Isaiah 35
Matthew Poole's Commentary
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
The joyful flourishing of Christ’s kingdom, Isaiah 35:1,2. The weak he strengthens and comforts, Isaiah 35:3,4. His miracles, Isaiah 35:5,6. The prosperity and peace of his people, Isaiah 35:7-10.

And as the land of God’s enemies, which was exceeding fruitful, shall be turned into a desolate wilderness, as was declared in the foregoing chapter; so, on the contrary, Emmanuel’s land, or the seat of God’s church and people, which formerly was deserted and despised like a wilderness, and which the rage and malice of their enemies had brought to desolation, shall flourish exceedingly.

For them; for the wilderness and solitary place; or,

for these things, which were prophesied in the foregoing destruction, concerning the ruin of the implacable enemies of God and his church. But that Hebrew letter which is in the end of this Hebrew verb, and is here rendered for them, is by all the ancient translators, and by divers others, neglected in their translations, as if it were only added to the verb paragogically, as grammarians speak; and therefore those two words may well be omitted.

It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; the wilderness shall be as pleasant and fruitful as Lebanon, and Carmel, and Sharon; which were eminent parts of the land of Canaan, as hath been oft noted.

They, who are understood by the wilderness,

shall see the glory of the Lord; the glorious discoveries and effects of God’s power and goodness to his people.

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
Ye prophets and ministers of God, comfort and encourage God’s people, who are now ready to faint, with hopes and assurance of that salvation which, in due time, I will work for them. He mentions

hands and

knees, because the strength and weakness of any man eminently appears in those parts.

Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
Your God will come; though he seem to be absent, and departed from you, he will come to you, and abide with you. He will shortly come in the flesh. For although this and the following promises may be metaphorically taken, concerning the temporal deliverance of his people from Babylonian and other oppressors; yet they are much more emphatically and literally understood concerning the redemption of God’s people by Jesus Christ, as is sufficiently manifest, both from the words and phrases themselves, and from divers places of the New Testament, where they are so expounded by Christ and the apostles.

With vengeance; to execute vengeance upon the enemies of God, and of his people; which also was verified in Christ, who was set for the fall as well as for the rising of many in Israel, Luke 2:34, and who did accordingly inflict most dreadful judgments, both temporal and spiritual, upon the unbelieving and apostate Jews, who were the great persecutors of Christ and, of his people.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
The most ignorant and stupid creatures shall be forced to acknowledge the wonderful works of God. Or rather thus, The poor Gentiles, who before were blind and deaf, shall now have the eyes and ears of their minds opened to see God’s works, and to hear and receive his word. And in token hereof, many persons who are corporally blind and deaf shall have sight miraculously conferred upon them; all which being so fully and literally accomplished in Christ, and applied by Christ to himself, it is a plain proof that this prophecy belongs to the times of the gospel.

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
Then shall the lame man leap for joy, or go nimbly and readily. And this clause also, and that which follows, are to he understood both spiritually and literally, as in the former verse.

In the wilderness small waters break out, and streams in the desert; the most dry and barren places shall be made moist and fruitful; which is principally meant of the plentiful effusion of God’s grace upon such persons and nations as had been wholly destitute of it.

And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
Those dry and parched deserts, in which dragons have their abode, shall yield abundance of grass, and reeds, and rushes, which grow only in moist grounds, Job 8:11.

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
An highway shall be there, and a way: the highway and the way are not to be taken for two different ways, but for one and the same way, even a causey or cast-way, which is both raised ground, as the first Hebrew word signifies, and a way; both signifying a convenient, prepared, plain, and common road or path for travellers, such as the doctrine of the gospel is, which is frequently compared to a way, both in the Old and New Testament, as hath been often observed.

It shall be called the way of holiness; it shall be a holy way, trodden by holy men, and filled with holy practices. The people (walking in it) shall be all (i.e. a very great number of them, not so few as in the times of the law) righteous, as is declared and prophesied afterward, Isaiah 60:21.

The unclean shall not pass over it, either to disturb or defile it. Unclean persons shall, in a good measure, be kept or cast out of my church, by the strict exercise of good discipline, here, and hereafter not one unclean person shall enter into my kingdom.

It shall be for those; but this way shall be appropriated unto those persons above mentioned, the weak, and blind, and lame, whom God will heal and save, Isaiah 35:3-6. The pronoun relative is put without an antecedent, as it is in many other places. But this, and the following clause, is, and may well be, rendered otherwise, and he (to wit, God, who is oft designed by this pronoun, and is easily understood out of the context) shall be to or with them walking in the way, (their companion and guide in their way, which is a great felicity,) that fools may not err therein. The way-faring men, though fools, shall not err therein; the way shall be so plain and straight, that even the most foolish travellers (who are described by this character, that they know not the way to the city, Ecclesiastes 10:15) cannot easily mistake it.

No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
It shall not only be a plain, but a safe way, free from all annoyance or danger from mischievous creatures. This is the same promise, for substance, with that Isaiah 11:9,

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The ransomed of the Lord; they whom God shall rescue and redeem from their corporal slavery in Babylon, and especially from their spiritual bondage under sin and Satan.

Shall return, and come to Zion; shall come again to Zion, from whence they had been carried away captive. Or, shall return, to wit, to the Lord now mentioned, and come to Zion, i.e. join themselves to God’s church and people.

Sorrow and sighing shall flee away; which expressions are too magnificent and emphatical to be satisfied by the return of the Jews from Babylon to their own land, which was accompanied and followed with many sighs and sorrows, as appears, both from sacred and other historians; and therefore must necessarily be understood of gospel times, and of the joy and happiness purchased by Christ for his people, begun here, and continued to all eternity.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

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