"therefore will I divide to him the prey of many people;''
and by the Septuagint version, therefore he shall inherit many, or possess many as his inheritance; so the Arabic version. The elect of God were given to Christ, previous to his sufferings and death, in the everlasting council of peace and covenant of grace, to be redeemed and saved by him; and they are given to him, in consequence of them, to believe in him, to be subject to him, and serve him; and so it denotes a great multitude of persons, both among Jews and Gentiles, that should be converted to Christ, embrace him, profess his Gospel, and submit to his ordinances; and which has been true in fact, and took place quickly after his resurrection and ascension.
And he shall divide the spoil with the strong; or "the strong as a spoil"; that is, he shall spoil principalities and powers, destroy Satan and his angels, and make an entire conquest of all his mighty and powerful enemies. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render the words, "he shall divide the spoil of the strong"; of Satan and his principalities; those they make a spoil of he shall take out of their hands, and possess them as his own. The best comment on this version is Luke 11:22. Or rather the words may be rendered, "he shall have or possess for a spoil or prey very many" (f); for the word for "strong" has the signification of a multitude; and so the sense is the same as before, that a great multitude of souls should be taken by Christ, as a prey out of the hands of the mighty, and become his subjects; and so his kingdom would be very large, and he have great honour and glory, which is the thing promised as a reward of his sufferings. Some understand, by the "great" and "strong", the apostles of Christ, to whom he divided the gifts he received when he led captivity captive; to some apostles, some prophets, &c. Ephesians 4:10, and others the soldiers, among whom his garments were parted; but they are senses foreign from the text.
Because he hath poured out his soul unto death; as water is poured out, Psalm 22:14 or rather as the wine was poured out in the libations or drink offerings; for Christ's soul was made an offering for sin, as before; and it may be said with respect to his blood, in which is the life, that was shed or poured out for the remission of sin; of which he was emptied,
and made bare, as the word (g) signifies, when his hands, feet, and side, were pierced. The phrase denotes the voluntariness of Christ's death, that he freely and willingly laid down his life for his people.
And he was numbered with the transgressors; he never was guilty of any one transgression of the law; he indeed appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was calumniated and traduced as a sinner, and a friend of the worst of them; he was ranked among them, and charged as one of them, yet falsely; though, having all the sins of his people upon him, he was treated, even by the justice and law of God, as if he had been the transgressor, and suffered as if he had been one; of which his being crucified between two thieves was a symbolical representation, and whereby this Scripture was fulfilled, Mark 15:28.
and he bore the sin on many; everyone of their sins, even the sins of all those whose iniquity was laid on him, of the many chosen in him, and justified by him; See Gill on Isaiah 53:11 where this is given as the reason for their justification; and here repeated as if done, to show the certainty of it; to raise the attention of it, as being a matter of great importance; see 1 Peter 2:24.
And made intercession for the transgressors; as he did upon the cross, even for those that were the instruments of his death, Luke 23:34 and as he now does, in heaven, for all those sinners for whom he died; not merely in a petitionary way, but by presenting himself, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; pleading the merits of these, and calling for, in a way of justice and legal demand, all those blessings which were stipulated in an everlasting covenant between him and his Father, to be given to his people, in consequence of his sufferings and death; see Romans 8:33.
(e) "ideo dispertiam ei plurimos", V. L. "propterea ipsi attribuam (vel addicam) permultos", Bootius, Animadv. I. 4. c. 12. sect. 20. p. 251. "idcirco dispertiam ei sortem, multitudinem Gentium", Vitringa. (f) "et plurimos (seu innumeros) habebit loco praedae, vel plurimi obtingent ipsi pro praeda", Bootius, ibid. (g) "denudavit morti animam suam", Forerius.
