Isaiah 42:7
To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
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(7) To open the blind eyes.—The prophet must have felt the contrast between this and his own mission (Isaiah 6:10). The words all point to spiritual blessings. (Comp. St. Paul’s call in Acts 26:18.) The “prison” is that of the selfishness and sin which hinder men from being truly free. In the “prisoners of hope” of Zechariah 9:11, and the “spirits in prison” of 1Peter 3:18, we have different aspects of the same thought.

42:5-12 The work of redemption brings back man to the obedience he owes to God as his Maker. Christ is the light of the world. And by his grace he opens the understandings Satan has blinded, and sets at liberty from the bondage of sin. The Lord has supported his church. And now he makes new promises, which shall as certainly be fulfilled as the old ones were. When the Gentiles are brought into the church, he is glorified in them and by them. Let us give to God those things which are his, taking heed that we do not serve the creature more than the Creator.To open the blind eyes - This is equivalent to saying that he would impart instruction to those who were ignorant. It relates to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles. He would acquaint them with God, and with the way of salvation. The condition of the world is often represented as one of darkness and blindness. Men see not their true character; they see not their real condition; they are ignorant of God, and of the truths pertaining to their future existence; and they need, therefore, some one who shall enlighten, and sanctify, and save them.

To bring out the prisoners from the prison - (Compare Isaiah 61:1-2). This evidently refers to a spiritual deliverance, though the language is derived from deliverance from a prison. It denotes that he would rescue those who were confined in mental darkness by sin; and that their deliverance from the thraldom and darkness of sin would be as wonderful as if a prisoner should be delivered suddenly from a dark cell, and be permitted to go forth and breathe the pure air of freedom. Such is the freedom which the gospel imparts; nor can there be a more striking description of its happy effects on the minds and hearts of darkened and wretched people (compare 1 Peter 2:9).

7. blind—spiritually (Isa 42:16, 18, 19; Isa 35:5; Joh 9:39).

prison—(Isa 61:1, 2).

darkness—opposed to "light" (Isa 42:6; Eph 5:8; 1Pe 2:9).

The blind eyes; the eyes of their minds blinded with long ignorance, and deep prejudice, and inveterate error, and by the power and policy of the god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4, which nothing but the almighty power of God could cure.

The prisoners; sinners, unto are taken captive by the devil at his will, as we read, 2 Timothy 2:26, and as daily experience showeth, and who are enslaved and chained by their own lusts, and made free-men only by Christ, John 8:32,36. Compare this portion of Scripture with Isaiah 61:1, and both with Luke 4:17-21, where it is said to be fulfilled in and by Christ.

To open the blind eyes,.... Of the idolatrous Gentiles, who were spiritually blind, and knew not the wretchedness of their case; the exceeding sinfulness of sin; their need of a Saviour, and who he was; as they did, when their eyes were opened by means of the Gospel sent among them, through the energy of the divine Spirit; for this is a work of almighty power and efficacious grace:

to bring out the prisoners from the prison; who were concluded in sin, shut up in unbelief, and under the law, the captives of Satan, and held fast prisoners by him and their own lusts, under the dominion of which they were:

and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house: of sin, Satan, and the law; being under which, they were in a state of darkness and ignorance as to things divine and spiritual. The allusion is to prisons, which are commonly dark places. Vitringa, by the "prisoners", understands the Jews shut up under the law; and by those in "darkness" the Gentiles, destitute of all divine knowledge.

To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
7. to open [the] blind eyes] The subject of this and the following verb might be either Jehovah or His Servant, and the point is not quite settled by ch. Isaiah 49:8. The latter, however, seems more probable from Isaiah 49:6. The reference is no doubt to the Servant’s work on Israel. The “blindness” spoken of is spiritual (see Isaiah 42:18-20); imprisonment is a metaphor for the Captivity (Isaiah 42:22); although a spiritual application may be included here also.

