Isaiah 51:5
My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait on me, and on my arm shall they trust.
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(5) Mine arms shall judge the people.—Literally, the peoples, including Israel and the heathen. The work of judgment thus, as ever, comes first; after it the isles (i.e., far-off countries), as representing the heathen, shall be converted, and trust the very Arm that smote them.

51:4-8 The gospel of Christ shall be preached and published. How shall we escape if we neglect it? There is no salvation without righteousness. The soul shall, as to this world, vanish like smoke, and the body be thrown by like a worn-out garment. But those whose happiness is in Christ's righteousness and salvation, will have the comfort of it when time and days shall be no more. Clouds darken the sun, but do not stop its course. The believer will enjoy his portion, while revilers of Christ are in darknessMy righteousness is near - The word 'righteousness' is used in a great variety of significations. Here it means, probably, the faithful completion of his promises to his people (Lowth).

My salvation is gone forth - The promise of salvation is gone forth, and already the execution of that purpose is commenced. He would soon deliver his people; he would at no distant period extend salvation to all nations.

And mine arm shall judge the people - That is, shall dispense judgment to them. The 'arm' here is put for himself, as the arm is the instrument by which we execute our purposes (see the notes at Isaiah 51:9).

The isles shall wait upon me - The distant nations; the pagan lands (see the note at Isaiah 41:1). The idea is, that distant lands would become interested in the true religion, and acknowledge and worship the true God.

5. righteousness … near—that is, faithful fulfilment of the promised deliverance, answering to "salvation" in the parallel clause (Isa 46:13; 56:1; Ro 10:8, 9). Ye follow after "righteousness"; seek it therefore, from Me, and you will not have far to go for it (Isa 51:1).

arms—put for Himself; I by My might.

judge—(Isa 2:3, 4; Ps 98:9).

isles, &c.—(Isa 60:9).

arm—(Ro 1:16), "the power of God unto (the Gentiles as well as the Jews) salvation."

My righteousness; my salvation, as it is expounded in the next clause, the redemption of all my people, both Jews and Gentiles, which is the effect of his righteousness; either his justice, or his faithfulness, or his mercy and goodness; for all these are called by the name of righteousness in Scripture, and all these contributed to the work of man’s redemption.

My salvation is gone forth; shall shortly go forth; my secret and eternal purpose of saving my people shall speedily be fulfilled.

Mine arms shall judge the people; either,

1. Shall destroy those people who obstruct or oppose this work. Or rather,

2. Shall subdue the Gentiles to mine authority, and rule them by my word and Spirit; which agrees best with the following clause.

The isles; the remote countries of the Gentiles, as Isaiah 41:1 42:4, and elsewhere.

Shall wait upon me; shall confidently expect and hope for this promised righteousness and salvation from me, and from me only, and not from idols, as they have done, nor by any other way. My righteousness is near,.... These are either the words of God the Father, and to be understood not of his essential righteousness, nor of his vindictive justice; but of the righteousness of his Son, which he calls his own, because he approves and accepts of it, imputes and reckons it to his people, and with it justifies them. The words may be rendered, "my righteous One", as in the Vulgate Latin version; not Cyrus, as Grotius; but Christ, God's righteous servant, who was near to come in the flesh, in order to work righteousness. Or these are the words of Christ, speaking of his own righteousness, which was near being wrought out by him, as it was when he became the end of the law for it, by obeying its precept, and bearing its penalty; and near being revealed in the Gospel, where it is revealed from faith to faith; and near being applied by the blessed Spirit, as it is to all that believe; and is near to be come at, and laid hold on, by faith:

my salvation is gone forth: the "salvation" appointed by the Lord; provided in covenant; wrought out by Christ; applied by the Spirit; and fully enjoyed in heaven: this is "gone forth" in the purpose and decree of God, in prophecy and promise, and in the declaration of the Gospel: or, "my Saviour", as the Vulgate Latin version; the Saviour of God's appointing, providing, and sending. Or these are the words of the Saviour himself, who has wrought it out, in whom it is, and of whom it is to be had; it is done, and ready for sinners to look unto and embrace; it is ready to be revealed, and to be fully enjoyed:

and mine arms shall judge the people; to whom the arm of the Lord is revealed, and the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; both the arms of Christ are ready to receive them, and these protect and defend them, and judge, condemn, and destroy those that despise it:

the isles shall wait upon me; upon Christ, for his coming; for his salvation and righteousness; for his Gospel, the truths, promises, and blessings of it; and in his house and ordinances, for his presence. This is a prophecy of the conversion of the Gentiles, even in the isles of the sea, those afar off, as ours of Great Britain and Ireland, in which there have been and are many waiting upon him:

and on mine arm shall they trust; as on Christ, the arm of the Lord, for salvation; so on the power of Christ for protection and preservation; and on his promises in the Gospel, for their support; which is the arm of the Lord revealed unto them, and yields much support and comfort, and makes known that which is a proper object of trust.