INTRODUCTION TO Isaiah 54
As the former chapter is a prophecy of the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, of his sufferings and death, and the glory that should follow; this is a prophecy of that part of his glory which relates to the flourishing estate of his church, as the fruit of his death, and explains and enlarges upon the promise of his having a numerous seed. The prophecy reaches from the death and resurrection of Christ to his second coming; and describes the state of the church during that time, which had been like a barren woman, but now fruitful, which was matter of joy; and would increase, and have yet a more numerous issue, through the conversion and accession of the Gentiles; and therefore is bid not to fear, since she should not bear the shame and reproach of widowhood, Isaiah 54:1, the reason confirming which is, because Christ was her husband, who was her Maker and Redeemer, the God of Israel, and of the whole earth, Isaiah 54:5, and though she might for some time be under some dark providences, and seem to be forsaken of God, and lie under his displeasure; yet she is assured of the love of God towards her, that it is constant and perpetual; which is illustrated by the oath and covenant of God with Noah, and by its being more immovable than mountains and hills, Isaiah 54:6, and though she would sometimes be in a very afflicted and uncomfortable condition, yet should be raised again to a state of great honour and splendour, of spiritual knowledge, peace, and safety, Isaiah 54:11 and that all her enemies, that gathered together against her, should perish, and all their attempts be unsuccessful, since the Lord was on her side, and would defend her cause, and protect her, Isaiah 54:15.
"sing praise, O Jerusalem, which was as a barren woman that bears not;''
and so the apostle applies the words of the text to the Jerusalem above, the mother of us all, the then present Gospel church, Galatians 4:26, which, at the first setting of it up, in the times of Christ, during his life and at the time of his death, and before the day of Pentecost, was like a barren woman; the number of converts were very small; few believed the report of the Gospel, professed Christ, and submitted to his ordinances; the names of the disciples were but a hundred and twenty. Though some understand this of the Jewish church, under the Old Testament dispensation, whose members were not many, and whose proselytes from the Gentiles were but few; and others of the Gentile world, before the coming of Christ, and the preaching of the Gospel in it; but the former sense is to be preferred, having the suffrage of the apostle:
break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; among whom there were few instances of conversion, scarce any begotten and born again of incorruptible seed by the word of God, and no signs thereof; but now it being otherwise, and multitudes being converted both in Judea and in the Gentile world, the church and its members are called upon to express their joy aloud in songs of praise, setting forth the glory of efficacious grace, in the regeneration of men; for as this is matter of joy to the angels of heaven, so to the saints on earth:
for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord; more souls were born again, and added to the church after the death of Christ, when she was in a desolate condition, like a woman deprived of her husband, and in a widowhood state, then there were while Christ was here on earth, personally present with his people, and preaching the Gospel himself unto men; three thousand were converted under one sermon, and great numbers afterwards were added, so that the church at Jerusalem was in a much more flourishing condition after the death of Christ than before; more fruitful when it was become like a widow than when the bridegroom was with her; and the church of Christ still increased yet more and more afterwards, as the following verses predict. The Targum is,
"more shall be the children of Jerusalem than the children of the habitable city.''
The edition of it, in the king of Spain's Bible, has it,
"than the children of Rome;''
and so it is quoted by R. Elias (h), and by Buxtorf (i). The Jews understand this prophecy of their deliverance from their present condition by the Messiah; and of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the prosperity of it.
(h) In Tishbi, p. 227. (i) Lexic. Talmud. col. 996, 2229.
and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation; alluding to the curtains of which tents or tabernacles were made, which used to be stretched out on poles or stakes, in order to make more room, and hold more people. This may respect the spreading of the Gospel by the apostles, who may be here meant, and the success of it, especially among the Gentiles; who may be said to stretch out the curtains of the tent, the church, when, according to their commission, they went and preached the Gospel to every creature. First they travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching to the Jews only; but when they wholly rejected the Gospel, they turned to the Gentiles, and went everywhere preaching the word, Acts 11:19, and their ministry was blessed to the conversion of multitudes, and Gospel churches were set up in all parts of the world. The Apostle Paul was an eminent instrument of stretching these curtains, who went from Jerusalem, round about to Illyricum, fully preaching the Gospel of Christ, Romans 15:19,
spare not: any cost or pains, to spread the Gospel, enlarge the interest of Christ, and increase his church and people; as did not the apostles of Christ, who may be supposed to be the persons here addressed:
lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; the curtains being stretched out, it was necessary the cords, to which they were fastened, should be lengthened, that they might reach further, and take in a greater compass; and the wider the tent is made by such means, the stronger should be the staves, and the more surely should they be drove and fixed in the earth, to hold the cords with the curtains bound unto them; all which express the enlargement of the church in the Gentile world, by means of the Gospel ministry and discipline. The Targum is,
"multiply the people of thy camp, and strengthen the governors.''