Verse 7. - To open the blind eyes. The Messiah was to cure both physical and. spiritual blindness (see Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 32:3; Isaiah 35:5, etc.). Here it is spiritual blindness that is specially intended, as appears both by the symbolic language of the two conjoined clauses, and by the comment of vers. 16-19. To bring out the prisoners from the prison; rather, to bring out prisoners. To deliver from the bondage of sin such as are its slaves, and shut up in its prison-houses. The promise is general, but, like all spiritual promises, conditioned by the willingness of those who are its objects to avail themselves of it. Them that sit in darkness (comp. Isaiah 9:2). Isaiah 42:7The words of Jehovah are now addressed to His servant himself. He has not only an exalted vocation, answering to the infinite exaltation of Him from whom he has received his call; but by virtue of the infinite might of the caller, he may be well assured that he will never be wanting in power to execute his calling. "Thus saith God, Jehovah, who created the heavens, and stretched them out; who spread the earth, and its productions; who gave the spirit of life to the people upon it, and the breath of life to them that walk upon it: I, Jehovah, I have called thee in righteousness, and grasped thy hand; and I keep thee, and make thee the covenant of the people, the light of the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners out of the prison, them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house." The perfect 'âmar is to be explained on the ground that the words of God, as compared with the prophecy which announces them, are always the earlier of the two. האל (the absolutely Mighty) is an anticipatory apposition to Jehovah (Ges. 113**). The attributive participles we have resolved into perfects, because the three first at least declare facts of creation, which have occurred once for all. נוטיהם is not to be regarded as a plural, after Isaiah 54:5 and Job 35:10; but as בּורא precedes it, we may take it as a singular with an original quiescent Yod, after Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 22:11; Isaiah 26:12. On רקע (construct of רקע), see Isaiah 40:19. The ו of וצאצאיה (a word found both in Job and Isaiah, used here in its most direct sense, to signify the vegetable world) must be taken in accordance with the sense, as the Vav of appurtenance; since רקע may be affirmed of the globe itself, but not of the vegetable productions upon it (cf., Genesis 4:20; Judges 6:5; 2 Chronicles 2:3). Neshâmâh and rūăch are epithets applied to the divine principle of life in all created corporeal beings, or, what is the same thing, in all beings with living souls. At the same time, neshâmâh is an epithet restricted to the self-conscious spirit of man, which gives him his personality (Psychol. p. 76, etc.); whereas rūăch is applied not only to the human spirit, but to the spirit of the beast as well. Accordingly, עם signifies the human race, as in Isaiah 40:7. What is it, then, that Jehovah, the Author of all being and all life, the Creator of the heaven and the earth, says to His servant here? "I Jehovah have called thee 'in righteousness'" (betsedeq: cf., Isaiah 45:13, where Jehovah also says of Cyrus, "I have raised him up in righteousness"). צדק, derived from צדק, to be rigid, straight, denotes the observance of a fixed rule. The righteousness of God is the stringency with which He acts, in accordance with the will of His holiness. This will of holiness is, so far as the human race is concerned, and apart from the counsels of salvation, a will of wrath; but from the standpoint of these counsels it is a will of love, which is only changed into a will of wrath towards those who despise the grace thus offered to them. Accordingly, tsedeq denotes the action of God in accordance with His purposes of love and the plan of salvation. It signifies just the same as what we should call in New Testament phraseology the holy love of God, which, because it is a holy love, has wrath against its despisers as its obverse side, but which acts towards men not according to the law of works, but according to the law of grace. The word has this evangelical sense here, where Jehovah says of the Mediator of His counsels of love, that He has called Him in strict adherence to the will of His love, which will show mercy as right, but at the same time will manifest a right of double severity towards those who scornfully repel the offered mercy. That He had been called in righteousness, is attested to the servant of Jehovah by the fact that Jehovah has taken Him by the hand (ואחזד contracted after the manner of a future of sequence), and guards Him, and appoints Him גּוים לאור עם לברית. These words are a decisive proof that the idea of the expression "servant of Jehovah" has been elevated in Isaiah 42:1., as compared with Isaiah 41:8, from the national base to the personal apex. Adherence to the national sense necessarily compels a resort to artifices which carry their own condemnation, such as that עם ברית signifies the "covenant nation,"as Hitzig supposes, or "the mediating nation," as Ewald maintains, whereas either of these would require ברית עם; or "national covenant" (Knobel), in support of which we are referred, though quite inconclusively, to Daniel 11:28, where קדשׁ בּרית does not mean the covenant of the patriots among themselves, but the covenant religion, with its distinctive sign, circumcision; or even that עם is collective, and equivalent to עמים (Rosenmller), whereas עם and גוים, when standing side by side, as they do here, can only mean Israel and the Gentiles; and so far as the passage before us is concerned, this is put beyond all doubt by Isaiah 49:8 (cf., Isaiah 42:6).

