The flourishing state of Christ's kingdom. (1-4) The privileges of his people. (5-10)
Verses 1-4 Judea was prosperous in the days of Hezekiah, but the kingdom of Christ is the great subject intended. Converting grace makes the soul that was a wilderness, to rejoice with joy and singing, and to blossom abundantly. The feeble and faint-hearted are encouraged. This is the design of the gospel. Fear is weakening; the more we strive against it, the stronger we are, both for doing and suffering; and he that says to us, Be strong, has laid help for us upon One who is mighty. Assurance is given of the approach of Messiah, to take vengeance on the powers of darkness, to recompense with abundant comforts those that mourn in Zion; He will come and save. He will come again at the end of time, to punish those who have troubled his people; and to give those who were troubled such rest as will be a full reward for all their troubles.
Verses 5-10 When Christ shall come to set up his kingdom in the world, then wonders, great wonders, shall be wrought on men's souls. By the word and Spirit of Christ, the spiritually blind were enlightened; and those deaf to the calls of God were made to hear them readily. Those unable to do any thing good, by Divine grace were made active therein. Those that knew not how to speak of God or to God, had their lips opened to show forth his praise. When the Holy Ghost came upon the Gentiles that heard the word, then were the fountains of life opened. Most of the earth is still a desert; neither means of grace, spiritual worshippers, nor fruits of holiness, are to be found in it. But the way of religion and godliness shall be laid open. The way of holiness is the way of God's commandment; it is the good old way. And the way to heaven is a plain way. Those knowing but little, and unlearned, shall be kept from missing the road. It shall be a safe way; nothing can do them any real hurt. Christ, the way to God, shall be clearly made known; and the way of a believer's duty shall be plainly marked out. Let us then go forward cheerfully, assured that the end of this way shall be everlasting joy, and rest for the soul. Those who by faith are made citizens of the gospel Zion, rejoice in Christ Jesus; and their sorrows and sighs are made to flee away by Divine consolations. Thus these prophecies conclude. Our joyful hopes and prospects of eternal life should swallow up all the sorrows and all the joys of this present time. But of what avail is it to admire the excellence of God's word, unless we can call its precious promises our own? Do we love God, not only as our Creator, but because he gave his only Son to die for us? And are we walking in the ways of holiness? Let us try ourselves by such plain questions, rather than spend time on things that may be curious and amusing, but are unprofitable.
Isaiah 35:1-10 . CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY IN THE THIRTY-FOURTH CHAPTER.
1. solitary place--literally, "a dry place," without springs of water. A moral wilderness is meant.
for them--namely, on account of the punishment inflicted according to the preceding prophecy on the enemy; probably the blessings set forth in this chapter are included in the causes for joy ( Isaiah 55:12 ).
rose--rather, "the meadow-saffron," an autumnal flower with bulbous roots; so Syriac translation.
2. glory of Lebanon--its ornament, namely, its cedars ( Isaiah 10:34 ).
excellency of Carmel--namely, its beauty.
Sharon--famed for its fertility.
see . . . glory of the Lord . . . excellency--( Isaiah 40:5 Isaiah 40:9 ). While the wilderness which had neither "glory" nor "excellency" shall have both "given to it," the Lord shall have all the "glory" and "excellency" ascribed to Him, not to the transformed wilderness ( Matthew 5:16 ).
3. Strengthen . . . hands . . . confirm . . . knees--The Hebrew for "strengthen" refers to the strength residing in the hand for grasping and holding a thing manfully; "confirm," to the firmness with which one keeps his ground, so as not to be dislodged by any other [MAURER]. Encourage the Jews, now desponding, by the assurance of the blessings promised.
4. fearful--"hasty," Margin; that is, with a heart fluttered with agitation.
with--the Hebrew is more forcible than the English Version: "God will come, vengeance! even God, a recompense!" The sense is the same.
5, 6. Language figuratively, descriptive of the joy felt at the deliverance from Assyria and Babylon; literally, true of the antitypical times of Messiah and His miracles (see Margin references, Matthew 11:5 , Luke 7:2 , 2 John 1:5:8 , Acts 3:2 ).
6. leap--literally, "fulfilled" ( Acts 3:8 , 14:10 ).
in . . . wilderness . . . waters--( Isaiah 41:18 ).
7. parched ground--rather, "the mirage (Hebrew, Sharab, 'the sun's heat') shall become a (real) lake." The sun's rays refracted on the glowing sands at midday give the appearance of a take of water and often deceive the thirsty traveller (compare Jeremiah 2:13 , Isaiah 41:18 ).
grass--rather, "a dwelling or receptacle (answering to the previous habitation) for reeds," &c. (which only grow where there is water, Job 8:11 ). Where once there was no water, water shall abound.
8. highway--such a causeway (raised way, from a Hebrew root, "to cast up") as was used for the march of armies; valleys being filled up, hills and other obstructions removed ( Isaiah 62:10 ; compare Isaiah 40:3 Isaiah 40:4 ).
way of holiness--Hebraism for "the holy way." HORSLEY translates, "the way of the Holy One;" but the words that follow, and Isaiah 35:10 , show it is the way leading the redeemed back to Jerusalem, both the literal and the heavenly ( Isaiah 52:1 , Joel 3:17 , Revelation 21:27 ); still Christ at His coming again shall be the Leader on the way, for which reason it is called, "The way of the Lord" ( Isaiah 40:3 , Malachi 3:1 ).
it shall be for those: the wayfaring men--rather, "He (the Holy One) shall be with them, walking in the way" [HORSLEY].
though fools--rather, "And (even) fools," that is, the simple shall not go astray, namely, because "He shall be with them" ( Matthew 11:25 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 ).
9. No lion--such as might be feared on the way through the wilderness which abounded in wild beasts, back to Judea. Every danger shall be warded off the returning people ( Isaiah 11:6-9 , Ezekiel 34:25 , Hosea 2:18 ). Compare spiritually, Proverbs 3:17 .
10. Language: literally, applying to the return from Babylon; figuratively and more fully to the completed redemption of both literal and spiritual Israel.
joy upon . . . heads--( Psalms 126:2 ). Joy manifested in their countenances. Some fancy an allusion to the custom of pouring oil "upon the head," or wearing chaplets in times of public festivity ( Ecclesiastes 9:8 ).