but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and with equity He will decide in favor of the earth's oppressed. He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth and slay the wicked with the breath of His lips.
head of the Messianic kingdom. The picture presented here is designed to be in sharp contrast with that of the unjust judges referred to in Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 2:14, 15; Isaiah 10:1, 2. The figure of clothing one's self, or being clothed, with moral attributes is not infrequent in the Scriptures. The girdle is mentioned as an essential part of Oriental dress, and that which keeps the other garments in their proper place and qualifies the wearer for exertion. The rules, or characteristics, of the Messianic or spiritual kingdom may be illustrated under the following headings.
I. RIGHTEOUSNESS AS BEFORE GOD. The absolutely right is to be sought; and it will be found in what
(1) God is;
(2) what God commands;
(3) what God approves.
Matthew Henry says, "He shall be righteous in the administration of his government, and his righteousness shall be his girdle; it shall constantly compass him and cleave to him, shall be his ornament and honor; he shall gird himself for every action, shall gird on his sword for war in righteousness; his righteousness shall be his strength, and shall make him expeditious in his undertakings, as a man with his loins girt." Compare the kingdom ruled by considerations of righteousness with the kingdoms ruled by considerations of expediency.
II. EQUITY BETWEEN MAN AND MAN. The determination that every man shall get his due, and bear his due. Many cases arise in which strict justice must be toned by consideration of circumstances. In view of human infirmity, the equitable must sometimes be put instead of the right.
III. EFFICIENT PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED. The strong hand on the wrong-doer is ever an essential of good government.
IV. FAITHFULNESS TO DUTY. Duty being distinguished from right in this, that it is something we are bound to do, upon the authority of some one who has the right to command us. "Faithfulness" is closely kin with "loyalty." And Messiah is a theocratic King, a Vicegerent of Jehovah.
V. PEACE EVERYWHERE. Because, if righteousness prevails, nobody will wrong others, and nobody will have wrongs to avenge. Jealousies, envyings, violence, covetings, all fade before advancing righteousness; and when Jesus, the righteous King, reigns over mind and heart and life, then the glory-day will have come, and "no war or battle-sound" will then be "heard the world around." - R.T.
But with righteousness shall He judge the poor.i.e., a kingdom of truth and righteousness. That Scripture speaks of the kingdom of Christ as not an earthly kingdom, not supported by strength of arm or force of mind or any other faculty or gift of the natural man, is plain. But consider some objections to which the circumstances of its actual history and condition give rise.
I. IT MAY BE SAID THAT THE EVENT HAS NOT FULFILLED THE PROPHECIES; that the kingdom has indeed been large and powerful, but it has not ruled according to justice and truth; that at times it has had very wicked men among its rulers, and that great corruptions, religious and moral, have been found in it; and that worse crimes have been perpetrated under colour of religion than in any other way. But this may be granted in the argument; yet the Scripture account of the Church remains uncompromised. It is a kingdom of righteousness, because it is a kingdom founded in righteousness.
II. IN THE GOSPEL, CHRIST'S FOLLOWERS ARE REPRESENTED AS POOR, DESPISED, WEAK, AND HELPLESS. Such preeminently were the apostles. But in the prophets, especially in Isaiah, the kingdom is represented as rich and flourishing and honoured, powerful and happy. If the Church of Christ were to seek power, wealth, and honour, this were to fall from grace; but it is not less true that she will have them, though she seeks them not — or rather, if she seeks them not. Such is the law of Christ's kingdom, such the paradox which is seen in its history. It belongs to the poor in spirit; it belongs to the persecuted; it is possessed by the meek; it Is sustained by the patient. It conquers by suffering; it advances by retiring; it is made wise through foolishness.
III. TEMPORAL POWER AND WEALTH, THOUGH NOT ESSENTIAL TO THE CHURCH, ARE ALMOST NECESSARY ATTENDANTS ON IT.
(J. H. Newman, D. D.)
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