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.
In this chapter both Christ and the church are introduced speaking, in their turns. It begins with the words of Christ, describing his work and office; his qualifications for it; the several parts and branches of it; and the ends to be answered by it; Isa 61:1-3, the reparation of the church; the feeding it by strangers; its being a holy priesthood; its enjoying the riches of the Gentiles; its having honour and joy, instead of shame and confusion; its prosperity in the work of the Lord, and the continuance of its spiritual offspring among the Gentiles, are prophesied of in Isa 61:4-9, and then the church is represented as rejoicing in the Lord, on account of her being clothed with his righteousness, so ornamental to her, Isa 61:10 and the chapter is concluded with a promise of her righteousness and glory appearing before all the nations of the world; of which the following chapter is an illustrious prophecy, Isa 61:11.