The rejection of the Jews. (1-3) The sufferings and exaltation of the Messiah. (4-9) Consolation to the believer, and warning to the unbeliever. (10,11)
Verses 1-3 Those who have professed to be people of God, and seem to be dealt severely with, are apt to complain, as if God had been hard with them. Here is an answer for such murmurings; God never deprived any of their advantages, except for their sins. The Jews were sent into Babylon for their idolatry, a sin which broke the covenant; and they were at last rejected for crucifying the Lord of glory. God called on them to leave their sins, and prevent their own ruin. Last of all, the Son came to his own, but his own received him not. When God calls men to happiness, and they will not answer, they are justly left to be miserable. To silence doubts concerning his power, proofs of it are given. The wonders which attended his sufferings and death, proclaimed that he was the Son of God, ( Matthew 27:54 ) .
Verses 4-9 As Jesus was God and man in one person, we find him sometimes speaking, or spoken of, as the Lord God; at other times, as man and the servant of Jehovah. He was to declare the truths which comfort the broken, contrite heart, those weary of sin, harassed with afflictions. And as the Holy Spirit was upon him, that he might speak as never man spake; so the same Divine influence daily wakened him to pray, to preach the gospel, and to receive and deliver the whole will of the Father. The Father justified the Son when he accepted the satisfaction he made for the sin of man. Christ speaks in the name of all believers. Who dares to be an enemy to those unto whom he is a Friend? or who will contend with those whom he is an Advocate? Thus St. Paul applies it, ( Romans 8:33 ) .
Verses 10-11 A child of God is afraid of incurring his displeasure. This grace usually appears most in believers when in darkness, when other graces appear not. Those that truly fear God, obey the voice of Christ. A sincere servant of God may for a long time be without views of eternal happiness. What is likely to be an effectual cure in this sad case? Let him trust in the name of the Lord; and let him stay himself upon the promises of the covenant, and build his hopes on them. Let him trust in Christ, trust in that name of his, The Lord our Righteousness; stay himself upon God as his God, in and through a Mediator. Presuming sinners are warned not to trust in themselves. Their own merit and sufficiency are light and heat to them. Creature-comforts are as sparks, short-lived, and soon gone; yet the children of this world, while they last, seek to warm themselves by them, and walk with pride and pleasure in the light of them. Those that make the world their comfort, and their own righteousness their confidence, will certainly meet with bitterness in the end. A godly man's way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and everlasting light. A wicked man's way may be pleasant, but his end and abode for ever will be utter darkness.
Isaiah 50:1-11 . THE JUDGMENTS ON ISRAEL WERE PROVOKED BY THEIR CRIMES, YET THEY ARE NOT FINALLY CAST OFF BY GOD.
1. Where . . . mothers divorcement--Zion is "the mother"; the Jews are the children; and God the Husband and Father ( Isaiah 54:5 , 62:5 , Jeremiah 3:14 ). GESENIUS thinks that God means by the question to deny that He had given "a bill of divorcement" to her, as was often done on slight pretexts by a husband ( Deuteronomy 24:1 ), or that He had "sold" His and her "children," as a poor parent sometimes did ( Exodus 21:7 , 2 Kings 4:1 , Nehemiah 5:5 ) under pressure of his "creditors"; that it was they who sold themselves through their own sins. MAURER explains, "Show the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom . . . ; produce the creditors to whom ye have been sold; so it will be seen that it was not from any caprice of Mine, but through your own fault, your mother has been put away, and you sold" ( Isaiah 52:3 ). HORSLEY best explains (as the antithesis between "I" and "yourselves" shows, though LOWTH translates, "Ye are sold") I have never given your mother a regular bill of divorcement; I have merely "put her away" for a time, and can, therefore, by right as her husband still take her back on her submission; I have not made you, the children, over to any "creditor" to satisfy a debt; I therefore still have the right of a father over you, and can take you back on repentance, though as rebellious children you have sold yourselves to sin and its penalty ( 1 Kings 21:25 ).
bill . . . whom--rather, "the bill with which I have put her away" [MAURER].
no man--willing to believe in and obey Me ( Isaiah 52:1 Isaiah 52:3 ). The same Divine Person had "come" by His prophets in the Old Testament (appealing to them, but in vain, Jeremiah 7:25 Jeremiah 7:26 ), who was about to come under the New Testament.
hand shortened--the Oriental emblem of weakness, as the long stretched-out hand is of power ( Isaiah 59:1 ). Notwithstanding your sins, I can still "redeem" you from your bondage and dispersion.
dry up . . . sea--( Exodus 14:21 ). The second exodus shall exceed, while it resembles in wonders, the first ( Isaiah 11:11 Isaiah 11:15 , 51:15 ).
make . . . rivers . . . wilderness--turn the prosperity of Israel's foes into adversity.
fish stinketh--the very judgment inflicted on their Egyptian enemies at the first exodus ( Exodus 7:18 Exodus 7:21 ).
3. heavens . . . blackness--another of the judgments on Egypt to be repeated hereafter on the last enemy of God's people ( Exodus 10:21 ).
sackcloth--( Revelation 6:12 ).
