Isaiah 49:9
That you may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) That thou mayest say to the prisoners . . .—Comp. Isaiah 42:6-7. Here, perhaps, the thought of the deliverance of Israel is more exclusively prominent; but the words have obviously a yet wider and higher application.

Isaiah

FEEDING IN THE WAYS

Isaiah 49:9
.

This is part of the prophet’s glowing description of the return of the Captives, under the figure of a flock fed by a strong shepherd. We have often seen, I suppose, a flock of sheep driven along a road, some of them hastily trying to snatch a mouthful from the dusty grass by the wayside. Little can they get there; they have to wait until they reach some green pasture in which they can be folded. This flock shall ‘feed in the ways’; as they go they will find nourishment. That is not all; the top of the mountains is not the place where grass grows. There are bare, savage cliffs, from which every particle of soil has been washed by furious torrents, or the scanty vegetation has been burnt up by the fierce ‘sunbeams like swords.’ There the wild deer and the ravens live, the sheep feed down in the valleys. But ‘their pasture shall be in all high places.’ The literal rendering is even more emphatic: ‘Their pasture shall be in all bare heights,’ where a sudden verdure springs to feed them according to their need. Whilst, then, this prophecy is originally intended simply to suggest the abundant supplies that were to be provided for the band of exiles as they came back from Babylon, there lie in it great and blessed principles which belong to the Christian pilgrimage, and the flock that follows Christ.

They who follow Him, says my text, to begin with, shall find in the dusty paths of common life, and in all the smallnesses and distractions of daily duty, nourishment for their spirits. Do you remember what Jesus said? ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.’ We, too, may have the same meat to eat which the world knows not of, and He will give that hidden manna to the combatant as well as ‘to him that overcometh.’ In the measure in which ‘we follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,’ in that measure do we find-like the stores of provisions that Arctic explorers come upon, cached for them-food in the wilderness, and nourishment for our highest life in our common work. That is a great promise, and it is a great duty.

It is a promise the fulfilment of which is plainly guaranteed by the very nature of the case. Religion is meant to direct conduct, and the smallest affairs of life are to come under its imperial control, and the only way by which a man can get any good out of his Christianity is by living it. It is when he sets to work on the principles of the Gospel that the Gospel proves itself to be a reality in his blessed experience. It is when he does the smallest duties from the great motives that these great motives are strengthened by exercise, as every motive is. If you wish to weaken the influence of any principle upon you, do not work it out, and it will wither and die. If a man would grasp the fulness of spiritual sustenance which lies in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let him go to work on the basis of the Gospel, and he ‘shall feed in the ways,’ and common duties will minister strength to him instead of taking strength from him. We can make the smallest daily incidents subserve our growth and our spiritual strength, because, if we thus do them, they will bring to us attestations of the reality of the faith by which we act on them. For convincing a man that a lifebuoy is reliable there is nothing like having had experience of its power to hold his head above the waves when he has been cast into them. Live your Christianity, and it will attest itself. There will come, besides that, the blessed memory of past times in which we trusted in the Lord and were lightened, we obeyed God and found His promises true, we risked all for God and found that we had all more abundantly. It is only an active Christian life that is a nourished and growing Christian life.

The food which God gives us is not only to be taken by faith, but it has to be made ours more abundantly by work. Saint Augustine said in another connection, ‘Believe, and thou hast eaten.’ Yes, that is blessedly true, but it needs to be supplemented by ‘they shall feed in the ways,’ and their work will bring them nourishment.

But this is a great duty as well as a great promise. How many of us Christian people have but little experience of getting nearer to God because of our daily occupations? To by far the larger number of us, in by far the greater space of time in our lives, our daily work is a distraction, and tends to obscure the face of God to us and to shut us out from many of the storehouses of sustenance by which a quiet, contemplative faith is refreshed. Therefore we need times of special prayer and remoteness from daily work; and there will be very little realisation of the nourishing power of common duties unless there is familiar to us also the entrance into the ‘secret place of the Most High,’ where He feeds His children on the bread of life.

