(1) O islands.—See Note on Isaiah 40:15.
Let the people renew their strength . . .—The same phrase as in Isaiah 40:31, but here, perhaps, with a touch of irony. The heathen are challenged to the great controversy, and will need all their “strength” and “strong reasons” if they accept the challenge. In what follows we have to think of the prophet as having, like Balaam, a vision of what shall come to pass in the “latter days” (Numbers 24:20), and seeing not only the forms of the old empires on their way to Hades, as in Isaiah 14:9-12, but the appearance on the scene of the new conqueror.
He gave them.—Better, He giveth them, the future seen as present. The LXX. and some modern critics follow a reading which gives, he maketh them as dust, their sword as stubble.
By the way that he had not gone—i.e., by a new untrodden path. So Tiglath-Pileser and other Assyrian kings continually boast that they had led their armies by paths that none had traversed before them. (Records of the Past, i. 15, v. 16.)
The seed of Abraham my friend.—The word for “friend” implies loving as well as being loved. Of all the names of Abraham, it has had the widest currency (comp. 2 Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23). For the Arabs of the present time Abraham is still Khalil Allah—the friend of God, or simply, el Khalil, the friend.
From the chief men thereof.—Better, from the far-off regions thereof.
I have chosen . . .—Isaiah becomes the preacher of the Divine election, and finds in it, as St. Paul found, the ground of an inextinguishable hope for the nation of which he was a member. As in St. Peter’s teaching, it remained for them to “make their calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10), though God, in the unchangeableness of His nature, had chosen them before the foundation of the world.
I will strengthen thee.—The verb unites with this meaning (as in Isaiah 35:3; Psalm 89:21) the idea of attaching to one’s self, or choosing, as in Isaiah 44:14.
Thy redeemer . . .—i.e., the Goel of Leviticus 25:48-49, the next of kin, who was the protector, the deliverer, of his brethren (Leviticus 25:43-49). Looking to the numerous traces of the influence of the Book of Job in 2 Isaiah, it seems not improbable that we have in these words an echo of the hope, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25).
Your strong reasons.—Literally, bulwarks, or strongholds. So we speak of impregnable proofs.
Shall he call upon my name.—The word admits equally of the idea of “invoking” or “proclaiming.” It may almost be said, indeed, that the one implies the other. The words find a fulfilment in the proclamations of Cyrus cited in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:2-4
He shall come upon princes.—The Hebrew noun Sagan is a transitional form of a Persian (Delitzch) or Assyrian (Cheyne) title for a viceroy or satrap.
As the potter treadeth clay.—Commonly the image describes the immediate action of Jehovah. (Jeremiah 18:6; Jeremiah 19:10). Here it is used for the supreme dominance of His instrument.