|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
54:1-5 Observe the low state of religion in the world, for a long time before Christianity was brought in. But by preaching the gospel, multitudes were converted from idols to the living God. This is matter of great rejoicing to the church. The bounds of the church were extended. Though its state on earth is but mean and movable, like a tent or tabernacle, it is sometimes a growing state, and must be enlarged as the family increases. But the more numerous the church grows, the more she must fortify herself against errors and corruptions. Thy Maker is thy Husband. Christ is the Holy One of Israel, the Mediator of the covenant made with the Old Testament church. Long he had been called the God of Israel; but now he shall be called the God of the whole earth. And he will cleanse from sin, and cause every true believer to rejoice in this sacred union. We never can enough admire this mercy, or duly value this privilege.
Verse 2. - Enlarge the place of thy tent (comp. Isaiah 33:20 and Jeremiah 10:20). The memory of the old nomadic life caused the "tent" to be the symbol and representative of the dwelling-place (comp. 1 Kings 12:16). Israel will have so many more children that her "tent" will need enlarging. The curtains; i.e. the tent-cloth (comp. Exodus 26 and 36, where the word used occurs repeatedly). Thy cords... thy stakes (comp. Exodus 35:18; Exodus 39:40, etc.). The ropes and tent-pegs, which kept the tent-cloth in place, are intended. The enlargement of the tent would make longer ropes and larger pegs necessary.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Enlarge the place of thy tent,.... To which the church is compared, because of its uncertain and movable condition, being sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; and because of its outward meanness and weakness, as well as its small extent; but now it is signified that it should be enlarged, and room be made for an accession of in habitants to it; or, in other words, that the Gospel church state should not be confined to Jerusalem, but should take place in other parts of Judea, and in Galilee, and in Samaria; hence we read of churches in those places, Acts 9:31,
and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation; alluding to the curtains of which tents or tabernacles were made, which used to be stretched out on poles or stakes, in order to make more room, and hold more people. This may respect the spreading of the Gospel by the apostles, who may be here meant, and the success of it, especially among the Gentiles; who may be said to stretch out the curtains of the tent, the church, when, according to their commission, they went and preached the Gospel to every creature. First they travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching to the Jews only; but when they wholly rejected the Gospel, they turned to the Gentiles, and went everywhere preaching the word, Acts 11:19, and their ministry was blessed to the conversion of multitudes, and Gospel churches were set up in all parts of the world. The Apostle Paul was an eminent instrument of stretching these curtains, who went from Jerusalem, round about to Illyricum, fully preaching the Gospel of Christ, Romans 15:19,
spare not: any cost or pains, to spread the Gospel, enlarge the interest of Christ, and increase his church and people; as did not the apostles of Christ, who may be supposed to be the persons here addressed:
lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; the curtains being stretched out, it was necessary the cords, to which they were fastened, should be lengthened, that they might reach further, and take in a greater compass; and the wider the tent is made by such means, the stronger should be the staves, and the more surely should they be drove and fixed in the earth, to hold the cords with the curtains bound unto them; all which express the enlargement of the church in the Gentile world, by means of the Gospel ministry and discipline. The Targum is,
"multiply the people of thy camp, and strengthen the governors.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. (Isa 49:19, 20; Jer 31:31-36, 38, 39). Thy children shall be so many that thy borders must be extended to contain them.
curtains—the cloth forming the covering of the tent.
spare not—give abundantly the means for the enlargement of the Church (2Co 9:5-7).
cords … stakes—The more the tent is enlarged by lengthening the cords by which the cloth covering is fastened to the ground, the more the stakes supporting the tent need to be strengthened; the Church is not merely to seek new converts, but to strengthen those she has in the faith. The image is appropriate, as the tabernacle was the symbol of the old Israelitish Church (see on Isa 33:20).
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