their way plain and easy. It is our duty, and will be our comfort, to wait for God, to keep up holy desires toward him in the darkest and most discouraging times. Our troubles must never turn us from God; and in the darkest, longest night of affliction, with our souls must we desire him; and this we must wait and pray to him for. We make nothing of our religion, whatever our profession may be, if we do not make heart-work of it. Though we come ever so early, we shall find God ready to receive us. The intention of afflictions is to teach righteousness: blessed is the man whom the Lord thus teaches. But sinners walk contrary to him. They will go on in their evil ways, because they will not consider what a God he is whose laws they persist in despising. Scorners and the secure will shortly feel, what now they will not believe, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. They will not see the evil of sin; but they shall see. Oh that they would abandon their sins, and turn to the Lord, that he may have mercy upon them.
Verses 12-19 Every creature, every business, any way serviceable to our comfort, God makes to be so; he makes that work for us which seemed to make against us. They had been slaves of sin and Satan; but by the Divine grace they were taught to look to be set free from all former masters. The cause opposed to God and his kingdom will sink at last. See our need of afflictions. Before, prayer came drop by drop; now they pour it out, it comes now like water from a fountain. Afflictions bring us to secret prayer. Consider Christ as the Speaker addressing his church. His resurrection from the dead was an earnest of all the deliverance foretold. The power of his grace, like the dew or rain, which causes the herbs that seem dead to revive, would raise his church from the lowest state. But we may refer to the resurrection of the dead, especially of those united to Christ.
Verses 20-21 When dangers threaten, it is good to retire and lie hid; when we commend ourselves to God to hide us, he will hide us either under heaven or in heaven. Thus we shall be safe and happy in the midst of tribulations. It is but for a short time, as it were for a little moment; when over, it will seem as nothing. God's place is the mercy-seat; there he delights to be: when he punishes, he comes out of his place, for he has no pleasure in the death of sinners. But there is hardly any truth more frequently repeated in Scripture, than God's determined purpose to punish the workers of iniquity. Let us keep close to the Lord, and separate from the world; and let us seek comfort in secret prayer. A day of vengeance is coming on the world, and before it comes we are to expect tribulation and suffering. But because the Christian looks for these things, shall he be restless and dismayed? No, let him repose himself in his God. Abiding in him, the believer is safe. And let us wait patiently the fulfilling of God's promises.
Isaiah 26:1-21 . CONNECTED WITH THE TWENTY-FOURTH AND TWENTY-FIFTH CHAPTERS. SONG OF PRAISE OF ISRAEL AFTER BEING RESTORED TO THEIR OWN LAND.
As the overthrow of the apostate faction is described in the twenty-fifth chapter, so the peace of the faithful is here described under the image of a well-fortified city.
1. strong city--Jerusalem, strong in Jehovah's protection: type of the new Jerusalem ( Psalms 48:1-3 ), contrasted with the overthrow of the ungodly foe ( Isaiah 26:4-7 Isaiah 26:12-14 Revelation 22:2 Revelation 22:10-12 , &c.).
salvation . . . walls--( Isaiah 60:18 , Jeremiah 3:23 , Zechariah 2:5 ). MAURER translates, "Jehovah makes His help serve as walls" ( Isaiah 33:20 Isaiah 33:21 , &c.).
bulwarks--the trench with the antemural earthworks exterior to the wall.
2. Address of the returning people to the gates of Jerusalem (type of the heavenly city, Hebrews 12:22 ); ( Psalms 24:7 Psalms 24:9 , 118:19 ). Antitypically ( Revelation 22:14 , Revelation 21:25 Revelation 21:27 ).
righteous nation--that had not apostatized during the captivity. HORSLEY translates, "The nation of the Just One," namely, the Jews.
3. mind . . . stayed--( Psalms 112:7 Psalms 112:8 ). Jesus can create "perfect peace" within thy mind, though storms of trial rage without ( Isaiah 57:19 , 4:39 ); as a city kept securely by a strong garrison within, though besieged without (so Philippians 4:7 ). "Keep," literally, "guard as with a garrison." HORSLEY translates, (God's) workmanship (the Hebrew does not probably mean "mind," but "a thing formed," Ephesians 2:10 ), so constantly "supported"; or else "formed and supported (by Thee) Thou shalt preserve (it, namely, the righteous nation) in perpetual peace."
4. Lord JEHOVAH--Hebrew, Jah, Jehovah. The union of the two names expresses in the highest degree God's unchanging love and power (compare Psalms 68:4 ). This passage, and Isaiah 12:2 , Exodus 6:3 , Psalms 83:18 , are the four in which the English Version retains the JEHOVAH of the original. MAURER translates, "For JAH (the eternal unchangeable One, Exodus 3:14 ) is JEHOVAH, the rock of ages" (compare Isaiah 45:17 , Deuteronomy 32:15 , 1 Samuel 2:2 ).
5. lofty city--Babylon; representative of the stronghold of the foes of God's people in all ages ( Isaiah 25:2 Isaiah 25:12 , 13:14 ).
6. poor--( Isaiah 25:4 ), the once afflicted Jewish captives. "Foot shall tread," is figurative for exulting in the fall of God's enemies ( Revelation 18:20 ).
7. uprightness--rather, "is direct," that is, is directed by God to a prosperous issue, however many be their afflictions in the meantime (as in the case of the Jewish exiles); the context requires this sense ( Psalms 34:19 , Proverbs 3:6 , 11:5 ), [MAURER]: thus "way" means God's dealings with the righteous ( Psalms 37:23 ).
most upright--( Deuteronomy 32:4 ).
dost weigh--( 1 Samuel 2:3 , Proverbs 5:21 ) Rather, "thou dost make plain and level" [MAURER], removing all obstacles ( Isaiah 40:3 Isaiah 40:4 ).
8. way of thy judgments--We have waited for Thy proceeding to punish the enemy ( Isaiah 26:9 Isaiah 26:10 ) [MAURER]. HORSLEY translates Isaiah 26:7 Isaiah 26:8 , "The path of the Just One is perfectly even; an even road Thou wilt level for the Just One, even the path of Thy laws, O Jehovah. We have expected Thee."
name . . . remembrance--the manifested character of God by which He would be remembered ( Isaiah 64:5 , Exodus 3:15 ).
9. With, . . . soul . . . I--literally, "I . . . my soul," in apposition; the faithful Jews here speak individually. The overthrow of the foe and the restoration of the Jews are to follow upon prayer on the part of the latter and of all God's people ( Isaiah 62:1-4 Isaiah 62:6 Isaiah 62:7 Psalms 102:13-17 ).
in the night--( Psalms 63:6 , Solomon 3:1 ).
world . . . learn . . . righteousness--the remnant left after judgments ( Psalms 58:10 Psalms 58:11 , Zechariah 14:16 ).
10. uprightness--rather, as in Isaiah 26:7 , "prosperity," answering to "favor" in the parallelism, and in antithesis to "judgments in the earth" ( Isaiah 26:9 ); where prosperity attends the wicked as well as the just, "he will not learn righteousness," therefore judgments must be sent that he may "learn" it [MAURER].
11. lifted up--to punish the foes of God's people. They who will not see shall be made to "see" to their cost ( Isaiah 5:12 ).
their envy at the people--that is, "Thy people." LOWTH translates, "They shall see with confusion Thy zeal for Thy people."
fire of . . . enemies--that is, the fire to which Thine enemies are doomed ( Isaiah 9:18 ).
12. peace--God's favor, including all blessings, temporal and spiritual, opposed to their previous trials ( Psalms 138:8 ).
13. other lords--temporal; heathen kings ( 2 Chronicles 12:8 , 2 Chronicles 28:5 2 Chronicles 28:6 ), Nebuchadnezzar, &c. Spiritual also, idols and lusts ( Romans 6:16-18 ).
by thee only--It is due to Thee alone, that we again worship Thee as our Lord [MAURER]. "(We are) Thine only, we will celebrate Thy name" [HORSLEY]. The sanctifying effect of affliction ( Psalms 71:16 , Psalms 119:67 Psalms 119:71 ).
