Thus said the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him…
1. For the enlargement of His Church, God often selects special instruments. In setting into motion a whole system of agencies this is almost uniformly the case. We recognise the fact all along the history of the Church. We see men raised up with peculiar gifts and clothed with peculiar powers to effect certain great works. The text gives us a remarkable illustration of this method of Divine procedure. In the bosom of the Church itself there are two still more remarkable examples of this law; the two men who bore the largest part in the inauguration and establishment of the chief dispensations. Moses and Paul were not indifferent characters; nor were their training and position like that of the multitude. They stand out boldly in history as men of peculiar natural gifts and attainments. Their early discipline exalted their intrinsic power; while their relation to the people among whom their work was to be performed, and to the science of the age in which they lived, imparted special qualifications for their great mission, it is not that the human is thus exalted above the Divine, but simply that the Divine uses that kind and measure of humanity which are best fitted to accomplish its purposes.
2. It is just as certain that the great Sovereign chooses particular nations to effect certain parts of His work in the final triumph of the Gospel, as that He chooses certain individuals for some special operation "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth My praise." His sovereignty reaches back of the immediate work. It chooses according to the character of the nation; it reaches to the antecedent training and the natural characteristics which combine to prepare the nation most fully for the work; nay, this sovereignty in its far-reaching wisdom has been busy all along the history of the people in so ordering the moulding influences under which characters and position are attained, that when the time comes for them to enter into His special work, they will be found all ripe for His purpose. This nation, to whom the passage before us refers, is a marked illustration of this thought. The Jew was designed to be the conservator of the Word of God. He was chosen for this purpose. The object was not propagation, but conservation. The race by nature and education had just those qualities which fitted it for this work. Its wonderful tenacity of impression, its power to hold what once had fairly been forced into it by Divine energy, like the rock hardened around the crystal, belongs to its nature, reveals itself after Providence had shattered the nation, in that granite character which, under the fire of eighteen centuries, remains unchanged. At every step of the progress of Christianity since, illustrations multiply of the truth that God forms nations to His work, and chooses them because of their fitness to accomplish certain parts of that work. The Greek with his high mental culture and his glorious language — fit instrument through which the Divine Word breathed His life-giving truth; the Roman sceptred in power over the whole realm of civilisation, and undesignedly constructing the great highway for the Church of Jesus; the German, with his innate freedom of spirit, nourishing the thoughtful souls whose lofty utterances awoke, whose wondrous power disenthralled a sleeping and captive Church.
(S. W. Fisher, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
WEB: Thus says Yahweh to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him, and strip kings of their armor; to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut: