he said moreover, for there shall be peace and truth in my days; or a confirmed peace, lasting prosperity, peace in the state, and truth in the church, plenty of temporal mercies, and the truth of doctrine and worship, which he understood by the prophet would continue in his days, and for which he was thankful; not that he was unconcerned about posterity, but inasmuch as it must be, what was foretold, and which he could not object to as unjust, he looked upon it as a mercy to him that there was a delay of it to future times; or it may be considered as a wish, "O that there were peace" (g), &c.
(g) , Sept.; so the V. L. Syriac and Arabic versions; "O si fieret pax", Forerius; "precor ut sit pax", Vatablus; which is preferred by Noldius Ebr. Cocord. Part. p. 407. No. 1153.
INTRODUCTION TO Isaiah 40
This chapter treats of the comforts of God's people; of the forerunner and coming of the Messiah; of his work, and the dignity of his person; of the folly of making idols, and of the groundless complaints of the church of God. The consolations of God's people, by whom to be administered, and the matter, ground, and reason of them, Isaiah 40:1. John the Baptist, the harbinger of Christ, is described by his work and office, and the effects of it; it issuing in the humiliation of some, and the exaltation of others, and in the revelation of the glory of Christ, Isaiah 40:3, then follows an order to every minister of the Gospel what he should preach and publish; the weakness and insufficiency of men to anything that is spiritually good; their fading and withering goodliness, which is to be ascribed to the blowing of the Spirit of God upon it; and the firmness and constancy of the word of God is declared, Isaiah 40:6, next the apostles of Christ in Jerusalem are particularly exhorted to publish fervently and openly the good tidings of the Gospel; to proclaim the coming of Christ, the manner of it, and the work he came about; and to signify his faithful discharge of his office as a shepherd, Isaiah 40:9, the dignity of whose person is set forth by his almighty power, by his infinite wisdom, and by the greatness of his majesty, in comparison of which all nations and things are as nothing, Isaiah 40:12 and then the vanity of framing any likeness to God, and of forming idols for worship, is observed, Isaiah 40:18, and from the consideration of the divine power in creation and upholding all things, the church of God is encouraged to expect renewed strength and persevering grace, and is blamed for giving way to a distrustful and murmuring spirit, Isaiah 40:26.
"O ye prophets, prophesy comforts concerning my people.''
And the Septuagint and Arabic versions insert, "O ye priests", as if the words were directed to them. The preachers of the Gospel are meant, and are called unto; what the Lord would have said for the comfort of his people by them is expressed in the following verse.
that her warfare is accomplished; this life is a warfare; saints have many enemies to engage with, sin, Satan, and the world; many battles to fight, a great fight of afflictions, and the good fight of faith: this is "accomplished", or "filled up (i)"; not that it is at an end before this life is, while that lasts there will be a continual conflict; yet all enemies are now conquered by Christ, and in a short time will be under the feet of his people; the Captain of their salvation, who has got the victory, is gone before them; the crown is laid up for them, and is sure unto them. Some interpret it, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, "her set or appointed time (k)"; and compare it with Job 7:1, and may be understood either of the time of deliverance from captivity: so the Targum,
"that her captivity by the people is filled up:''
or of the time of the Messiah's coming, the fulness of time, when he should appear, afterwards prophesied of; or of the servitude and bondage of the law being at an end, and of all the fatigue, labour, and trouble of that dispensation; and of the Gospel dispensation taking place: it follows,
that her iniquity is pardoned; which is God's act, flows from his free grace, is obtained by the blood of Christ, is full and complete, and yields great relief and comfort to guilty minds: or "is accepted" (l); that is, the punishment of it as bore by her surety; see Leviticus 26:43. The allusion is to the sacrifices being accepted for the atonement of sin, Leviticus 1:4, and may have respect here to the acceptation of Christ's sacrifice, for the expiation of the sins of his people. Jarchi interprets the word "appeased"; and so it may be applied to the reconciliation for sin made by the blood of Christ. The Targum understands it of forgiveness, as we do:
for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins; which may be understood either of a sufficiency of chastisements for sin; though they are not more, but less, than are deserved, yet are as much as their heavenly Father, in his great tenderness and compassion, thinks are enough; and though they are in measure, and do not exceed, yet are in large measure often, at least in their own apprehension: or else of the large and copious blessings of grace and goodness received, instead of punishment for sins, that might be expected: or rather at the complete satisfaction made by Christ for her sins, and of her receiving at the Lord's hands, in her surety, full punishment for them; not that more was required than was due, but that ample satisfaction was made, and, being infinite, fully answers the demerit of sin; and this being in the room and stead of God's people, clears them, and yields comfort to them.
(h) , Sept. "loquimini ad cor", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Vitringa; "secundum cor", Calvin. (i) "completa est militia ejus", Pagninus, Montanus. (k) "Tempus praefinitum", Junius & Tremellius. (l) "acccpta est", Piscator, Forerius.
prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God: by whom is meant the Messiah to whose proper deity a noble testimony is here bore, being called "Jehovah" and "our God": whose way John prepared himself, by preaching the doctrine of repentance, administering the ordinance of baptism, pointing at the Messiah, and exhorting the people to believe in him; and he called upon them likewise to prepare the way, and make a plain path to meet him in, by repenting of their sins, amending their ways, and cordially embracing him when come, laying aside all those sentiments which were contrary to him, his Gospel, and kingdom. The sense of this text is sadly perverted by the Targum, and seems to be, done on purpose, thus,
"prepare the way before the people of the Lord, cast up ways before the congregation of our God;''
whereas it is before the Lord himself. The allusion is to pioneers, sent before some great personage to remove all obstructions out of his way, to cut down trees, level the way, and clear all before him, as in the following verse.
(m) Though, according to the accents, the phrase, "in the wilderness", belongs to what follows, "in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord"; where it is placed by Junius and Tremellius, commended for it by Reinbeck, de Accent, Heb. p. 416. though the accent seems neglected in Matthew 3.3. Mark 1. 3.
and the crooked shall be straight and the rough places plain; what before was dark and intricate in prophecy should now become clear; and such doctrines as were not so well understood should now become plain and easy.
and all flesh shall see it together; not the Jews only, but Gentiles also; not with their bodily eyes, but with the eyes of their understanding; even the salvation of the Lord, and his glory, as displayed in it, being set forth in the everlasting Gospel to the view of all; see Luke 3:7,
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it: that his glory should be revealed, and be visible to all, and therefore sure and certain; for what he has said he does, and what he has spoken he makes good. The Targum is,
"for by the word of the Lord it is so decreed;''
and therefore shall be fulfilled.
and he said, what shall I cry? publish, proclaim, or preach? for a minister of the Gospel is to preach not out of his own heart, or of his own head, or what is of his own devising and framing, but what is agreeable to the mind of Christ, as revealed in his word; he is to speak according to the oracles of God, the proportion and analogy of faith; he is to inquire there, and of Christ, what he shall say. The Targum is,
"the voice of him that saith, prophesy; and he answered and said, what shall I prophesy?''
The reply is,
all flesh is grass; declare the frailty and mortality of men; which some think is mentioned, to increase the wonder of Christ's incarnation, after prophesied of, as the forerunner of it is before; that Christ should condescend to take upon him such frail mortal flesh; that he should become flesh, and be manifested in it: or rather this is to be said, to put men in mind and to prepare them to think of another world, and how they shall appear before the judgment seat; seeing, if they have not a better righteousness than their own, and except they are born again, they shall neither see nor enter into the kingdom of heaven; which is one of the first things to be published in the Gospel ministry; as also how weak, impotent, and insufficient, men are, to that which is good, which may be meant by this phrase; being as weak as a spire of grass, not able to do any good actions, much less to fulfil the law, or to regenerate themselves, renew their hearts, or cleanse their natures: and this must be said, to abate the pride of men; to show the necessity of divine power in regeneration; to instruct men to seek for the grace of God, as to convert them, so to help and assist them in all they do; and to direct them to ascribe all they have, and are, to the grace of God; to this purpose the Apostle Peter quotes this passage, 1 Peter 1:23. It may be applied to the ordinances of the legal dispensation, and all the privileges of it, which are said to be carnal; and trusting in them was trusting in the flesh, Philippians 3:4, Hebrews 9:10, these were weak and insufficient to justify, sanctify, and save, and were not to continue:
and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field; all the goodliness and glory of man; all that is excellent and valuable in him, or belonging to him, Or that is thought to be so, his riches, honours, strength, beauty, wisdom, and knowledge; yea, all his seeming holiness and righteousness; which are all fading and perishing, like a gay flower, which appears lovely for a while, and on a sudden falls off, or is cropped, or trampled upon; to which a flower of the field is more liable than that of the garden. This may be applied to the splendour of the legal dispensation, which is done away by a more excellent glory taking place, 2 Corinthians 3:10.
because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: alluding to some impetuous and blasting wind blowing upon herbs and flowers, to the withering and fading of them; see Psalm 103:15, legal ordinances ceased upon the pouring forth of the Spirit. The external excellencies of men, or their outward advantages, perish at the breath of God, at the blast of his nostrils, when taken away by death; and at conversion the Spirit of the Lord blows a blast upon all the goodliness of man; the operations of the Spirit are compared to wind, John 3:8, which, like that, are free, and, as he pleases, are invisible and imperceptible, land powerful and efficacious, and these cause a withering in men's goodness; the Spirit of God shows that their holiness is not true holiness; that their righteousness has only the appearance of one before men; and their religion and godliness a mere form; and their good works, "splendida peccata", shining sins; that those are insufficient to justify and save, and bring to heaven; upon which they fade away and die in their esteem, who now reckon them but loss and dung, Philippians 3:6, "surely the people is grass"; the people of the Jews, with all their external advantages; yea, all people, with all the excellencies of human nature, or considered in their best estate, possessed of all that is reckoned good and great, being but mere natural men. The Targum restrains this to the ungodly, as it does the former verse, rendering it,
"as grass the wicked among the people are esteemed;''
as it does the former, thus,
"the wicked are as grass, and their strength as the stubble of the field.''
So Kimchi interprets them of the nations that come with Gog and Magog; and Jarchi of the princes of the kingdoms; but very wrongly, since it is true of all flesh, or of all mankind.
but the word of our God shall stand for ever; the Apostle Peter adds, by way of explanation,
and this is the word, which by the Gospel is preached unto you; who seems to distinguish the word from the Gospel, by which it is preached, and to intend Christ the essential Word; who stands or abides for ever as a divine Person; in his office as Mediator, being Prophet, Priest, and King for ever; in the efficacy of his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and in the fulness of his grace: it is true of the written word or Gospel, which remains, is everlasting, and will stand and continue, notwithstanding the persecutions of tyrants, the craft of false teachers, the reproach of ungodly men, and the death of the best of men, even of ministers; though all flesh is grass, fading and withering, the word of God is fresh and lively, firm and durable; and so it is as transcribed into the hearts of men, where it becomes the ingrafted word, and issues in everlasting life. It may be applied to God's word of promise, which is for ever settled in heaven, and is always fulfilled.
say unto the cities of Judah, &c. and to some parallel places, Isaiah 41:27 and to the type, the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon; the tidings of which came from Babylon to Zion, or Jerusalem; and to the Targum which paraphrases the words thus,
"O ye prophets, that bring good tidings to Zion;''
and so may be applied to Gospel ministers, who bring the good tidings of the good will, grace, and favour of God, to men, through Christ; of the grace of Christ, in his suretyship engagements and performances; in his incarnation, sufferings, and death, and in his advocacy and intercession; and of the good things that come by him, as peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation, and eternal life:
get thee up into the high mountain; to declare these good tidings, in the most open and public manner, that all might hear and receive them, and rejoice at them; it may also point at the place, the church of God, comparable to a high mountain for its visibility and immovableness, where the Gospel is to be published:
O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings: the church of God so called, to whom the faith of the Gospel is delivered, which is the pillar and ground of truth; which receives, retains, and maintains it, and sends forth ministers to proclaim it; particularly the first church at Jerusalem, where it was first preached, and from whence it went forth into other parts of Judea, and into all the world; here the apostles of Christ were, and from hence they set out, and published the Gospel all the world over, and who seem to be chiefly meant; for the words may be rendered, as the other clause, "O thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem (o)"; so the Targum: "lift up thy voice with strength"; or preach the Gospel with a strong voice, speak it out; do not mutter it over, or whisper it in a corner; proclaim it on the housetops, cry aloud that all may hear; lift up thy voice like a trumpet; blow the trumpet of the Gospel with all the strength thou hast; cause the joyful sound to be heard far and near:
lift it up, and be not afraid; of the reproaches and revilings of men on account of it, or of their persecutions for it; or lest it should not be welcome, or be received as truth:
say unto the cities of Judah; the inhabitants of them literally understood, and to the several churches and congregations of the saints everywhere:
behold your God! that divine Person is come, that was promised, prophesied of, and expected; even Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature, God manifest in the flesh, God your Saviour, and who being God, truly God, is able to save to the uttermost; look to him with an eye of faith, and be saved; behold the Son of God, the Lamb of God, that has bore your sins, and took them away; behold him now, as your King and your God, on the throne, made and declared, Lord and Christ, crowned with glory and honour, on the same throne with his divine Father, having all power in heaven and earth; and let the echo of your faith be,
my Lord and my God. The Targum is,
"the kingdom of your God is revealed; see Matthew 3:2.''
