Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
Isa 54:1-17. The Fruit of Messiah's Sufferings, and of Israel's Final Penitence at Her Past Unbelief (Isa 53:6): Her Joyful Restoration and Enlargement by Jehovah, Whose Wrath Was Momentary, but His Kindness Everlasting.
Israel converted is compared to a wife (Isa 54:5; Isa 62:5) put away for unfaithfulness, but now forgiven and taken home again. The converted Gentiles are represented as a new progeny of the long-forsaken but now restored wife. The pre-eminence of the Hebrew Church as the mother Church of Christendom is the leading idea; the conversion of the Gentiles is mentioned only as part of her felicity [Horsley].
1. Sing—for joy (Zep 3:14).
barren—the Jewish Church once forsaken by God, and therefore during that time destitute of spiritual children (Isa 54:6).
didst not bear—during the Babylonian exile primarily. Secondarily, and chiefly, during Israel's present dispersion.
the children—the Gentiles adopted by special grace into the original Church (Isa 54:3; Isa 49:20, 21).
than … married wife—than were her spiritual children, when Israel was still a married wife (under the law, before the Babylonian exile), before God put her away [Maurer]. So Paul contrasts the universal Church of the New Testament with the Church of the Old Testament legal dispensation, quoting this very passage (Ga 4:27). But the full accomplishment of it is yet future.
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;
2. (Isa 49:19, 20; Jer 31:31-36, 38, 39). Thy children shall be so many that thy borders must be extended to contain them.
curtains—the cloth forming the covering of the tent.
spare not—give abundantly the means for the enlargement of the Church (2Co 9:5-7).
cords … stakes—The more the tent is enlarged by lengthening the cords by which the cloth covering is fastened to the ground, the more the stakes supporting the tent need to be strengthened; the Church is not merely to seek new converts, but to strengthen those she has in the faith. The image is appropriate, as the tabernacle was the symbol of the old Israelitish Church (see on Isa 33:20).
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.
3. break forth—rather, "burst forth" with increase; thy offspring shall grow, answering to "thy seed" in the parallel clause.
thy seed—Israel and her children, as distinguished from "the Gentiles."
desolate cities—of Israel (Isa 44:26).
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.
4. (Isa 41:10, 14).
shame of thy youth—Israel's unfaithfulness as wife of Jehovah, almost from her earliest history.
reproach of widowhood—Israel's punishment in her consequent dismissal from God and barrenness of spiritual children in Babylon and her present dispersion (Isa 54:1; Isa 49:21; Jer 3:24, 25; 31:19; Ho 2:2-5).
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.
5. (Isa 62:5; Jer 3:14). That God was Israel's "Maker," both as individuals and as the theocratic kingdom, is the pledge of assurance that He will be her Redeemer (Isa 43:1-3). Hebrew, "makers … husbands"; plural for singular, to denote excellency.
of Israel … whole earth—Not until He manifests Himself as God of Israel shall He appear as God of the whole earth (Ps 102:13, 15, 16; Zec 14:5, 9).
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.
6. called—that is, recalled: the prophetic past for the future.
forsaken—that had been forsaken.
when thou—or, "when she was rejected"; one who had been a wife of youth (Eze 16:8, 22, 60; Jer 2:2) at the time when (thou, or) she was rejected for infidelity [Maurer]. "A wife of youth but afterwards rejected" [Lowth].
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
7. small moment—as compared with Israel's coming long prosperity (Isa 26:20; 60:10). So the spiritual Israel (Ps 30:5; 2Co 4:17).
gather thee—to Myself from thy dispersions.
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.
8. In a little wrath—rather, "In the overflowing of wrath"; as Pr 27:4, Margin, [Gesenius]. The wrath, though but "for a moment," was overflowing while it lasted.
hid … face—(Isa 8:17; Ps 30:7).
everlasting—in contrast to "for a moment."
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.
9. I am about to do the same in this instance as in Noah's flood. As I swore then that it should not return (Ge 8:21; 9:11), and I kept that promise, so I swear now to My people, and will perform My promise, that there shall be no return of the deluge of My wrath upon them. Lowth, on insufficient authority, reads (the same will I do now as), "in the days of Noah."
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.
10. (Isa 51:6; Ps 89:33, 34; Ro 11:29).
covenant of my peace—(2Sa 23:5). The covenant whereby I have made thee at peace with Me.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
11. not comforted—by anyone; none gave her help or comfort.
lay … with fair colours—rather, "lay … in cement of vermilion" [Lowth]. The Hebrew for "fair colors" means stibium, the paint with which Eastern women painted their eyelids and eyelashes (2Ki 9:30). The very cement shall be of the most beautiful color (Re 21:18-21).
And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
12. windows—rather, "battlements"; literally, "suns"; applied to battlements from their radiated appearance.
carbuncles—literally, "sparkling gems"; the carbuncle when held to the sun becomes like a burning coal.
all thy borders—rather, "thy whole circuit," consisting of precious stones. The glory of the Church on earth, when the Hebrew Church, according to the original design, shall be the metropolis of Christendom.
And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
13. Quoted by the Saviour (Joh 6:45), to prove that in order to come to Him, men must be "drawn" by the Father. So Jer 31:34; Mic 4:2; 1Co 2:10; Heb 8:10; 10:16; 1Jo 2:20.
great … peace—generally (Ps 119:165). Specially referring to the peaceful prosperity which shall prevail under Messiah in the latter days (Isa 2:4, 9:6).
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.
14. righteousness—the characteristic of the reign of Messiah (Isa 11:4, 5; Ps 72:2, 4; Re 19:11).
far from oppression, &c.—far from suffering oppression; "for thou shall have nothing to fear."
Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
15. gather together, &c.—that is, If it should happen that enemies "gather together" against thee (Ps 2:2), they will not have been sent by Me (compare Ho 8:4) as instruments of My wrath (nay, it will be with My disapproval); for "whosoever shall gather together," &c. (Ps 59:3).
fall for thy sake—rather, "shall come over to thy side" [Lowth]. Literally, "fall to thee" (Jer 21:9; 39:9). To be fully fulfilled to Jerusalem hereafter (Zec 14:16).
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.
16. The workman that forms "weapons against thee" (Isa 54:17) is wholly in My power, therefore thou needest not fear, having Me on thy side.
for his work—rather, "by his labor [Horsley]. "According to the exigencies of his work" [Maurer].
waster to destroy—(Isa 10:5-7; 37:26, 27; 45:1-6). Desolating conquerors who use the "instruments" framed by "the smith." The repetition of the "I" implies, however, something in the latter half of the verse contrasted with the former understand it, therefore, thus: "I have in My power both him who frames arms and him who destroys them (arms)" [Rosenmuller].
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.
17. tongue … condemn—image from a court of justice. Those who desire to "condemn" thee thou shalt "condemn" (Ex 11:7; Jos 10:21; Ps 64:8; Ro 8:1, 33).
righteousness … of me—(Isa 45:24; 46:13). Rather, "(this is) their justification from Me." Their enemies would "condemn" them, but I justify and vindicate them, and so they condemn their enemies.