My {e} righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and my {f} arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on my arm shall they trust.

(e) The time that I will accomplish my promise.

(f) My power and strength.

5. My righteousness is near] See the last note and cf. ch. Isaiah 46:13. For people read peoples (as R.V.).

the isles shall wait upon me] Cf. Isaiah 42:4.

on mine arm] i.e. “on my strength,” my protection (Isaiah 33:2).Verse 5. - My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth. "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and. a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). Isaiah always speaks as if the Messianic kingdom was to supervene almost immediately on the return of the exiles to Palestine. It was not revealed to him that there would be an interval of from five hundred to six hundred years between the two events. By God's "righteousness" here we must understand his righteous plans for the redemption of his people through Christ, and for the punishment of those who resist his will and remain impenitent. The salvation and the judgment are the two parts of the "righteousness." The isles shall wait upon me (comp. Isaiah 41:1, 5; Isaiah 42:4, 10, 12; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 60:9, etc.; and the comment on Isaiah 42:4). On mine arm shall they trust. God's "arm" is his executive power - that might by which he effects his purposes. The "isles" or "countries" that have been expecting the coming of a Deliverer will have faith in his power to redeem and save them. Christianity was received with more readiness by the Gentiles than by the "peculiar people" (Acts 11:21; Acts 13:42, 46; Acts 14:1, 2; Acts 17:4, 5; Acts 18:6, etc.). Thus far we have the words of the servant. The prophecy opened with words of Jehovah (Isaiah 50:1-3), and with such words it closes, as we may see from the expression, "this shall ye have at my hand," in Isaiah 50:11. The first word of Jehovah is addressed to those who fear Him, and hearken to the voice of His servant. Isaiah 50:10"Who among you is fearing Jehovah, hearkening to the voice of His servant? He that walketh in darkness, and without a ray of light, let him trust in the name of Jehovah, and stay himself upon his God." The question is asked for the purpose of showing to any one who could reply, "I am one, or wish to be such an one," what his duty and his privileges are. In the midst of the apparent hopelessness of his situation (chăshēkhı̄m the accusative of the object, and plural to chăshēkhâh, Isaiah 8:22), and of his consequent despondency of mind, he is to trust in the name of Jehovah, that firmest and surest of all grounds of trust, and to stay himself upon his God, who cannot forsake or deceive him. He is to believe (Isaiah 7:9; Isaiah 28:16; Habakkuk 2:4) in God and the word of salvation, for בטח and נשׁען are terms applied to that fiducia fidei which is the essence of faith. The second word of Jehovah is addressed to the despisers of His word, of which His servant is the bearer. Isaiah 50:11 "Behold, all ye that kindle fire, that equip yourselves with burning darts, away into the glow of your fire, and into the burning darts that ye have kindled! This comes to you from my hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." The fire is not the fire of divine wrath (Jeremiah 17:4), but the fire of wickedness (rish‛âh, Isaiah 9:17), more especially that hellish fire with which an evil tongue is set on fire (James 3:6); for the zı̄qōth (equivalent to ziqqōth, from zēq equals zinq, from zânaq, to spring, to let fly, Syr. to shoot or hurl), i.e., shots, and indeed burning arrows (Psalm 7:14), are figurative, and stand for the blasphemies and anathemas which they cast at the servant of Jehovah. It is quite unnecessary to read מאירי instead of מאזּרי, as Hitzig, Ewald, and Knobel propose, or even, contrary to all usage of speech, מאורי. The former is the more pictorial: they gird burning darts, accingunt malleolos, i.e., they equip or arm themselves with them for the purpose of attack (Isaiah 45:5). But the destruction which they prepare for the servant of Jehovah becomes their own. They themselves have to go into the midst of the burning fire and the burning darts, that they have set on fire. The hand of Jehovah suddenly inverts the position; the fire of wrath becomes the fire of divine judgment, and this fire becomes their bed of torment. The lxx has it correctly, ἐν λύπῃ κοιμηθήσεσθε. The Lamed indicates the situation (Ewald, 217, d). תּשׁכּבוּן with the tone upon the last syllable gives a dictatorial conclusion. It has a terrible sound, but still more terrible (apart from the future state) is the historical fulfilment that presents itself to the eye.
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