Isaiah 40:10
Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) The Lord God.Adonai Jehovah; each word commonly translated Lord. The combination is characteristic both of 1 and 2 Isaiah (Isaiah 3:15; Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 30:15).

With strong hand.—Literally, with, or in strength of hand, as the essence of His being. The “arm” of the Lord is a favourite phrase of Isaiah (Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 52:10) for His power.

His reward is with him . . .—The noun “work” has also the sense of recompense for the faithful worker (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15, and is rightly taken in that sense here and in Isaiah 62:11).

Isaiah 40:10-11. Behold, the Lord God will come with a strong hand — With invincible strength, to deliver his people from their most powerful enemies; and his arm shall rule for him — His own power shall be sufficient, without any other help, to overcome all opposition. His reward is with him — He comes furnished with recompenses, as well of mercy and blessings for his friends and followers, as of justice and vengeance for his enemies: or, “the reward and the recompense which he bestows, and which he will pay to his faithful servants, he has ready at hand with him, and holds out before him to encourage those who trust in him, and wait for him; and his work before him — He is ready to execute what he hath undertaken; or, he carries on his work effectually; for that is said in Scripture to be before a man which is in his power. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, &c. — He shall perform all the offices of a tender and faithful shepherd toward his people, conducting himself with great wisdom, condescension, and compassion to every one of them, according to their several capacities and infirmities. And shall gently lead those that are with young — Or, those that give suck, as the word עלות, may be rendered. Bishop Lowth translates the clause, The nursing ewes shall he gently lead; observing, that “it is a beautiful image, expressing, with the utmost propriety, as well as elegance, the tender attention of the shepherd to his flock.”40:1-11 All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always. Troubles are removed in love, when sin is pardoned. In the great atonement of the death of Christ, the mercy of God is exercised to the glory of his justice. In Christ, and his sufferings, true penitents receive of the Lord's hand double for all their sins; for the satisfaction Christ made by his death was of infinite value. The prophet had some reference to the return of the Jews from Babylon. But this is a small event, compared with that pointed out by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament, when John the Baptist proclaimed the approach of Christ. When eastern princes marched through desert countries, ways were prepared for them, and hinderances removed. And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hinderance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. What are all that belongs to fallen man, or all that he does, but as the grass and the flower thereof! And what will all the titles and possessions of a dying sinner avail, when they leave him under condemnation! The word of the Lord can do that for us, which all flesh cannot. The glad tidings of the coming of Christ were to be sent forth to the ends of the earth. Satan is the strong man armed; but our Lord Jesus is stronger; and he shall proceed, and do all that he purposes. Christ is the good Shepherd; he shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a sorrowful spirit. By his word he requires no more service, and by his providence he inflicts no more trouble, than he will strengthen them for. May we know our Shepherd's voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.Behold, the Lord God will come - (See the note at Isaiah 40:3) Applied to the condition of the Jews in exile, this means that God would come to deliver them. Applied to the times of the Messiah, it means that God would manifest himself in a powerful manner as mighty to save.

With strong hand - (בחזק bechâzâq). Margin, 'Against the strong.' So Vitringa and others understand it; and regard it as referring to the mighty enemies of the people of God, or, as Vitringa particularly supposes, to the great foe of God and his people - the prince of darkness - the devil. Lowth also translates it in this manner, 'Against the strong one.' The Septuagint renders it, Μετά ἰσχύος Meta ischuos - 'With strength.' This is the more probable meaning - that the Lord would come with the manifestation of strength and power, able to subdue and vanquish all the enemies of his people, and to effect their complete and final salvation.

And his arm - The arm is a symbol of strength, because it is by that that we accomplish our purposes; by that a conqueror slays his enemies in battle, etc. Thus, 'Break thou the arm of the wicked;' that is, diminish or destroy his power Psalm 10:15. 'I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt' (Ezekiel 30:21; compare Jeremiah 48:25). Thus it is said of God, 'Thou hast a mighty arm' Psalm 89:13, and, 'His holy arm hath gotten him the victory' (Psalm 98:1; compare Exodus 6:6). The metaphor is taken from the act of stretching out the arm to fight in battle, where the arm is the effective instrument in subduing an enemy.

