Comfort you, comfort you my people, said your God.
The question of the authorship of the latter half of Isaiah resolves itself into a discussion of its claim to be prophetical. If it is descriptive, it must have been written by some "great unknown." If it is prophetical, and a vision of historical events covering long centuries, but grouped for effective representation, then it may have been written by Isaiah, and it fittingly completes a work which, revealing Divine judgments, also reveals "mercy rejoicing over judgment." Isaiah seems to be among the wearied, burdened, disheartened exiles in Babylon, towards the close of the Captivity. They are "hanging their harps on the willows," and refusing to sing. They have waited so long, that it seems quite plain "God has forgotten to be gracious." To them Isaiah has a message from God. He is to "comfort them;" and this is to be the comforting - God's time of judgment is almost over, God's restoring mercies are close at hand. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). "Having, in Isaiah 39:6, 7, predicted the Captivity, Isaiah, with a view to console his nation, delivers the prophetic discoveries which, in perspective vision, he obtained of the remarkable interposition of Divine providence for their deliverance." We notice that the comfortable and comforting message is to give assurance of three things.
I. WARFARE ENDED. The warfare meant is that struggle to bear and keep heart which had been so trying all through the long years of captivity. Or it may mean God's warfare with their idolatry and iniquity, the Captivity being regarded as God's fighting with the national sins, in order to destroy them and root them out. There can be no comfort, no rest, for us until sin is resisted and mastered. Heaven is only a rest-time, because, then and there, the people are all holy. We must keep the warfare so long as we keep the sin. The discipline will be ended, the pressure of our military service, only when the victory of righteousness is won.
II. GUILT PAID OFF. This seems to be the idea of the original, which we have as, "her iniquity is pardoned." Reference is rather to the penalty of iniquity being effectively removed. There can be no comfort while we are compelled to look this way and that, asking, "Where shall iniquity be laid?" On Israel it lay as a burden of so many years of national humiliation and captivity. To us the mystery of the "Sin-bearer" has been revealed; and we know that God has "laid on him the iniquity of as all." This knowledge is comfort indeed.
III. FAVOUR AT THE DOUBLE. The sentence is variously explained. Some refer it to the sufficiency of the sufferings endured. Others think it suggests abundance of restored grace and favour. Treated meditatively, we may take the "double" to suggest the temporal restorations under Cyrus and the spiritual restoration under Messiah. When God restores, he does it in such a gracious, fall, superabounding way, as to be an infinite consolation and joy to us. The comfort unspeakable is God's restored smile. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.