|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 7. - The flower fadeth: because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it. When the hot winds, which God sends, blow in spring-time, the flowers fade; when a destroying breath from him (see Isaiah 30:33) passes over the generations of men, they perish. Surely the people is grass. Either a mere repetition of "all flesh is grass" (ver. 6) with an asseveration, or an intimation that "the people" of Israel is not exempt from the lot of mankind in general, but shares it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth,.... And so does man, and all his glory and goodliness:
because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: alluding to some impetuous and blasting wind blowing upon herbs and flowers, to the withering and fading of them; see Psalm 103:15, legal ordinances ceased upon the pouring forth of the Spirit. The external excellencies of men, or their outward advantages, perish at the breath of God, at the blast of his nostrils, when taken away by death; and at conversion the Spirit of the Lord blows a blast upon all the goodliness of man; the operations of the Spirit are compared to wind, John 3:8, which, like that, are free, and, as he pleases, are invisible and imperceptible, land powerful and efficacious, and these cause a withering in men's goodness; the Spirit of God shows that their holiness is not true holiness; that their righteousness has only the appearance of one before men; and their religion and godliness a mere form; and their good works, "splendida peccata", shining sins; that those are insufficient to justify and save, and bring to heaven; upon which they fade away and die in their esteem, who now reckon them but loss and dung, Philippians 3:6, "surely the people is grass"; the people of the Jews, with all their external advantages; yea, all people, with all the excellencies of human nature, or considered in their best estate, possessed of all that is reckoned good and great, being but mere natural men. The Targum restrains this to the ungodly, as it does the former verse, rendering it,
"as grass the wicked among the people are esteemed;''
as it does the former, thus,
"the wicked are as grass, and their strength as the stubble of the field.''
So Kimchi interprets them of the nations that come with Gog and Magog; and Jarchi of the princes of the kingdoms; but very wrongly, since it is true of all flesh, or of all mankind.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. spirit of the Lord—rather, "wind of Jehovah" (Ps 103:16). The withering east wind of those countries sent by Jehovah (Jon 4:8).
the people—rather, "this people" [Lowth], which may refer to the Babylonians [Rosenmuller]; but better, mankind in general, as in Isa 42:5, so Isa 40:6, "all flesh"; this whole race, that is, man.
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