Isaiah 42:9
Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
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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.Behold, the former things are come to pass - That is, the former things which he had foretold. This is the evidence to which he appeals in proof that he alone was God, and this is the basis on which he calls upon them to believe that what he had predicted in regard to future things would also come to pass. He had by his prophets foretold events which had now been fulfilled, and this should lead them to confide in him alone as the true God.

And new things do I declare - Things pertaining to future events, relating to the coming of the Messiah, and to the universal prevalence of his religion in the world.

Before they spring forth - There is here a beautiful image. The metaphor is taken from plants and flowers, the word צמח tsâmach properly referring to the springing up of plants, or to their sending out shoots, buds, or flowers. The phrase literally means, 'before they begin to germinate,' that is, before there are any indications of life, or growth in the plant. The sense is, that God predicted the future events before there was anything by which it might be inferred that such occurrences would take place. It was not done by mere sagacity - as men like Burke and Canning may sometimes predict future events with great probability by marking certain political indications or developments. God did this when there were no such indications, and when it must have been done by mere omniscience. In this respect, all his predictions differ from the conjectures of man, and from all the reasonings which are founded on mere sagacity.

9. former things—Former predictions of God, which were now fulfilled, are here adduced as proof that they ought to trust in Him alone as God; namely, the predictions as to Israel's restoration from Babylon.

new—namely, predictions as to Messiah, who is to bring all nations to the worship of Jehovah (Isa 42:1, 4, 6).

spring forth—The same image from plants just beginning to germinate occurs in Isa 43:19; 58:8. Before there is the slightest indication to enable a sagacious observer to infer the coming event, God foretells it.

The former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: as all things which I have formerly promised or foretold have exactly come to pass in their proper seasons, and not one of them failed, as was noted, Joshua 23:14; so you have great reason to believe that what I now promise, though it be new and strange to you, shall infallibly be accomplished.

Before they spring forth I tell you of them, that when they come to pass, you may know that I am God, and that this is my work. Compare John 13:19. Behold, the former things are come to pass,.... Which the Lord had foretold in former times, as to Abraham, concerning the affliction of his posterity in Egypt, the bringing them out from thence, and settling them in the land of Canaan; and other things by Moses and Joshua, and other prophets; and by Isaiah; and particularly the captivity of the ten tribes, which was now come to pass in the times of Hezekiah:

and new things do I declare; as the captivity of Judah and Benjamin, and their restoration by Cyrus; and more especially the mission and incarnation of Christ, his sufferings and death, and redemption and salvation by him; which were not only things to come, but new things, famous and excellent ones:

before they spring up I tell you of them or "before they bud forth" (r); while the seeds of them were under ground, sown in the purposes and decrees of God, he spoke of them in prophecy; and now former prophecies being fulfilled, and new ones delivered out, concerning things of which there was no appearance, and yet there was the greatest reason to believe their accomplishment, from the fulfilment of the former; this must be a strong proof and confirmation of the Lord being the true God, and the only one.

(r) "antequam pullulent", Montanus, Cocceius; "germinent", Vatablus; "antequam propullulent vel efflorescant", Vitringa.

Behold, the former things have {p} come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

(p) As in time past I have been true in my promises, so will I be in time to come.

9. the former things] the things formerly predicted. The reference probably is to prophecies just fulfilled in the successes of Cyrus. The new things are the substance of the present prophecy, the exaltation of the Servant, the redemption of Israel, and the conversion of the heathen. (see Introd., p. xxi.)Verses 9-17. - ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE COMING DELIVERANCE OF ISRAEL FROM BABYLON, AND CALL ON THE NATIONS FOR A SONG OF PRAISE AND JUBILATION. Jehovah is still the speaker. He begins by promising a new revelation (ver. 9). Then, before the revelation is made, he calls upon the nations - especially those in the vicinity of Palestine - to rejoice at what is about to happen (vers. 10-12). After this he proceeds to make the announcement promised in ver. 9 - an announcement that he is about to deliver his people (ver. 16) and to execute vengeance on their enemies (vers. 13-15 and 17). Verse 9. - Behold, the former things are come to pass; i.e. former prophecies have been fulfilled. Israel has been led lute captivity, and in her captivity has suffered grievous things. The reference is, perhaps, especially to such prophecies as Isaiah 39:5-7. And new things do I declare (comp. Isaiah 43:19). The voluntary restoration of a captive people to their own land by the power to which they were subject, and which could compel their services, was emphatically a "new thing" in the world's history. How unwilling the sovereign power was ordinarily to lose such services may be seen by the narrative in Exodus (Exodus 5-14.), and again by the account which Herodotus gives (1:73, 74) of the ground of quarrel between Alyattes and Cyaxares. Before they spring forth; or, shoot forth. The metaphor is one taken from the vegetable world (comp. Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 45:8). With this unassuming appearance there is associated a tender pastoral care. "A bruised reed He does not break, and a glimmering wick He does not put out: according to truth He brings out right." "Bruised:" râtsūts signifies here, as in Isaiah 36:6, what is cracked, and therefore half-broken already. Glimmering: kēheh (a form indicative of defects, like עוּר), that which is burning feebly, and very nearly extinguished. Tertullian understands by the "bruised reed" (arundinem contusam) the faith of Israel, and by the "glimmering wick" (linum ardens) the momentary zeal of the Gentiles. But the words hardly admit of this distinction; the reference is rather a general one, to those whose inner and outer life is only hanging by a slender thread. In the statement that in such a case as this He does not completely break or extinguish, there is more implied than is really expressed. Not only will He not destroy the life that is dying out, but He will actually save it; His course is not to destroy, but to save. If we explain the words that follow as meaning, "He will carry out right to truth," i.e., to its fullest efficacy and permanence (lxx εἰς ἀλήθειαν; instead of which we find εἰς νῖκος, "unto victory," in Matthew 12:20,

(Note: "Ad victoriam enim kri'sin perducit qui ad veritatem perducit." - Anger.)

as if the reading were לנצח, as in Habakkuk 1:4), the connection between the first and last clauses of Isaiah 42:3 is a very loose one. It becomes much closer if we take the ל as indicating the standard, as in Isaiah 11:3 and Isaiah 32:1, and adopt the rendering "according to truth" (Hitzig and Knobel). It is on its subjective and practical side that truth is referred to here, viz., as denoting such a knowledge, and acknowledgement of the true facts in the complicated affairs of men, as will promote both equity and kindness.

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