An unprejudiced commentator must admit that the "servant of Jehovah" is pointed out here, as He in whom and through whom Jehovah concludes a new covenant with His people, in the place of the old covenant that was broken - namely, the covenant promised in Isaiah 54:10; Isaiah 61:8; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 16:60. The mediator of this covenant with Israel cannot be Israel itself, not even the true Israel, as distinguished from the mass (where do we read anything of this kind?); on the contrary, the remnant left after the sweeping away of the mass is the object of this covenant.

(Note: This is equally applicable to V. F. Oehler (Der Knecht Jehova's im Deuterojesaia, 2 Theile, 1865), who takes the "servant of Jehovah" as far as Isaiah 52:14 in a national sense, and supposes "the transition from the 'servant' as a collective noun, to the 'servant' as an individual," to be effected there; whereas two younger theologians, E. Schmutz (Le Serviteur de Jhova, 1858) and Ferd. Philippi (Die bibl. Lehre vom Knechte Gottes, 1864), admit that the individualizing commences as early as Isaiah 42:1.)

Nor can the expression refer to the prophets as a body, or, in fact, have any collective meaning at all: the form of the word, which is so strongly personal, is in itself opposed to this. It cannot, in fact, denote any other than that Prophet who is more than a prophet, namely, Malachi's "Messenger of the covenant" (Isaiah 3:1). Amongst those who suppose that the "servant of Jehovah" is either Israel, regarded in the light of its prophetic calling, or the prophets as a body, Umbreit at any rate is obliged to admit that this collective body is looked at here in the ideal unity of one single Messianic personality; and he adds, that "in the holy countenance of this prophet, which shines forth as the idea of future realization, we discern exactly the loved features of Him to whom all prophecy points, and who saw Himself therein." This is very beautiful; but why this roundabout course? Let us bear in mind, that the servant of Jehovah appears here not only as one who is the medium of a covenant to the nation, and of light to the Gentiles, but as being himself the people's covenant and heathen's light, inasmuch as in his own person he is the band of a new fellowship between Israel and Jehovah, and becomes in his own person the light which illumines the dark heathen world. This is surely more than could be affirmed of any prophet, even of Isaiah or Jeremiah. Hence the "servant of Jehovah" must be that one Person who was the goal and culminating point to which, from the very first, the history of Israel was ever pressing on; that One who throws into the shade not only all that prophets did before, but all that had been ever done by Israel's priests of kings; that One who arose out of Israel, for Israel and the whole human race, and who stood in the same relation not only to the wider circle of the whole nation, but also to the inner circle of the best and noblest within it, as the heart to the body which it animates, or the head to the body over which it rules. All that Cyrus did, was simply to throw the idolatrous nations into a state of alarm, and set the exiles free. But the Servant of Jehovah opens blind eyes; and therefore the deliverance which He brings is not only redemption from bodily captivity, but from spiritual bondage also. He leads His people (cf., Isaiah 49:8-9), and the Gentiles also, out of night into light; He is the Redeemer of all that need redemption and desire salvation.

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