|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:1-10 Babylon was a flat country, abundantly watered. The destruction of Babylon, so often prophesied of by Isaiah, was typical of the destruction of the great foe of the New Testament church, foretold in the Revelation. To the poor oppressed captives it would be welcome news; to the proud oppressors it would be grievous. Let this check vain mirth and sensual pleasures, that we know not in what heaviness the mirth may end. Here is the alarm given to Babylon, when forced by Cyrus. An ass and a camel seem to be the symbols of the Medes and Persians. Babylon's idols shall be so far from protecting her, that they shall be broken down. True believers are the corn of God's floor; hypocrites are but as chaff and straw, with which the wheat is now mixed, but from which it shall be separated. The corn of God's floor must expect to be threshed by afflictions and persecutions. God's Israel of old was afflicted. Even then God owns it is his still. In all events concerning the church, past, present, and to come, we must look to God, who has power to do any thing for his church, and grace to do every thing that is for her good.
Verse 3. - Therefore are my loins filled with pain, etc. (comp. above, Isaiah 15:5; Isaiah 16:9-11). The prophet is horrorstruck at the vision shown him - at the devastation, the ruin, the carnage (Isaiah 13:18). He does not stop to consider how well deserved the punishment is; he does not, perhaps, as yet know how that, in smiting Babylon, God will be specially avenging the sufferings of his own nation (see the introductory paragraph). I was bowed down at the hearing, etc.; rather, I am so agonized that I cannot hear; I am so terrified that I cannot see.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore are my loins filled with pain,.... As a woman at the time of childbirth, as the following words show: these words are spoken by the prophet, not with respect to himself, as if he was pained at heart at the prophecy and vision he had of the ruin of Babylon, since that was a mortal enemy of his people; and besides, their sighing being made to cease could never be a reason of distress in him, but of joy: these words are spoken by him in the person of the Babylonians, and particularly of Belshazzar their king:
pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth; which come suddenly and at once, are very sharp and strong, and inevitable, which cannot be escaped; so the sudden destruction of the wicked, and particularly of antichrist at the last day, and the terror that shall attend it, are expressed by the same metaphor, 1 Thessalonians 5:2,
I was bowed down at the hearing of it; distorted and convulsed; not the prophet at the hearing of the prophecy, but Belshazzar, whom he personated, at hearing that Cyrus had entered the city, and was at the gates of his palace:
I was dismayed at the seeing of it; the handwriting upon the wall, at which his countenance changed, his thoughts were troubled, his loins loosed, and his knees smote one against another, Daniel 5:6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Isaiah imagines himself among the exiles in Babylon and cannot help feeling moved by the calamities which come on it. So for Moab (Isa 15:5; 16:11).
pain—(Compare Isa 13:8; Eze 30:4, 19; Na 2:10).
at the hearing—The Hebrew may mean, "I was so bowed down that I could not hear; I was so dismayed that I could not see" (Ge 16:2; Ps 69:23) [Maurer].
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