There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of
He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes . . .—Earthly kings are apt to judge “according to the appearance” (John 7:24), and the reports of interested or corrupt advisers, but the true King shall “know what is in man” (John 2:25), and judge righteous judgment.
He shall smite the earth . . .—The “earth” stands here, if we accept the reading, for the rulers who are for the time supreme in it. A slight alteration of the Hebrew gives shall smite the tyrant, which forms a better parallelism with the “ungodly” of the next clause. The phrase “the sceptre of his mouth” is significant. The word which the Messiah-King speaks shall be as the sceptre which is the symbol of authority. So in Revelation 1:16, “a sharp two-edged sword” comes forth from the mouth of the Christ of St. John’s vision. The latter clause, “with the breath of his lips shall he slay . . . ,”has a parallel in Hosea 6:5.
The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.—If, as some have thought, the “earth” here should be the land (i.e., as in Isaiah 9:19; Isaiah 10:23, the land of Judah), that region is represented as the paradise centre of a restored world, to which, as in Isaiah 2:2, all nations turn for light and blessing. Probably, however, the words may be taken in their wider significance. This was for the prophet the crown and consummation of the work of redemption. More than all removal of physical evil, he thought of a victory over moral and spiritual darkness. As it is, in the existing order of the world, few fear God; still fewer know Him as He should be known. But in that new earth “the knowledge of Jehovah” shall flow far and wide. Even as the waters of the Mediterranean (the sea which must have suggested the prophet’s comparison) washed the shores of the far-off isles of the Gentiles, the coasts of Chittim (Numbers 24:24), as well as those of Israel, so should the knowledge of the truth of God expand beyond the limits of the people of Israel. Hence the transition was natural to the prophecies which speak at once of the restoration of Israel and the in-gathering of the heathen. It should be remembered that in Hosea 3:5; Joel 2:28; Joel 3:17, prophecies like in kind had preceded Isaiah’s utterance. In Habakkuk 2:14 it is all but verbally reproduced.
His rest shall be glorious.—Better, his resting-place shall be glory; i.e., he shall abide evermore in the eternal glory which is the dwelling-place of Jehovah.