Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.
Isa 56:1-12. The Preparation Needed on the Part of Those Who Wish to Be Admitted to the Kingdom of God.
1. judgment—equity. John the Baptist preached similarly a return to righteousness, as needed to prepare men for Messiah's first coming (Lu 3:3, 8-14). So it shall be before the second coming (Mal 4:4-6).
near to come—(Mt 3:2; 4:17), also as to the second coming (Isa 62:10, 11; Lu 21:28, 31; Ro 13:11, 12; Heb 10:25).
righteousness—answering to "salvation" in the parallel clause; therefore it means righteousness which bringeth salvation (Isa 46:13; Ro 3:25, 26).
Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.
2. (Lu 12:43).
the man—Hebrew, enosh, "a man in humble life," in contradistinction to Hebrew, ish, "one of high rank." Even the humblest, as "the stranger" and "the eunuch" (Isa 56:4, 6), are admissible to these privileges.
this … it—what follows: "keeping the Sabbath," &c. (Isa 58:13, 14; Eze 20:12). A proof that the Sabbath, in the spirit of its obligation, was to be binding under the Gospel (Isa 66:23). That gospel times are referred to is plain, from the blessing not being pronounced on the man who observed the sacrificial ritual of the Jewish law.
layeth hold—image from one grasping firmly some precious object which he is afraid of having forcibly snatched from him. The "Sabbath" here includes all the ordinances of divine worship under the new gospel law.
keepeth … hand … from … evil—The observance of the second table of the law; as the "Sabbath" referred to the first table. Together, they form the whole duty of man, the worship of God and a holy life.
Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
3. God welcomes all believers, without distinction of persons, under the new economy (Ac 10:34, 35).
joined … to … Lord—(Nu 18:4, 7). "Proselytes."
separated—Proselytes from the Gentiles were not admitted to the same privileges as native Israelites. This barrier between Jews and Gentiles was to be broken down (Eph 2:14-16).
eunuch—(Ac 8:27, &c.). Eunuchs were chamberlains over harems, or court ministers in general.
dry tree—barren (compare Lu 23:31); not admissible into the congregation of Israel (De 23:1-3). Under the Gospel the eunuch and stranger should be released from religious and civil disabilities.
For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
4. please me—sacrifice their own pleasure to mine.
take hold—so "layeth hold" (see on Isa 56:2).
Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
5. in mine house—the temple, the emblem of the Church (1Ti 3:15). They shall no longer be confined as proselytes were, to the outer court, but shall be admitted "into the holiest" (Heb 10:19, 20).
a place—literally, "a hand."
than of sons—Though the eunuch is barren of children (Isa 56:3), I will give him a more lasting name than that of being father of sons and daughters (regarded as a high honor among the Hebrews) (Joh 1:12; 10:3; 1Jo 3:1; Re 2:17; 3:12).
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
6. join … Lord—(Jer 50:6). Conditions of admission to the privileges of adoption.
Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
7. Even them—(Eph 2:11-13).
to my holy mountain—Jerusalem, the seat of the Lord's throne in His coming kingdom (Isa 2:2; Jer 3:17).
burnt offerings … sacrifices—spiritual, of which the literal were types (Ro 12:1; Heb 13:15; 1Pe 2:5).
altar—(Heb 13:10), spiritually, the Cross of Christ, which sanctifies our sacrifices of prayer and praise.
house … for all people—or rather, "peoples." No longer restricted to one favored people (Mal 1:11; Joh 4:21, 23; 1Ti 2:8). To be fully realized at the second coming (Isa 2:2-4). No longer literal, but spiritual sacrifice, namely, "prayer" shall be offered (Ps 141:2; 51:17; Mal 1:11; Mt 21:13).
The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.
8. Jehovah will not only restore the scattered outcasts of Israel (Isa 11:12; Ps 147:2) to their own land, but "will gather others ('strangers') to him (Israel), besides those gathered" (Margin, "to his gathered"; that is, in addition to the Israelites collected from their dispersion), (Joh 10:16; Eph 1:10; 2:19).
All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.
9. beasts—Gentile idolatrous nations hostile to the Jews, summoned by God to chastise them (Jer 12:7-9; 50:17; Eze 34:5): the Chaldeans and subsequently the Romans. The mention of the "outcasts of Israel" (Isa 56:8) brings in view the outcasting, caused by the sins of their rulers (Isa 56:10-12).
to devour—namely, Israel.
His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.
10. His watchmen—Israel's spiritual leaders (Isa 62:6; Eze 3:17).
dumb dogs—image from bad shepherds' watchdogs, which fail to give notice, by barking, of the approach of wild beasts.
sleeping, lying down—rather, "dreamers, sluggards" [Lowth]. Not merely sleeping inactive, but under visionary delusions.
loving to slumber—not merely slumbering involuntarily, but loving it.
Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
11. greedy—literally, "strong" (that is, insatiable) in appetite (Eze 34:2, 3; Mic 3:11).
cannot understand—unable to comprehend the wants of the people, spiritually: so Isa 56:10, "cannot bark."
look to … own way—that is, their own selfish interests; not to the spiritual welfare of the people (Jer 6:13; Eze 22:27).
from his quarter—rather, "from the highest to the lowest" [Lowth]. "From his quarter"; that is, from one end to the other of them, one and all (Ge 19:4).
Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
12. fetch wine—language of the national teachers challenging one another to drink. Barnes translates, "I will take another cup" (Isa 5:11).
to-morrow, &c.—Their self-indulgence was habitual and intentional: not merely they drink, but they mean to continue so.