and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles; where formerly only Heathens lived, there the Gospel of Christ shall be carried by his apostles and other ministers; and being succeeded to the conversion of many souls, through the power of divine grace accompanying it, a spiritual seed, the seed of the church, shall take place, and dwell there; this was true in the first ages of Christianity, more especially in Constantine's time; and will be more fully accomplished in the latter day, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in:
and make the desolate cities to be inhabited: such cities as were destitute of the knowledge of Christ and his salvation, and of all divine and spiritual things, shall now be inhabited by spiritual men, such as believe in Christ, and profess his name; such cities as Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, Thessalonica, and many others.
for thou shall not be ashamed; as men are, when disappointed of what they have been hoping for and expecting; but so it should not be with the church, she should not be ashamed of her hope, faith, and confidence; for there would be a performance of all that the Lord had spoken: nor should she be ashamed of her barrenness, which should cease; and of the fewness of her children or converts, which would be many; and of the straitness of the place of her tent or habitation, which would now be enlarged:
neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; other words made use of to express the same thing, and for the further confirmation of it, that she needed not, and that she should not be put to the blush, or to shame and confusion, on the above accounts:
for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth; by which may be meant either the small number of converts at the first preaching of the Gospel; or more especially that there were so few of the wise and learned, the rich and noble, that embraced it, with which the first Christians were greatly upbraided; or those persecutions which attended them the three first centuries, which, being now at an end, shall be forgotten:
and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more; which signifies much the same as before, the seeming desolate estate of the church upon the death of Christ; when she seemed to be deprived of her husband, and forsaken by him, and left as a widow, and without children, barren and unfruitful; which was reckoned reproachful with the Jews, Luke 1:25.
the Lord of hosts is his name; of armies above and below, in heaven, and in earth; how great therefore must this their Husband be! to what honour and dignity are they advanced! how safe must they be under his protection! nor need they fear any enemy:
thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; he who is the church's Husband is her Redeemer; and who so fit as he to redeem her from sin, Satan, and the law, and every enemy; who is of the same nature with her, so dearly loves her, and so able to save her? for which he is also abundantly qualified, being holy in both his natures, in his person and offices, in his birth, life, and death; for this seems greatly to respect him as man, as he was a descendant of the Israelitish nation, and of the seed of Abraham:
the God of the whole earth shall he be called: not of Israel only, but of all the nations of the world, of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews; the earth was made by him; the world and all that are in it are his: he is the Governor among the nations; and in the latter day will appear to be the King over all the earth, and will be owned as such; so great and illustrious a Person is the church's Husband. These words are applied by the Jews to the times of the Messiah (l).
(k) Heb. "mariti tui, factores tui", Piscator; "qui crearunt te, habent te in matrimonio", Cocceius. (l) Shemot Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 102. 4.
and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God; or, "and as a wife of youth (m)"; whom a man marries in his youth, and she a young woman herself, which makes it the more grievous to be despised, refused, and forsaken, or to seem to be so. The words may be rendered thus, "and", or "but, a wife of youth thou art, though thou wast despised" (n), or "refused, saith thy God"; that is, though thou hast been seemingly despised and cast off, my providential dispensations towards thee may be so interpreted by thyself and others; yet I am thy God, thy Maker, Redeemer, and Husband, and thou art as dear to me as the wife of a man's youth, for whom he has the most passionate love; and which agrees with what follows.
(m) , Sept.; sic Arab. & Targum; "et velut foeminam", Tigurine version, Castalio; "et ut uxorem", Vitringa. (n) "quamvis spreta sis", Junius & Tremellius; "fueris", Piscator.
but with great mercies will I gather thee; they had been scattered about by persecution, but now should be gathered together in bodies, and have their public assemblies, and worship God openly, none making them afraid; which was fulfilled in Constantine's time, when Paganism was abolished, and Christianity established throughout the Roman empire; when public places for Christian worship were opened everywhere, the Gospel was freely preached, and multitudes were gathered by effectual calling, and brought into the Gospel church, which was now in a very flourishing condition; for this is not to be understood of the gathering of the captive Jews from Babylon, nor of the calling of the Gentiles by the ministry of the apostles, nor of the restoration and conversion of the Jews in the latter day, though this is more eligible than the former, and much less of the gathering of the saints at the last day.
but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer; all the dealings of God with his people, however dark and dismal they be, whatever appearances there are in them of wrath and displeasure, they are all agreeable to, and do not contradict, his everlasting love; and sooner or later he will make it manifest, he has mercy in store for his people, which he does and will exercise towards them; this mercy flows from his love and kindness to them, which kindness is everlasting, and continues in and through all states and conditions into which they come; the consideration of which is very comfortable and encouraging, and of which they may be assured from the relation the Lord stands in to them as their Redeemer; for, having redeemed them at the expense of his blood, he will effectually gather them by grace in calling, and will never lose them, or suffer them to perish here or hereafter.