(n) "O quae evangelizas Tsijoni", Juntas & Tremellius, Piscator. (o) "O quae evangelizas Jeruschalaimo", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
"against the wicked, to take vengeance on them;''
but Aben Ezra and Kimchi supply the word hand, as we do:
and his arm shall rule for him; or he shall have sufficient power of himself to do the work he comes about; his own arm or power wrought salvation for him and for his people; see Isaiah 63:5. Some render it, "over him (q)"; that is, over the strong and mighty one, against whom he came, whom he conquered, subdued, and ruled over:
behold, his reward is with him; to give to those that trust in him, as Kimchi; or to those that do his word, as the Targum; that believe in him, embrace his Gospel, and act according to it: or this may respect his own reward, which should follow his work; which he was as sure of as if it was in his hands; namely, his exaltation in his human nature, his glory with his Father, and the enjoyment of his spiritual seed to all eternity:
and his work before him; the work of redemption and salvation, which he was called unto, sent to do, and which, being given him, he agreed to do, was very toilsome and laborious, yet he took great delight in it, and has finished it; this is said to be "before him", being proposed in council, and cut out in covenant for him, was well known unto him, and in his power to effect, and what he could easily do, and did. The Targum understands this of the works of men being before him, for whom he has a reward.
(p) "contra robustum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vitringa. (q) "in illum", ibid.
he shall gather the lambs with his arm; the weaklings of the flock; the same with babes and sucklings, newly born souls, weak believers, mean and low in their own eyes, the smoking flax, and bruised reed, the day of small things, the poor of the flock; these he gathers with his arm of power, and by the ministry of the Gospel, both to himself, his person, righteousness, grace and fulness, and to his church, to partake of the word and ordinances of it, and to nearer communion with him in them; he gathers them up into his arms in a way of protection, when liable to fall into the hands of powerful enemies, and to be hurt by them, and in order to carry them, they not being able to go of themselves, as it follows:
and carry them in his bosom; which is expressive of very great affection to them, such being greatly loved as are put into the bosom, as Obed by Naomi, the poor man's ewe lamb, and a wife of youth; as also of great nearness to him, being in his bosom must lie near his heart, and are indeed upon it; likewise it denotes the most intimate communion with him, and a being privy to his secrets, as Christ in the bosom of his Father is to his; as well as it implies an enjoyment of rest in him, and safety by him; for what can disturb or hurt such as are in the bosom of Christ?
and shall gently lead those that are with young; who have the seed of grace in them, have spiritual principles wrought in their souls, Christ formed in their hearts, are full of desires for him and spiritual things, and carry a burden, that of their sins, under which they groan; these he leads out, and off of themselves to himself, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, into green pastures, into his Father's presence, and at last to glory; and he leads them on "gently", gradually, step by step, to see their own vileness and sinfulness, to look, go to, lay hold on him, and retain him; he leads them into the truths of the Gospel, and the deep waters of the sanctuary, and proportionably to their strength as they are able to bear, either the doctrines of the Gospel, or the duties of religion, or afflictions and sufferings; see Genesis 33:14.