14. They--The "other lords" or tyrants ( Isaiah 26:13 ).
shall not live--namely, again.
deceased--Hebrew, "Rephaim"; powerless, in the land of shades ( Isaiah 14:9 Isaiah 14:10 ).
therefore--that is, inasmuch as. Compare "therefore" ( Genesis 18:5 , 19:8 ).
15. hast--prophetical preterite ( Isaiah 9:3 ).
hast removed . . . far . . . ends of . . . earth--rather, "Thou hast extended far all the borders of the land" [VITRINGA].
poured out--( Psalms 62:8 ), as a vessel emptying out all its contents.
prayer--literally, "a whispered prayer," Margin, "a secret sighing" to God for help (compare Jeremiah 13:17 , Deuteronomy 8:16 ).
17. An image of anguish accompanied with expectation, to be followed by joy that will cause the anguish utterly to be forgotten. Zion, looking for deliverance, seemingly in vain, but really about to be gloriously saved ( Micah 4:9 Micah 4:10-13 , 5:1-3 , John 16:21 John 16:22 ).
18. brought forth wind--MICHAELIS explains this of the disease empneumatosis. Rather, "wind" is a figure for that which proves an abortive effort. The "we" is in antithesis to "Thy," "my" ( Isaiah 26:19 ), what we vainly attempt, God will accomplish.
not wrought . . . deliverance in . . . earth--literally, "the land (Judea) is not made security," that is, is not become a place of security from our enemies.
neither . . . world fallen--The "world" at large, is in antithesis to "the earth," that is, Judea. The world at enmity with the city of God has not been subdued. But MAURER explains "fallen," according to Arabic idiom, of the birth of a child, which is said to fall when being born; "inhabitants of the world (Israel, Isaiah 24:4 ; not the world in general) are not yet born"; that is, the country as yet lies desolate, and is not yet populated.
19. In antithesis to Isaiah 26:14 , "They (Israel's foes) shall not live"; "Thy (Jehovah's) dead men (the Jews) shall live," that is, primarily, be restored, spiritually ( Isaiah 54:1-3 ), civilly and nationally ( Isaiah 26:15 ); whereas Thy foes shall not; ultimately, and in the fullest scope of the prophecy, restored to life literally ( Ezekiel 37:1-14 , Daniel 12:2 ).
together with my dead body--rather, "my dead body," or "bodies" (the Jewish nation personified, which had been spiritually and civilly dead; or the nation, as a parent, speaking of the bodies of her children and "my dead" are one and the same [HORSLEY]. However, as Jesus is the antitype to Israel ( Matthew 2:15 ), English Version gives a true sense, and one ultimately contemplated in the prophecy: Christ's dead body being raised again is the source of Jehovah's people (all, and especially believers, the spiritual Israelites) also being raised ( 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ).
Awake--( Ephesians 5:14 ), spiritually.
in dust--prostate and dead, spiritually and nationally; also literally ( Isaiah 25:12 , 47:1 ).
dew--which falls copiously in the East and supplies somewhat the lack of rain ( Hosea 14:5 ).
cast out . . . dead--that is, shall bring them forth to life again.
20. enter . . . chambers--When God is about to take vengeance on the ungodly, the saints shall be shut in by Him in a place of safety, as Noah and his family were in the days of the flood ( Genesis 7:16 ), and as Israel was commanded not to go out of doors on the night of the slaying of the Egyptian first-born ( Exodus 12:22 Exodus 12:23 , Psalms 31:20 , 83:3 ). The saints are calmly and confidently to await the issue ( Exodus 14:13 Exodus 14:14 ).
21. ( Micah 1:3 , Jude 1:14 ).
disclose . . . blood--( Genesis 4:10 Genesis 4:11 , Job 16:18 , Ezekiel 24:7 Ezekiel 24:8 ). All the innocent blood shed, and all other wrongs done, so long seemingly with impunity, shall then be avenged ( Revelation 16:6 ).