Isaiah 51:4
Listen to me, my people; and give ear to me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) A law shall proceed.—“Law” and “judgment” include all forms of divine revelation, and specially the “glad tidings” which are the groundwork of the highest law. (Comp. Luke 1:77; Romans 1:17.)

Isaiah 51:4-5. Hearken unto me, my people — Ye Jews, whom I chose to be my peculiar people, do not reject my counsel, which, I have told you, even the Gentiles will receive, nor forsake the mercies of which even they will partake. For a law shall proceed from me — A new law, even the doctrine of the gospel. I will make my judgment to rest for a light — Judgment is here the same thing with law in the former clause, the word of God, or the evangelical doctrine, of which he saith, that he will make it to rest, that is, settle and establish it; whereby he may possibly intimate the stability and perpetuity of this light in the church, that it shall not be like the light of the Mosaic dispensation, which was only to shine for a season, namely, until the time of reformation, (Hebrews 9:10,) when all those dark shadows were to vanish and give place to the Sun of righteousness, and to that kingdom and state that should never be moved. See Daniel 2:44; Hebrews 12:26-28. Of the people — Hebrew, עמים, the peoples, not only you Jews, but people of all sorts and nations, who shall receive and walk in it. My righteousness is near — My salvation, the redemption of all my people, Jews and Gentiles, which is the effect of my righteousness, of my justice, faithfulness, or mercy, which are all called by the name of righteousness in the Scriptures, and all contributed to the work of man’s redemption. My salvation is gone forth — Shall shortly go forth; my eternal purpose of saving my people shall speedily be fulfilled; and mine arm, my power, shall judge the people — Either, 1st, Shall destroy those who obstruct or oppose this work: or, rather, 2d, Shall subdue the Gentiles to my authority, and rule them by my Word and Spirit. The isles — The remote countries of the Gentiles; shall wait upon me — Shall expect this salvation from me, and from me only.51:4-8 The gospel of Christ shall be preached and published. How shall we escape if we neglect it? There is no salvation without righteousness. The soul shall, as to this world, vanish like smoke, and the body be thrown by like a worn-out garment. But those whose happiness is in Christ's righteousness and salvation, will have the comfort of it when time and days shall be no more. Clouds darken the sun, but do not stop its course. The believer will enjoy his portion, while revilers of Christ are in darknessHearken unto me, my people - Lowth reads this;

Attend unto me, O ye people,

And give ear unto me, O ye nations.

The reason why he proposes this change is, that he supposes the address here is made to the Gentiles and not to the Jews, and in favor of the change he observes, that two manuscripts read it in this manner. Gesenius (Commentary) says that three codices read עמים ‛ammiym ("peoples"), instead of עמי ‛amiy ("my people"); and that thirteen MSS. read לאוּמים le'ûmiym ("nations"), instead of לאוּמי leûmiy ("my nation"). Noyes also has adopted this reading. But the authority is too slight to justify a change in the text. The Vulgate reads it in accordance with the present Hebrew text, and so substantially do the Septuagint. They render it, 'Hear me, hear me, my people, and ye kings, give ear unto me.' It is not necessary to suppose any change in the text. The address is to the Jews; and the design is, to comfort them in view of the fact that the pagan would be brought to partake of the privileges and blessings of the true religion. They would not only be restored to their own land, but the true religion would be extended also to the distant nations of the earth. In view of this great and glorious truth, Yahweh calls on his people to hearken to him, and receive the glad announcement. It was a truth in which they were deeply interested, and to which they should therefore attend.

For a law shall proceed from me - The idea here is, that Yahweh would give law to the distant nations by the diffusion of the true religion.

And I will make my judgment to rest for a light - The word 'judgment' here is equivalent to law, or statute, or to the institutions of the true religion. The word rendered here 'to rest' (ערגיע ‛aregiya‛ from רגע râga‛), Lowth renders, 'I will cause to break forth.' Noyes renders it, 'I will establish.' The Vulgate, Requiescet - 'Shall rest.' The Septuagint renders it simply, 'My judgment for a light of the nation.' The word properly means 'to make afraid,' to terrify, to restrain by threats; rendered 'divideth' in Job 26:12; Isaiah 51:15; then, to be afraid, to shrink from fear, and hence, to be still, or quiet, as if cowering down from fear. Here it means that he would set firmly his law; he would place it so that it would be established and immovable.

4. my people—the Jews. This reading is better than that of Gesenius: "O peoples … nations," namely, the Gentiles. The Jews are called on to hear and rejoice in the extension of the true religion to the nations; for, at the first preaching of the Gospel, as in the final age to come, it was from Jerusalem that the gospel law was, and is, to go forth (Isa 2:3).

law … judgment—the gospel dispensation and institutions (Isa 42:1, "judgment").

make … to rest—establish firmly; found.

light, &c.—(Isa 42:6).

Hearken unto me, my people: seeing the Gentiles will hearken to me, as I have formerly told you, take heed that you Jews, whom I chose to be my peculiar people, do not reject my counsel, nor forsake your own mercies, as I fear you will do.

A law; a new law, even the doctrine of the gospel, which ought to have the force of a law with you, and I expect your obedience to it, no less than to my law delivered by Moses.

