Christ's victory over his enemies. (1-6) His mercy toward his church. (7-14) The prayer of the church. (15-19)
Verses 1-6 The prophet, in vision, beholds the Messiah returning in triumph from the conquest of his enemies, of whom Edom was a type. Travelling, not as wearied by the combat, but, in the greatness of his strength, prepared to overcome every opposing power. Messiah declares that he had been treading the wine-press of the wrath of God, ( Revelation 14:19 , Revelation 19:13 ) , and by his own power, without any human help, he had crushed his obstinate opposers, for the day of vengeance was determined on, being the appointed season for rescuing his church. Once, he appeared on earth in apparent weakness, to pour out his precious blood as an atonement for our sins; but he will in due time appear in the greatness of his strength. The vintage ripens apace; the day of vengeance, fixed and determined on, approaches apace; let sinners seek to be reconciled to their righteous Judge, ere he brings down their strength to the earth. Does Christ say, "I come quickly?" let our hearts reply, "Even so, come; let the year of the redeemed come."
Verses 7-14 The latter part of this chapter, and the whole of the next, seem to express the prayers of the Jews on their conversation. They acknowledge God's great mercies and favours to their nation. They confess their wickedness and hardness of heart; they entreat his forgiveness, and deplore the miserable condition under which they have so long suffered. The only-begotten Son of the Father became the Angel or Messenger of his love; thus he redeemed and bare them with tenderness. Yet they murmured, and resisted his Holy Spirit, despising and persecuting his prophets, rejecting and crucifying the promised Messiah. All our comforts and hopes spring from the loving-kindness of the Lord, and all our miseries and fears from our sins. But he is the Saviour, and when sinners seek after him, who in other ages glorified himself by saving and feeding his purchased flock, and leading them safely through dangers, and has given his Holy Spirit to prosper the labours of his ministers, there is good ground to hope they are discovering the way of peace.
Verses 15-19 They beseech him to look down on the abject condition of their once-favoured nation. Would it not be glorious to his name to remove the veil from their hearts, to return to the tribes of his inheritance? The Babylonish captivity, and the after-deliverance of the Jews, were shadows of the events here foretold. The Lord looks down upon us in tenderness and mercy. Spiritual judgments are more to be dreaded than any other calamities; and we should most carefully avoid those sins which justly provoke the Lord to leave men to themselves and to their deceiver. "Our Redeemer from everlasting" is thy name; thy people have always looked upon thee as the God to whom they might appeal. The Lord will hear the prayers of those who belong to him, and deliver them from those not called by his name.
Isaiah 63:1-19 . MESSIAH COMING AS THE AVENGER, IN ANSWER TO HIS PEOPLE'S PRAYERS.
Messiah, approaching Jerusalem after having avenged His people on His and their enemies, is represented under imagery taken from the destruction of "Edom," the type of the last and most bitter foes of God and His people (see Isaiah 34:5 , &c.).
1. Who--the question of the prophet in prophetic vision.
dyed--scarlet with blood ( Isaiah 63:2 Isaiah 63:3 , Revelation 19:13 ).
travelling--rather, stately; literally, "throwing back the head" [GESENIUS].
speak in righteousness--answer of Messiah. I, who have in faithfulness given a promise of deliverance, am now about to fulfil it. Rather, speak of righteousness ( Isaiah 45:19 , 46:13 ); salvation being meant as the result of His "righteousness" [MAURER].
save--The same Messiah that destroys the unbeliever saves the believer.
2. The prophet asks why His garments are "dyed" and "red."
winefat--rather, the "wine-press," wherein the grapes were trodden with the feet; the juice would stain the garment of him who trod them ( Revelation 14:19 Revelation 14:20 , 19:15 ). The image was appropriate, as the country round Bozrah abounded in grapes. This final blow inflicted by Messiah and His armies ( Revelation 19:13-15 ) shall decide His claim to the kingdoms usurped by Satan, and by the "beast," to whom Satan delegates his power. It will be a day of judgment to the hostile Gentiles, as His first coming was a day of judgment to the unbelieving Jews.
