Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.
Isa 26:1-21. Connected with the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Chapters. Song of Praise of Israel after Being Restored to Their Own Land.
As the overthrow of the apostate faction is described in the twenty-fifth chapter, so the peace of the faithful is here described under the image of a well-fortified city.
1. strong city—Jerusalem, strong in Jehovah's protection: type of the new Jerusalem (Ps 48:1-3), contrasted with the overthrow of the ungodly foe (Isa 26:4-7, 12-14; Re 22:2, 10-12, &c.).
salvation … walls—(Isa 60:18; Jer 3:23; Zec 2:5). Maurer translates, "Jehovah makes His help serve as walls" (Isa 33:20, 21, &c.).
bulwarks—the trench with the antemural earthworks exterior to the wall.
Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.
2. Address of the returning people to the gates of Jerusalem (type of the heavenly city, Heb 12:22); (Ps 24:7, 9; 118:19). Antitypically (Re 22:14; 21:25, 27).
righteous nation—that had not apostatized during the captivity. Horsley translates, "The nation of the Just One," namely, the Jews.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
3. mind … stayed—(Ps 112:7, 8). Jesus can create "perfect peace" within thy mind, though storms of trial rage without (Isa 57:19; Mr 4:39); as a city kept securely by a strong garrison within, though besieged without (so Php 4:7). "Keep," literally, "guard as with a garrison." Horsley translates, (God's) workmanship (the Hebrew does not probably mean "mind," but "a thing formed," Eph 2:10), so constantly "supported"; or else "formed and supported (by Thee) Thou shalt preserve (it, namely, the righteous nation) in perpetual peace."
Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
4. Lord Jehovah—Hebrew, Jah, Jehovah. The union of the two names expresses in the highest degree God's unchanging love and power (compare Ps 68:4). This passage, and Isa 12:2; Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18, are the four in which the English Version retains the Jehovah of the original. Maurer translates, "For Jah (the eternal unchangeable One, Ex 3:14) is Jehovah, the rock of ages" (compare Isa 45:17; De 32:15; 1Sa 2:2).
For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust.
5. lofty city—Babylon; representative of the stronghold of the foes of God's people in all ages (Isa 25:2, 12; 13:14).
The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.
6. poor—(Isa 25:4), the once afflicted Jewish captives. "Foot shall tread," is figurative for exulting in the fall of God's enemies (Re 18:20).
The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.
7. uprightness—rather, "is direct," that is, is directed by God to a prosperous issue, however many be their afflictions in the meantime (as in the case of the Jewish exiles); the context requires this sense (Ps 34:19; Pr 3:6; 11:5), [Maurer]: thus "way" means God's dealings with the righteous (Ps 37:23).
most upright—(De 32:4).
dost weigh—(1Sa 2:3; Pr 5:21). Rather, "thou dost make plain and level" [Maurer], removing all obstacles (Isa 40:3, 4).
Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.
8. way of thy judgments—We have waited for Thy proceeding to punish the enemy (Isa 26:9, 10) [Maurer]. Horsley translates Isa 26:7, 8, "The path of the Just One is perfectly even; an even road Thou wilt level for the Just One, even the path of Thy laws, O Jehovah. We have expected Thee."
name … remembrance—the manifested character of God by which He would be remembered (Isa 64:5; Ex 3:15).
With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
9. With, … soul … I—literally, "I … my soul," in apposition; the faithful Jews here speak individually. The overthrow of the foe and the restoration of the Jews are to follow upon prayer on the part of the latter and of all God's people (Isa 62:1-4, 6, 7; Ps 102:13-17).
in the night—(Ps 63:6; So 3:1).
world … learn … righteousness—the remnant left after judgments (Ps 58:10, 11; Zec 14:16).
Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
10. uprightness—rather, as in Isa 26:7, "prosperity," answering to "favor" in the parallelism, and in antithesis to "judgments in the earth" (Isa 26:9); where prosperity attends the wicked as well as the just, "he will not learn righteousness," therefore judgments must be sent that he may "learn" it [Maurer].
LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.
11. lifted up—to punish the foes of God's people. They who will not see shall be made to "see" to their cost (Isa 5:12).
their envy at the people—that is, "Thy people." Lowth translates, "They shall see with confusion Thy zeal for Thy people."
fire of … enemies—that is, the fire to which Thine enemies are doomed (Isa 9:18).
LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.
12. peace—God's favor, including all blessings, temporal and spiritual, opposed to their previous trials (Ps 138:8).
O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
13. other lords—temporal; heathen kings (2Ch 12:8; 28:5, 6), Nebuchadnezzar, &c. Spiritual also, idols and lusts (Ro 6:16-18).
by thee only—It is due to Thee alone, that we again worship Thee as our Lord [Maurer]. "(We are) Thine only, we will celebrate Thy name" [Horsley]. The sanctifying effect of affliction (Ps 71:16; 119:67, 71).
They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.
14. They—The "other lords" or tyrants (Isa 26:13).
shall not live—namely, again.
deceased—Hebrew, "Rephaim"; powerless, in the land of shades (Isa 14:9, 10).
therefore—that is, inasmuch as. Compare "therefore" (Ge 18:5; 19:8).
Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.
15. hast—prophetical preterite (Isa 9:3).
hast removed … far … ends of … earth—rather, "Thou hast extended far all the borders of the land" [Vitringa].
LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.
poured out—(Ps 62:8), as a vessel emptying out all its contents.
prayer—literally, "a whispered prayer," Margin, "a secret sighing" to God for help (compare Jer 13:17; De 8:16).
Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD.
17. An image of anguish accompanied with expectation, to be followed by joy that will cause the anguish utterly to be forgotten. Zion, looking for deliverance, seemingly in vain, but really about to be gloriously saved (Mic 4:9, 10-13; 5:1-3; Joh 16:21, 22).
We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
18. brought forth wind—Michaelis explains this of the disease empneumatosis. Rather, "wind" is a figure for that which proves an abortive effort. The "we" is in antithesis to "Thy," "my" (Isa 26:19), what we vainly attempt, God will accomplish.
not wrought … deliverance in … earth—literally, "the land (Judea) is not made security," that is, is not become a place of security from our enemies.
neither … world fallen—The "world" at large, is in antithesis to "the earth," that is, Judea. The world at enmity with the city of God has not been subdued. But Maurer explains "fallen," according to Arabic idiom, of the birth of a child, which is said to fall when being born; "inhabitants of the world (Israel, Isa 24:4; not the world in general) are not yet born"; that is, the country as yet lies desolate, and is not yet populated.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
19. In antithesis to Isa 26:14, "They (Israel's foes) shall not live"; "Thy (Jehovah's) dead men (the Jews) shall live," that is, primarily, be restored, spiritually (Isa 54:1-3), civilly and nationally (Isa 26:15); whereas Thy foes shall not; ultimately, and in the fullest scope of the prophecy, restored to life literally (Eze 37:1-14; Da 12:2).
together with my dead body—rather, "my dead body," or "bodies" (the Jewish nation personified, which had been spiritually and civilly dead; or the nation, as a parent, speaking of the bodies of her children individually, see on Isa 26:9, "I," "My"): Jehovah's "dead" and "my dead" are one and the same [Horsley]. However, as Jesus is the antitype to Israel (Mt 2:15), English Version gives a true sense, and one ultimately contemplated in the prophecy: Christ's dead body being raised again is the source of Jehovah's people (all, and especially believers, the spiritual Israelites) also being raised (1Co 15:20-22).
Awake—(Eph 5:14), spiritually.
in dust—prostate and dead, spiritually and nationally; also literally (Isa 25:12; 47:1).
dew—which falls copiously in the East and supplies somewhat the lack of rain (Ho 14:5).
cast out … dead—that is, shall bring them forth to life again.
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
20. enter … chambers—When God is about to take vengeance on the ungodly, the saints shall be shut in by Him in a place of safety, as Noah and his family were in the days of the flood (Ge 7:16), and as Israel was commanded not to go out of doors on the night of the slaying of the Egyptian first-born (Ex 12:22, 23; Ps 31:20; 83:3). The saints are calmly and confidently to await the issue (Ex 14:13, 14).
For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
21. (Mic 1:3; Jude 14).
disclose … blood—(Ge 4:10, 11; Job 16:18; Eze 24:7, 8). All the innocent blood shed, and all other wrongs done, so long seemingly with impunity, shall then be avenged (Re 16:6).