Isaiah 35:6

These may be poetical figures, designed to present, in an impressive way, a time of great national joy; but we cannot fail to recognize in them foreshadowings of the miracles of healing and of grace that were wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. The first and general meaning of the passage may be that, "so conspicuous and overpowering would be the interference of God on behalf of his people, those of the most obtuse intellect could not fail to perceive it. So joyous would be the event, that persons the most unlikely would participate in the exultation." But, for spiritual readers, there must be a second and further meaning, for the language too well suits that time when "the blind saw, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, and the dead were raised." Reading the mission of Christ from this prophecy as a text, we note -

I. CHRIST REMOVING MEN'S DISABILITIES. All are typified in these failures of the senses of sight, hearing, walking, and speaking. Some of the human disabilities are hereditary, others are brought on by men's own negligences or willfulnesses. But this is to be specially noticed, they are all the direct products and results of sin. And Christ only designed to impress on men the greatness of his work as Redeemer from sin, by showing them how vigorously he would deal with all sin's consequences.

II. CHRIST GIVING LIFE TO THE DEAD. Death is the supreme, anti apparently resistless triumph of sin. Before it man stands utterly hopeless. But Christ does not. He speaks, and Lazarus comes forth, bound with the grave-clothes. He even submits himself to the worst that death can do, and then breaks the bars of his prison-house asunder. There is nothing he cannot do for us.

III. CHRIST REVEALING GOD'S WORK IN SOULS. We only read our Lord's life aright when we see it to be illustration of permanent spiritual facts. God is always coming and saving men. He has always been coming and saving men. Prophets, by their miracles (such as Elisha's), in part illustrated God's soul-saving work; but the "Lord Jesus gives the full, sublime, ever-suggestive illustration." God gives life from the "death of trespasses and sins." God removes the soul-disabilities which sin has brought in its train. This opens up the consideration of our Lord's position as Mediator, doing, for God, his part of this great work in souls; and further of the mission of the Spirit, as Comforter, Inspirer, and Teacher. Verily God works wonders of grace in the souls of men. - R.T.

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart.
1. Banished crutch.

2. Accentuation of speechless tongue.

3. Irrigated Sahara.

(T. De Wilt Talmage, D. D.)

And the tongue of the dumb sing.
I. NOTE THE PERSONS WHOM GOD HAS CHOSEN TO SING HIS SONGS FOR EVER. "The tongue of the dumb shall sing." Their singing does not come naturally from themselves; they were not born songsters. No, they were dumb. How this ought to give you encouragement in seeking to do good to others! If you have neighbours who are profaners of the Sabbath, haters of God, unwilling to come to the house of God, despising Christ; if you find them as far gone as you can find them, recollect He maketh the dumb sing, and therefore He can make them live.

II. Now I am to enter into some rather more lucid DESCRIPTION OF THESE DUMB PEOPLE. Who are they? Sometimes I get a good thought out of Cruden's Concordance. As I opened it at this passage, I found Master Cruden describing different kinds of dumb people. He says there are four or five different sorts, but I shall name only four of them.

1. Those who cannot speak — that is the usual acceptation of the word dumb — the others are, of course, only figurative applications of the term. Now, spiritually, the man who is still in his trespasses and sins is dumb. He is dead, and there is none so dumb as a dead man. "Shall the dead arise and praise Thee? Shall Thy loving-kindness be declared in the grave, or Thy faithfulness in destruction?" As "no man can call Jesus Lord, except by the Holy Ghost," these people cannot do so truly. But, all hail sovereign grace! They are dumb by nature, but He will not leave them so; they cannot now sing His praises, but they shall do it; they will not now confess their sins, but He will bring them on their knees yet, and make them pour out their hearts before Him.

2. But there is a sort of dumb people that will not speak. They are mentioned by Isaiah. He said of preachers in his day, they were "dumb dogs that would not bark."

3. I will now introduce you to a third sort of dumb people. They are dumb because they dare not speak; and they are good people. Here is one of them: "I was dumb with silence; I opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it." And it is so blessed to be dumb in that fashion. The Lord's servant will often have to be dumb under trials and troubles. You are, it may be, in the deepest trouble now, and obliged to be silent; well, you shall sing yet for all that. If you cannot cheer the darkness with "songs in the night," yet He shall "compass you about with songs of deliverance." We are not always to be silent with affliction. The saints have known joy, unspeakably great, in the midst of trial intolerably hot. Their murmuring has been silenced, and their thanks-giving has become vocal. An old Puritan said, "God's people are like birds; they sing best in cages."