3. Reply of Messiah. For the image, see Lamentations 1:15 . He "treads the wine-press" here not as a sufferer, but as an inflicter of vengeance.
will tread . . . shall be . . . will stain--rather preterites, "I trod . . . trampled . . . was sprinkled . . . I stained."
blood--literally, "spirited juice" of the grape, pressed out by treading [GESENIUS].
4. is--rather, "was." This assigns the reason why He has thus destroyed the foe ( Zephaniah 3:8 ).
my redeemed--My people to be redeemed.
day . . . year--here, as in Isaiah 34:8 , 61:2 , the time of "vengeance" is described as a "day"; that of grace and of "recompense" to the "redeemed," as a "year."
5. The same words as in Isaiah 59:16 , except that there it is His "righteousness," here it is His "fury," which is said to have upheld Him.
6. Rather, preterites, "I trod down . . . made them drunk." The same image occurs Isaiah 51:17 Isaiah 51:21-23 , Psalms 75:8 , Jeremiah 25:26 Jeremiah 25:27 .
will bring down . . . strength to . . . earth--rather, "I spilled their life-blood (the same Hebrew words as in Isaiah 63:3 ) on the earth" [LOWTH and Septuagint].
7. Israel's penitential confession and prayer for restoration ( Psalms 102:17 Psalms 102:20 ), extending from Isaiah 63:7-64:12'.
loving-kindnesses . . . praises . . . mercies . . . loving-kindnesses--The plurals and the repetitions imply that language is inadequate to express the full extent of God's goodness.
us--the dispersed Jews at the time just preceding their final restoration.
house of Israel--of all ages; God was good not merely to the Jews now dispersed, but to Israel in every age of its history.
8. he--Jehovah "said," that is, thought, in choosing them as His covenant-people; so "said" ( Psalms 95:10 ). Not that God was ignorant that the Jews would not keep faith with Him; but God is here said, according to human modes of thought to say within Himself what He might naturally have expected, as the result of His goodness to the Jews; thus the enormity of their unnatural perversity is the more vividly set forth.
lie--prove false to Me (compare Psalms 44:17 ).
so--in virtue of His having chosen them, He became their Saviour. So the "therefore" ( Jeremiah 31:33 ). His eternal choice is the ground of His actually saving men ( Ephesians 1:3 Ephesians 1:4 ).
9. he was afflicted--English Version reads the Hebrew as the Keri (Margin), does, "There was affliction to Him." But the Chetib (text) reads, "There was no affliction" (the change in Hebrew being only of one letter); that is, "In all their affliction there was no (utterly overwhelming) affliction" [GESENIUS]; or, for "Hardly had an affliction befallen them, when the angel of His presence saved them" [MAURER]; or, as best suits the parallelism, "In all their straits there was no straitness in His goodness to them" [HOUBIGANT], ( Judges 10:16 , Micah 2:7 , 2 Corinthians 6:12 ).
angel of his presence--literally, "of His face," that is, who stands before Him continually; Messiah ( Exodus 14:19 , Exodus 23:20 Exodus 23:21 , Proverbs 8:30 ), language applicable to no creature ( Exodus 32:34 , Exodus 33:2 Exodus 33:14 , Numbers 20:16 , Malachi 3:1 ).
bare them--( Isaiah 46:3 Isaiah 46:4 , 40:11 , Exodus 19:4 , Deuteronomy 32:11 Deuteronomy 32:12 ).
10. vexed--grieved ( Psalms 78:40 , 95:10 , Acts 7:51 , Ephesians 4:30 , Hebrews 3:10 Hebrews 3:17 ).
he fought--rather, "He it was that fought," namely, the angel of His presence [HORSLEY], ( Lamentations 2:5 ).
