The Messiah, his character and office. (1-3) His promises of the future blessedness of the church. (4-9) The church praises God for these mercies. (10,11)
Verses 1-3 The prophets had the Holy Spirit of God at times, teaching them what to say, and causing them to say it; but Christ had the Spirit always, without measure, to qualify him, as man, for the work to which he was appointed. The poor are commonly best disposed to receive the gospel, ( James 2:5 ) ; and it is only likely to profit us when received with meekness. To such as are poor in spirit, Christ preached good tidings when he said, Blessed are the meek. Christ's satisfaction is accepted. By the dominion of sin in us, we are bound under the power of Satan; but the Son is ready, by his Spirit, to make us free; and then we shall be free indeed. Sin and Satan were to be destroyed; and Christ triumphed over them on his cross. But the children of men, who stand out against these offers, shall be dealt with as enemies. Christ was to be a Comforter, and so he is; he is sent to comfort all who mourn, and who seek to him, and not to the world, for comfort. He will do all this for his people, that they may abound in the fruits of righteousness, as the branches of God's planting. Neither the mercy of God, the atonement of Christ, nor the gospel of grace, profit the self-sufficient and proud. They must be humbled, and led to know their own character and wants, by the Holy Spirit, that they may see and feel their need of the sinner's Friend and Saviour. His doctrine contains glad tidings indeed to those who are humbled before God.
Verses 4-9 Promises are here made to the Jews returned out of captivity, which extend to all those who, through grace, are delivered out of spiritual thraldom. An unholy soul is like a city that is broken down, and has no walls, like a house in ruins; but by the power of Christ's gospel and grace, it is fitted to be a habitation of God, through the Spirit. When, by the grace of God, we attain to holy indifference as to the affairs of this world; when, though our hands are employed about them, our hearts are not entangled with them, but preserved entire for God and his service, then the sons of the alien are our ploughmen and vine-dressers. Those whom He sets at liberty, he sets to work. His service is perfect freedom; it is the greatest honour. All believers are made, to our God, kings and priests; and always ought to conduct themselves as such. Those who have the Lord for their portion, have reason to say, that they have worthy portion, and to rejoice in it. In the fulness of heaven's joys we shall receive more than double for all our services and sufferings. God desires truth, and therefore hates all injustice. Nor will it justify any man's robbery to say, it was for burnt-offerings; and that robbery is most hateful which is under this pretence. Let the children of godly parents be such, that all may see the fruits of a good education; an answer to the prayers for them, in the fruit of God's blessing.
Verses 10-11 Those only shall be clothed with the garments of salvation hereafter, that are covered with the robe of Christ's righteousness now, and by the sanctification of the Spirit have God's image renewed upon them. These blessings shall spring forth for ages to come, as the fruits of the earth. So duly, so constantly, and with such advantage to mankind, will the Lord God cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. They shall spread far; the great salvation shall be published and proclaimed, to the ends of the earth. Let us be earnest in prayer, that the Lord God may cause that righteousness to spring forth among us, which constitutes the excellence and glory of the Christian profession.
Isaiah 61:1-11 . MESSIAH'S OFFICES: RESTORATION OF ISRAEL.
Messiah announces His twofold commission to bring gospel mercy at His first coming, and judgments on unbelievers and comfort to Zion at His second coming ( Isaiah 61:1-9 ); the language can be applied to Isaiah, comforting by his prophecies the exiles in Babylon, only in a subordinate sense.
1. is upon me; because . . . hath anointed me--quoted by Jesus as His credentials in preaching ( Luke 4:18-21 ). The Spirit is upon Me in preaching, because Jehovah hath anointed Me from the womb ( Luke 1:35 ), and at baptism, with the Spirit "without measure," and permanently "abiding" on Me ( Isaiah 11:2 , John 1:32 , 3:34 , Psalms 45:7 ; with which compare 1 Kings 1:39 1 Kings 1:40 1 Kings 19:16 , Exodus 29:7 ). "Anointed" as Messiah, Prophet, Priest, and King.
good tidings--as the word "gospel" means.
the meek--rather, "the poor," as Luke 4:18 has it; that is, those afflicted with calamity, poor in circumstances and in spirit ( Matthew 11:5 ).
proclaim liberty--( John 8:31-36 ). Language drawn from the deliverance of the Babylonian captives, to describe the deliverance from sin and death ( Hebrews 2:15 ); also from the "liberty proclaimed" to all bond-servants in the year of jubilee ( Isaiah 61:2 , Leviticus 25:10 , Jeremiah 34:8 Jeremiah 34:9 ).
opening of the prison--The Hebrew rather is, "the most complete opening," namely, of the eyes to them that are bound, that is, deliverance from prison, for captives are as it were blind in the darkness of prison ( Isaiah 14:17 , 35:5 , 42:7 ) [EWALD]. So Luke 4:18 and the Septuagint interpret it; Luke 4:18 , under inspiration, adds to this, for the fuller explanation of the single clause in the Hebrew, "to set at liberty them that are bruised"; thus expressing the double "opening" implied; namely, that of the eyes ( John 9:39 ), and that of the prison ( Romans 6:18 , Romans 7:24 Romans 7:25 Hebrews 2:15 ). His miracles were acted parables.
