Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.Isaiah 54:1. Sing, O barren — The prophet, having largely discoursed of the sufferings of Christ, and of the blessed fruits thereof, among which one particularly promised was, that he should have a numerous seed that should believe on him; and here, foreseeing the accomplishment of this glorious promise, he breaks forth into this song of triumph, addressing his speech to the church, or spouse of God, or Christ, as is manifest from the following words, and especially from Isaiah 54:5, and from Galatians 4:27, where it is so expounded. Some, indeed, understand this chapter of the flourishing condition of the Jewish Church and state after their return from Babylon; but the magnificent promises here following do so vastly exceed their condition at that time, that it must necessarily be referred to the times of the gospel, in which all that is here said was, or will be, remarkably fulfilled. And therefore, as the foregoing chapter directly and literally speaks of Christ: so doth this of the church of Christ, or of the kingdom of the Messiah, of whom the ancient Hebrew doctors understood it. Now this church, consisting at first of the Jews, and afterward of the Gentiles, incorporated with them into the same body, he calls barren, because she had been so, comparatively speaking, before and until the coming of Christ; few sincere converts having been brought forth to God by her ministry, either of Jewish or Gentile race. For more are the children of the desolate, &c. — The Gentile world, or the church of the Gentiles, which in the times of the Old Testament was desolate, having neither husband nor children, doth now, under the gospel, bring forth unto God a far more numerous progeny than the church of the Jews, which had been married to God for many ages, until, by her apostacy from him, and from her Messiah, she provoked him to put her away.
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;Isaiah 54:2-3. Enlarge the place of thy tent — That it may be capable of receiving the Gentiles, who shall flock to thee in great numbers, and desire to associate themselves with thee. And let them — Those to whom that work belongs; stretch forth the curtains, &c. — The meaning is, the curtains must and shall be stretched out. Spare not — Fear not lest thou shouldest prepare more room than will be occupied; for very large accessions are to be expected. And strengthen thy stakes — That they may be able to support the great weight which the tent, thus enlarged, shall be upon them. For thou shalt break forth, &c. — Thou shalt bring forth a multitude of children; for the word פרצ, here rendered break forth, is commonly used of any great and extraordinary propagation of living creatures, whether beasts or men; on the right hand and on the left — On every side, in all parts of the world. Or, thy children shall be so numerous that they can no longer be contained within narrow bounds. And thy seed — Thy spiritual seed, the members of the New Testament church, and especially the apostles and other ministers of Christ; shall inherit the Gentiles — Shall bring the Gentile world to the obedience of the faith; and make the desolate cities to be inhabited — Shall cause those cities and countries which, in a spiritual sense, were desolate, being destitute of all good, to be filled with members of the church.
For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.Isaiah 54:4-5. Thou shalt not be ashamed — As formerly, of the straitness of thy borders, and the fewness of thy children. Thou shalt forget the reproach of thy youth — Thy barrenness in former times: so great shall be thy fertility and felicity, that it shall cause thee to forget thy former unfruitfulness and misery. And shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood — That time and state when thou wast like a widow, disconsolate and desolate, deprived or forsaken of her husband, and having few or no children. For thy Maker — He who made thee out of nothing, and therefore can fulfil all these promises, how improbable soever their fulfilment may appear; is thy husband — Will own thee for his spouse, and give thee proof of his conjugal affection. The Lord of hosts — Who hath the sovereign command of all men and creatures, and therefore can subdue the Gentiles to thee, and can make thee to increase and multiply in so prodigious a measure, even in thy old age, notwithstanding thy barrenness in the days of thy youth, of which he speaks in the foregoing verse. The God of the whole earth shall he be called — The God and Father of all nations. Whereas formerly he was called the God of Israel only, and the Gentiles had no special relation to him, the time is now coming when he shall be called the God of the Gentiles also, having admitted them into the same covenant relation to himself with the Jews, and the partition wall between Jews and Gentiles being broken down. See Zechariah 14:9; Romans 3:29; Ephesians 2:11-16.
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.Isaiah 54:6-8. For the Lord hath called thee — To return and come again to him; as a woman forsaken — When thou wast like a woman forsaken by her husband, who had given her a bill of divorce; and grieved in spirit — For the loss of her husband’s favour and society, and for the reproach attending it; and a wife of youth — As affectionately as a husband recalleth his wife whom he married in her and his own youth, whom, though he might on some provocation put away, yet he soon repents of doing it, and his affection for her reviving, he invites her to return to him; when thou wast refused — Though for a time thou wast refused and rejected by him; saith thy God — Jehovah, who will again show himself to be thy God, and will renew his covenant with thee. For a small moment — For the space of some few years, as seventy years in Babylon, and some such intervals, which may well be called a small moment, in comparison of God’s everlasting kindness, mentioned in the next verse: have I forsaken thee — Withdrawn my favour and help from thee, and left thee in thine enemies’ hands. But with great mercies — Such as are very precious, and of long continuance; will I gather thee — From all the places where thou art dispersed, from all parts of the world. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee — I removed the means and pledges of my presence and kindness; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy, &c. — With kindness to thee, and thy seed, through all succeeding generations, in time, and to all eternity.
