Isaiah 54:9
For this is as the waters of Noah to me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with you, nor rebuke you.
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(9) This is as the waters of Noah.—Interesting (1) as showing the writer’s knowledge of the book of Genesis (see Isaiah 51:2); (2) as one of the few references to the Deluge, outside that book, in the Old Testament. Strictly speaking, Genesis 9:11 speaks of a “covenant,” not an “oath,” but it would be idle to find a difficulty in the use of words which, as referring to a Divine act, are almost or altogether interchangeable. It is obvious that the words have found their fulfilment not in any earthly city but in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Isaiah 54:9-10. For this is as the waters of Noah — This covenant of grace and peace made with thee shall be as certain and perpetual as that which I made with Noah, that there should never be another flood of waters to drown the world. So have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee — Namely, so as I have been, or so as to forsake thee utterly. For the mountains shall depart, &c. — The mountains and hills shall sooner depart from their places than my kindness shall depart from thee. Nay, the time will come when all the mountains shall depart, and all the hills be removed, and even the whole earth, and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up, but then the covenant of peace between God and his church shall continue in the everlasting happiness of all the true and spiritual members of it. God will not cast off the Christian Church, as he cast off the Church of the Jews; the new covenant being established upon better and surer promises than the old; see Hebrews 8:6-7. Saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee — Who acts thus toward thee, not for thy merits, but through his own grace and mercy.54:6-10 As God is slow to anger, so he is swift to show mercy. And how sweet the returns of mercy would be, when God should come and comfort them! He will have mercy on them. God's gathering his people takes rise from his mercy, not any merit of theirs; and it is with great mercies, with everlasting kindness. The wrath is little, the mercies great; the wrath for a moment, the kindness everlasting. We are neither to despond under afflictions, nor to despair of relief. Mountains have been shaken and removed, but the promises of God never were broken by any event. Mountains and hills also signify great men. Creature-confidences shall fail; but when our friends fail us, our God does not. All this is alike applicable to the church at large, and to each believer. God will rebuke and correct his people for sins; but he will not cast them off. Let this encourage us to give the more diligence to make our calling and election sure.For this is as the waters of Noah unto me - As it was in the time of the flood of waters, so shall it be now. 'I then solemnly promised that the waters should not again drown the earth, and I have kept that promise. I now promise with equal solemnity that I will bestow perpetual favor on my true people, and will shed upon them eternal and unchanging blessings.' 'The waters of Noah,' here mean evidently the flood that came upon the world in his time, and from which he and his family were saved. Lowth, on the authority of one manuscript and of the Vulgate, Syriac, Symmachus, and Theodotion, reads this, 'In the days of Noah? But the authority is not sufficient to change the Hebrew text, and the sense is as clear as if it were changed.

As I have sworn - Genesis 8:21-22. God appeals to this not only because the oath and promise had been made, but because it had been kept.

That I would not be wroth - The idea seems here to be that no calamities should spread over the whole church, and sweep it away, as the waters swept over the world in the time of Noah, or as desolation swept over Jerusalem and the whole land of Canaan in the time of the exile at Babylon. There would be indeed persecutions and calamities, but the church would be safe amidst all these trials. The period would never arrive when God would forsake the church, and when he would leave it to perish. One has only to recollect how God has guarded the church, even during the most dangerous periods, to see how remarkably this has been fulfilled. His covenant has been as sure as that which was made with Noah, and it will be as secure and firm to the end of time.

9. I am about to do the same in this instance as in Noah's flood. As I swore then that it should not return (Ge 8:21; 9:11), and I kept that promise, so I swear now to My people, and will perform My promise, that there shall be no return of the deluge of My wrath upon them. Lowth, on insufficient authority, reads (the same will I do now as), "in the days of Noah." This is as the waters of Noah unto me; this covenant of grace and peace made with thee shall be as certain and perpetual as that which I made with Noah, that there should never be another flood of waters to drown the world; of which see Genesis 9:11.