2. acceptable year--the year of jubilee on which "liberty was proclaimed to the captives" ( Isaiah 61:1 2 Corinthians 6:2 ).
day of vengeance--The "acceptable time of grace" is a "year"; the time of "vengeance" but "a day" (so Isaiah 34:8 , 63:4 , Malachi 4:1 ). Jesus ( Luke 4:20 Luke 4:21 ) "closed the book" before this clause; for the interval from His first to His second coming is "the acceptable year"; the day of vengeance" will not be till He comes again ( 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 ).
our God--The saints call Him "our God"; for He cometh to "avenge" them ( Revelation 6:10 , 19:2 ).
all that mourn--The "all" seems to include the spiritual Israelite mourners, as well as the literal, who are in Isaiah 61:3 called "them that mourn in Zion," and to whom Isaiah 57:18 refers.
3. To appoint . . . to give--The double verb, with the one and the same accusative, imparts glowing vehemence to the style.
beauty for ashes--There is a play on the sound and meaning of the Hebrew words, peer, epher, literally, "ornamental headdress" or tiara ( Ezekiel 24:17 ), worn in times of joy, instead of a headdress of "ashes," cast on the head in mourning ( 2 Samuel 13:19 ).
oil of joy--Perfumed ointment was poured on the guests at joyous feasts ( Psalms 23:5 , Psalms 45:7 Psalms 45:8 , Amos 6:6 ). On occasions of grief its use was laid aside ( 2 Samuel 14:2 ).
garment of praise--bright-colored garments, indicative of thankfulness, instead of those that indicate despondency, as sackcloth ( John 16:20 ).
trees of righteousness--Hebrew, terebinth trees; symbolical of men strong in righteousness, instead of being, as heretofore, bowed down as a reed with sin and calamity ( Isaiah 1:29 Isaiah 1:30 , Isaiah 42:3 , 1 Kings 14:15 , Psalms 1:3 , 92:12-14 , Jeremiah 17:8 ).
planting of . . .
that he might be glorified--( John 15:8 ).
4. old wastes--Jerusalem and the cities of Judah which long lay in
5. stand--shall wait on you as servants ( Isaiah 14:1 Isaiah 14:2 , 60:10 ).
6. But ye--as contrasted with the strangers. Ye shall have no need to attend to your flocks and lands: "strangers" will do that for you; your exclusive business will be the service of Jehovah as His "priests" ( Exodus 19:6 , which remains yet to be realized; compare as to the spiritual Israel, Isaiah 66:21 , 1 Peter 2:5 1 Peter 2:9 , Revelation 1:6 , 5:10 ).
Ministers--( Ezekiel 44:11 ).
eat . . . riches of . . . Gentiles--( Isaiah 60:5-11 ).
in their glory . . . boast yourselves--rather, "in their splendor ye shall be substituted in their stead"; ye shall substitute yourselves [MAURER].
7. double--Instead of your past share, ye shall have not merely as much, but "double" as much reward ( Isaiah 40:2 , Zechariah 9:12 ; compare the third clause in this verse).
confusion--rather, "humiliation," or "contumely."
rejoice--They shall celebrate with jubilation their portion [MAURER]. Transition from the second to the third person.
in their land--marking the reference to literal Israel, not to the Church at large.
everlasting joy--( Isaiah 35:10 ).
8. judgment--justice, which requires that I should restore My people, and give them double in compensation for their sufferings.
robbery for burnt offering--rather, from a different Hebrew root, the spoil of iniquity [HORSLEY]. So in Job 5:6 . Hating, as I do, the rapine, combined with iniquity, perpetrated on My people by their enemies, I will vindicate Israel.
direct . . . work in truth--rather, "I will give them the reward of their work" (compare Isaiah 40:10 , Margin; Isaiah 49:4 , Margin; Isaiah 62:11 , Margin).
9. known--honorably; shall be illustrious ( Psalms 67:2 ).
seed . . . blessed--( Isaiah 65:23 ).
10. Zion ( Isaiah 61:3 ) gives thanks for God's returning favor (compare Luke 1:46 Luke 1:47 , Habakkuk 3:18 ).
salvation . . . righteousness--inseparably connected together. The "robe" is a loose mantle thrown over the other parts of the dress ( Psalms 132:9 Psalms 132:16 , 149:4 , Revelation 21:2 , 19:8 ).
decketh himself with ornaments--rather "maketh himself a priestly headdress," that is, a magnificent headdress, such as was worn by the high priest, namely, a miter and a plate, or crown of gold worn in front of it [AQUILA, &c.]; appropriate to the "kingdom of priests," dedicated to the offering of spiritual sacrifices to God continually ( Exodus 19:6 , Revelation 5:10 , 20:6 ).
jewels--rather, "ornaments" in general [BARNES].
11. ( Isaiah 45:8 , Isaiah 55:10 Isaiah 55:11 , Psalms 72:3 , 85:11 ).
bud--the tender shoots.
praise--( Isaiah 60:18 , 62:7 ).