Isaiah 55:12
For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) The mountains and the hills . . .—Cheyne aptly compares—

“Ipsi lætitia voces ad sidera jactant

Intonsi montes.” VIRG., Æclog.

(The very hills, no more despoiled of trees,

Shall to the stars break forth in minstrelsies.)

The waving of the branches of the trees is, in the poet’s thoughts, what the clapping of hands is with men, a sign of jubilant exultation (Psalm 96:12).

55:6-13 Here is a gracious offer of pardon, and peace, and of all happiness. It shall not be in vain to seek God, now his word is calling to us, and his Spirit is striving with us. But there is a day coming when he will not be found. There may come such a time in this life; it is certain that at death and judgment the door will be shut. There must be not only a change of the way, but a change of the mind. We must alter our judgments about persons and things. It is not enough to break off from evil practices, we must strive against evil thoughts. To repent is to return to our Lord, against whom we have rebelled. If we do so, God will multiply to pardon, as we have multiplied to offend. But let none trifle with this plenteous mercy, or use it as an occasion to sin. Men's thoughts concerning sin, Christ, and holiness, concerning this world and the other, vastly differ from God's; but in nothing more than in the matter of pardon. We forgive, and cannot forget; but when God forgives sin, he remembers it no more. The power of his word in the kingdoms of providence and grace, is as certain as in that of nature. Sacred truth produces a spiritual change in the mind of men, which neither rain nor snow can make on the earth. It shall not return to the Lord without producing important effects. If we take a special view of the church, we shall find what great things God has done, and will do for it. The Jews shall come to their own land; this shall represent the blessings promised. Gospel grace will make a great change in men. Delivered from the wrath to come, the converted sinner finds peace in his conscience; and love constrains him to devote himself to the service of his Redeemer. Instead of being profane, contentious, selfish, or sensual, behold him patient, humble, kind, and peaceable. The hope of helping in such a work should urge us to spread the gospel of salvation. And do thou help us, O Spirit of all truth, to have such views of the fulness, freeness, and greatness of the rich mercy in Christ, as may remove from us all narrow views of sovereign grace.For ye shall go out with joy - This language is that which is properly applicable to the exiles in Babylon, but there can be no doubt that the prophet looks also to the future happier times of the Messiah (compare the notes at Isaiah 52:7).

The mountains and the hills - Language like this is common in Isaiah, where all nature is called on to rejoice, or where inanimate objects are represented as expressing their sympathy with the joy of the people of God (see the note at Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 35:1-2, Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 42:10-11; Isaiah 44:23). Indeed, this imagery is common in all poetry. Thus, Virgil:

Ipsi laetitia voces ad sidera jactant,

Intonsi montes: ipsae jam carmina rupes,

Ipsa sonant arhusta.

Ec. v. 62ff.

The untill'd mountains strike the echoing sky;

And rocks and towers the triumph speed abroad.

Wrangham

Such language occurs especially in the poetry of the Orientals. Thus, when the god Ramar was going to the desert, says Roberts, it was said to him, 'The trees will watch for you; they will say, He is come, he is come; and the white flowers will clap their hands. The leaves as they shake will say, Come, come, and the thorny places will be changed into gardens of flowers.'

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands - To clap the hands is expressive of joy and rejoicing (compare 2 Kings 11:12; Psalm 47:1). Thus, in Psalm 98:8, it is said:

Let the floods clap their hands;

Let the hills be joyful together.

Among the Jews the language was sometimes used to express malignant joy at the calamity of others (compare Job 27:3; Job 34:37; Lamentations 2:15; Ezekiel 25:6). Here it is an expression of the universal rejoicing which would attend the extension of the kingdom of God on the earth.

12. go out—from the various countries in which ye (the Jews) are scattered, to your own land (Eze 11:17).

led—by Messiah, your "Leader" (Isa 55:4; Isa 52:12; Mic 2:12, 13).

mountains … trees, &c.—images justly used to express the seeming sympathy of nature with the joy of God's people. For, when sin is removed, the natural world shall be delivered from "vanity," and be renewed, so as to be in unison with the regenerated moral world (Isa 44:23; Ps 98:8; Ro 8:19-22).

For; or, Therefore; because God hath promised it, and therefore will effect it.

Ye shall go out; ye shall be released from the place and state of your bondage. He alludes to their going out of Egypt, which was a type of their succeeding deliverances, and especially of their redemption by Christ from the power of sin and of the devil.

Be led forth; or, be led along; be conducted by the gracious and powerful presence of God, as you were in the wilderness. With peace; safely and triumphantly, without fear of being retaken and brought back into slavery by your enemies.