Shall rule for him - Lowth renders the phrase, לו lō, 'for him,' 'over him:' - 'And his arm shall prevail over him;' that is, over the strong and mighty foe. The Septuagint renders it, Μετά κυρίας Meta kurias - 'With dominion.' But the meaning seems to be, 'God is mighty by himself; his power resides in his own arm; he is not dependent on others; he will accomplish the deliverance in such a manner that it shall be seen that he did it alone; and he shall rule for himself, without any aid, and so that it shall be manifest that he is the sovereign.' In the deliverance of his people from their captivity, he so directed it, that it was manifest that he was their deliverer and sovereign; and in the redemption of man, the same thing is apparent, that the arm of God effects the deliverance, and that it is his own power that establishes the dominion.

Behold, his reward is with him - He will be ready to confer the appropriate reward on his own people. The idea seems to be taken from the custom of a conqueror, who distributes rewards among his followers and soldiers after a signal victory. This was always done in ancient wars, apparently because it seemed to be an act of justice that those who had gained the victory should share also in the result, and this participation of the booty was a stimulus to future effort, as well as a compensation for their valor. The rewards distributed consisted generally of that which was taken from the conquered; gold, and silver, and raiment, as well as captives or slaves (see Genesis 49:7; Exodus 15:9; 1 Samuel 30:26; and particularly Judges 5:30):

Have they not sped?

Have they not divided the prey;

To every man a damsel or two';

To Sisera a prey of divers colors,

A prey of divers colors of needle-work,

Of divers colors of needle-work on both sides,

Meet for the necks of them that take the spoil.

The idea here is -

1. That Yahweh would bestow appropriate rewards on his people.

continued...

10. with strong hand—or, "against the strong"; rather, "as a strong one" [Maurer]. Or, against the strong one, namely, Satan (Mt 12:29; Re 20:2, 3, 10) [Vitringa].

arm—power (Ps 89:13; 98:1).

for him—that is, He needs not to seek help for Himself from any external source, but by His own inherent power He gains rule for Himself (so Isa 40:14).

work—or, "recompense for his work"; rather, "recompense which He gives for work" (Isa 62:11; Re 22:12).

With strong hand; with invincible strength, conquering all his enemies. The word hand or arm may very well be understood out of the following clause.

His arm shall rule for him; he shall need no succours, for his own power shall be sufficient to govern his people, and to destroy his adversaries.

His reward is with him; he comes furnished with recompences, as well of mercy and blessings for his friends and followers, as of justice and vengeance for his enemies.

His work before him; he carrieth on his work or design effectually, so as none can hinder him; for that is said in Scripture to be before a man which is in his power, as Genesis 20:15 24:51, &c. Or work is here put for the reward of the work, as it is Isaiah 49:4 65:7, and elsewhere. And so the same thing is repeated in other words, as is very usual. Behold, the Lord God will come with a strong hand,.... Some understand this of the second coming of Christ, which coming is certain, such assurances being given of it by promise and prophecy; and will be attended with power, which will be requisite to raise the dead, summon all nations before him, and pass and execute the proper sentence on them; when his arm shall openly bear rule, he will take to himself his great power, and reign; when his reward will be with him, to give to every man according to their works; and his own work will be before him, to judge the world in righteousness: see Revelation 22:12, but it is more agreeable to the context, which foretells the coming of John the Baptist, points out the ministers of the Gospel, and describes Christ in his office, as a shepherd feeding his flock, to understand it of his first coming; for not God the Father, but the Son of God, is meant by the Lord God, who is truly God, and so able to save, and which was the end of his coming. He is said to come "with a strong hand", or with great power, which his work required; which was to fulfil the law, satisfy divine justice, atone for sin, grapple and conflict with innumerable enemies, undergo the death of the cross, bear the curse of the law, and the wrath of God, and all in order to obtain eternal redemption for his people; for this he came from heaven to earth, not by change of place, but by assumption of nature. Some render it, "against a strong one" (p); the strong man armed, the devil, whose head he came to break, whose works he came to destroy, with whom he fought, and whom he conquered and destroyed. Jarchi's note is,