We must not neglect either of these two ways by which our souls are fed, and we must ever remember that the reason why so many Christian people cannot set to their seal that this promise is true, lies mainly in this, that the ways on which they go are either not the ways that the Shepherd has walked in before them, or that they are trodden in forgetfulness of Him and without looking to His guidance. The work that is to minister to the Christian life must be work conformed to the Christian ideal, and if we fling ourselves into our secular business, as it is called-if you go to your counting-houses and shops, and I go to my desk and books, and forget the Shepherd-then there is no grass by the wayside for such sheep. But if we subject our wills to Him, and if in all that we do we are trying to refer to Him and are working in dependence on Him, and for Him, then the poorest work, the meanest, the most entirely secular, will be a source of Christian nourishment and blessing. We have to settle for ourselves whether we shall be distracted, torn asunder by pressure of cares and responsibilities and activities, or whether, far below the agitated surface which is ruffled by the winds, and borne along by the tidal wave, there will be a great central depth, still but not stagnant-whether we shall be fed, or starved in our Christian life, by the pressure of our worldly tasks. The choice is before us. ‘They shall feed in the ways,’ if the ways are Christ’s ways, and He is at every step their Shepherd.

Further, my text suggests that for those who follow the Lamb there shall be greenness and pasture on the bare heights. Strip that part of our text of its metaphor, and it just comes to the blessed old thought, which I hope many of us have known to be a true one, that the times of sorrow are the times when a Christian may have the most of the presence and strength of God. ‘In the days of famine they shall be satisfied,’ and up among the most barren cliffs, where there is not a bite for any four-footed creature, they shall find springing grass and watered pastures. Our prophet puts the same thought, under a kindred though somewhat different metaphor, in another place in this book, where he says, ‘I will open rivers in high places.’ That is clean contrary to nature. The rivers do not run on the mountain-tops, but down in the low ground. But for us, as the darkness thickens, the pillar may glow the brighter; as the gloom increases, the glory may grow; the less of nutriment or refreshment earth affords, the more abundantly does God spread His stores before us, if we are wise enough to take them. It is an experience, I suppose, common to all devout men, that their times of most rapid growth were their times of trouble. In nature winter stops all vegetable life. In grace the growing time is the winter. They tell us that up in the Arctic regions the reindeer will scratch away the snow, and get at the succulent moss that lies beneath it. When that Shepherd, Who Himself has known sorrows, leads us up into those barren regions of perpetual cold and snow, He teaches us, too, how to brush it away, and find what we need buried and kept safe and warm beneath the white shroud. It is the prerogative of the Christian soul not to be without trouble, but to turn the trouble into nourishment, and to feed on the barest heights.

May I turn these latter words of our text a somewhat different way, attaching to them a meaning which does not belong to them, but by way of accommodation? If Christian people want to have the bread of God abundantly, they must climb. It is to those who live on the heights that provision comes according to their need. If you would have your Christian life starved, go down into the fertile valleys. Remember Abraham and Lot, and the choice which each made. The one said: ‘I want cattle and wealth, and I am going down to Sodom. Never mind about the vices of the inhabitants. There is money to be made there.’ Abraham said: ‘I am going to stay up here on the heights, the breezy, barren heights,’ and God stayed beside him. If we go down we starve our souls. If we desire them to be fat and flourishing, nourished with the hidden manna, then we must go up. ‘Their pasture shall be in all high places.’