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands; there shall be a great and general rejoicing at your deliverance, so that even the senseless creatures shall seem to rejoice with you and for you. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace,.... Though these words may literally respect the Jews' return from captivity to their own land, attended with joy and peace; as the preceding verse may respect the word of promise concerning it; as it is interpreted by the Targum,

"for with joy shall ye go out from among the people, and with peace shall ye be brought to your own land;''

yet they may be spiritually applied to the conversion of men, in consequence of the word being made effectual, of which the deliverance from the Babylonish thraldom was a type; when men "go out" of a state of bondage to sin, Satan, and the law; out of a state of darkness and ignorance; out of the pit of nature's misery and distress; out of themselves and their own righteousness; out of their own sinful ways, and from among the men of the world: and though here is a divine power exerted in all this, yet they go out freely, being led by the Spirit of God; who takes them by the hand as it were, and leads them in ways before unknown to them; he leads them to Christ, his person, fulness, blood, and righteousness; to the house of God, and to the ordinances of it; and from one degree of grace to another, till he brings them to glory: all which is attended with "joy and peace" to themselves; finding themselves released from bondage, in a state of light and comfort, out of the horrible pit, and on a rock; brought to Christ, and clothed with his righteousness; to the angels in heaven, who rejoice over every sinner that repenteth; to the ministers of the Gospel, who are the instruments of their conversion; and to all the saints into whose fellowship they are brought; which joy is further illustrated by the following strong figures:

the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; or the people that dwell upon them: and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands; or clap with their branches; as the Targum, the tops of them, being moved with gentle breezes of wind, bow themselves, and the branches intertwining and clasping each other like hands and arms. Kimchi observes, that "mountains and hills" may signify the kings of the nations; and "the trees of the field" the people rejoicing at the deliverance of the Jews, as they pass along: it may be as well applied to the ministers of the word, and common believers rejoicing at the conversion of sinners, in whom as wonderful a change is wrought, as in the following cases. Vitringa interprets this of the apostles and ministers of the word going forth into the Gentile world, attended with joy in themselves, and among the converts there.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the {n} mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

(n) Read Isa 44:23,49:13

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12, 13. The joyful exodus from Babylon; this is the “thing whereto Jehovah has sent” His word.

and be led forth] by Jehovah in person, ch. Isaiah 40:10, Isaiah 52:12. Cf. Micah 2:13.

shall clap their hands] Psalm 98:8; Ezekiel 25:6.Verse 12. - Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace (comp. Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 40:9-11; Isaiah 43:3-6, 19-21, etc.). A strong contrast is frequently drawn between the exodus from Babylon and that from Egypt. On the former occasion all was hurry, alarm, disquiet, danger. The later exodus will be accompanied with "peace" and "joy" (see Isaiah 51:9 - 16, etc.). (For the fulfilment, see Ezra 1, 2, and 7, 8.) The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing. All nature shall rejoice at your deliverance, especially the noblest and the grandest parts of nature - "the mountains and the hills." Isaiah's admiration of mountains continually reveals itself throughout the work (Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 13:2, 4; Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 22:5; Isaiah 30:17, 25; Isaiah 34:3; Isaiah 40:4, 9, 12; Isaiah 42:11, 15, etc.). It is quite in his manner to speak of nature as bursting forth into singing (Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13). All the trees of the field shall clap their hands. The metaphor is not found elsewhere in Isaiah, but appears in Psalm 98:8. So gracious is the offer which Jehovah now makes to His people, so great are the promises that He makes to it, viz., the regal glory of David, and the government of the world by virtue of the religion of Jehovah. Hence the exhortation is addressed to it in Isaiah 55:6 and Isaiah 55:7 : "Seek ye Jehovah while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to Jehovah, and He will have compassion upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." They are to seek to press into the fellowship of Jehovah (dârash with the radical meaning terere, to acquire experimental knowledge or confidential acquaintance with anything) now that He is to be found (Isaiah 65:1, compare the parallelism of words and things in Jeremiah 29:14), and to call upon Him, viz., for a share in that superabundant grace, ow that He is near, i.e., now that He approaches Israel, and offers it. In the admonition to repentance introduced in Isaiah 55:7, both sides of the μετάνοια find expression, viz., turning away from sinful self-will, and turning to the God of salvation. The apodosis with its promises commences with וירחמהוּ - then will He have compassion upon such a man; and consequently לסלוח כּי־ירבּה (with כּי because the fragmentary sentence ואל־אלהינוּ did not admit of the continuation with ו) has not a general, but an individual meaning (vid., Psalm 130:4, Psalm 130:7), and is to be translated as a future (for the expression, compare Isaiah 26:17).
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