"against the wicked, to take vengeance on them;''

but Aben Ezra and Kimchi supply the word hand, as we do:

and his arm shall rule for him; or he shall have sufficient power of himself to do the work he comes about; his own arm or power wrought salvation for him and for his people; see Isaiah 63:5. Some render it, "over him (q)"; that is, over the strong and mighty one, against whom he came, whom he conquered, subdued, and ruled over:

behold, his reward is with him; to give to those that trust in him, as Kimchi; or to those that do his word, as the Targum; that believe in him, embrace his Gospel, and act according to it: or this may respect his own reward, which should follow his work; which he was as sure of as if it was in his hands; namely, his exaltation in his human nature, his glory with his Father, and the enjoyment of his spiritual seed to all eternity:

and his work before him; the work of redemption and salvation, which he was called unto, sent to do, and which, being given him, he agreed to do, was very toilsome and laborious, yet he took great delight in it, and has finished it; this is said to be "before him", being proposed in council, and cut out in covenant for him, was well known unto him, and in his power to effect, and what he could easily do, and did. The Targum understands this of the works of men being before him, for whom he has a reward.

(p) "contra robustum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Vitringa. (q) "in illum", ibid.

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and {p} his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

(p) His power will be sufficient without help of any other, and will have all means in himself to bring his will to pass.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. with strong hand] R.V. as a mighty one; lit., “in (the capacity of) a strong one” (Bêth essentiae). The chief ancient versions vocalised the word as an abstract noun běhôzeq (“with strength”), which yields an even better sense. and his arm shall rule] or His arm ruling;—the “arm,” the symbol of strength.

For work render recompence (as R.V.) (see Leviticus 19:13). The idea is somewhat uncertain. It might mean, (1) the reward (lit. “hire”) which Jehovah has earned by His victory over the Chaldæans, in which case the redeemed exiles themselves are the reward, which He brings with Him through the desert (Isaiah 40:11). Or (2) it may refer to the reward which Jehovah is prepared to bestow on His people,—the blessings of His salvation. The last is perhaps the better sense, and is supported by the similar passage, ch. Isaiah 62:11.

10, 11. These words are spoken by the prophet in his own person.Verse 10. - The Lord God; literally, the Lord Jehovah. With strong hand; or, with strength. His arm shall rule for him. Kay translates, "His arm shall get him rule;" i.e. the manifestation, which he shall make of his power, shall cause his kingdom to be extended far and wide upon the earth. "The Lord's arm," "the Lord's hand," are favourite expressions of Isaiah's (Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 10:4; Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 31:3; Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 53:1; Isaiah 62:3, etc.). His reward is with him, and his work before him; rather, his wage is with him, and his recompense before him - a case of synonymous parallelism. The phrase is repeated in Isaiah 62:11. Mr. Cheyne understands "the reward which God gives to his faithful ones" to be meant. But perhaps it is better to understand, with Dr. Kay, that in the "little flock" which he restores to Palestine God finds his own reward and recompense - the compensation for all his care and trouble. The summons proceeds in a commanding tone. "Let every valley be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low; and let the rugged be made a plain, and the ledges of rocks a valley." והיה, which takes its tone from the two jussive verbs, is also itself equivalent to ויהי. Instead of גּיא (from גּיא), the pointing in Zechariah 14:4, we have here (according to Kimchi) the vowel-pointing גּיא; at the same time, the editions of Brescia, Pesaro, Venice 1678, have גּיא (with tzere), and this is also the reading of a codex of Luzzatto without Masoretic notes. The command, according to its spiritual interpretation, points to the encouragement of those that are cast down, the humiliation of the self-righteous and self-secure, the changing of dishonesty into simplicity, and of unapproachable haughtiness into submission (for ‛âqōbh, hilly, rugged,

(Note: In this ethical sense Essex applied the word to Queen Elizabeth. See Hefele, Ximenes, p. 90 (ed. 2).)

compare Jeremiah 17:9 together with Habakkuk 2:4). In general, the meaning is that Israel is to take care, that the God who is coming to deliver it shall find it in such an inward and outwards state as befits His exaltation and His purpose.

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