For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
"The Lord hath founded Zion;" this is the guarantee of His love and her stability. "The poor of her people shall trust in it"—or, as the margin has it, shall betake themselves unto it—this is one purpose of the Church's mission upon earth,—the care, the teaching, the education, the guidance of the poor.
I. The strongest, most fundamental title of protection is creation. Even among ourselves, no one frames an object to destroy it; he who makes, makes that he may preserve. And if this be so in human nature, shall there be nothing to compare with it in the Divine? God, indeed, who is eternal, can require no successor to whom to devise His purposes of love; but all the claims that the thing framed can have on Him who framed it, hold with tenfold force when the object is not, as in our humbler works, the mere apposition of preexisting materials, in which nothing is ours except the order of arrangement, but is itself, alike in matter and in form, the direct offspring of His own inexhaustible power and goodness. (1) Behold, then, how as His own "God loved the world;" how as not only His own, but His own in pain and anguish, and endeared to His inmost heart as such, God hath loved His Church. He spoke to bid the one, He died to make the other, exist. (2) In this Church of His is His own honour pledged. He hath not covenanted with the world that now is to immortalise it; but He has passed His own word for the perpetuity of His Church. Nothing so framed was ever framed to perish; He has infused into it His own Spirit, and His Spirit is life. (3) Is not the Church in its ultimate perfection set forth as the very reward of all the sorrows of its Lord? and shall He be defrauded of His recompense? (4) There is more than creation to bind the Church to Christ, more than promise, more than reward; there is communion, oneness, identification. A man may desert his child; he cannot desert himself. With such a union there can be no separation; if Christ be immortal, the Church is so; when He dies she shall perish, but not till then.
II. The text predicts that this Zion of God shall be the resort of His poor, and the object of their trust. The Church of Christ is one vast institute for the benefit of the poor. He who loved all, eminently loved them; and His Church has ever, even in her darkest days, retained much of the character He thus impressed.
W. Archer Butler, Sermons Doctrinal and Practical, 2nd series, p. 227.
At first sight the prediction which closes the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah seems of temporary interest only, and to speak of judgments which within a very few years were destined to fall upon one of the most inveterate enemies of God's ancient people; and yet I cannot but think those commentators right who, following the opinion of divers of the Fathers of the Church, have found in the passage an allusion to the Gospel and Church of Christ.
I. That the prophecy would be one of pressing and immediate interest to the contemporaries of the prophet is obvious from the manner in which it is ushered in: "In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden" (or, as we should nowadays say, this denunciation of wrath) against the Philistines. After bidding the inhabitants of Palestine howl for the judgments that were impending, Isaiah, speaking as he was moved by the Holy Ghost, makes the inquiry and gives the answer of the text. It was usual for neighbouring nations, who were friends and allies, to send ambassadors, and congratulate each other on success. When, therefore, the coming triumph over the Philistines should be known abroad, and the envoys of friendly states should inquire of Judah into the circumstances of his success, "Let this answer," said the prophet, "suffice: that the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall trust in it."
II. No one can read that promise and not feel that it was intended to have an ampler scope for its fulfilment than in the personal security of a handful of Jewish peasants; the whole turn of expression is redolent of Gospel times. Such words were never fully verified till Christ, the Son of David, had founded the Christian Church, and made His gracious offer to a world enslaved in the most cruel of all bondage: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
F. E. Paget, Sermons for Special Occasions, p. 65.
References: Isaiah 14:10.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 178. Isaiah 16:1.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages from the Prophets, vol. i., pp. 35,46. Isaiah 17:10, Isaiah 17:11.—A. Maclaren, Old Testament Outlines, p. 179.
And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.
Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.
The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.