|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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 darkness
Verse 6. - Lift up your eyes to the heavens. Look to that which seems to you most stable and most certain to endure - the vast firmament of the heavens, and the solid earth beneath it, of which God "bears up the pillars" (Psalm l25:3). Both these, and man too, are in their nature perishable, and will (or may) vanish away and cease to be. But God, and his power to save, and his eternal law of right, can never pass away, but must endure for evermore. Let Israel be sure that the righteous purposes of God with respect to their own deliverance from Babylon, and to the conversion of the Gentiles, stand firm, and that they will most certainly be accomplished. The heavens shall vanish away like smoke (comp. Psalm 102:26; Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:10-12). And the earth shall wax old like a garment. So also in Psalm 102:26 and Hebrews 1:11. The new heaven and new earth promised by Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22), St. Peter (2 Peter 3:13), and St. John (Revelation 21:1) are created in the last times, because "the first heaven and the first earth have passed away." They that dwell therein shall die in like manner. Dr. Kay observes that the Hebrew text does not say, "in like manner," but "as in like manner." Man is not subject to the same law of perishableness as the external world, but to a different law. External things simply "pass away" and are no more. Man disappears from the earth, but continues to exist somewhere. He has, by God's gift, a life that is to be unceasing.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,.... And observe their beauty and order, the constant and regular motion of the heavenly bodies, the firmness and solidity of them:
and look upon the earth beneath; how stable and well founded it is:
for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke; though they are so firm, and have lasted so long, and have kept their constant situation and course, yet they shall melt away like salt, as the word (k) signifies, and disappear in an instant like smoke. Reference seems to be had to the general conflagration, when the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, 2 Peter 3:12,
and the earth shall wax old like a garment; and be folded up, and laid aside, as useless; see Psalm 102:26. This seems to design not a substantial destruction of the earth, but of its qualities, when waxing old it shall be renewed and changed. Jarchi interprets these clauses of the princes of the hosts of people in heaven, and the governors of the earth; but the inhabitants thereof are mentioned next:
and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; as the heavens and the earth; be dissolved as they, and in like manner; vanish as smoke, and be seen no more; wax old as a garment, and become useless and unprofitable. De Dieu renders it, "as a louse" (l), and so this word sometimes signifies; and this sense is approved of by many learned men (m), and seems best to agree with the text; since neither the heavens and the earth are said to die, nor smoke, or a garment: and it may denote how loathsome and nauseous wicked men are in life, like vermin; and how mean and contemptible in death, their bodies are vile and despicable, and how easily they are destroyed:
but my salvation shall be for ever; that salvation which Christ has wrought out for his people is an everlasting salvation, Isaiah 14:17, Hebrews 5:9 and they that are interested in it will be always safe and happy; and though they shall die as other men, they shall rise again, and enjoy glory, immortality, and eternal life:
and my righteousness shall not be abolished: the righteousness which Christ has brought in for his people, and by which they are justified, is also everlasting, Daniel 9:24 or, "shall not be broken" (n); it answers all the demands of law and justice, and stands firm against all the accusations and charges of men and devils: or, "shall not fail" (o), as the Septuagint; its virtue to justify will always continue; it will answer for the saints in a time to come, even at the last judgment. The Targum is, it
"shall not tarry;''
being near to be wrought out and revealed, Isaiah 51:5.
(k) "Symmachus". It is expressive of corruption and consumption, as Ben Melech observes; which is the sense of salt land, not inhabited Jeremiah 17 6. It denotes, as Gussetius (Ebr. Comment. p. 469.) thinks, the fluctuating and confused agitation of the heavens, like those of the salt sea, and as smoke over the head. (l) "tanquam pediculus", De Dieu; so the word is used in Exodus 8.16, 17, 18. "instar vermiculi", Vitringa. (m) Calvinus, Gataker, Gussetius. (n) "conteretur", Pagninus, Montanus; "atteretur", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. So Ben Melech interprets it, "shall not be broken". (o) , Sept. "non deficiet", V. L.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. (Isa 40:6, 8; Ps 102:26; Heb 1:11, 12).
vanish away—literally, "shall be torn asunder," as a garment [Maurer]; which accords with the context.
in like manner—But Gesenius, "Like a gnat"; like the smallest and vilest insect. Jerome translates, as English Version, and infers that "in like manner" as man, the heavens (that is, the sky) and earth are not to be annihilated, but changed for the better (Isa 65:17).
righteousness—My faithfully fulfilled promise (see on Isa 51:5).
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