Would not be wroth with thee, to wit, so as I have been, or so as to forsake thee utterly. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me,.... Some copies, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe, read these two words, , as one, thus, "as the days of Noah"; and this is followed by the Targum, Vulgate Latin, and Syriac versions; both readings may be kept, and joined in one, and the sense be, "for this is as the waters that were in the days of Noah unto me"; so Kimchi and Menachem join them. The meaning is, that God's dispensation towards his people, at the time the prophecy refers to, is like that of his to Noah and his family; and the love he bears to them is like that which he bore to him; and the covenant he has made with them is as that he made with him:

for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; he gave his word for it, which is as firm as his oath; he made a covenant with Noah, and confirmed it by a rainbow, that the waters should no more go over the earth as they had, and that the world should be no more destroyed by a flood, Genesis 9:9,

so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee; for though the Lord's people are by nature children of wrath, as others, he has not appointed them to it, nor will he suffer it to fall upon them, but saves them from it through the righteousness of Christ, who has borne it for them; and though he rebukes by his Spirit, by his word and ministers, and by his providences, yet not in wrath, but in love; and of this he has given the strongest assurances; he has not only said it, but swore to it in covenant, Psalm 89:3. The Jews (r) refer this prophecy to the times of the Messiah.

(r) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 99. 1.

For this is as the {i} waters of Noah to me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more overflow the earth; so have I sworn that I will not be angry with thee, nor rebuke thee.

(i) As sure as the promise that I made to Noah, that the waters would no longer overflow the earth.

9, 10. The permanence of the new covenant relation is illustrated first by the promise made to Noah, of which the rainbow is the perpetual token, and then by the steadfastness of the unchanging hills.

For this is as the waters of Noah unto me] Or, according to the reading of several MSS. and the ancient versions (though not the LXX.), As the days of Noah is this (i.e. the present juncture) to me (see R.V. marg.). The difference of reading is very slight, consisting merely in the conjunction of two words which the received text separates (כימי for כי מי). The second alternative is better.

for as I have sworn &c.] as I have sworn &c. (omitting “for”). Comp. Genesis 8:21 f., Isaiah 9:11-17. The absence of any mention of an oath in the narrative is immaterial.Verse 9. - This is as the waters of Noah unto me. The existing calamity - Israel submerged in the flood of Babylonian captivity-is as it were a repetition of the calamity of the Deluge in God's eyes. Its object is to purify his Church, as the object of the Flood was to purify the world. A righteous household survived in the one case; a righteous remnant would go forth in the other. And as God bound himself in Noah's time not to repeat the calamity of the Deluge, so now he binds himself not again to submerge his Church in a captivity like the Babylonian. It has been said that the promise was not kept, since the Jewish Church was, in A.D. , carried captive by the Romans. But the prophet views the Jewish Church as continued in the Christian, into which all its better and more spiritual members passed at the first preaching of the gospel; and the promise here made is thus parallel to that of our Lord, "Upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Much as the Christian Church has suffered from the world, it has never been in like cases with the Jewish Church in Babylon, and, as God is faithful, never will be reduced to such extremity. As I have sworn; i.e. "pledged myself." It does not appear from Genesis 8:20-22 or Genesis 9:8-17 that God actually bound himself by oath. So have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. That is to say, not to the same extent, not so as to visit her with the same punishment. The reason why the tent is to be so large and strong is given in Isaiah 54:3 : "For thou wilt break forth on the right and on the left; and thy seed will take possession of nations, and they will people desolate cities." "On the right and on the left" is equivalent to "on the south and north" (Psalm 89:13, the speaker being supposed to have his face turned towards the east: compare the Sanscrit apân, situated at the back, i.e., towards the west). We must supply both west and east, since the promises contained in such passages as Genesis 15:18-21 remained unfulfilled even in the age of David and Solomon. Jerusalem will now spread out, and break through all her former bounds (pârats is used in the same sense in Genesis 28:14); and her seed (i.e., the seed acquired by the Servant of Jehovah, the dead yet eternally living One, the σπέρμα, whose σπέρμα He Himself is) will take possession of nations (yârash, yârēsh, capessere, occupare; more especially κληρονομεῖν, syn. nâchal); and they (i.e., the children born to her) will people desolate cities (hōshı̄bh, the causative of yâshabh, to be inhabited, Isaiah 14:20). Thus will the promise be fulfilled, that "the meek shall inherit the earth," - a promise not confined to the Preacher on the mount, but found also in Psalm 37:9-11, and uttered by our own prophet in Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 65:9.
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