(o) Animadv. in Job, p. 145, 146. (p) "pauxillo irae exundantis, vel exiguo irae ebullientis", Vitringa. (q) Apud Jarchi, Kimchi, & Ben Melech, in loc.
for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; he gave his word for it, which is as firm as his oath; he made a covenant with Noah, and confirmed it by a rainbow, that the waters should no more go over the earth as they had, and that the world should be no more destroyed by a flood, Genesis 9:9,
so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee; for though the Lord's people are by nature children of wrath, as others, he has not appointed them to it, nor will he suffer it to fall upon them, but saves them from it through the righteousness of Christ, who has borne it for them; and though he rebukes by his Spirit, by his word and ministers, and by his providences, yet not in wrath, but in love; and of this he has given the strongest assurances; he has not only said it, but swore to it in covenant, Psalm 89:3. The Jews (r) refer this prophecy to the times of the Messiah.
(r) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.
but my kindness shall not depart from thee; the love of God to his people is an everlasting love; it always continues; it never did, nor never will depart, notwithstanding their fall in Adam, their depraved state by nature, their actual sins and transgressions, their many revoltings and backslidings; though the Lord may hide his face from them, and afflict them, still he loves them; whatever departs from them, his kindness shall not; though riches may flee away from them, friends stand aloof off from them, health may be taken away, and life itself, yet the love of God is always the same; and so, whatever providences may attend his church and interest in any period of time, he has the same paternal care for it, and kindness for his people, as ever:
neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed; the covenant of grace made with Christ and his people in him from everlasting, so called, because peace is a considerable article of it; even that peace which was upon the heart and thought of God from everlasting; the scheme of which was drawn by him; all things relating to it were settled in this covenant, as that Christ should be the Maker of it, and that it should be made by his blood; besides, peace includes all the blessings of grace which that covenant is stored with; and the covenant is the spring and source of all peace, spiritual and eternal: moreover, as this refers to Gospel times, the new covenant is here meant, and the publication of it, in which the Gospel of peace, or peace by Jesus Christ, is preached unto men; to which may be added, that one part, at least, of the sense of the passage, may be, that notwithstanding all the troubles and exercises the church of Christ should meet with from Rome Pagan or Papal, yet the promise and covenant of God, that it should enjoy peace and prosperity in the latter day, should never be made void, but should have its sure and certain accomplishment:
saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee; for all springs from the mercy of God, and not the merits of men; and therefore the fulfilment of the covenant and promises may be depended upon.
behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours; or, "with paint" (u); such as women used to paint their faces or eyes with, 2 Kings 9:30. The Targum is,
"behold, I will lay with paint the stones of thy pavement;''
and the words seem plainly to design the stones of a pavement, and perhaps by an hypallage or transposition may be rendered,
I will lay thy pavement with glistering stones; so the word is translated 1 Chronicles 29:2 or, "with stones of paint" (w); which are of the colour of the "stibium", or paint before mentioned, and which was of a black colour; and Aben Ezra says the word here signifies a precious stone of a black colour; perhaps black marble is meant, a stone fit for pavements; but, be these stones what they will, they design in the spiritual sense the materials of a Gospel church, those "lively stones" which
are built up a spiritual house, and which are beautified with the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God; and may also denote that the lowest and meanest of the Lord's people, pointed out by stones of the pavement, should be thus adorned:
and lay thy foundations with sapphires; a precious stone of a white colour, according to R. Saadiah Gaon; but, according to Aben Ezra, of a red colour; though the sapphire is usually said to be of a sky colour, shining with specks of gold. The Targum renders it, "with precious stones"; and so the foundation of the wall of the New Jerusalem is said to be garnished with all manner of precious stones, Revelation 21:19, this may respect Christ, the sure foundation God has laid in Zion, the foundation of the apostles and prophets; the one and only foundation of the church of Christ, and all true believers, who is more precious than sapphires, or all the most precious stones; he always has been the foundation of his church in all ages; but the meaning is, that he shall now appear most clearly and manifestly to be the foundation, and to be a firm, rich, and glorious one; see Exodus 24:10.
