The Jews reproved for their idolatry. (1-8) Yet deliverance is promised them. (9-15) Solemn warnings of judgment upon those who persisted in evil. (16-22)
Verses 1-8 The Jews valued themselves on descent from Jacob, and used the name of Jehovah as their God. They prided themselves respecting Jerusalem and the temple, yet there was no holiness in their lives. If we are not sincere in religion, we do but take the name of the Lord in vain. By prophecy they were shown how God would deal with them, long before it came to pass. God has said and done enough to prevent men's boasting of themselves, which makes the sin and ruin of the proud worse; sooner or later every mouth shall be stopped, and all become silent before Him. We are all born children of disobedience. Where original sin is, actual sin will follow. Does not the conscience of every man witness to the truth of Scripture? May the Lord prove us, and render us doers of the word.
Verses 9-15 We have nothing ourselves to plead with God, why he should have mercy upon us. It is for his praise, to the honour of his mercy, to spare. His bringing men into trouble was to do them good. It was to refine them, but not as silver; not so thoroughly as men refine silver. If God should take that course, they are all dross, and, as such, might justly be put away. He takes them as refined in part only. Many have been brought home to God as chosen vessels, and a good work of grace begun in them, in the furnace of affliction. It is comfort to God's people, that God will secure his own honour, therefore work deliverance for them. And if God delivers his people, he cannot be at a loss for instruments to be employed. God has formed a plan, in which, for his own sake, and the glory of his grace, he saves all that come to Him.
Verses 16-22 The Holy Spirit qualifies for service; and those may speak boldly, whom God and his Spirit send. This is to be applied to Christ. He was sent, and he had the Spirit without measure. Whom God redeems, he teaches; he teaches to profit by affliction, and then makes them partakers of his holiness. Also, by his grace he leads them in the way of duty; and by his providence he leads in the way of deliverance. God did not afflict them willingly. If their sins had not turned them away, their peace should have been always flowing and abundant. Spiritual enjoyments are ever joined with holiness of life and regard to God's will. It will make the misery of the disobedient the more painful, to think how happy they might have been. And here is assurance given of salvation out of captivity. Those whom God designs to bring home to himself, he will take care of, that they want not for their journey. This is applicable to the grace laid up for us in Jesus Christ, from whom all good flows to us, as the water to Israel out of the rock, for that Rock was Christ. The spiritual blessings of redemption, and the rescue of the church from antichristian tyranny, are here pointed to. But whatever changes take place, the Lord warned impenitent sinners that no good would come to them; that inward anguish and outward trouble, which spring from guilt and from the Divine wrath, must be their portion for ever.
The prophecy of this chapter is concerning the deliverance and salvation of the Jews, and is addressed unto them; who are described by their natural descent and lineage, and by their hypocrisy in religious things, Isa 48:1,2. By their obstinacy and impudence, and by their proneness to idolatry, and to ascribe that to idols which belonged to God; which were the reasons why the Lord foretold all former things to them, before they came to pass, Isa 48:3-5. And for the same reasons also he declared unto them what should be hereafter, particularly the destruction of Babylon, and their deliverance by Cyrus, Isa 48:6-8. From which account of them it would clearly appear, that it was not for any merits of theirs, but for his own name's sake, for his own glory, that he chose them, purified, and saved them as gold tried in the fire, Isa 48:9-11. He observes his own perfections, his eternity and immutability, and power displayed in creation, to engage their faith in the promise of deliverance, Isa 48:12,13 and points out the deliverer Cyrus, a type of Christ, whom he loved, called, sent, and made him prosperous, Isa 48:14-16. Then he directs them to walk in his ways, with promises of peace and prosperity, Isa 48:17-19. And the chapter is concluded with an exhortation to go out of Babylon with joy, publishing wherever they came their redemption, and who would be supplied with all necessaries in their return to their own land; only it should be observed, that there was no peace or happiness for the wicked, Isa 48:20-22.