Isaiah 53:2 MEANING

Isaiah 53:2
(2) For he shall grow up . . .--The Hebrew tenses are in the perfect, the future being contemplated as already accomplished. The words present at once a parallel and a contrast to those of Isaiah 11:1. There the picture was that of a strong vigorous shoot coming out of the root of the house of David. Here the sapling is weak and frail, struggling out of the dry ground. For "before Him" (i.e., Jehovah) some critics have read "before us," as agreeing better with the second clause; while others have referred the pronoun "him" to the Jewish people. Taking the received text and interpretation, the thought expressed is that Jehovah was watching this humble and lowly growth, as a mother watches over her weakest and most sickly child.

He hath no form nor comeliness.--See Note on Isaiah 3:14. The thought which has been constantly true of the followers of the Christ was to be true of the Christ Himself.

"Hid are the saints of God,

Uncertified by high angelic sign;

Nor raiment soft, nor empire's golden rod,

Marks them divine. "

J. H. NEWMAN (Lyra Apostolica.)

Verse 2. - For he shall grow up; rather, now he grew up. The verbs are, all of them, in the past, or completed tense, until ver. 7, and are to be regarded as "perfects of prophetic certitude." As Mr. Cheyne remarks, "All has been finished before the foundations of the world in the Divine counsels." Before him; i.e. "before Jehovah" - under the fostering care of Jehovah (comp. Luke 2:40, 52). God the Father had his eye ever fixed upon the Son with watchfulness and tenderness and love. As a tender plant; literally, as a sapling, or as a sucker (comp. Job 8:16; Job 14:7; Job 15:30; Psalm 80:12; Ezekiel 17:4, 22; Hosea 14:6). The "branch" of Isaiah 11:1, 10 - a different word - has nearly the same meaning. The Messiah will be a fresh sprout from the stump of a tree that has been felled; i.e. from the destroyed Davidic monarchy. As a root (so Isaiah 11:10; Revelation 5:5). The "sapling" from the house of David shall become the "root" out of which his Church will grow (comp. John 15:1-6). Out of a dry ground. Either out of the "dry ground" of a corrupt age and nation, or out of the arid soil of humanity. In the East it is not unusual to see a tall succulent plant growing from a soft which seems utterly devoid of moisture. Such plants have roots that strike deep, and draw their nourishment from a hidden source. He hath no form nor comeliness; rather, he had no form nor majesty. It is scarcely the prophet's intention to describe the personal appearance of our Lord. What he means is that "the Servant" would have no splendid surroundings, no regal pomp nor splendour - nothing about him to attract men's eyes, or make them think him anything extraordinary. It is impossible to suppose that there was not in his appearance something of winning grace and quiet majesty. but it was of a kind that was not adapted to draw the gaze of the multitude. And when we shall see him. Some connect this clause with the preceding, and translate, "He hath no form nor comeliness, that we should regard him; no beauty, that we should desire him" (Lowth, Vitringa, Gesenius, Ewald, Knobel, Henderson, Urwick. But Stier, Delitzsch, Kay, and Mr. Cheyne prefer the construction found in the Authorized Version). No beauty; literally, no sightliness; i.e. nothing to attract the eye or arrest it. The spiritual beauties of holy and sweet expression and majestic calm could only have ben spiritually discerned.