Before I finish, let me remind you of the application of the words of my text, which we owe to the New Testament. The context runs, as you will remember, ‘they shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them. For He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them.’ And you remember the beautiful variation and deepening of this promise in that great saying which the Seer in the Apocalypse gives us, when he speaks of those ‘who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,’ and are led ‘by living fountains of water,’ where ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ So we are entitled to believe that on the loftiest heights, far above this valley of weeping, there shall be immortal food, and that on the high places of the mountains of God there shall be pasture that never withers. The prophet Ezekiel has a similar variation of my text, and transfers it from the captives on their march homewards, to the happy pilgrims who have reached home, when he says: ‘I will bring them unto their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel’-when they have reached them at last after the weary march-’I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the mountains of Israel shall their fold be; there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.’Isaiah 49:9-11. That thou mayest say — Namely, with power and effect, as when God said, Let there be light; to the prisoners — To the Gentiles, who are fast bound by the cords of their sins, and taken captive by the devil at his will. Go forth — Come forth to the light, receive divine illumination. They shall feed, &c. — They shall have abundant provision in all places, yea, even in those which commonly are unfruitful, as are both common roads and high grounds. They shall not hunger, &c. — They shall be supplied with all good and necessary things, and preserved from all evil occurrences and annoyances, as the Israelites were in the wilderness, by the manna and other provision afforded them, and the pillar of the cloud and fire, a token of the divine presence and protection. For he that hath mercy on them shall lead them — God, who hath magnified his mercy to them, will conduct them with safety and comfort. And I will make all mountains a way — I will remove all hinderances, and prepare the way for them, by levelling high grounds, and raising the low.49:7-12 The Father is the Lord, the Redeemer, and Holy One of Israel, as sending the Son to be the Redeemer. Man, whom he came to save, put contempt upon him. To this he submitted for our salvation. He is a pledge for all the blessings of the covenant; in him God was reconciling the world to himself. Pardoning mercy is a release from the curse of the law; renewing grace is a release from the dominion of sin: both are from Christ. He saith to those in darkness, Show yourselves. Not only see, but be seen, to the glory of God, and your own comforts. Though there are difficulties in the way to heaven, yet the grace of God will carry us over them, and make even the mountains a way. This denotes the free invitations and the encouraging promises of the gospel, and the outpouring of the Spirit.That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth - This language occurs also in Isaiah 42:7. For an explanation of it, see the notes on that place.

To them that are in darkness - Synonymous with being prisoners, as prisoners are usually confined in dark cells.

Show yourselves - Hebrew, 'Reveal,' or manifest yourselves; that is, as those who come out of a dark cell come into light, so do you, who have been confined in the darkness of sin, come forth into the light of the Sun of righteousness, and be manifest as the redeemed.

They shall feed in the ways - In the remainder of this verse, and in the following verses, the Messiah is represented under the image of a shepherd, who leads forth his flock to green fields, and who takes care that they shall be guarded from the heat of the sun, and shall not hunger nor thirst. The phrase 'they shall feed in the ways,' means, probably, that in the way in which they were going they should find abundant food. They should not be compelled to turn aside for pasturage, or to go and seek for it in distant places. It is equivalent to the language which so often occurs, that God would provide for the needs of his people, even when passing through a desert, and that he would open before them unexpected sources of supply.

And their pastures shall be in all high places - This means, that on the hills and mountains, that are naturally barren and unproductive, they should find an abundance of food. To see the force of this, we are to remember that in many parts of the East the hills and mountains are utterly destitute of vegetation. This is the case with the mountainous regions of Horeb and Sinai, and even with the mountains about Jerusalem, and with the hills and mountains in Arabia Deserta. The idea here is, that in the ways, or paths that were commonly traveled, and where all verdure would be consumed or trodden down by the caravans, and on the hills that were usually barren and desolate, they would find abundance. God would supply them as if he should make the green grass spring up in the hard-trodden way, and on the barren and rocky hills vegetation should start up suddenly in abundance, and all their needs should be supplied.

