For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful…
Look at the Deliverer as seen by the prophet — "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called —." Now, the English punctuation seems to fritter away the dignity of the appellation The compound name really falls into this classification: first, Wonderful-Counsellor, as one word, as if, indeed, it were but one syllable; second, God-the-Mighty-One, not four words, but hyphened together; third, Father-of-Eternity, also hyphened and consolidated; fourth, Prince-of-Peace, that likewise an instance of the words run into one another, and in this four-fold classification we have the mysterious name of the Deliverer. This is no evidence that Isaiah saw the birth of Christ as we understand that term, but what he did see was that the only deliverer who could accomplish the necessary work must fill out the whole measure of these terms; if he failed to fill out that outline, he was not the predicted Messiah. Let us see.
1. He must fill the imagination — "Wonderful." Imagination cannot be safely left out of any religion; it is that wondrous faculty that flies to great heights, and is not afraid of infinite breadths; the faculty, so to say, that lies at the back of all other faculties, sums them up, and then adds an element of its own, using the consolidated mind for the highest purposes of vision and understanding. Is this name given for the first time? Where do we find the word "Wonderful" in the Scriptures? We may not, perhaps, find it in the English tongue, but it is really to be found in Judges 13:18: The angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, "Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing, it is secret?" — the same Hebrew word that is rendered in the text "Wonderful"; so we might read, "The angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after My name, seeing it is Wonderful?"
2. He must satisfy the judgment. His name, therefore, is not only Wonderful, but "Counsellor," the fountain of wisdom and understanding, the mind that rules over all things with perfectness of mastery, that attests everything by the eternal meridian, and that looks for righteousness.
3. He must also satisfy the religious instinct, so He is called "The Mighty God." It is not enough to describe God without epithetic terms. Sometimes we say, Why utter such words as, Thou infinite, eternal, ever-blessed God? Because we are so constituted in this infantile state of being that we need a ladder of adjectives to get up to our little conception of that which is inconceivable.
4. Not only so, there must be in this man a sense of brotherhood, so He is called "The-Prince-of-Peace." He will bring man to man, nation to nation; He will arbitrate amongst the empires of the earth and rule by the Sabbatic spirit. Christianity is peace.
5. He is to be more still. He is to be "The Everlasting Father," otherwise translated, The Father of Eternity; otherwise, and better translated, The Father of the age to come. Therein we have misinterpreted Christianity. We have been too anxious to understand the past. The pulpit has had a backward aspect — most careful about what happened in the second century, dying to know what thought and what did. Christ is the Father of the age to come. If He lived now He would handle the question of poverty; He would discuss the great uses of Parliament; He would address Himself to every church, chapel, and sanctuary in the kingdom; He would come into our various sanctuaries and turn us out to a man. Christianity is the prophetic religion. It deals with the science that is to be, with the politics yet to be developed, with the commerce that is yet to be the bread-producing action of civilised life.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.