Isaiah 35:4
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.
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(4) Be strong, fear not: . . .—The words are, of course, wide and general enough, but looking to the probable date of this section, we may perhaps connect them with the tone of Hezekiah’s speech in 2Chronicles 32:7. Both king and prophet had the same words of comfort for the feeble and faint-hearted, and the ground of comfort is that the government of God is essentially a righteous government, punishing the oppressor, and saving the oppressed. (Comp. Joshua 1:6-7.)

35:1-4 Judea was prosperous in the days of Hezekiah, but the kingdom of Christ is the great subject intended. Converting grace makes the soul that was a wilderness, to rejoice with joy and singing, and to blossom abundantly. The feeble and faint-hearted are encouraged. This is the design of the gospel. Fear is weakening; the more we strive against it, the stronger we are, both for doing and suffering; and he that says to us, Be strong, has laid help for us upon One who is mighty. Assurance is given of the approach of Messiah, to take vengeance on the powers of darkness, to recompense with abundant comforts those that mourn in Zion; He will come and save. He will come again at the end of time, to punish those who have troubled his people; and to give those who were troubled such rest as will be a full reward for all their troubles.Say to them - This is still an address to the ministers of religion, to make use of all the consolations which these truths and predictions furnish to confirm and strengthen the people of God.

Of a fearful heart - Of a timid, pusillanimous heart; those who tremble before their enemies. The Hebrew is, as in the Margin, 'Of a hasty heart;' that is, of those who are disposed to flee before their enemies (see the note at Isaiah 30:16).

Behold, your God will come with vengeance - That is, in the manner described in the previous chapter; and, generally, he will take vengeance on all the enemies of his people, and they shall be punished. The language in this chapter is, in part, derived from the captivity at Babylon Isaiah 35:10, and the general idea is, that God would take vengeance on all their enemies, and would bring them complete and final deliverance. This does not mean that when the Messiah should come he would be disposed to take vengeance; nor do the words 'your God' here refer to the Messiah; but it is meant that their God, Yahweh, would certainly come and destroy all their enemies, and prepare the way thus for the coming of the Prince of peace. The general promise is, that however many enemies might attack them, or however much they might fear them, yet that Yahweh would be their protector, and would completely humble and prostrate all their foes. The Hebrew will admit of a somewhat different translation, which I give in accordance with that proposed by Lowth. The sense is not materially varied.

Say ye to the faint-hearted, Be ye strong; fear ye not; behold your God!

Vengeance will come; the retribution of God:

He himself will come, and will deliver you.

4. fearful—"hasty," Margin; that is, with a heart fluttered with agitation.

with—the Hebrew is more forcible than the English Version: "God will come, vengeance! even God, a recompense!" The sense is the same.

Your God will come; though he seem to be absent, and departed from you, he will come to you, and abide with you. He will shortly come in the flesh. For although this and the following promises may be metaphorically taken, concerning the temporal deliverance of his people from Babylonian and other oppressors; yet they are much more emphatically and literally understood concerning the redemption of God’s people by Jesus Christ, as is sufficiently manifest, both from the words and phrases themselves, and from divers places of the New Testament, where they are so expounded by Christ and the apostles.

With vengeance; to execute vengeance upon the enemies of God, and of his people; which also was verified in Christ, who was set for the fall as well as for the rising of many in Israel, Luke 2:34, and who did accordingly inflict most dreadful judgments, both temporal and spiritual, upon the unbelieving and apostate Jews, who were the great persecutors of Christ and, of his people. Say to them that are of a fearful heart,.... Or, "hasty of heart" (w); are at once for flying from the enemy; "hasty" in drawing black conclusions upon themselves and their state; "inconsiderate" of the promises made unto them; ready to doubt of, and call in question, the performance of the above things, respecting the fruitful and flourishing estate of the church: wherefore it must be said to them,

Be strong, fear not; be strong in faith, fear not the enemy, nor doubt of the fulfilment of divine promises, relating to their ruin and your safety:

behold, your God will come with vengeance; Christ, who is God in our nature, God manifest in the flesh, and who came by the assumption of human nature; and when he first came, he came with vengeance, and took vengeance on Satan and his works; on him, and his principalities, and powers, whom he spoiled and destroyed, as well as made an end of sin and abolished death; see Isaiah 61:2 so likewise he came in his kingdom and power, and took vengeance on the Jewish nation, for their disbelief and rejection of him; and which time is expressly called the days of vengeance, Luke 21:22 and at the time of his spiritual coming he will destroy antichrist with the brightness of it, and avenge the blood of his servants, Revelation 18:20 and at his personal coming he will take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not his Gospel, 2 Thessalonians 1:8 and the words are so expressed as to take in the several times of his coming: and since he has already come, and taken vengeance in some instances, this may serve to encourage, and perhaps the design of it is to encourage, the faith of God's people, with respect to his future coming, and the end and issue of it:

even God with a recompence: or, "the God of recompence" (x); and so the Targum,

"the Lord of recompences;''

both to the wicked a just recompence of reward or punishment for their sins, it being just with him to recompense tribulation to them that trouble his people; and to the saints, the time of his spiritual reign being the time, as to destroy them that destroy the earth, so to give a reward to his servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear his name, Revelation 11:18,

he will come and save you; the end of his first coming was to save his people from sin, the curse and condemnation of the law, from hell, wrath, ruin, and destruction; and the end of his spiritual coming, at the latter day, will be to save his people from their antichristian enemies, from idolatry, superstition, and slavery.

(w) "festinis corde", Vatablus; "praecipitantibus corde", Cocceius; "inconsideratis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (x) "praemiator Deus ipse veniet", Castalio.

Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with {e} vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

(e) To destroy your enemies.

4. Cf. Isaiah 40:9-10. them that are of a fearful heart] Lit. “the hasty of heart.” The phrase occurs with a different sense in ch. Isaiah 32:4.

behold, your God … recompence] Better (as R.V. marg.): behold your God! vengeance cometh, the recompence of God; He Himself, &c.

5, 6 a. The removal of bodily infirmities. How far the language is to be taken figuratively it may be difficult to say. Comp. ch. Isaiah 29:18, Isaiah 32:3-4.

6 b, 7. The transformation of the desert. Cf. ch. Isaiah 43:19-20, Isaiah 48:21, Isaiah 49:10.Verse 4. - Say to them that are of a fearful heart. There will be fearful and trembling hearts always, even among the saints of God. These are to be encouraged and assured that God Will come to their aid, will avenge them of their spiritual enemies, reward their efforts to serve him, and in the end "save" them. He will come and save you; rather, he will come himself to save yon. There is One alone who can save, and he must do it himself, and, to do it, he must "come" to us. The words were at once an announcement of the Incarnation, and a promise to every trembling, doubting heart - a promise of direct Divine assistance, of the presence of God within us, of help potent to save. The predominant thought of the prophet appears to have been Messianic, and hence the burst of glorious prophecy which follows - a burst of prophecy most inadequately expounded of the time of the return from the Captivity. The allusion to the monarchy and the lofty electoral dignity leads the prophet on to the palaces and castles of the land. Starting with these, he carries out the picture of the ruins in Isaiah 34:13-15. "And the palaces of Edom break out into thorns, nettles and thistles in its castles; and it becomes the abode of wild dogs, pasture for ostriches. And martens meet with jackals, and a wood-devil runs upon its fellow; yea, Liiliith dwells there, and finds rest for itself. There the arrow-snake makes its nest, and breeds and lays eggs, and broods in the shadow there; yea, there vultures gather together one to another." The feminine suffixes refer to Edom, as they did in the previous instance, as בּת־אדום or אדום ארץ. On the tannı̄m, tsiyyı̄m, and 'iyyı̄m, see at Isaiah 13:21-22. It is doubtful whether châtsı̄r here corresponds to the Arabic word for an enclosure ( equals חצר), as Gesenius, Hitzig, and others suppose, as elsewhere to the Arabic for green, a green field, or garden vegetable. We take it in the latter sense, viz., a grassy place, such as was frequented by ostriches, which live upon plants and fruits. The word tsiyyim (steppe animals) we have rendered "martens," as the context requires a particular species of animals to be named. This is the interpretation given by Rashi (in loc.) and Kimchi in Jeremiah 50:39 to the Targum word tamvân. We do not render 'iyyı̄m "wild cats" (chattūilin), but "jackals," after the Arabic. קרא with על we take in the sense of קרה (as in Exodus 5:3). Lı̄lı̄th (Syr. and Zab. lelitho), lit., the creature of the night, was a female demon (shēdâh) of the popular mythology; according to the legends, it was a malicious fairy that was especially hurtful to children, like some of the fairies of our own fairy tales. There is life in Edom still; but what a caricature of that which once was there! In the very spot where the princes of Edom used to proclaim the new king, satyrs now invite one another to dance (Isaiah 13:21); and there kings and princes once slept in their palaces and country houses, the lı̄lı̄th, which is most at home in horrible places, finds, as though after a prolonged search, the most convenient and most comfortable resting-place. Demons and serpents are not very far distant from one another. The prophet therefore proceeds in Isaiah 34:15 to the arrow-snake, or springing-snake (Arabic qiffâze, from qâphaz, related to qâphats, Sol 2:8, to prepare for springing, or to spring; a different word from qippōd, which has the same root). This builds its nest in the ruins; there it breeds (millēt, to let its eggs slide out) and lays eggs (bâqa‛, to split, i.e., to bring forth); and then it broods in the shade (dâgar is the Targum word in Job 39:14 for chimmēm (ithpael in Lamentations 1:20 for חמרמר), and is also used in the rabbinical writings for fovere, as Jerome renders it here). The literal sense of the word is probably to keep the eggs together (Targum, Jeremiah 17:11, בּעין מכנּשׁ, lxx συνήγαγεν), since דּגר (syn. חמּר) signifies "to collect." Rashi has therefore explained it in both passages as meaning glousser, to cluck, the noise by which a fowl calls its brood together. The dayyâh is the vulture. These fowls and most gregarious birds of prey also collect together there.
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