|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
49:18-23 Zion is addressed as an afflicted widow, bereaved of her children. Numbers flock to her, and she is assured that they come to be a comfort to her. There are times when the church is desolate and few in number; yet its desolations shall not last for ever, and God will repair them. God can raise up friends for returning Israelites, even among Gentiles. They shall bring their children, and make them thy children. Let all deal tenderly and carefully with young converts and beginners in religion. Princes shall protect the church. It shall appear that God is the sovereign Lord of all. And those who in the exercise of faith, hope, and patience, wait on God for the fulfilment of his promises, shall never be confounded.
Verse 23. - Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; or, thy foster-fathers... thy foster-mothers. Kings and queens (sultanas) shall put themselves at the disposal of the Church, to nourish and cherish such of the Church's children as may be entrusted to their care. They shall bow down. They shall not seek to lord it over the Church, but shall acknowledge in the officers of the Church a spiritual authority superior to their own, before which they shall "bow down," as Theodosius did. They shall even be willing, when they are conscious of guilt, to "lick the dust" under the Church's feet, or subject themselves to deep humiliation, that they may be restored. They shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Such as wait patiently and trust in the fulfilment of all these gracious promises shall escape shame, for the promises will assuredly be fulfilled.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers,.... Who shall show favour and respect to the church and people of God, grant them liberty, and protect and defend them in their religious privileges: for this is to be understood not figuratively of apostles and apostolical men, as Jerom, who are kings and priests unto God, and who feed the church with the milk of the word, and the breasts of ordinances; but literally of the kings and queens of the earth; and is thought to have had its fulfilment, at least in part, in Cyrus, Ahasuerus, Esther, and others; but more so in Christian kings and queens, as Constantine and Helena, Theodosius and Placilla, and others; and will have a far greater accomplishment in the latter day glory; see Isaiah 60:3,
they shall bow down toward thee with their faces toward the earth; which expresses the great veneration and respect these great personages shall have for the church of God, and their entire submission and subjection to the Gospel of Christ, and the ordinances of it, and to the laws and discipline of his house; for they shall now become members of the Christian church, and be entirely under the government of it, as to religious things; see Revelation 3:9.
and lick up the dust of thy feet; the allusion is to the eastern nations, especially the Persians, who, in the adoration of their kings, used to kiss the ground they stood on, and seemed to lick, if they did not, the dust that was about them; and it expresses the very low submission of kings and princes to the church, and their high veneration of it; their willingness to do the meanest office for the good of it, and their great regard and affection for the meanest of its members, the dust of Zion; see Psalm 72:9,
and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who has the hearts of all men, even of kings, in his hands, and can turn them, and bring them to a thorough submission to his will; and who is able to accomplish all his promises, and is true and faithful to them; this will be known and owned by the church, when the above things have their accomplishment:
for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me; or for my salvation, as the Targum; for favours from him; for the light of his countenance; for the discoveries and application of pardoning grace; for the performance of promises; for answers of prayer; for his spiritual coming, and for eternal glory and happiness; these shall not be ashamed of him for whom they wait, nor of their hope and expectation of him, nor at his coming.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. lick … dust—that is, kiss thy feet in token of humble submission.
for they … not … ashamed … wait for me—The restoration of Israel shall be in answer to their prayerful waiting on the Lord (Isa 30:18, 19; Ps 102:16, 17; Zec 12:10; 14:3).
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