This is an image which we have frequently had in Isaiah, and perhaps the meaning may be, that to his people the Redeemer would open unexpected sources of comfort and joy; that in places and times in which they would scarcely look for a supply of their spiritual needs, he would suddenly meet and satisfy them as if green grass for flocks and herds should suddenly start up in the down-trodden way, or luxuriant vegetation burst forth on the sides and the tops of barren, rocky, and desolate hills. Harmer, however, supposes that this whole description refers rather to the custom which prevailed in the East, of making feasts or entertainments by the sides of fountains or rivers. 'To fountains or rivers,' Dr. Chandler tells us in his Travels, 'the Turks and the Greeks frequently repair for refreshment; especially the latter, in their festivals, when whole families are seen sitting on the grass, and enjoying their early or evening repast, beneath the trees, by the side of a rill' - (Travels in Asia Minor, p. 21.) Compare 1 Kings 1:9. Thus Harmer supposes that the purpose of the prophet is, to contrast the state of the Jews when they were shut up in prison in Babylon, secluded from fresh air, and even the light itself, or in unwholesome dungeons, with their state when walking at liberty, enjoying the verdure, and the enlivening air of the country; passing from the tears, the groans, and the apprehensions of such a dismal confinement, to the music, the songs, and the exquisite repasts of Eastern parties of pleasure (see Harmer's Obs., vol. ii. pp. 18-25; Ed. Lond. 1808). The interpretation, however, above suggested, seems to me most natural and beautiful.

9. (Isa 42:7; Zec 9:12).

prisoners—the Jews bound in legal bondage.

them … in darkness—the Gentiles having no light as to the one true God [Vitringa].

Show yourselves—not only see but be seen (Mt 5:16; Mr 5:19). Come forth from the darkness of your prison into the light of the Sun of righteousness.

in the ways, &c.—In a desert there are no "ways," nor "high places," with "pastures"; thus the sense is: "They shall have their pastures, not in deserts, but in cultivated and inhabited places." Laying aside the figure, the churches of Christ at the first shall be gathered, not in obscure and unknown regions, but in the most populous parts of the Roman empire, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, &c. [Vitringa]. Another sense probably is the right one. Israel, on its way back to the Holy Land, shall not have to turn aside to devious paths in search of necessaries, but shall find them in all places wherever their route lies; so Rosenmuller. God will supply them as if He should make the grass grow in the trodden ways and on the barren high places.

That thou mayest say, to wit, with power and effect, as when God said, Let there be light, &c. To the prisoners; to the Gentiles, who are fast bound by the cords of their sins, and taken captive by the devil at his will, as this same phrase is understood, Isaiah 42:7.

Go forth; come forth to the light, receive Divine illumination and consolation.

They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places; they shall have abundant provision in all places, yea, even in those which commonly are barren and unfruitful, and such are both common roads and high grounds. That thou mayest say to the prisoners, go forth,.... God's covenant people, while unconverted, are prisoners; they are in the prison of sin, under the power and dominion of it, and under the guilt of it, and obligation to punishment for it; and they are in the prison of the law, they are transgressors of it, and are accused and convicted by it, and are condemned, and put in prison, and held there; and they are also Satan's prisoners, and are held and led captive by him at his will; and by virtue of the covenant, and the blood of it, these prisoners are set free; and Christ in the. Gospel speaks unto them, and proclaims liberty to them; and by the knowledge of the truth they are made free, and are brought into the liberty of the children of God; and are bid to go forth, and they are brought forth from their prison houses; and bid to go to the house of God, and walk at liberty, enjoying all the privileges and ordinances of the Gospel:

to them that are in darkness; in a state of nature and unregeneracy, which is a state of infidelity and ignorance; when men are in the dark, and know not themselves, nor their lost state and condition; nor the exceeding sinfulness of sin; nor Christ, and the way of salvation by him; nor the Spirit, and the operations of his grace; nor the Scriptures, and the doctrines of them:

show yourselves; among the people of God, in his house and ordinances, when called, converted, and enlightened by Christ; or "be revealed" (c) or manifested, when they are known to be, what they were not knows before, the people and children of God. The Targum is,