4. We have one more kind of dumb people — those who have nothing to say. I will give you an instance; Solomon says in the Proverbs — "Open thy mouth for the dumb"; and he means those who in the court of judgment have nothing to plead for themselves, and have to stand dumb before the bar. Like that man of old, who, when the king came in to see the guests, had not on a wedding garment; and when the king said, "Friend, how earnest thou in hither?" he stood speechless; speechless, not because he could not speak, but because he had nothing to say. Have not you and I been dumb, and are we not now, when we attempt to stand on law terms with God, when we forget that Jesus Christ and His blood and righteousness are our full acquittal? We can now sing this anthem: "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Not God, for "He hath justified." "Who is he that condemneth?" Not Christ, "He hath died, yea rather, hath risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, and maketh intercession for us."

III. THE OCCASIONS WHEN THE TONGUE OF THESE DUMB PEOPLE SINGS THE BEST. I think it sings always, little or much. If it is once set at liberty, it will never leave off staging.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

In the wilderness shall waters break out.
The lovely poetry of this passage is almost thrown away upon us who have had no actual experience of the wilderness. Our imagination has been largely helped by the vivid and pathetic descriptions from travellers who have been through it; but the most powerful imagination cannot enable us to feel its awful reality. The interminable expanse, the distressing sameness, the horizon for leagues on leagues unbroken by a solitary tree or shrub. The burning sand blinding our eyes and scorching our feet. The very pathway, confused and often obliterated by the blast of the burning wind, is strewn with the bleached bones of the poor creatures who have fallen victims to the heat and drought. Not a bird flying over our heads, nor a harmless animal to be seen browsing a scanty pasture. The night is made terrible and the gloom is deepened by the roarings of the lion and the howlings of the jackal and the hyaena. Not a scrap of food of fruit or root to be obtained, and, worst of all, not a drop of water to quench the fiery thirst. Our parched lips can scarcely close. And this dreadful place is so interminable that it takes days and weeks to traverse; only here and there at long intervals does the exhausted and almost demented traveller come upon the green oasis and the priceless well of water. In the Old Testament the horrors of the desert are often used to figure the miserable aspect of life, and the privations of the human soul. "My soul is athirst for Thee, in a barren and dry land where no water is." "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God." "My soul is athirst for God, yea even for the living" God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?" "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground." And here Isaiah, wishing to show the glory and beauty of a true vision of God, compares the change out of the darkness and misery or soul to the transformation of the wilderness into a garden.

(C. Voysey, M. A.)

The heart of man is the real wilderness, where dearth and drought and quenchless thirst torment and destroy him until he get the vision .of the glory of God, which is His love. When man sees that, the waters break forth m the wilderness of his soul, and streams in the desert. His heart shall blossom as the rose and blossom abundantly; and not only flowers but fruit shall he bear for the healing of the nations. When man learns how God loves us all, then shall he find joy and gladness; and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. That is the essence of the poem. But it teaches yet a great deal more. When man's heart is turned from a wilderness into a garden by the knowledge of God's love, he is not only happy in himself, but he is a fountain and stream of happiness to others. "Then the eye of the blind are opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then doth the lame man leap as an hart and the tongue of the dumb can sing." His love for others is kindled and set aglow by the sight of the love of God. So we get three distinct ideas out of the poetry before us. The knowledge of the love of God as the source of all blessedness — first, to bring joy and gladness into individual souls, and then to make them fruitful in bringing joy and gladness into the hearts of their fellow-men.

(C. Voysey, M. A.)

If we would only believe it, we should see that in proportion as we regard our surroundings as a desert, we are giving proof that we belong to a higher order of existence than those who can be satisfied with the common pleasures, the bread and water of merely animal life. If we belong to that higher order, if our true realm is not of this world, we shall not be able to satisfy ourselves with all that this world can possibly furnish. Our thirst will only be inflamed and not quenched by every effort to allay it with earthly gratification. And I do not think it unreasonable to ask you to take the next step — which is more like a leap than a step — and to admit that God never intended us to be perfectly happy here on earth, in and through only the satisfaction of our earthly desires. He has so made us that the world and human life, lovely and delicious as these are, shall yet be to us a very wilderness full of weariness and hunger and thirst, until we have found our true satisfaction in Him and His love.

(C. Voysey, M. A.)

The whole secret of our happiness lies in this knowledge of the love of God.

1. It adds enormously to every lawful pleasure and indulgence. We take our joys in company with God. In our recreation, in our games, in our mirth and laughter, we revel all the more freely and heartily because we never forget that He is there, never forget that it is from Him that have come our varied powers of enjoyment and the numberless resources which minister to it. We set God always before us, and therefore in all the so-called blessings and comforts of life we are free from sin in the using. We will not enjoy any pleasure for which we cannot give Him thanks. And it is amazing what a large extra number of pleasures we is in consequence.

2. A still greater wealth is poured upon us by the sight of the love of God. It turns all our pains and sorrows into joy. It gives us perfect contentment with our lot. We know it could not have come against His will. We know it has come, then, to do us good. If we will only be patient and bear it like a man, we shall soon see the blessing which God had wrapped up in it; when our God comes to us in the wilderness of our woe, the water breaks forth and we are satisfied and refreshed. He is our living fountain of peace and hope and joy unspeakable; His love touches the strong rock of our heart's rebellion, and lo! the streams of gladness flow forth and we are like a well-watered garden. Then our poor blind eyes are opened to see only good, where we thought there was only evil. Then our deaf ears are unstopped, and we listen joyfully and thankfully to His soothing and cheering whisper of peace. Then our palsied limbs leap up at His call and we do the duty that lies nearest to us; we begin to make the best of our altered conditions and tread cheerfully the path of thorns in which His hand is leading us. And the tongue of the dumb shall sing. Our stubborn lips fast closed in anger and resentment, our tongue cleaving to the roof of our mouth in distress and despair, shall now move in harmony with the gladness awakened by the sight of His love. We shall glorify Him in the fires of tribulation; we shall sing of His great salvation.

(C. Voysey, M. A.)

And yet more and more comes out of that inexhaustible fountain of goodness and joy. The sight of the love of God not only transfigures the life of each individual, but makes us do our best to convert the wilderness around us into a garden. Atheists have confessed to me how barren of any practical good atheism is, how absolutely deficient in any inspiring motive for kindly endeavour to help others. But we know, by our own experience, that the sight of God's love which has turned our own wilderness into a garden, has likewise stirred us up into an enthusiasm of brotherly love and has borne fruit in practical endeavours to bring streams into the desert of lives not our own.

(C. Voysey, M. A.)

The streams are spiritual, and refer to the diffusion of the Gospel and the manifold blessings of salvation over the world.


1. Spiritual fertility. No other streams are possessed of the same fertilising power. Modern writers show a tendency to ascribe to the influence of civilisation and knowledge all our social, moral, and religious blessings. But how do they reconcile their theories with the comparatively barren effects of Egyptian science and civilisation, Greek philosophy and art, and Roman law and discipline? Be the influence of these latter what they might, they wrought no radical change on man's moral and spiritual character.

2. Spiritual beauty. Wherever streams flow in such lands as Judaea, there luxuriance waves, but in an endless variety of appearance. Not less diversified is the influence of Divine grace on the character. Religion does not obliterate nature, but works in harmony with it, preserving all its innocent idiosyncrasies, so that as in the natural world are to be seen the cedar, the palm; the fir, and the rose, so in the Church, along the streams of Divine grace, are to be seen a John and a Peter, a Martha and a Mary.

3. Spiritual joy. Every one has experienced the refreshing influence of water. This is an image of the deep satisfaction and joy which true religion is fitted to impart. No other streams convey the same joy.


1. They are full and abundant.

2. They are free to all. Men have tried to fence round these streams, and to reduce them to the limits of their own selfish hearts and narrow creed; but God's thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor His ways as ours. While this is cheering, it is also a solemnising, thought, laying the responsibility of our own ruin on ourselves.

3. They are near and accessible. If a visit to such rivers as the Ganges or the Nile were requisite to our salvation, how many would be unable to comply with the condition. But these streams flow wherever the Gospel comes.

4. They are ever spreading in their influence. What is the garden of the Lord compared with the desert of this world? It is seen blooming in little oases here and' there. But these streams are destined to spread and multiply, and to cover the whole earth with spiritual verdure and beauty.Conclusion —

1. These streams are at present accessible, but may not be so long. Come to them now.

2. Remember that Jesus is the only channel through which they can reach us.

(W. Johnston.)

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