(s) V. L. Munster, Pagninus; "O paupercula", Tigurine version; "inops", Cocceius. (t) "tempestate obruta"; Munster, Vatablus, Forerius. (u) "in fuco", Tigurine version; "in stibio", Sanctius. (w) "Stibinis lapidibus", Forerius.
and all thy borders of pleasant stones; true believers, called "lively stones", and who are pleasant in the sight of God and Christ, and are taken pleasure in by one another; see Psalm 102:14. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "thy wall", which agree with Revelation 21:18, where the wall of the New Jerusalem is said to be of jasper.
(x) Nat. Hist l. 37. c. 10. (y) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1.((z) "a radice, quae solem significat", Sanctius,
and great shall be the peace of thy children; the inward peace of their minds in and from Christ, arising from a view of their justification by his righteousness, from the sprinklings of his blood upon their consciences, and from the discoveries of his love to their souls, enjoyed in a way of believing, and by means of the word and ordinances; also peace among themselves, harmony and concord, and no more strifes, contentions, and animosities; likewise outward peace from enemies, no more persecution or war. This word includes all kind of prosperity, external and internal, temporal and spiritual. This, with the following verses, explain the figurative phrases used in the foregoing. These words are applied by the Jews (a) to the times of the Messiah, when all Israel shall learn the law from the Lord; so the Targum,
"all thy children shall know the law of the Lord;''
but it is much better understood of all the children of the church, the true Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, learning the Gospel of Christ.
(a) Midrash Tillim, apud Yalkut in Psal. xxi. 1.
thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shall not fear; so far from it, that thou shalt not be in the least afraid of it, neither from within nor from without; not from false teachers that oppress the mind with legal doctrine; nor from persecutors that oppress and injure in person and property: the church will be now free from the oppression and tyranny of Rome, or mystical Babylon, which will now fall, and from the persecution of the antichristian states, on whom the vials of God's wrath will be poured, and so the church will be no more in fear of them; the words may be rendered, "therefore thou shalt not fear" (b); there will be no cause for it, no occasion of it:
and from terror; it shall not come near thee; the terror of the antichristian beast and powers, which shall be no more, after their last effort next mentioned.
(b) "quare non timebis, vel ideo non metues", Vitringa; "quare ne timeas", Forerius.
whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake; because of the love that I bear to thee, they shall not succeed, or do thee any hurt, but shall perish; or, "shall fall to thee" (c); so far from doing thee any hurt, they shall come over to thee, and be on thy side; be joined to thee, as the Vulgate Latin version; that is, the remnant that shall escape, and be converted, and give glory to God, Revelation 11:13 or rather, "shall fall before thee" (d), in thy sight; or, as the Targum, in the midst of thee; which remarkably paraphrases the words thus,
"at the end the kings of the nations, which are gathered together to afflict thee, O Jerusalem, shall fall in the midst of thee;''
for the kings of the earth that shall be gathered together against Christ and his church shall fall in battle before them, and their flesh shall become meat for the fowls of the heaven; the beast and false prophet, in company with them, will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire, and the remnant be slain with the sword of Christ, Revelation 19:17.
(c) "ad te cadet", Cocceius. (d) "Cotam te cadet", Grotius, Gataker.
and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work: who takes the iron out of the fire which he blows, as an instrument to work upon, and which he forms into a military weapon, as an arrow, a sword, a spear, or shield; or, "for their work" (e); for the use of the enemies of Christ and his church:
and I have created the waster to destroy; military men, soldiers that use the above weapons of destruction for that purpose; these are God's creatures, and he can destroy or disappoint them, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. Some understand this also of the devil, who is by way of eminence the waster of mankind; others of tyrannical princes; I should choose to interpret it of the Romish antichrist, that waster and destroyer of the souls of men, and of the antichristian states that destroy the earth, and shall be destroyed themselves; or of the Turk, the locust, whose king is called Apollyon and Abaddon, which signifies a waster and a destroyer, Revelation 11:18. These are said to be "created" by the Lord, not only because they are his creatures, the work of his hands, but because they are raised up by his providence, according to his secret purpose, as Pharaoh was, to show his power in them; and are permitted by him to continue for awhile to fulfil his will, being entirely dependent upon him, and subject to his influence, direction, and overruling providence; and therefore his people had no reason to be afraid of them.
(e) "ad opus ipsorum", Gataker.