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4. The almighty power of God makes him a most formidable en. emy. Those are awful words in v. 3. I will not meet thee as a man, from whom thou mightest flee, whose power thou mightest resist, or evade his justice, or move his compassion to spare thee. See whut a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God. While the wicked tremble to meet him as their Judge, let his people rejoice in him as their Redeemer, whose perfections are all engaged for their happiness.
5. See how soon God can strip men of all their comforts, and learn not to be proud of them. So he did by Babylon. He can uncover their locks, strip persons of their jewels and ornaments ; of the wealth in which they trust, and in consequence of which they think they shall see no sorrow. He can bereave them of their children, and bring upon them family distresses in their perfection. He can deprive them of the knowledge which they are proud of, andin wlich they boast. Let us lay this to heart; remember the uncertainty of all earthly possessions, and never be proud of them or fix our affections too strongly upon them. Let us employ our wealth and abilities for God; consider our comforts as his gifts, that we may adore and glorify the Giver. Let us never addict ourselves to pleasure, nor dwell carelessly, lest God take away our comforts ; and for all these things bring us into judgment.
God having by the prophet reproved and thrcatened the Chaldrans in , the former chapters, here proceeds to show his people their sins.
1 DTEAR ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by
Il the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or, that flow from the fountain of Judah, his posterity,
which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of 2 the God of Israel, (but] not in truth, nor in righteousness. For
they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel ; rely on their external privileges, but are not
sincere in their profession ; the LORD of hosts [is] his name. 3 I have declared the former things from the beginning ; and
they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them ; I did (them) suddenly, and they came to pass ; I forelold future
events, and brought them to pass unexpectedly, or at the precise 4 time. Because I knew that thou (art] obstinate, and thy neck
[is] an iron sinew, which will not bend, and thy brow brass, which 5 will not blush ; therefore, to leave thee without excuse, I have
even from the beginning declared [it] to thee ; before it came to pass I showed [it] thee : lest thou should say, Mine
idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten 6 image hath commanded them. Thou hast heard, see all this ;
and will not ye declare [it ?] ye have heard my predictions, and
seen their accomplishment, and will ye nol openly acknowledge this ? I have showed thee new things from this time, even hid'den things, and thou didst not know them ; particularly your de7 liverance by Curus. They are created now, and not from the
beginning ; even before the day when thou heardest them not ; lest thou shouldst say, Behold, I knew them ; I have given you
new prophecies concerning your captivity and deliverance, lest 8 you should say, My own sagacity discovered these events. Yea,
thou heardest not ; yea, thou knewest not ; yea, from that time [that] thine ear was not opened ; or rather, nor was thine ear opened of old ; that is, thou wast not taught these things formerly : for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb; or that, ahostate, was thy
name from thy birth ;* thou wast early given to idolatry, and hast 9 retained an affection to it ever since. For my name's sake will I
defer, or suppress, mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain 10 for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold, I have refined thee,
but not with silver; but thou art not as silver, there is yet too
much dross left; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction ; 11 by afflictions I have made thee more fit for my choice. For mine
own sake, (even] for mine own sake, will I do [it ;) lest the gods of the heathens should be thought more wise and powerful than I : for how should (my name] be polluted, or blasphemed ? and I
will not give my glory unto another. 12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called ; I [am] 13 he ; I [ami] the first, I also [am] the last. Mine hand also hath
laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens : [when] I call unto them, they stand up to
gether ; they are ready, like servants, to execute my orders, 14 therefore I can deliver thee. All ye Israelites assemble vour
selves, and hear; which among them, which of their gods or oracles, hath declared these things ?] the Lord hath loved him, hath chosen Cyrus and fitted him for the work : he will do his
pleasure on Babylon, and his arm [shall be on) the Chaldeans ; 15 his army, and God's hand with it, shall destroy them. I, (even)
I, have spoken ; yea, I have called him : I have brought him, 16 and he shall make his way prosperous. Come ye near unto
me, hear ye this ; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning ; from the time that it was, there [am] 1; or, before the time that this was, I am the eternal God, and see every thing before me
in its succession : and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath 17 sent me his prophet, to foretell these things. Thus saith the
LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I sam] the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit by thy afflictions, which
leadeth thee by the way [that] thou shouldst go ; that is, leud, 18 eth thee out of thu troubles. O that thou hadst hearkened to my
commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea ; thuu shoulds6 not have
gone into captivity, but a succession of blessings should have flowed
upon thee one after another; thy peace and prosperity should liave 19 been uninterrupted and abundant : Thy seed also had been as
the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; numerous as the sands, or like the fishes of the sea ; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me ; whereas now they shall be greatly diminished by their calamities, and
few of them shall return from Babylon. 20 Yet, notwithstanding this, Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye
from the Chaldeans, not with silence and amazement, but with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it (even) to the end of
the earth ; say ye, The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob. 21 And they thirsted not (when) he led them through the deserts ;
he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them : he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out ; he will supplily them in
their return, as he did their fathers in their journey through the 22 wilderne88. [There is) no peace, saith the LORD unto the wick
ed ; though the wicked share in the blessings of their deliverance, and return with them, yet they shall have no lasting peace; they will still have reason to look upon God as their enemy, amidst all their prosperity.