"be revealed to the light;''

such are called to partake of the light of grace, and to enjoy the light of comfort and communion:

they shall feed in the ways; not in the broad road and highways of sin, but in the ways of God, in the word and ordinances: this denotes the publicness and pleasantness of them, and the plenty of provisions in them; and yet where it might not be expected, and where exposed to enemies: the allusion is to cattle, that are drove from place to place, and as they pass along feed in the ways upon such pasture as they there find; and suggests, that the saints are travellers, and as such have food provided them by the way:

and their pastures shall be in all high places; on hills and mountains, which are often barren and unfruitful. The Targum is,

"in or by rivers of water shall be the place of their habitation.''

(c) "revelamini", V. L. Munster, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

That thou mayest say to the {o} prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their {p} pastures shall be in all high places.

(o) To them who are in the prison of sin and death.

(p) Being in Christ's protection, they will be safe against all dangers, and free from fear of the enemies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. That thou mayest say] Rather, Saying (R.V.) or possibly (continuing the previous infs.) “To say.”

the prisoners … them that are in darkness] i.e. the exiles; cf. Isaiah 42:7. The second half of the verse introduces a new figure, that of the flock, (see ch. Isaiah 40:11) led by Jehovah, the Good Shepherd.

they shall feed in the ways] Or perhaps as LXX., in all the ways, wherein they go.

high places] bare heights; ch. Isaiah 41:18.Verse 9. - That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth, "The prisoners" here are not the captives in Babylon, but the servants of sin throughout the world. Christ would say to them, "Go forth." He would summon them by his messengers to repent and be converted, and quit the service of sin, and "go forths" from the kingdom of darkness, and "show themselves" as lights of the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:15), walking "as children of the light" (Ephesians 5:8). It is a narrow exegesis which confines the prophet's forecast to the mere return of the exiles to Palestine, and their re-settlement on their ancestral estates. They shall feed in the ways, etc. The returning "prisoners" are now represented as a flock of sheep (comp. Isaiah 40:11), whom the good Shepherd will "lead" and "guide" by ways in which they will find sufficient pasture, which shall not fail them even when they pass over bare "hill-tops" (see John 10:11-16; John 21:15-17). The very same person who was introduced by Jehovah in Isaiah 42:1. here speaks for himself, commencing thus in Isaiah 49:1-3 : "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye nations afar off: Jehovah hath called me from the womb; from my mother's lap hath He remembered my name. And He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid me, and made me into a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He concealed me. And He said to me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, thou in whom I glorify myself." Although the speaker is called Israel in Isaiah 49:3, he must not be regarded as either a collective person representing all Israel, or as the collective personality of the kernel of Israel, which answered to its true idea. It is not the former, because in Isaiah 49:5 he is expressly distinguished from the nation itself, which is the immediate object of his special work as restorer and (according to Isaiah 49:8 and Isaiah 42:6) covenant-mediator also; not the latter, because the nation, whose restoration he effects, according to Isaiah 49:5, was not something distinct from the collective personality of the "servant of Jehovah" in a national sense, but rather the entire body of the "servants of Jehovah" or remnant of Israel (see, for example, Isaiah 65:8-16). Moreover, it cannot be either of these, because what he affirms of himself is expressed in such terms of individuality, that they cannot be understood as employed in a collective sense at all, more especially where he speaks of his mother's womb. In every other case in which Israel is spoken of in this way, we find only "from the womb" (mibbeten, Isaiah 44:2, Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 56:3, along with minnı̄-racham; also Isaiah 48:8), without the addition of אם (mother), which is quite unsuitable to the collective body of the nation (except in such allegorical connections as Isaiah 51:1-2, and Ezekiel 16:3). Is it then possibly the prophet, who is here speaking of himself and refers in Isaiah 49:1 to his own mother (compare אמּי in Jeremiah 15:10; Jeremiah 20:14, Jeremiah 20:17)? This is very improbable, if only because the prophet, who is the medium of the word of God in these prophecies, has never placed himself in the foreground before. In Isaiah 40:6 he merely speaks of himself indirectly; in Isaiah 44:26, even if he refer to himself at all (which we greatly doubt), it is only objectively; and in Isaiah 48:16, the other person, into whose words the words of Jehovah pass, cannot be the prophet, for the simple reason that the transition of the words of Jehovah into those of His messenger is essentially different in this instance from the otherwise frequent interchange of the words of Jehovah and those of His prophet, and also because the messenger of Jehovah speaks of himself there, after the "former things" have come to pass, as the mediator (either in word or deed) of the "new things" which were never heard of before, but are to be expected now; whereas the author of these addresses was also the prophet of the "former things," and therefore the messenger referred to rises up within the course of sacred history predicted by the author of these prophecies. Moreover, what the speaker in this case (Isaiah 49:1-2) says of himself is so unique, so glorious, that it reaches far beyond the vocation and performance of any single prophet, or, in fact, of any individual man subject to the limitations of human life and human strength.

