ISAIAH CHAPTER 14.
Israel’s Deliverance and God’s Judgment upon Babylon, Assyria, and Philistia.
THE DELIVERANCE OF ISRAEL. — V. 1. For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, it is His love for His spiritual people, for His Church, which caused Him to bring the judgment of destruction upon Babylon, and will yet choose Israel, in accordance with His divine plan of salvation, and set them in their own land, His Church being rightly called a peculiar people, I Pet. 2, 9; and the strangers, people who are not members of Israel according to the flesh, shall be joined with them, in the great communion of saints, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob, to be reckoned members of God’s people. V. 2. And the people shall take them and bring them to their place, nations considering it a privilege to serve the believers; and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids, the former enemies of the Lord being glad to serve Him in this manner; and they, the members of the spiritual Israel, the believers, shall take them captives whose captives they were, in returning good for evil in a most remarkable manner; and they shall rule over their oppressors, namely, with the rule of the Gospel-message. V. 3. And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow and from thy fear and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, for the spiritual afflictions were included with those of the body in the Babylonian captivity, V. 4. that thou shalt take up this proverb, a song of triumph, against the king of Babylon and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! literally, “Ended is the driving despot, ended the exacting” (of gold), or “the oppression”; for the greatest burden which Babylon laid upon the people under her dominion was that of tribute. V. 5. The Lord bath broken the staff of the wicked and the scepter of the rulers, since it was used only for tyrannous oppression. V. 6. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, namely, the scepter of the tyrant, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth, rather, “he subjugated in anger nations by hounding on without sparing,” for such is the way of the enemies of God’s people at all times. V. 7. The whole earth is at rest and is quiet, now that the enemy is overthrown, the peace of God’s kingdom being pictured; they break forth into singing, the believers praising the Lord for His deliverance. V. 8. Yea, the fir-trees, or cypresses, rejoice at thee, at the tyrant’s misfortune, and the cedars of Lebanon, for their wood had been exported to the East for centuries, so that the great forests had practically disappeared, saying, Since thou art laid down, Babylon having fallen, no feller is come up against us, to strip the mountainsides of their forests. At the same time, however, while things have grown quiet on earth and the Church is enjoying peaceful growth, the realm of the dead and of the damned is in turmoil. V. 9. Hell from beneath is moved for thee, the place of eternal torment being stirred, to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, the specters or giants inhabiting hell, even all the chief ones, literally, “the leaders” or “great goats,” of the earth, as many as are in the dominion of darkness; it bath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All these dwellers in the realms of everlasting torment are pictured as astonished and excited at the prospect of seeing the king of Babylon enter their place of abode, their words of greeting now being given by the prophet. V. 10. All they shall speak and say unto thee, not in contempt and mockery, but in honest astonishment, Art thou also become weak as we, void of all strength? Art thou become like unto us? V. 11. Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, all Babylon’s earthly glory and majesty destroyed, and the noise of thy viols, the sound of the harps which accompanied his feasts of merrymaking on earth; the worm, the flesh-eating maggot, is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee, the most repulsive creatures, symbols of decay, taking the place of the precious Babylonian carpets, tapestries, and coverings to which the king had been accustomed here on earth. V. 12. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! literally, “O day-star, son of the dawn,” the reference being to the high and influential position occupied by the Babylonian ruler. How art thou cut down to the ground, like a giant tree which has been felled, which didst weaken the nations, in conquering and subduing them. V. 13. For thou hast said in thine heart, in the pride of Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. 4, 30, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, the residences of the spirits of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North, this being said according to the idea of the Babylonians, who placed the sacred mountain of the gods in the far North; v. 14. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, considered the chariots and thrones of the ancient deities; I will be like the Most High, many of the emperors of old regarding themselves as the sons or the offspring of God and laying claim to divine honors. This pride is, in the final analysis, at the bottom of all enmity against Christ and His Church, for every one who opposes God, His Word and His work, thereby exalts himself above the majesty of Him who will not give His glory to another. The song of the specters in the realm of the damned is now merged into the prophecy of the Lord: v. 15. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit, his reception in the place of everlasting destruction having just been pictured. V. 16. They that see thee, after the great downfall which has been so graphically pictured, shall narrowly look upon thee and consider thee, musing upon the terrible fate which struck their former companion or acquaintance, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms, as the great Babylonian empire often did; v. 17. that made the world as a wilderness and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? showing no pity in dismissing them to their homes. Because the king of Babylon was guilty on every count here brought forward, for that reason he himself was pitilessly dealt with and now lay there as a deserted carcass, his empire sharing his fate. V. 18. All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house, their bodies, properly prepared for burial, lying in state in the tombs of their ancestors. V. 19. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, like a worthless twig or parasite, which hinders the growth of the tree, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit, for the garments of the fallen soldiers that were slashed to pieces and smeared with blood were not saved by their friends nor considered welcome plunder by their enemies, but were thrown into the pit with the carcasses; as a carcass trodden under feet, not even given the honor of a burial. V. 20. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, his punishment reaching even beyond his death, because thou hast destroyed thy land and slain thy people, making it the instrument of his tyrannical lust of conquest; the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned, his race becoming extinct as godless and cursed. V. 21. Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers, to which they agreed and on whose account his dynasty shall be destroyed, that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities, thereby once more establishing their dominion and regaining their former power. V. 22. For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts, here speaking directly through the prophet, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, all the descendants that are left, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord. V. 23. I will also make it, the site of Babylon, a possession for the bittern, or an animal something like the porcupine which inhabits the wastes of the Euphrates Valley, and pools of water, swamps resulting from the annual overflow of the river; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, treating it like a heap of rubbish, saith the Lord of hosts. As noted at the end of chapter 13, this prophecy was literally fulfilled, as the accounts of Babylonian excavations show.
PROPHECIES AGAINST ASSYRIA AND PHILISTIA. — V. 24. The Lord of hosts, the Commander of all the forces of heaven, hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, as He had disposed or planned, so shall it come to pass, this prophecy preceding that against Babylon in point of human time; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, this prophecy being practically a continuation of chap. 10, 34; v. 25. that I will break the Assyrian in My land, overthrowing his power within the boundaries of Judah, and upon My mountains tread him under foot, for the turning-point in the Assyrian fortunes came at Libnah, in the foothills of the Judean mountains, with the destruction of Sennacherib’s forces, 2 Kings 19. Then shall his yoke depart from off them, namely, the inhabitants of Judah, and his burden depart from off their shoulders, so that the design of the invader could not be accomplished. V. 26. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth, in the counsel of the Lord, in whose hand is the government of the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations, and every decree of the Lord has significance for all men. V. 27. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? No power of the world can prevent its execution. And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? No man can turn Him aside from the acts which He has determined upon. -V. 28. In the year that King Ahaz died, about 727 B. C., was this burden, this sentence of judgment upon the Philistines, who just at this time prepared to regain their ancient power: v. 29. Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, that is, Philistia, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken, the Philistines being of the opinion that the alliance of Syria and the Northern Kingdom, as a consequence of which Ahaz and Judah had become vassals of Assyria, 2 Kings 16, 5-9, had resulted in breaking the power of Judah, which had only just before that been asserted by Uzziah, 2 Chron. 26, 6; for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, that is, an adder, a still more poisonous serpent, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent, the reference probably being to Hezekiah, who promptly smote the Philistines and definitely brought about their destruction, 2 Kings 18, 8. V. 30. And the first-born of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety, that is, the inhabitants of Judah would enjoy peace and safety under the reign of Hezekiah, over against Philistia; and I will kill thy root with famine, thus eradicating the Philistines as a people, and he, Hezekiah, shall slay thy remnant, thereby carrying out God’s punishment upon the ancient enemies of Judah. V.31. Howl, O gate! the strong fortifications of the Philistine cities being meant. Cry, O city! Ashdod and Gaza having retained much of their ancient glory. Thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved, melting away to nothing; for there shall come from the North a smoke, namely, the Assyrian hordes with their ruthless devastations, and none shall be alone in his appointed times, literally, “and none is by himself in his armies,” the Assyrian soldiers knowing neither weariness nor insubordination, but all filled with that one idea - the lust of conquest. V. 32. What shall one, then, answer the messengers of the nation? What answer do the messengers of the nation bring? What report did the ambassadors of various heathen nations make when they returned to their own countries after viewing the results of God’s punishment of Philistia and His protection of Judah? That the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall trust in it, the troubled refugees being safe within its walls. In this way the Lord protects those who believe in Him against all enemies, He Himself being their Refuge and Strength.