Isaiah 35:1, 2
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.…
This, which is expressed in the figures of these verses, may be further illustrated by the experience of David. His "bones waxed old through his roaring all the day long," while God hid his face from him. He sang again the old songs when God "restored unto him the joy of his salvation." "In contrast to the ruin of Edom, the prophet now describes Israel's triumphant march home through the blossoming wilderness" (Matthew Arnold). Two points may be dwelt on.
1. God's favor often includes improved circumstances.
2. God's favor brings such cheer as lifts us above circumstances.
I. GOD'S FAVOR OFTEN INCLUDES IMPROVED CIRCUMSTANCES. The actual removal of our difficulties or hindrances; restored relationships; business prosperities, etc.; - all such things being poetically represented by the bare, dry desert becoming a watered, flowery garden. In actual fact, the weariness and danger of the long desert route were graciously mitigated and relieved for the returning exiles. Cheyne resists the reference to the exiles; but the same point may be illustrated if the picture of the text be that of the condition of desolated Judaea when God's favor rested on the remnant that remained there. The contrast may be between desolated Edom on which rested God's frown, and refreshed and revived Judaea on which rested God's favor. So when God's curse is taken off Palestine, the old blossom and beauty will return to her. We cannot always be sure that God's smile on our souls will be followed by improvement of our circumstances; but this great comfort we may take - God oftentimes does in this way seal and complete his mercies to his people.
II. GOD'S FAVOR BRINGS SUCH CHEER AS LIFTS US ABOVE CIRCUMSTANCES. It is very easy to say that we ought to rise above circumstances in our own strength. But we cannot do it; nobody ever really does it, however loud may be their boastings. The bond uniting body and mind, soul and life, is altogether too close and subtle to permit even the holiest man to cease to feel. What alone is possible is that God's favor and grace may be such an inspiration and strength to a man's spirit, or a man's will, that he may be able to control his circumstances, and even change them through the new and masterful relation in which he stands to them. God's favor and acceptance is man's supreme uplifting. There is no cheer, no strength, like that which comes to the man who can say, "The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our Refuge." That man, and that man alone, can do all things, and bear all things, and make life yield to him its best. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.