Isaiah 26:5-7, 8
For he brings down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he lays it low; he lays it low, even to the ground…
I. ITS APPARENT ABSENCE. We still find on the earth "them that dwell on high" - the arrogant, the presumptuous, the oppressor; there is to be seen" the lofty city," exalted in its pride of power, dealing its blows upon the weak and suffering, fearing not God nor regarding the rights of men. In every age, beneath every sky, these men and these cities have been known. To those who have been humiliated and ill treated, God has seemed absent; his righteousness has appeared afar off; their cry has been, "How long, O Lord, how long dost thou not avenge," etc.? Among such suffering and perplexed ones are down-trodden peoples, persecuted Churches, wronged individual men and women.
II. ITS ASSERTION IN DUE TIME. The justice of God "is not dead, but sleepeth." It may be truer to say that it waits in patience for the hour of manifestation; then it descends; and it appears:
1. In the utter overthrow of iniquity. The lofty are laid low, the proud city is brought down to the ground (ver. 5). Instead of power is utter enfeeblement; the weapon of cruelty is stricken out of its hand, the words of condemnation and cursing are taken out of its mouth. Instead of honor is humiliation; the throne is exchanged for the very dust of the ground; and instead of unholy joy is hopeless misery.
2. In the exaltation of rectitude (ver. 6). Those who have been reduced to poverty and need by the unscrupulousness of the sinful will accede to their heritage of power, of wealth, of pleasure, or - what is better than these - of influence, of sufficiency, of thankfulness. God, the Most Upright One, smooths the path of the just (ver. 7), makes it level, enables the righteous to pursue their way of fruitful activity, of Divine worship, of holy joy.
III. THE EFFECT OF ITS ASSERTION. "When God's judgments are in the earth," i.e. when the righteousness of God is seen and felt in the infliction of penalty on the guilty and the leveling of the path of the just, then "the inhabitants... learn righteousness" (ver. 8).
1. The devout are confirmed in their devotion, and they cleave to God and to his service.
2. The waverers are decided, and they resolve to unite themselves with his people.
3. The presumptuous are alarmed, and they may be awakened and redeemed. This is God's intention in, and is the fitting end of, his Divine judgments; it is our folly and our sin if we allow that purpose to be defeated. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.