I will make my judgment to rest: judgment is here the same thing with law in the former clause, the word of God, which is frequently called judgment, as hath been observed again and again, or the evangelical doctrine, of which he saith that he will make it to rest, i.e. settle and establish it; whereby he may-possibly intimate the stability and perpetuity of this light in the church, that it shall not be like the light of the Mosaical dispensation, which was only to shine for a season, even until the time of reformation, Hebrews 9:10, when all those dark shadows were to vanish and give place to the Sun of righteousness, and to that kingdom and state that should never be moved, as we read, Daniel 2:44 Hebrews 12:26-28, and in many other places.

For a light of the people, Heb. of or to the peoples; not only to you Jews, but unto people of all sorts and nations, who shall receive and walk in that light which you will reject, and use all possible endeavours to extinguish. Hearken unto me, my people,.... His special people, whether Jews or Gentiles, chosen by him, taken into covenant with him; given to Christ, redeemed by him as a peculiar people, and called by his grace; these are exhorted to hearken to him; to his word, as the Targum; see Isaiah 51:1,

and give ear unto me, O my nation; not the nation of the Jews only, but the Gentiles; a nation taken out of a nation, even out of all nations; a chosen and a holy nation. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it "kings"; such are made kings and priests unto God: see 1 Peter 2:9,

for a law shall proceed from me; not the Sinai law, but the Gospel; that doctrine that is said to go out of Zion, Isaiah 2:3, as Kimchi rightly observes, who adds,

"for the King Messiah shall teach the people to walk in the ways of the Lord; and this shall be after the war of Gog and Magog:''

and this law or doctrine of God comes from Christ, and is dictated, directed, and made effectual by his Spirit:

and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people; this is the same with the law, or doctrine of the Gospel, called "judgment", because it comes from the God of judgment, flows from his wisdom and counsel, and is a declaration of his will; it expands his method of justifying sinners, and is the means of awakening, convincing, and judging the consciences of men, and of informing and establishing the judgments of the saints, and by which the world will be judged at the last day. Now this is

for a light of the people; to enlighten unconverted ones, such who sit in darkness, to turn them from it, and call them out of it into marvellous light; and to illuminate the saints yet more and more, both with respect to doctrine and duty. And this is said to be made to "rest"; which denotes both the continuance of it in the world, until all the ends of it are answered; and the spiritual rest it gives to weary souls now, as well as points out to them that which remains for them hereafter. Though the words may be rendered, "I will cause my judgment to break forth" (h); like the morning, suddenly, and in a "moment" (i); to which agrees what follows.

(h) "erumpere faciam", De Dieu. (i) So R. Jonah, in Ben Melech, takes it to have the signification of "a moment"; as if the sense is, "my judgment I will show every moment from this time, to enlighten the people with it."

Hearken to me, my people; and give ear to me, O my nation: for a {d} law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.

(d) I will rule and govern my Church by my word and doctrine.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Hearken unto me] Better as R.V. Attend unto me, the verb being different from that used in Isaiah 51:1; Isaiah 51:7.

a law shall proceed from me] See ch. Isaiah 2:3 (“for out of Zion shall go forth Tôrâh”). For a law (tôrâh) read, as usual, instruction. The word judgment in the next line is probably to be rendered “religion” as in Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 42:3-4 (see on Isaiah 42:1).

The verb rendered “make to rest” has three meanings in the O.T. (a) to “cause to rest” (Jeremiah 31:2) or “be at rest” (ch. Isaiah 34:14), (b) to “set in commotion” (Jeremiah 50:34, see on Isaiah 51:15 below), and (c) to “do a thing in the twinkling of an eye” (Jeremiah 49:19). Of these (a) is alone possible in the present connexion, though hardly quite suitable; the sense “establish,” given by some critics, seems to have no sufficient support. By the LXX. the word is taken with Isaiah 51:5, and in the sense (c), and this suggests the true reading, although it requires a slight modification of the following word. The construction would be the same as in Jeremiah 49:19, and the rendering perhaps, “Suddenly I bring near my righteousness.” The word is at all events superfluous in Isaiah 51:4, the last clause of which reads simply: and my judgement for a light of the peoples (cf. Isaiah 49:6).

4–6. The universal extension of the true religion is the second ground of comfort which the prophet is commissioned to offer to his fellow believers. The language of Isaiah 51:4-5 is obviously moulded on that of ch. Isaiah 42:1-4; the functions there assigned to the Servant of the Lord are here assumed by Jehovah Himself. At the same time the thought is implied that the restored Israel is to be the bearer of salvation to the world at large, and thus the further idea is suggested that the ideal represented by the Servant will be realised by the people of Israel when it emerges purified from the discipline of the Captivity.Verse 4. - Hearken unto me; rather, attend to me - a stronger term than "hearken" - attend, and hear of a greater blessing than the restoration of the land of Judah to cultivation and fruitfulness. God, enthroned anew in Zion, will from thence send forth his light and his truth to the nations, will make his Law known to them, and allow them to partake of his salvation. O my nation. Some manuscripts have "O ye nations." But the reading is undoubtedly a wrong one. A law shall proceed from me. The Christian "law" - the new covenant - is probably intended. This became, by the preaching of the apostles, a light of the people, or rather, of the peoples. 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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