Isaiah 26

1 On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; he sets up victory like walls and bulwarks.
2 Open the gates, so that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
3 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.
5 For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height; the lofty city he lays low. He lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.
6 The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.
7 The way of the righteous is level; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.
8 In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and your renown are the soul's desire.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
10 If favor is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness they deal perversely and do not see the majesty of the Lord.
11 O Lord, your hand is lifted up, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed. Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.
12 O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.
13 O Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but we acknowledge your name alone.
14 The dead do not live; shades do not rise— because you have punished and destroyed them, and wiped out all memory of them.
15 But you have increased the nation, O Lord, you have increased the nation; you are glorified; you have enlarged all the borders of the land.
16 O Lord, in distress they sought you, they poured out a prayer when your chastening was on them.
17 Like a woman with child, who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near her time, so were we because of you, O Lord;
18 we were with child, we writhed, but we gave birth only to wind. We have won no victories on earth, and no one is born to inhabit the world.
19 Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a radiant dew, and the earth will give birth to those long dead.
20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past.
21 For the Lord comes out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no longer cover its slain.

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Isaiah 26 Commentary

Chapter 26

The Divine mercies encourage to confidence in God. (1-4) His judgments. (5-11) His people exhorted to wait upon Him. (12-19) Deliverance promised. (20,21)

Verses 1-4 "That day," seems to mean when the New Testament Babylon shall be levelled with the ground. The unchangeable promise and covenant of the Lord are the walls of the church of God. The gates of this city shall be open. Let sinners then be encouraged to join to the Lord. Thou wilt keep him in peace; in perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, in all events. Trust in the Lord for that peace, that portion, which will be for ever. Whatever we trust to the world for, it will last only for a moment; but those who trust in God shall not only find in him, but shall receive from him, strength that will carry them to that blessedness which is for ever. Let us then acknowledge him in all our ways, and rely on him in all trials.

Verses 5-11 The way of the just is evenness, a steady course of obedience and holy conversation. And it is their happiness that God makes their way plain and easy. It is our duty, and will be our comfort, to wait for God, to keep up holy desires toward him in the darkest and most discouraging times. Our troubles must never turn us from God; and in the darkest, longest night of affliction, with our souls must we desire him; and this we must wait and pray to him for. We make nothing of our religion, whatever our profession may be, if we do not make heart-work of it. Though we come ever so early, we shall find God ready to receive us. The intention of afflictions is to teach righteousness: blessed is the man whom the Lord thus teaches. But sinners walk contrary to him. They will go on in their evil ways, because they will not consider what a God he is whose laws they persist in despising. Scorners and the secure will shortly feel, what now they will not believe, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. They will not see the evil of sin; but they shall see. Oh that they would abandon their sins, and turn to the Lord, that he may have mercy upon them.

Verses 12-19 Every creature, every business, any way serviceable to our comfort, God makes to be so; he makes that work for us which seemed to make against us. They had been slaves of sin and Satan; but by the Divine grace they were taught to look to be set free from all former masters. The cause opposed to God and his kingdom will sink at last. See our need of afflictions. Before, prayer came drop by drop; now they pour it out, it comes now like water from a fountain. Afflictions bring us to secret prayer. Consider Christ as the Speaker addressing his church. His resurrection from the dead was an earnest of all the deliverance foretold. The power of his grace, like the dew or rain, which causes the herbs that seem dead to revive, would raise his church from the lowest state. But we may refer to the resurrection of the dead, especially of those united to Christ.

Verses 20-21 When dangers threaten, it is good to retire and lie hid; when we commend ourselves to God to hide us, he will hide us either under heaven or in heaven. Thus we shall be safe and happy in the midst of tribulations. It is but for a short time, as it were for a little moment; when over, it will seem as nothing. God's place is the mercy-seat; there he delights to be: when he punishes, he comes out of his place, for he has no pleasure in the death of sinners. But there is hardly any truth more frequently repeated in Scripture, than God's determined purpose to punish the workers of iniquity. Let us keep close to the Lord, and separate from the world; and let us seek comfort in secret prayer. A day of vengeance is coming on the world, and before it comes we are to expect tribulation and suffering. But because the Christian looks for these things, shall he be restless and dismayed? No, let him repose himself in his God. Abiding in him, the believer is safe. And let us wait patiently the fulfilling of God's promises.

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Heb [in Yah, the Lord]
  • [b]. Meaning of Heb uncertain
  • [c]. Cn Compare Syr Tg: Heb [my corpse]
  • [d]. Heb [to the shades]

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 26

This chapter contains a song of praise for the safety and prosperity of the church, and the destruction of its enemies. The church is represented as a strong city, whose walls and bulwarks are salvation, Isa 26:1 it is said to have gates which are to be opened to a righteous nation, Isa 26:2 its inhabitants, being such who trust in the Lord, are promised perfect peace, Isa 26:3 hence the saints are exhorted to trust in him, Isa 26:4 then follows an account of another city, described as lofty, and its inhabitants as dwelling on high, who are brought down, and trampled on, by the feet of the poor and needy, Isa 26:5,6 when the prophet returns to the righteous, and asserts their way to be uprightness, because their path is weighed or levelled by God the most upright, Isa 26:7 and in the name of the church declares that they had waited for the Lord in the way of his judgments; and that the desire of their souls was to his name, and the remembrance of it; and that they continued, and would continue, to desire him, and seek after him, seeing righteousness was to be learned by his judgments, Isa 26:8,9 and though the wicked would not be brought to repentance and reformation by the goodness of God, nor take notice of his hand, yet they should see and be ashamed, and destroyed at last, Isa 26:10,11 but notwithstanding these judgments of God in the earth, the church professes her faith in the Lord, that he would give her peace and prosperity, from the consideration of what he had wrought for her, and in her, Isa 26:12 and rejects all other lords but him, Isa 26:13 who were dead, and should not live again, but were visited and destroyed, and their memory made to perish, Isa 26:14 but the righteous nation should be increased, though they should meet with trouble, which would cause them to go to the throne of grace, and there pour out their complaints, express their pain and distresses, and the disappointments they had met with, Isa 26:15-18 to which an answer is returned, promising a glorious resurrection, Isa 26:19 and calling upon the people of God to retire to their chambers for protection in the mean while, until the punishment to be inflicted on the inhabitants of the earth for their sins was over, Isa 26:20,21.

Isaiah 26 Commentaries