Isaiah 51:3
For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) He will make her wilderness like Eden.—Interesting as showing Isaiah’s acquaintance with Genesis 1-3. (Comp. Ezekiel 31:9; Ezekiel 31:16; Ezekiel 36:35; Joel 2:3.) “Paradise” has already entered into the idea of future restoration (Revelation 2:7).

Isaiah 51:3. For, &c. — The prophet, in these words, seems to be giving a reason why they should look unto, or consider, that famous example of Abraham and Sarah; namely, because they should find the like wonder wrought on their behalf. Or the meaning may be, therefore, for the sake of Abraham and of that covenant which God made with him, and by which he promised to bless him and his seed for ever; the Lord shall comfort Zion — His church, frequently, as we have seen, called by that name. He will make her wilderness like Eden — Although she may be waste and desolate like a wilderness or desert for a time, yet she shall be restored and made as pleasant and flourishing as the garden of Eden was. The expressions are figurative, and, according to Vitringa, “in their primary sense, refer to the state of Zion after their restoration from Babylon; in their secondary and spiritual sense, to the redemption of the church by the Messiah, and the consequent blessings of grace.” See Isaiah 49:19; Isaiah 52:9.51:1-3 It is good for those privileged by the new birth, to consider that they were shapen in sin. This should cause low thoughts of ourselves, and high thoughts of Divine grace. It is the greatest comfort to be made serviceable to the glory of God. The more holiness men have, and the more good they do, the more gladness they have. Let us seriously reflect upon our guilt. To do so will tend to keep the heart humble, and the conscience awake and tender. They make Christ more precious to the soul, and give strength to our attempts and prayers for others.For the Lord shall comfort Zion - On the word 'Zion,' see the notes at Isaiah 1:8. The meaning here is, that he would again restore it from its ruins. The argument is drawn from the statement in the previous verses. If God had raised up so great a nation from so humble all origin, he had power to restore the waste places of Judea to more than their former beauty and prosperity (see the notes at Isaiah 40:1).

And he will make her wilderness - Judea is here represented as lying waste. It is to be remembered that the time to which the prophet here refers is that of the captivity, and near its close. Of course, as that would have continued seventy years, in so long a period Judea would have become almost an extended wilderness, a wide waste. Any country, that was naturally as fertile as Judea, would in that time be overrun with briers, thorns, and underbrush, and even with a wild and luxuriant growth of the trees of the forest.

Like Eden - Genesis 2 Like a cultivated and fertile garden - distinguished not only for its fertility, but for its beauty and order.

Her desert like the garden of the Lord - Like the garden which the Lord planted Genesis 2:8. Septuagint, Ὡς παράδεισον κυρίου Hōs paradeison kuriou - 'As the paradise of the Lord.' The idea is. that it should be again distinguished for its beauty and fertility.

Joy and gladness - The sound of rejoicing and praise shall be again heard there, where are now heard the cries of wild beasts.

The voice of melody - Hebrew, 'A psalm The praises of God shall again be celebrated.

3. For—See for the argument, see on [837]Isa 51:2.

the garden of the Lord—restoration of the primeval paradise (Ge 2:8; Eze 28:13; Re 2:7).

melody—Hebrew, "psalm." God's praises shall again be heard.

For: so this comes in as a reason why they should look unto or consider that famous example of Abraham and Sarah, because they should find the like wonder wrought on their behalf. Or, Therefore, or for the sake of Abraham, my friend, and of that covenant which I made with him, and by which I promised to bless him and his seed for ever.

Shall comfort Zion; his church, which is frequently called by that name, both in the Old and New Testament.

He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord: although she shall be waste and desolate like a wilderness or desert for a time, yet she shall be restored, and be made as pleasant and flourishing as the garden of Eden was. For the Lord shall comfort Zion,.... The church, by his Spirit, in the ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances; by the donation of the blessings of grace, and by the application of Gospel promises; by the discoveries of his love; by granting his gracious presence; by blessing his word; and by calling many souls, and adding them to his people: and in order to engage the church and people of God to believe God will do this, and that he can and will bless and increase them when in a low estate, the above instances of calling Abraham alone, and the blessing and increasing him, are produced:

he will comfort all her waste places; by rebuilding them, and restoring them to their former lustre and glory: the church may be said to be "waste" and desolate, and like "a wilderness" and "desert", as in the next clauses, when the doctrines of the Gospel are departed from, the ordinances of public worship are not attended to, and the discipline of it is not kept up; when there are great declensions among the Lord's people, in their faith, love, patience, forbearance, self-denial, spirituality, and heavenly mindedness; when divisions and animosities prevail among them; when there is a negligence in their lives and conversations; and there are but few instances of conversion, and a general unconcernedness about those things; but so it will not always be:

and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; the church is a "garden", a small spot, in comparison of the world, distinguished and separated by the grace of God from others; in which are many precious souls, comparable to trees, herbs, and plants; and these do not grow up of themselves, but are planted there by the Lord; and much pains are taken by him, the husbandman, to cultivate this garden: for it is his, the garden of the Lord; it is of his planting; it is his property, and enclosed for his rise; it is an Eden, pleasantly situated on a fruitful hill, Christ Jesus, by the river of divine love; is full of pleasant plants, pleasant to the owner of the garden, and to the saints themselves; it becomes fruitful through the dews of divine grace, the rising of Christ, the sun of righteousness, and the blowing of the south wind, the blessed Spirit; and may be said to be in a very comfortable condition, when the word and ordinances are duly ministered; when the graces of the Spirit are in exercise, and many souls are converted: the consequence of which is,

joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody; for the pure preaching of the Gospel; the feast of fat things made in the holy mountain; the presence of God enjoyed; a lively exercise of grace in the saints; and many souls born again. The Targum is,

"joy and rejoicing shall be found in her; they that offer thanksgiving, and the voice of them that praise;''

all hearts filled with joy and gladness.

For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness {c} like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found in it, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

(c) As plentiful as paradise, Ge 2:8,9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. shall comfort … will comfort … will make] lit. as R.V. hath comforted … hath made (perf. of certainty).

like the garden of the Lord] Genesis 13:10; cf. Ezekiel 28:13; Ezekiel 31:8 f.

joy and gladness &c.] Cf. Jeremiah 33:11.Verse 3. - The Lord shall comfort Zion (comp. Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 51:12; Isaiah 52:9, etc.). Literally, the word used is has comforted; i.e. has so determined the matter in his counsels that it may be considered as already accomplished. Her waste places... her wilderness... her desert. Though Nebuchadnezzar "left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen" (2 Kings 25:12; Jeremiah 52:16), yet the population was not sufficient to maintain cultivation generally. Thus, much of Judaea, during the absence of the exiles, became a "wilderness" and a "desert" (see Ezekiel 36:34). Like Eden... like the garden of the Lord. The Prophet Joel compares Judaea before its desolation to "the garden of Eden" (Joel 2:3): and Ezekiel, like Isaiah, prophesies that it shall once more become "like the garden of Eden," when the exiles have returned to it (Ezekiel 37:35). With the last-named writer, Eden represents all that is glorious, not in nature only, but in art (Ezekiel 28:13; Ezekiel 31:8, 9, 16, 18). The voice of melody (comp. Isaiah 35:10, and infra, ver. 11). As music ceases out of the land in time of affliction (Isaiah 24:8), so when a "time of refreshing from the Lord" arrives, there is at once singing and "melody" (comp. Revelation 5:8; Revelation 14:2; Revelation 15:2). In the midst of his continued sufferings he was still certain of victory, feeling himself exalted above every human accusation, and knowing that Jehovah would acknowledge him; whereas his opponents were on the way to that destruction, the germ of which they already carried with them. "He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me?! We will draw near together! Who is my adversary in judgment?! Let him draw near to me! Behold, the Lord Jehovah will help me; who is he that could condemn me?! Behold, they all shall fall to pieces like a garment; the moth shall eat them up." הצדּיו and הרשׁיע are forensic antitheses: the former signifies to set one forth, both practically and judicially, as righteous (2 Samuel 15:4; Psalm 82:3); the latter as guilty, רשׁע (Deuteronomy 25:1; Psalm 109:7). נעמדה, which has lost the principal tone on account of the following יחד (יּהד), has munach instead of metheg in the antepenultimate. Ba‛al mishpâtı̄ means, "he who has a judicial cause of lawsuit against me," just as in Roman law the dominus litis is distinguished from the procurator, i.e., from the person who represents him in court (syn. ba‛al debhârı̄m, Exodus 24:14, and 'ı̄sh rı̄bhı̄ in Job 31:35; compare Isaiah 41:11). מי־הוּא are connected, and form an emphatic τίς, Romans 8:34 (Ewald 325, a). "All of them" (kullâm): this refers to all who are hostile to him. They fall to pieces like a worn-out garment, and fall a prey to the moth which they already carry within them - a figure which we meet with again in Isaiah 51:8 (cf., Job 13:28; Hosea 5:12), and one which, although apparently insignificant, is yet really a terrible one, inasmuch as it points to a power of destruction working imperceptibly and slowly, but yet effecting the destruction of the object selected with all the greater certainty.
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