You have increased the nation, O LORD, you have increased the nation: you are glorified…
The population of Judah has been increased, and its borders extended. (For this cause of rejoicing cf. Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 49:19, 20; Isaiah 54:1, etc.; Micah 2:1, 2; Micah 4:7; Obadiah 1:19, 20.) Probably he is thinking of the population and strength of the land in the days of David and Solomon, as typical of what is again to be in the happier times. But actually a period of gloom and suffering must precede the glorious restoration.
I. THE PERIOD OF TROUBLE AND EXPECTATION. It is a pathetic picture of the soul in its attitude of anxious suspense. Jehovah was missed and longed for as the light which seems to tarry in the dark days of winter. Prayer was poured forth; and there was a period of acute suffering like that of the mother preceding the birth of a child. Hope was deceived and disappointed again and again (cf. Isaiah 13:18; Isaiah 21:3). Still the land was not blessed, still the population was not restored. The prophet is thinking of the days after the return from exile.
II. THE RESURRECTION Or THE PEOPLE. "Thy dead shall live." "Sublimely recovering himself, the prophet cries that God's saints, though they are dead, shall live," and shall share the duties and privileges of regenerate Israel. The prophet sees, as it were, his countrymen returning from the under-world. So speaks Hosea: "After two days wilt he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight" (Hosea 6:2); left the vision of Ezekiel - the valley of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-10). With lively faith anticipating the event, he calls upon the new population to awake and cry. It is as if a dew had fallen on the barren land. This "dew of lights" is thought of as something supernatural, existing before the sun. In Psalm 110:3 the ordinary dew is born out of the morning shower. "The dew from the glory of God falls like a heavenly seed into the bosom of the earth; and in consequence of this, the earth gives out from itself the shades which have hitherto been held fast beneath the ground, so that they appear alive again on the face of the earth" (Delitzsch). There is thus a connection between light and life, so often found in conjunction in religious thought (Psalm 36:9; Job 3:16-20; John 1:4). For as the return of the morning light is coincident with the refreshment of the strength, and the awakening to new effort, so in all spiritual parables of the revival of the nation or the individual, light brings life. The renaissance of knowledge precedes or coincides with the reformation of manners, the stir of new activities, the beginning of a new era. And this connection should never be forgotten, "And God said, Let there be light." Even so; and the darkness of superstition, of prejudice, of obscurantism, must be symptomatic of moral death. As the light arouses the sleeper, so the sleeper must bestir himself to greet it and rejoice in it. "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
III. RETURN TO SELF-COMMUNION. From this enrapturing vision the prophet returns to the present, with all its sobering and in part depressing circumstances. "He has gained on behalf of his people the comforting certitude that a great exhibition of the Divine justice is on the point of taking place; and his counsel is to withdraw from the doomed into the privacy of communion with God" (Cheyne). While the storm of Divine judgment is sweeping by, let the people of God betake themselves to solitude and prayer (cf. Psalm 27:5; Psalm 31:21; Matthew 6:6). The opening of the door of the prayer-chamber is in times of distress the opening of the door into another world than this - a scene of serenity and elevation. In the presence of our Father who seeth in secret, the problems of the hour are solved, or cease unduly to harass the mind. That which threatened to crush us is surmounted by the new energy of the spirit here imparted.
"Prayer ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream
Of glory on the consecrated hour
Of man in audience with the Deity;
Who worships the great God, that instant joins
The first in heaven, and sets his foot on hell." And it is but for "a little moment" that the wrath will last (cf. Isaiah 10:24, 25; Isaiah 54:7, 8; Psalm 30:6). "Just as Noah, behind whom Jehovah shut the door of the ark, was hidden in the ark while the floods of judgment poured down without, so should the Church be shut off from the world without in its life of prayer, because a judgment of Jehovah was at hand" (Delitzsch).
IV. THE COMING FORTH OF JEHOVAH. (Cf. Micah 1:3.) Where is the "place" of Jehovah? It is the supernatural sphere; and every great manifestation of judgment mingled with mercy is a "coming forth of Jehovah." Here it is expressly for judgment to punish men who have incurred blood-guilt, which is, in other words, sin. Yet in the heart of judgment still his pity and consolation live, and we" should keep it constantly before our eyes, when the wicked slay, mock, and ridicule us, and inflict upon us every kind of outrage and cruelty, God will at length make known that the cry of innocent blood has not been uttered in vain; for he never can forget his own people" (Luke 18:7). - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.