There is nothing else left, therefore, than to suppose that the idea implied in the expression "servant of Jehovah" is condensed in this instance, as in Isaiah 42:1., into that of a single person. When it is expanded to its widest circumference, the "servant of Jehovah" is all Israel; when it only covers its smaller and inner circle, it is the true people of Jehovah contained within the entire nation, like the kernel in the shell (see the definition of this at Isaiah 51:7; Isaiah 65:10; Psalm 24:6; Psalm 73:15); but here it goes back to its very centre. The "servant of Jehovah," in this central sense, is the heart of Israel. From this heart of Israel the stream of salvation flows out, first of all through the veins of the people of God, and thence through the veins of the nations generally. Just as Cyrus is the world-power in person, as made subservient to the people of God, so the servant of Jehovah, who is speaking here, is Israel in person, as promoting the glorification of Jehovah in all Israel, and in all the world of nations: in other words, it is He in whom the true nature of Israel is concentrated like a sun, in whom the history of Israel is coiled up as into a knot for a further and final development, in whom Israel's world-wide calling to be the Saviour of mankind, including Israel itself, is fully carried out; the very same who took up the word of Jehovah in Isaiah 48:16, in the full consciousness of His fellowship with Him, declaring Himself to be His messenger who had now appeared. It must not be forgotten, moreover, that throughout these prophecies the breaking forth of salvation, not for Israel only, but for all mankind, is regarded as bound up with the termination of the captivity; and from this its basis, the restoration of the people who were then in exile, it is never separated. This fact is of great importance in relation to the question of authorship, and favours the conclusion that they emanated from a prophet who lived before the captivity, and not in the midst of it. Just as in chapter 7 Isaiah sees the son of the virgin grow up in the time of the Assyrian oppressions, and then sees his kingdom rising up on the ruins of the Assyrian; so does he here behold the servant of Jehovah rising up in the second half of the captivity, as if born in exile, in the midst of the punishment borne by his people, to effect the restoration of Israel. At the present time, when he begins to speak, coming forward without any further introduction, and speaking in his own name (a unique instance of dramatic style, which goes beyond even Psalm 2:1-12), he has already left behind him the commencement of his work, which was directed towards the salvation of mankind. His appeal is addressed to the "isles," which had been frequently mentioned already when the evangelization of the heathen was spoken of (Isaiah 42:4, Isaiah 42:10, Isaiah 42:12; cf., Isaiah 24:15), and to the "nations from afar," i.e., the distant nations (as in Isaiah 5:26; compare, on the other hand, Jeremiah 23:23). They are to hear what he says, not merely what he says in the words that follow, but what he says generally. What follows is rather a vindication of his right to demand a hearing and obedience, then the discourse itself, which is to be received with the obedience of faith; at the same time, the two are most intimately connected. Jehovah has called him ab utero, has thought of his name from the bowels of his mother (מעי as in Psalm 71:6), i.e., even before he was born; ever since his conception has Jehovah assigned to him his calling, viz., his saving calling. We call to mind here Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:41; Galatians 1:15, but above all the name Immanuel, which is given by anticipation to the Coming One in Isaiah 7:14, and the name Jesus, which God appointed through the mouth of angels, when the human life of Him who was to bear that name was still ripening in the womb of the Virgin (Matthew 1:20-23). It is worthy of notice, however, that the great Coming One, though he is described in the Old Testament as one who is to be looked for "from the seed of David," is also spoken of as "born of a woman," whenever his entrance into the world is directly referred to. In the Protevangelium he is called, though not in an individual sense, "the seed of the woman;" Isaiah, in the time of Ahaz, mentions "the virgin" as his mother; Micah (Micah 5:2) speaks of his יולדה; even the typical psalms, as in Psalm 22:10-11, give prominence to the mother. And is not this a sign that prophecy is a work of the Spirit, who searches out the deep things of the counsel of God?

