Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?The Key of the House of David
Not often, even in Isaiah, are there words more full of mystery than these.
I. See how, of David also, according to his degree, it might be said that 'He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief'. Persecuted by his own brethren in the army of the Israelites; hunted after by his own lord, King Saul; ridiculed by his own wife, Michal; betrayed by his own familiar friend, Ahithophel; conspired against by his own favourite son, Absalom; all but delivered to death by his own subjects at Keilah; to say nothing of his many battles, painful wanderings, little rest; and that whole lifelong struggle on account of which God said, 'Thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed much blood upon the earth'. See also how poor and needy he was; asking bread from Ahimelech the priest; requesting milk and cheese from Nabal the Carmelite; taking a cruse of water from King Saul; thankful for fruit from Abigail. So that when Gabriel said, in that cottage of Nazareth, 'The Lord God shall give Him the seat of His father David'; and when Isaiah prophesied here, 'The key of the house of David will I lay on His shoulder,' what is the key but the bitter Cross? what is the seat but extreme poverty?
II. Notice—for every word tells—that word: 'The key of the house of David will I lay on His shoulder' —not shoulders—and why? Because the Son of God did not endure the Death of the Cross on the right shoulder of His Godhead, but on the left shoulder of His humanity alone; so that, suffering as a Man, He should ransom like a God.
III. 'The key of the house of David will I lay upon His shoulder.' Beyond all other, David was a man of war. Now look what the natural heart says on the one hand, and what the Lord God of all power declares on the other: 'The people be strong that dwell in the land; and the cities are walled and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there'. All very true; but here is the answer: 'The key of the house of David will I lay upon His shoulder'. So take courage. There is some one fenced city of a besetting sin of which you ought to take possession, some one Jericho in your hearts that defies the rule of the Lord God of Hosts. But that key will open it for you. Does not the way in which it was at first taken up, and then wearily borne along the Via Dolorosa, speak of its omnipotence? Only trust to it, and it will open the strongest wards of the most crafty lock wherewith Satan ever barred your passage yet, or ever shall bar it. And well for you that it is laid on His shoulder, not on yours. That key which opened the gates of Death and Hell, how shall it not throw back any other portals for your entrance?
—J. M. Neale, Occasional Sermons, p. 34.
Illustration.—Saint Teresa says very beautifully: 'O my soul, O my heart, if thou wilt, if thou desire to, enter into bliss, why dost thou not serve and go after good Jesus, Who hath the key of it? The key of this world, the men of this world have: the key of hell, Satan hath; the key of life, none but Christ. O good Jesus! O True Love of my soul! seeing that Thou art the Gate which is to be opened, and the House which we are to enter into, and the glory which we are to enjoy, why dost Thou not open to this my sinful soul, which is weary of calling for Thee? O Redeemer of my spirit, O sweetness of my life, seeing Thou hast said, that Thou didst not come into this world but to save sinners, and goest about to seek for none but sinners: why dost Thou not open to me, who am the greatest sinner of all sinners?'
—J. M. Neale, Occasional Sermons, p. 37.
References.—XXIII. 4.—R. Primrose, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxx. 1906, p. 103. XXIII. 18.—S. Chadwick, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 91.
Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.
All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.
Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.
For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.
And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.
And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.
And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.
Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.
And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.
Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.
And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:
And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.
And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,
What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?
Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.
He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.
And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.
And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.
In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.