1. W e are here taught the vanity and insufficiency of ex.
V ternal privileges, without real piety. The Jews boasted of their name, their relation to God and Abraham, and the holy city, but not in truth nor in righteousness. Thus many among us think it sufficient to salvation that they are called christians, enjoy many privileges above others, belong to the church, and enjoy gospel ordinances ; yea, they mention the name of God and Christ, and boast in them, without truth and righteousness. But this is gross hypocrisy, a high affront to God, and taking his name in vain : for no religion is of any avail that is not founded on sincerity.
2. We see the nature and advantage of afflictions. They are designed to prove and refine the sufferers, to reform them from their vices, to purify their hearts, and increase their graces. Affictions are sometimes the means of beginning, and often of carrying on a good work in the soul ; and it should be the desire of those who are afflicted, to get good thereby; and in order to that they should earnestly pray that God would teach them to profit by his chastisements ; for he intends them for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness.
3. We see the advantage of hearkening to God's commands ; that is, of being attentive to them, studying the nature and extent of them, and sincerely obeying them : this is the way to enjoy unin. terrupted tranquillity and happiness. God is desirous we should do this ; O that thou hadst hearkened 10 my commandmen!s ! v. 18. a high expression of his kindness to his creatures, and his willingness to save sinners. All that the Lord our God says to us, therefore, let us hear, and be obedient.
4. Whatever peace and prosperity any church or nation enjoys, there is no peace to the wicked; they can never be in a state of peace and favour with God, nor can they have any solid, lasting peace of conscience, or well grounded hope of everlasting peace. They can take no reasonable encouragement from God's promises to his people, however confidently they may rely upon them. Though they are joined to God's people in appearance, and in external communion, yet they have no title to their special privileges. But let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and turn to the Lord ; then peace, and all good, will come unto them.
The beginning of this chapter principally relates to Christ and the covenant of redemption, and the deliverance he should work out for the church, as illustrated by the deliverance of the Jews.
IT ISTEN, O isles, unto me ; and hearken, ye people,
I from far ; The Lord hath called me from the womb ; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my
name ; he hath spoken of me by John the Baptist, and other holy 2 men, as the Saviour of the world. And he hath made my mouth
like a sharp sword ; in the shadow, or hollow of his hand hath he hid, or defended me, and made me a polished shaft ; in his quiver hath he hid me ; referring to the wisdom and eloquence of
Christ, and ihe power of his gospel to peneirate the hearts of men ; 3 And said unto me, Thou (art] my servant, () Israel, in whom I
will be glorified, in whom Israel shall be glorified ; or, I will be 4. glorified in Israel.* Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I
have spent my strength for nought, and in vain ; I have been rejected by the Jews, and few of them have believed : (yet) surely my judgment (is) with the Lord, and the reward of my work
with my God.' 5 And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb
(to be] his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD), God will testify his affection and approbation, and my God shall
be my strength ; he will carry me through all mny suferings. 6 And he said, It is a light thing, cumparatively, that thou shouldst
be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel, though all of them should believe and be saved : I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation, the author and instrument of salvation, 7 unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the Lord, the redeemer
Some think Christ is called Israel, as God's servant, and the representative of the church.
of Israel, [and] his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, no him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Pilate and Herod, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, shall submit to him and become christians, because of the LORD that is faithful, [and] the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose
thee, and so prove that he is faithful to his promises, and that thou 8 art his chosen. Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee ; I have heard thy prayer, and assisted thee in thy work : and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, 10 be the surety and mediator of the new covenant, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; to establish
good laws, and repair what is decayed by ignorance and corrup9 tion; That thou mayest say to the spiritual prisoners, Go forth ;
to them that [are] in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall
feed in the ways, and their pastures (shall be) in all high places. 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst ; neither shall the heat nor
sun smite them : for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them ; they
shall have plenty of the means of grace, and security and hal11 piness under the Redeemer's government. And I will make all
my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted ; the roads which are sunk and become impassable shall be raised and
repaired ; that is, God will so order things in the course of provia 12 dence, as to help and further the progress of the gospel. Behold,
these shall come from far, from Babylon, which lay east : and, lo, these from the north and from the west ; and these from the
land of Sinim, from Pelusium, to the south. 13 Sing, O heavens ; and be joyful, () earth ; and break forth
into singing, () mountains : for the Lord hath comforted his
people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted ; let the whole cre14 alion rejoice in the prospect of this event. But Zion said, The
Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
hope can we have of such a time, when at firesent we are so af15 flicted and sunk ? God graciously answers, Can a woman for
get her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget ; a remarkable
change of persons, they may forget, some, yea, many may, yet will 16 I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms
of (my] lands ; the thoughts of thee are as familiar to my mind,
as if thy name was written there ;* thy broken walls (are] con17 tinually before me. Thy children, or elders, shall make haste 10
return home, and build thee up again ; thy destroyers and they
that made thee waste shall go forth of thee, be driven far away, 18 see v. 19. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold : all these
This alludes to a custom in the east of inscribing the names of the dead, or of absent friends, or their native country, by some indelible mark on their hands or a 119. Thus the pilgrims that went to the holy sepulchre had themselves marked ; and this art is practiseu by travelling Jcws all over the world at this day.