and meted out heaven with the span; which he has stretched out as a curtain, Isaiah 40:22, and the measure of which is but one hand's breadth with him; and is no more to him than stretching out a carpet or canopy; and as easily measured by him as a piece of cloth is by a man with the span of his hand, or any measuring rule or yard:
and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure; the word (r) used signifies the third part of some larger measure, as of a sextarius, as some; or of an ephah, or bath as others; or of some other measure not known; See Gill on Psalm 80:5. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "with three fingers"; and the sense may be, that the dust of the earth, or the earth itself, which is but dust, is no more with the Lord than so much earth or dust as a man can hold between his thumb and two fingers; and in like manner is the whole earth comprehended by the Lord:
and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance; as easily as a man can throw in his goods into a pair of scales, and take the true weight of them, with equal ease did the Lord raise the mountains and the hills in a proper proportion, and has so exactly poised them, as if he had weighed them in a pair of scales; this seems to hint at the use of mountains and hills to be a sort of ballast to the earth, and shows the original formation of them from the beginning. The answer to the above question is, that it was the same divine Person of whom it is said, "behold your God, and who should come with a strong hand, and feed his flock."
(r) "in mensura ternaria", Montanus; "trientali", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Vitringa.
or being his counsellor, hath taught him? or, "the man of his counsel (t)"; there was no other than the Wonderful Counsellor, the Angel of the great council, the essential Word of God, whose spirit is here spoken of.
(s) The Targum is, "who hath directed the Holy Spirit in the mouth of all the prophets? is it not the Lord?" which agrees with the accents; for so according to them the words should be rendered "who hath directed the Spirit? the Lord"; so Reinbeck, de Accent. Heb. p. 418. and who renders the next clause, and he hath made the man of his counsel (Moses) to know that.
(t) "vir a consiliis", Junius & Tremellius Piscator.
and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? or gave him that judgment, knowledge, and understanding in framing the world, and all things in it, in that beautiful and regular manner that it is; which shows it to be a work of wisdom, more than human or angelical, and to be purely divine; no one, angel or man, could have struck out such a path of judgment, such a way of understanding, or showed such exquisite skill and knowledge, as appear in the works of creation; see Psalm 104:24.
and are accounted as the small dust of the balance; that is, they are accounted nothing of with God, comparatively speaking, any more than the small dust which hangs upon the balance, and gives it no weight, nor turn one way or another, and so is of no consideration. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "as the turn of the scale"; and so the Targum; but the other version more strongly expresses the sense:
behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing; by which are meant not merely islands, properly so called, which are encompassed by the sea, but all such countries which the Jews used to go to by sea, for all such they called isles; these the Lord can take up, or cast away (u), as some render the word; toss them about, overturn and destroy, as a man may take up the most minute thing and cast it from him. The Targum renders it,
"as chaff which flies away;''
or, as others translate it,
"as the ashes of a coal which fly away.''
The word may signify any light thing, as chaff, straw, stubble, feathers, down of thistles, which are easily carried away with the least force; and so Vitringa renders the words, "behold, the isles are as some little thing which flies away".
(u) "projiciet", Pagninus, Tigurine version; so R. Jonah in Ben Melech.
nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering, though it was a mountain and forest which abounded with trees, and especially cedars, and there was a great quantity of cattle in it, yet neither were sufficient to furnish out a proper burnt offering to the Lord; he only himself could provide a Lamb sufficient for a burnt offering, and he has done it, the only begotten Son of God; he has offered himself an offering and a sacrifice to God, of a sweet smelling savour, by which he has put away sin, and made full atonement for it, Jarchi thinks this is said to aggravate the sins of men, of the wicked, which were so great, that Lebanon with all its wood and cattle could not furnish out a sacrifice sufficient to expiate them.
and they are counted to him as less than nothing, and vanity; if there is or could be such a thing less than nothing, that they are; and so they are accounted of by him; they are like the chaos out of which the earth was formed, when it was "tohu" and "bohu", the first of which words is used here; this serves to humble the pride of men, and to lessen the glory of the nations, and the inhabitants of them.
(w) "et quid similitudinis ponetis ei", Pagninus; "ordinabitis", Montanus; "disponetis", Vatablus.
and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold; or, "the finer"; he stretches out plates of gold, and covers it with them, so that it looks as if it was made of solid gold, and deceives the eyes of men; such stupidity and vanity are there in mortals to believe that there can be deity in such a piece of workmanship!
and casteth silver chains to put about the graven image, either for ornament, or rather to fasten it to some wall or pillar, that it may stand upright, and may not be taken down and stole away, or blown down with the wind, or fall of itself and be broken; thus ridiculing the weakness of these idols, and the folly of the makers and worshippers of them. The Targum is,
"the silversmith joins silver chains to it.''
"he cuts down an ash:''
but the word is descriptive of an idol worshipper; and, according to Gussetius (x), signifies one that by custom and repeated acts has got skill in such things; and so Jarchi: hence
he chooseth a tree that will not rot: he goes to the forest, and chooses the best tree for his purpose he can find, even one that will not rot, as the cypress; and though he cannot get an idol made of metal, but is forced to have one of wood, yet he will get the best he can, that will last longest, an incorruptible deity, as he fancies:
he seeketh unto him a cunning workman, to prepare a graven image that shall not be moved: having decided upon his tree, and what sort of wood to make his god of, he looks out for an ingenious carpenter and carver, a good workman, to make it in the form of an image, and grave, or rather carve it, in the best manner he can, and then fasten it in a proper place, that it may not fall; a poor helpless deity, that cannot secure itself, and much less be of any service to its worshippers.
(x) Ebr Comment. p. 558.
have ye not heard? by tradition from the ancients, from your forefathers, who received it from theirs, and have delivered it to you:
hath it not been told you from the beginning? from the beginning of your states and kingdoms, and even from the beginning of the world, by the wisest and best of men that have been in it, that those things are true before related, and what follow:
have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? the being of God, the invisible things of him, his eternal power and Godhead, from the things that are made, even from his founding of the earth; as well as such knowledge and understanding has been as early as that, and might be continued from it: or,
have ye not understood the foundations of the earth (y)? what the earth is founded upon, and who laid the foundations of it; no other than that divine Being described in the next words.
(y) "nonne intelligetis fundamenta terrae?" Pagninus, Montanus; "annon intellexistis?" Vatablus.
and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; or "locusts (a)"; as one upon a very great eminence looking down beholds creatures as exceeding small and little; and if the Israelites were to the "anakim" or giants as grasshoppers, Numbers 13:33, much more must puny mortals be such in the sight of God, and in comparison of him; and this may denote, not only the minuteness of men, but what weak, impotent, useless, worthless, and short lived creatures men are:
that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain; alluding to the firmament or expanse made at the creation, and still continued; which is as a curtain to himself, which he draws around himself, he dwelling in the highest heavens, and in light inaccessible to mortals; and which he stretches out as a canopy around this earth, for the use of the inhabitants of it: or, "as a little thing"; or, as a little skin (b); and which he stretches out as easily as a man can stretch out that:
and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in it; for himself to dwell in, and so stretches out the heavens like curtains about him; tents being made of such, and often of skins.
(z) "super sphaeram", Pagninus; "globum", Montanus Vatablus; "super orbem telluris", Vitringa. (a) "ut locustae", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Vitringa; "tanquam locustae", Munster; "velut locustae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (b) "velut tenue", Montanus; "tenuissimum", Vatablus; "pellem." Munster; so some in Vatablus; "pellculam", Gataker.
he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity; their decrees and decisions to stand for nothing, as "tohu" and "bohu", the first of which words is used here; so that they are no more regarded and attended to.
they shall not be sown; as seed is, which springing up, brings forth fruit, but so it shall not be with them; or they shall be as if they had not been sown, no fruit being brought forth by them:
yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth; so as to continue and abide, but they shall soon vanish and disappear, as the most powerful princes and wisest judges do. The Targum is,
"although they multiply, although they increase, although their children become great in the earth:''
"and" or "yea",
he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither; as grass withers, when a severe wind blows upon it:
and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble; which is not able to stand before the force of it; and as unable are the greatest potentates on earth to stand before the tempest of divine wrath and vengeance; if God blows but upon them in anger, all their glory and grandeur, pomp and power, wither away like the flower of the field; and especially if he comes forth in all the fury of his wrath in a tempestuous way against them, they are no more able to stand before him that stubble before a violent storm: see Revelation 6:15. The Targum is,
"yet, even he will send his fury upon them; and his word shall take them away, as a whirlwind stubble.''
(c) "perinde ut non plantati", Calvin; and so the following clauses.
and behold who hath created these things; that are seen in the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars; consider the Creator of them, what a glorious Being he must be; what power he must be possessed of; what dazzling light he must dwell in; what glory and majesty he must be clothed with; and how infinitely transcending all mortal creatures he must be:
that bringeth out their host by number; not only into being, at the first creation of them, but at every proper season; causing the sun to rise every morning, the stars to appear at night, and the moon in its revolution; as a general brings forth his army, marshals it in order, musters it, and takes the number of his soldiers:
he calleth them all by names; suitable to their position and influence; he knows the proper names of them all, which no astrologer can pretend unto; and this is such knowledge as no general of an army has; for though the stars are innumerable to men, the names of most unknown, they are all known to him that made them, Psalm 147:4,
by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power not one faileth; through the omnipotence of God, not only the sun and moon, the great luminaries, are continued in being, and constantly observe their order; but even every star keeps its place, or performs its course, and retains its influence, and in every instance obeys the commands of its Creator; never fails of appearing at his order, and of doing what he appoints it should. Kimchi gives the sense thus, that according to the virtue and efficacy that there is in every star, so is its name; and because of the strength and power that is in everyone of them, they remain unchangeably and unalterably the same as when they were first created; which not only holds true of the sun and moon, but of the stars lesser and greater. The Targum is,
"because of the multitude of strength, and the power of might, not one is hindered from its order;''
wherefore, as there is no likeness on earth, so none in heaven, with which the Lord is to be likened, or to which he can be equalled. This may respect not the might and power of the Lord, in supporting and maintaining these creatures in their being and usefulness; but the strength and power of the mightiest creatures, to hinder their influence and service: for the words may be rendered, "through the multitude of strength", or anyone being "strong in power, not one indeed fails (d)"; or is wanting, that is, through the strength or power of the mightiest creatures, angels or men, the hosts of heaven cannot be stopped in their course, or hindered in their work appointed to do, or be deprived of their being.
(d) "prae multitudine virium, et robore virtutis, ut ne unum quidem deesset", Tigurine version.
my way is hid from the Lord; meaning not their course of life, or their religious actions, their profession of the Gospel, their attendance on public worship, their prayers and other duties of religion; but their sufferings for his name's sake, the tribulations they endured, the afflicted way they walked in, which they imagined God took no notice of, since no way was opened in Providence for their deliverance out of them:
and my judgment is passed over from my God; my cause and case are neglected by him; he does not undertake my cause, nor plead it against my enemies, or right my wrongs, and avenge the injuries done me, or deliver me out of the hands of those that contend with me. The answer to which complaint follows, and which clearly shows there was no just foundation for it.
that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? or, "the God of the world"; that has made it, and upholds it, and governs it, and judges righteously in it; who is from everlasting to everlasting, unchangeably the same; whose name alone is Jehovah, the self-existent and all comprehending Being, the Maker and Former of all things; who has not only created the earth, and the foundations of it, as the Targum, or the continent, and the habitable part of the world, that is most known and dwelt in, but even the extremities of the earth; and therefore knows and will take care of his own people, let them be where they will: and though the work of creation, and of upholding creatures in their beings, and of governing the world, and providing for all in it, and of taking care of his church and people in particular, requires so much power, as well as wisdom, yet he never sinks under it, nor is weary of it; wherefore they have no reason to give way to such unbelief and despondency, as above expressed:
there is no searching of his understanding; it is infinite, it reaches to all persons and things, and therefore he cannot be at a loss to provide for his people, or plead their cause; nor can their case be unknown to him, or he want either power or skill to help them.
"who giveth wisdom to the righteous that breathe after the words of the law:''
and to them that have no might he increaseth strength; not that they have no might at all, strictly speaking; for then it could not be properly said their strength was increased by him; but that their might and power were very small, and that in their own apprehensions they had none, and then it is that fresh strength is given them; as the apostle says, "when I am weak, then am I strong"; 2 Corinthians 12:10, though this may be understood, not of the strength of their graces, but of their sins and corruptions: a word from the same root as this here used signifies "iniquity"; and the sense may be, that the Lord increases the spiritual strength of such on whom the lust's, corruptions, and virtuosity of nature have not the power and dominion (e).
(e) "Cur non sumatur", "illis quibus non sunt vitiosae concupiscentiae robur auger", Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 21.
and the young men shall utterly fail; or, "falling shall fall" (f); stumble and fall, die and perish; or, however, not be able to perform their enterprise.
(f) "corruendo corruent", Montanus; "labefacti cadent", Castalio.