4. Messiah, as "the servant of Jehovah" ( Isaiah 42:1 ), declares that the office has been assigned to Him of encouraging the "weary" exiles of Israel by "words in season" suited to their case; and that, whatever suffering it is to cost Himself, He does not shrink from it ( Isaiah 50:5 Isaiah 50:6 ), for that He knows His cause will triumph at last ( Isaiah 50:7 Isaiah 50:8 ).
learned--not in mere human learning, but in divinely taught modes of instruction and eloquence ( Isaiah 49:2 , Exodus 4:11 , Matthew 7:28 Matthew 7:29 , 13:54 ).
speak a word in season--( Proverbs 15:23 , 25:11 ). Literally, "to succor by words," namely, in their season of need, the "weary" dispersed ones of Israel ( Deuteronomy 28:65-67 ). Also, the spiritual "weary" ( Isaiah 42:3 , Matthew 11:28 ).
wakeneth morning by morning, &c.--Compare "daily rising up early" ( Jeremiah 7:25 , 1:35 ). The image is drawn from a master wakening his pupils early for instruction.
wakeneth . . . ear--prepares me for receiving His divine instructions.
as the learned--as one taught by Him. He "learned obedience," experimentally, "by the things which He suffered"; thus gaining that practical learning which adapted Him for "speaking a word in season" to suffering men ( Hebrews 5:8 ).
5. opened . . . Isaiah 48:8 ); that is, hath made me obediently attentive (but MAURER, "hath informed me of my duty"), as a servant to his master (compare Psalms 40:6-8 , with Philippians 2:7 , Isaiah 42:1 , Isaiah 49:3 Isaiah 49:6 , 52:13 , 53:11 , Matthew 20:28 , Luke 22:27 ).
not rebellious--but, on the contrary, most willing to do the Father's will in proclaiming and procuring salvation for man, at the cost of His own sufferings ( Hebrews 10:5-10 ).
6. smiters--with scourges and with the open hand ( Isaiah 52:14 , 14:65 ). Literally fulfilled ( Matthew 27:26 , 26:27 , Luke 18:33 ). To "pluck the hair" is the highest insult that can be offered an Oriental ( 2 Samuel 10:4 , Lamentations 3:30 ). "I gave" implies the voluntary nature of His sufferings; His example corresponds to His precept ( Matthew 5:39 ).
spitting--To spit in another's presence is an insult in the East, much more on one; most of all in the face ( Job 30:10 , Matthew 27:30 , Luke 18:32 ).
7. Sample of His not being "discouraged" ( Isaiah 42:4 , 49:5 ).
set . . . face like . . . flint--set Myself resolutely, not to be daunted from My work of love by shame or suffering ( Ezekiel 3:8 Ezekiel 3:9 ).
8. ( Isaiah 49:4 ). The believer, by virtue of his oneness with Christ, uses the same language ( Psalms 138:8 Romans 8:32-34 ). But "justify" in His case, is God's judicial acceptance and vindication of Him on the ground of His own righteousness ( Luke 23:44-47 , Romans 1:4 , 1 Timothy 3:16 , with which compare 1 Peter 3:18 ); in their case, on the ground of His righteousness and meritorious death imputed to them ( Romans 5:19 ).
stand together--in judgment, to try the issue.
adversary--literally, "master of my cause," that is, who has real ground of accusation against me, so that he can demand judgment to be given in his favor (compare Zechariah 3:1 , &c. Revelation 12:10 ).
9. (Compare "deal," or "proper," Isaiah 52:13 , Margin; Isaiah 53:10 , Psalms 118:6 , Jeremiah 23:5 ).
as a garment--( Isaiah 51:6 Isaiah 51:8 , Psalms 102:26 ). A leading constituent of wealth in the East is change of raiment, which is always liable to the inroads of the moth; hence the frequency of the image in Scripture.
10. Messiah exhorts the godly after His example ( Isaiah 49:4 Isaiah 49:5 , 42:4 ) when in circumstances of trial ("darkness," Isaiah 47:5 ), to trust in the arm of Jehovah alone.
Who is, &c.--that is, Whosoever ( Judges 7:3 ).
obeyeth . . . servant--namely, Messiah. The godly "honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" ( John 5:23 ).
darkness--( Micah 7:8 Micah 7:9 ). God never had a son who was not sometimes in the dark. For even Christ, His only Son, cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
light--rather, "splendor"; bright sunshine; for the servant of God is never wholly without "light" [VITRINGA]. A godly man's way may be dark, but his end shall be peace and light. A wicked man's way may be bright, but his end shall be utter darkness ( Psalms 112:4 , 97:11 , 37:24 ).
let him trust in the name of the Lord--as Messiah did ( Isaiah 50:8 Isaiah 50:9 ).
11. In contrast to the godly ( Isaiah 50:10 ), the wicked, in times of darkness, instead of trusting in God, trust in themselves (kindle a light for themselves to walk by) ( Ecclesiastes 11:9 ). The image is continued from Isaiah 50:10 , "darkness"; human devices for salvation ( Proverbs 19:21 , Proverbs 16:9 Proverbs 16:25 ) are like the spark that goes out in an instant in darkness (compare Job 18:6 , 21:17 , with Psalms 18:28 ).
sparks--not a steady light, but blazing sparks extinguished in a moment.
walk--not a command, but implying that as surely as they would do so, they should lie down in sorrow ( Jeremiah 3:25 ). In exact proportion to mystic Babylon's previous "glorifying" of herself shall be her sorrow ( Matthew 25:30 , 8:12 , Revelation 18:7 ).