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.Isaiah 54:9-10. For this is as the waters of Noah — This covenant of grace and peace made with thee shall be as certain and perpetual as that which I made with Noah, that there should never be another flood of waters to drown the world. So have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee — Namely, so as I have been, or so as to forsake thee utterly. For the mountains shall depart, &c. — The mountains and hills shall sooner depart from their places than my kindness shall depart from thee. Nay, the time will come when all the mountains shall depart, and all the hills be removed, and even the whole earth, and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up, but then the covenant of peace between God and his church shall continue in the everlasting happiness of all the true and spiritual members of it. God will not cast off the Christian Church, as he cast off the Church of the Jews; the new covenant being established upon better and surer promises than the old; see Hebrews 8:6-7. Saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee — Who acts thus toward thee, not for thy merits, but through his own grace and mercy.
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.Isaiah 54:11-12. O thou afflicted, &c. — O thou, my church, which hast been in a most afflicted and comfortless condition; behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, &c. — I will make thee exceedingly beautiful and pure, stable and glorious. For, as Bishop Lowth justly observes, “these seem to be general images to express beauty, magnificence, purity, strength, and solidity, agreeably to the ideas of the eastern nations; and to have never been intended to be strictly scrutinized, or minutely and particularly explained, as if they had each of them some precise moral or spiritual meaning. Tobit, in his prophecy of the final restoration of Israel, (Tob 13:16-17,) describes the New Jerusalem in the same oriental manner. ‘For Jerusalem shall be built up with sapphires, and emeralds, and precious stones; thy walls, and towers, and battlements, with pure gold; and the streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with beryl, and carbuncle, and stones of Ophir.’” It must be well observed, however, that it is not any external pomp or worldly glory that is intended to be set forth in these verses, as is evident from many parts of Scripture, which assure us that Christ’s kingdom is of another nature, and that the outward condition of God’s church is, and, for the most part, will be, mean and afflicted in this world: but it is of a spiritual beauty and glory that these things are spoken, consisting in a plentiful effusion of excellent gifts, graces, and comforts upon the church, which, however, will be followed with eternal glory in heaven. We have a similar description of the church’s glory Revelation 21:11, &c. I will make thy windows of agates — Hebrew, כדכד, “lapis pretiosus quasi scintillans dictus,” says Buxtorf; a precious stone, so called from its sparkling. One kind of these stones, according to Pliny, was transparent like glass. But some render the word crystal; and the LXX., and some others of the ancients, translate it jasper. The truth is, the proper signification of the Hebrew names of precious stones is not perfectly known to the Jews themselves. It may suffice us to know that this was some very clear, transparent, and probably sparkling precious stone. And all thy borders — The utmost parts or walls, of pleasant stones. The church is here evidently compared to a building, whose foundation, pavement, gates, and windows are all named.
And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.Isaiah 54:13-14. All thy children shall be taught of the Lord — The church’s children, being born of God, shall be taught of God, and that not only outwardly, by his word, but inwardly, by his Spirit. Our Lord, who quotes this passage, John 6:45, applies it to gospel grace, and represents it as having its accomplishment in all those that are brought savingly to believe in him. And great shall be the peace of thy children —
1st, Inward peace, arising from clear discoveries of God’s love, and his reconciliation to us, and wrought by the Spirit of adoption, which is more abundantly given to believers under the gospel than under the law. 2d, Outward peace, safety, and happiness, which is more fully promised in the following verses, and which God, when he sees fit, will confer upon his church. In righteousness shalt thou be established — This kingdom shall be set up and established, not by injustice, fraud, or tyranny, as other kingdoms frequently are, but upon a righteous foundation, and by the exercise of righteousness and holiness, which is the glory and felicity of any society. Thou shalt be far from oppression — Either by thine own governors, or by foreign powers. Those that have oppressed thee shall be removed; those that would oppress thee shall be restrained; and therefore thou shalt not fear — Thou shalt neither have any just cause of fear, nor be given up to the torment of fear without cause.
In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.Isaiah 54:15-17. Behold, they shall gather together — It is true, some will combine, and make an attempt against thee. But not by me — As they will do this without any such commission from me as Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar had, so they shall not have my help in it, without which all their endeavours will be in vain. Whosoever shall gather together — To fight against, or persecute thee; shall fall for thy sake — Through that respect and love which I bear to thee. Or, before thee, as the Hebrew may be rendered, so as thine eyes shall behold it.
Behold, I have created the smith, &c. — Both the smith that makes warlike instruments, and the soldier that uses them, are my creatures, and totally at my command, and therefore they cannot hurt you without my leave. I have created the waster, &c. — To destroy only whom and when I please. No weapon formed against thee shall prosper — As they cannot do any thing against thee without my leave, so I assure thee I will not suffer them really to injure thee; and every tongue, &c., shalt thou condemn — And I will deliver thee, not only from the fury of war, but also from the strife of tongues. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord — This blessed condition is the portion allotted them by me. And their righteousness — The reward of their righteousness; is of me — I give it, and I will continue it to them.
Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.