11. remembered--Notwithstanding their perversity, He forgot not His covenant of old; therefore He did not wholly forsake them ( Leviticus 26:40-42 Leviticus 26:44 Leviticus 26:45 , Psalms 106:45 Psalms 106:46 ); the Jews make this their plea with God, that He should not now forsake them.
saying--God is represented, in human language, mentally speaking of Himself and His former acts of love to Israel, as His ground for pitying them notwithstanding their rebellion.
shepherd--Moses; or if the Hebrew be read plural, "shepherds," Moses, Aaron, and the other leaders (so Psalms 77:20 ).
put . . . Spirit . . . within him--Hebrew, "in the inward parts of him," that is, Moses; or it refers to the flock, "in the midst of his people" ( Numbers 11:17 Numbers 11:25 , Nehemiah 9:20 , Haggai 2:5 ).
12. The right hand of Moses was but the instrument; the arm of God was the real mover ( Exodus 15:6 , 14:21 ).
dividing the water--( Nehemiah 9:11 , Psalms 78:13 ).
13. deep--literally, "the tossing and roaring sea."
wilderness--rather, the "open plain" [HORSLEY], wherein there is no obstacle to cause a horse in its course the danger of stumbling.
14. As a beast . . . rest--image from a herd led "down" from the hills to a fertile and well-watered "valley" ( Psalms 23:2 ); so God's Spirit "caused Israel to rest" in the promised land after their weary wanderings.
to make . . . name--(So Isaiah 63:12 , 2 Samuel 7:23 ).
15. Here begins a fervent appeal to God to pity Israel now on the ground of His former benefits.
habitation of . . . holiness--( Isaiah 57:15 , Deuteronomy 26:15 , 2 Chronicles 30:27 , Psalms 33:14 , 80:14 ).
zeal . . . strength--evinced formerly for Thy people.
sounding of . . . bowels--Thine emotions of compassion ( Isaiah 16:11 , Jeremiah 31:20 , 48:36 , Hosea 11:8 ).
16. thou . . . father--of Israel, by right not merely of creation, but also of electing adoption ( Isaiah 64:8 , Deuteronomy 32:6 , 1 Chronicles 29:10 ).
though Abraham . . . Israel--It had been the besetting temptation of the Jews to rest on the mere privilege of their descent from faithful Abraham and Jacob ( Matthew 3:9 , John 8:39 , 4:12 ); now at last they renounce this, to trust in God alone as their Father, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary. Even though Abraham, our earthly father, on whom we have prided ourselves, disown us, Thou wilt not ( Isaiah 49:15 , Psalms 27:10 ). Isaac is not mentioned, because not all his posterity was admitted to the covenant, whereas all Jacob's was; Abraham is specified because he was the first father of the Jewish race.
everlasting--an argument why He should help them, namely, because of His everlasting immutability.
17. made us to err--that is, "suffer" us to err and to be hardened in our heart. They do not mean to deny their own blameworthiness, but confess that through their own fault God gave them over to a reprobate mind ( Isaiah 6:9 Isaiah 6:10 , Psalms 119:10 , Romans 1:28 ).
Return--( Numbers 10:36 , Psalms 90:13 ).
18. people of . . . holiness--Israel dedicated as holy unto God ( Isaiah 62:12 , Deuteronomy 7:6 ).
possessed--namely, the Holy Land, or Thy "sanctuary," taken from the following clause, which is parallel to this (compare Isaiah 64:10 Isaiah 64:11 , Psalms 74:6-8 ).
thy--an argument why God should help them; their cause is His cause.
19. thine . . . never--rather, "We are Thine from of old; Thou barest not rule over them" [BARNES]. LOWTH translates, "We for long have been as those over whom Thou hast not ruled, who are not called by Thy name"; "for long" thus stands in contrast to "but a little while" ( Isaiah 63:18 ). But the analogy of Isaiah 63:18 makes it likely that the first clause in this verse refers to the Jews, and the second to their foes, as English Version and BARNES translate it. The Jews' foes are aliens who have unjustly intruded into the Lord's heritage.