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Isa 40:1-31. SECOND PART OF THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH.
The former were local and temporary in their reference. These belong to the distant future, and are world-wide in their interest; the deliverance from Babylon under Cyrus, which he here foretells by prophetic suggestion, carries him on to the greater deliverance under Messiah, the Saviour of Jews and Gentiles in the present eclectic Church, and the restorer of Israel and Head of the world-wide kingdom, literal and spiritual, ultimately. As Assyria was the hostile world power in the former part, which refers to Isaiah's own time, so Babylon is so in the latter part, which refers to a period long subsequent. The connecting link, however, is furnished (Isa 39:6) at the close of the former part. The latter part was written in the old age of Isaiah, as appears from the greater mellowness of style and tone which pervades it; it is less fiery and more tender and gentle than the former part.
1. Comfort ye, comfort ye--twice repeated to give double assurance.
Having announced the coming captivity of the Jews in Babylon, God now
desires His servants, the prophets
to comfort them. The scene is laid in Babylon; the time, near the close
of the captivity; the ground of comfort is the speedy ending of the
captivity, the Lord Himself being their leader.
2. comfortably--literally, "to the heart"; not merely to the intellect.
3. crieth in the wilderness--So the Septuagint and
connect the words. The Hebrew accents, however, connect them thus:
"In the wilderness prepare ye," &c., and the parallelism also requires
this, "Prepare ye in the wilderness," answering to "make straight
in the desert." Matthew was entitled, as under inspiration, to vary
the connection, so as to bring out another sense, included in the Holy
Spirit's intention; in
"John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness," answers thus to
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness." MAURER takes the participle as put for the finite verb
"A voice crieth." The clause, "in the wilderness," alludes to
Israel's passage through it from Egypt to Canaan
Jehovah being their leader; so it shall be at the coming restoration of
Israel, of which the restoration from Babylon was but a type (not the
full realization; for their way from it was not through the
"wilderness"). Where John preached (namely, in the wilderness; the type
of this earth, a moral wilderness), there were the hearers who
are ordered to prepare the way of the Lord, and there was to be
the coming of the Lord [BENGEL]. John, though he
was immediately followed by the suffering Messiah, is rather the herald
of the coming reigning Messiah, as
Mal 4:5, 6
("before the great and dreadful day of the Lord"),
implies that John is not exclusively meant; and that though in one
sense Elias has come, in another he is yet to come. John was the
figurative Elias, coming "in the spirit and power of Elias"
where John the Baptist denies that he was the actual Elias, accords
with this view.
Mal 4:5, 6
cannot have received its exhaustive fulfilment in John; the Jews always
understood it of the literal Elijah. As there is another consummating
advent of Messiah Himself, so perhaps there is to be of his forerunner
Elias, who also was present at the transfiguration.
4. Eastern monarchs send heralds before them in a journey to clear
away obstacles, make causeways over valleys, and level hills. So John's
duty was to bring back the people to obedience to the law and to remove
all self-confidence, pride in national privileges, hypocrisy, and
irreligion, so that they should be ready for His coming
5. see it--The Septuagint for "it," has "the salvation of God."
that is, Messiah); but the Evangelist probably took these words from
6. The voice--the same divine herald as in
7. spirit of the Lord--rather, "wind of Jehovah"
The withering east wind of those countries sent by Jehovah
9. Rather, "Oh, thou that bringest good things to Zion; thou that
bringest good tidings to Jerusalem." "Thou" is thus the collective
personification of the messengers who announce God's gracious
purpose to Zion (see on
confirms this [Vulgate and GESENIUS]. If
English Version be retained, the sense will be the glad message
was first to be proclaimed to Jerusalem, and then from it as the center
to all "Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth"
(Lu 24:47, 49;
[VITRINGA and HENGSTENBERG].
10. with strong hand--or, "against the strong"; rather, "as a strong
one" [MAURER]. Or, against the strong one, namely, Satan
Re 20:2, 3, 10)
11. feed--including all a shepherd's care--"tend"
12. Lest the Jews should suppose that He who was just before described
as a "shepherd" is a mere man, He is now described as GOD.
13. Quoted in Ro 11:34; 1Co 2:16. The Hebrew here for "directed" is the same as in Isa 40:12 for "meted out"; thus the sense is, "Jehovah measures out heaven with His span"; but who can measure Him? that is, Who can search out His Spirit (mind) wherewith He searches out and accurately adjusts all things? MAURER rightly takes the Hebrew in the same sense as in Isa 40:12 (so Pr 16:2; 21:2), "weigh," "ponder." "Direct," as in English Version, answers, however, better to "taught" in the parallel clause.
14. path of judgment--His wisdom, whereby He so beautifully adjusts the places and proportions of all created things.
15. of--rather, (hanging) from a bucket