53:1-3 No where in all the Old Testament is it so plainly and fully prophesied, that Christ ought to suffer, and then to enter into his glory, as in this chapter. But to this day few discern, or will acknowledge, that Divine power which goes with the word. The authentic and most important report of salvation for sinners, through the Son of God, is disregarded. The low condition he submitted to, and his appearance in the world, were not agreeable to the ideas the Jews had formed of the Messiah. It was expected that he should come in pomp; instead of that, he grew up as a plant, silently, and insensibly. He had nothing of the glory which one might have thought to meet with him. His whole life was not only humble as to outward condition, but also sorrowful. Being made sin for us, he underwent the sentence sin had exposed us to. Carnal hearts see nothing in the Lord Jesus to desire an interest in him. Alas! by how many is he still despised in his people, and rejected as to his doctrine and authority!For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,.... Which springs out of the earth without notice; low in its beginning, slow in its growth, liable to be crushed with the foot, or destroyed with the frost, and no great probability of its coming to any perfection; or rather as a little "sucker", as the word (b) signifies, which grows out of the root of a tree, at some little distance from it, of which no notice or care is taken, nor anything hoped for from it; and the figure denotes the mean and unpromising appearance of Christ at his incarnation; which is the reason given why the Jews in general disbelieved, rejected, and despised him; for this phrase of "growing up" does not design his exaltation, or rising up from a low to a high estate; but his mean entrance into the world, like that of the springing up of a low and insignificant plant or shrub out of the earth: and the phrase "before him" is to be understood either of God the Father, by whom he was taken notice of, though not by men; and in whose sight he was precious, though despised by men; or his growing up, and the manner of it, or his mean appearance, were all before the Lord, and according to his will: or else it may be understood of Christ himself, and be rendered "before himself", who was meek and lowly, and was mean and low in his own eyes; or rather it may be interpreted of the unbelieving Jew, of any or everyone of them that did not believe the report concerning him: because before him, in the sight of everyone of them, he sprung up in the manner described; unless it can be thought that it would be better rendered "to his face" (c); or "to his appearance"; that is, as to his outward appearance, in the external view of him, so he grew up:

and as a root out of a dry ground; or rather, "as a branch from a root out of a dry ground"; agreeably to Isaiah 11:1, meaning not so much the land of Judea, where he was born; or the country of Galilee, where he was brought up; as the family of David, from whence he sprung, which was reduced to a very low condition when he was born of it; his supposed father being a carpenter, and his real mother a poor virgin in Nazareth, though both of the lineage and house of David; from this passage the ancient Jews (d) are said to conclude that the Messiah would be born without a father, or the seed of man:

he hath no form nor comeliness; like a poor plant or shrub just crept out of the ground, in a dry and barren soil, ready to wither away as soon as up; has no strength nor straightness, of body; without verdure, leaves, blossom, and fruit things which make plants comely and beautiful. This regards not the countenance of Christ, which probably was comely, as were his types Moses and David; since he is said to be "fairer than the children of men"; and since his human nature was the immediate produce of the Holy Ghost, and without sin: but his outward circumstances; there was no majesty in him, or signs of it; it did not look probable that he would be a tall cedar, or a prince in Israel, much less the Prince Messiah; he was born of mean parents; brought up in a contemptible part of the country; lived in a town out of which no good is said to come; dwelt in a mean cottage, and worked at a trade:

and when we shall see him: as he grows up, and comes into public life and service, declaring himself, or declared by others, to be the Messiah: here the prophet represents the Jews that would live in Christ's time, who would see his person, hear his doctrines, and be witnesses of his miracles, and yet say,

there is no beauty, that we should desire him; or "sightliness" (e) in him; nothing that looks grand and majestic, or like a king; they not beholding with an eye of faith his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father; only viewing him in his outward circumstances, and so made their estimate of him; they expected the Messiah as a temporal prince, appearing in great pomp and state, to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and restore their nation to its former splendour and glory; and being disappointed herein was the true reason of their unbelief, before complained of, and why they did not desire him, who is the desire of all nations.

(b) , Sept.; , Theodotion, vox a "lac sugere, proprie lactantem significat", Rivet. Sanctius, "surculus tener, veluti laetens", Forerius. (c) "ad faciem suam, vel in facie, sua", Rivet.; "quoad conspectum, vel quoad faciem suam, seu faciem ejus", Sanctius. (d) R. Hadarson apud Galatia, de Arcan. Cathol. Ver. l. 8. c. 2. p. 549. (e) "non aspectus", Munster: Vatablus, Pagninus, Montanus; "nulla spectabilis forma", Vitringa.

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