In Isaiah 49:2 the speaker says still further, that Jehovah has made his mouth kecherebh chaddâh (like a sharp sword), namely, that he may overcome everything that resists him as if with a sharp sword, and sever asunder things that are bound up together in a pernicious bond (Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 1:16; Hebrews 4:12); also that He has made him into chēts bârūr (not βέλος εκλεκτόν, lxx, but, as in Jeremiah 51:11, cleaned,

(Note: The comparison to purus is one that naturally suggests itself; but this, like putus, is derived from a root pū.)

polished, sharpened, pointed), namely, to pierce the hearts (Psalm 45:6), and inflict upon them the most wholesome wounds; and again, that Jehovah has hidden him under the shadow of His almighty hand, and kept him concealed in the quiver of His loving counsel, just girt as men keep their swords and arrows in sheaths and quivers ready for the time when they want to use them, in order that in the fulness of time He might draw out this His sword, and put this His arrow to the bow. The question whether the allusion here is to the time preceding the foreknown period of his coming, or whether it is to eternity that the words refer, does not present any great dilemma; at the same time, the prophecy in this instance only traces back the being of the person, who now appears, to the remotest point of his historical coming. Isaiah 49:3 describes, without any figure, what Jehovah has made him. He has said to him (cf., Psalm 2:7): Thou art my servant; thou art Israel, in whom (in quo, as in Isaiah 44:23) I glorify myself. Schenkel's exposition is grammatically impossible: "(It is) in Israel that I will glorify myself through thee." The servant himself is called Israel. We call to mind here the expression in Matthew 16:18, "Thou art Peter;" and the use of the name "Israel," as the individuation of a generic name, reminds us of the fact that the kings of a nation are sometimes called by the name of the nation itself (e.g., Asshur, Isaiah 10:5.). But Israel was from the very first the God-given name of an individual. Just as the name Israel was first of all given to a man, and then after that to a nation, so the name which sprang from a personal root has also a personal crown. The servant of Jehovah is Israel in person, inasmuch as the purpose of mercy, upon the basis of which and for the accomplishment of which Jehovah made Jacob the father of the twelve-tribed nation, is brought by him into full and final realization. We have already seen that Israel, as an entire nation, formed the basis of the idea contained in the term "servant of Jehovah;" Israel, regarded as a people faithful to its calling, the centre; and the personal servant of Jehovah its apex. In the present instance, where he is called distinctly "Israel," the fact is clearly expressed, that the servant of Jehovah in these prophecies is regarded as the kernel of the kernel of Israel, as Israel's inmost centre, as Israel's highest head. He it is in whom (i.e., on whom and through whom) Jehovah glorifies Himself, inasmuch as He carried out through him the counsels of His love, which are the self-glorification of His holy love, its glory and its triumph.

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Isaiah 49:8
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