ISAIAH CHAPTER 26.
Israel’s Final Song of Deliverance.
THE CHURCH’S SONG OF PRAISE. — V. 1. In that day, at the time of the final deliverance of the ransomed of God, shall this song be sung in the land of Judah, by the believers who have been preserved by the power of the Lord: We have a strong city, namely, the city of God, Ps. 46, 4, His holy Church; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks, His redemption is established as a strong wall of exterior and interior defense, so that no enemy is able to penetrate inside and take away the blessings of the redeemed. V.2. Open ye the gates, so the cry sounds down from the heavenly host, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth, which was faithful to the Lord and His Word to the end, may enter in. All those who keep the covenant of faith are welcomed in the heavenly mansions. V. 3. Thou, namely, Jehovah, wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, the peace of God which passeth all understanding resting upon all those who belong to the spiritual Israel and cling to Him in true faith, because he trusteth in Thee; and the Lord rewards such trust with a double measure of peace. V. 4. Trust ye in the Lord forever, thus the chorus from heaven once more admonishes; for in the Lord JEHOVAH, the God of salvation, is everlasting strength, He is the Rock of Ages, whose strength overcomes all enemies; v. 5. for He bringeth down them that dwell on high, casting down even the world-powers which presume to oppose Him; the lofty city, representing the wickedness of the unbelievers everywhere, He layeth it low, as shown in chapter 21; He layeth it low, even to the ground; He bringeth it even to the dust, chap. 25, 12. V. 6. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy, the very ones who formerly were trodden down by the tyrants of this world. V. 7. The way of the just is uprightness, that being the basis of his entire conduct; Thou, Most Upright, namely, God, dost weigh the path of the just, literally, “dost roll his path,” thereby making it possible for him to conduct himself uprightly. Thus all glory for the believer’s life of sanctification is given to God alone. V.8. Yea, in the way of Thy judgments, so the new strophe of the hymn begins, O Lord, have we waited for Thee, expecting Him to give proof of His justice over against all enemies; the desire of our soul is to Thy name and to the remembrance of Thee, namely, that He would reveal Himself in a deed which would cause men to call Him by His right name and to spread the right knowledge of Him. So deeply does this matter affect the prophet that he continues his hymn in the name of every individual believer. V. 9. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night, in the time of affliction, which deprived him of rest; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early, confident that the morning would bring a happy deliverance; for when Thy judgments are in the earth, His punishments being intended to call sinners to repentance, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness, that conduct which is in agreement with the Word of God, the life of sanctification. Only the enemies of God, by a deliberate rejection of His grace, are excluded from this course. V. 10. Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness, a righteous, God-pleasing conduct; in the land of uprightness, where everything is done in harmony with the will of God, will he deal unjustly, being in no way in sympathy with the ideals of the just and good, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord, namely, in consequence of his willful rejection of God’s grace, on account of the perversity of his mind, which despises the goodness of God. If a man is lost, he has only himself to blame.
CONCLUDING SCENES FROM THE WORLD’S HISTORY. — V. 11. Lord, when Thy hand is lifted up, to punish the foes of His people, they will not see, they deliberately close their eyes against the manifestation of His majesty; but they shall see and be ashamed for their envy at the people, heaped with disgrace as they see the zeal of Jehovah for His people; yea, the fire of Thine enemies shall devour them, rather, “fire will devour Thine adversaries.” That is the judgment of God upon the wicked, by which they would be both surprised and confused. V. 12. Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us, firmly establishing the condition of peace in the midst of His congregation; for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us, the believers’ life of sanctification being a gift of the Lord and therefore acceptable in His sight. V. 13. O Lord, our God, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us, for various despots of the world attempt time and again to tyrannize the believers; but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name, for Jehovah has overthrown the tyrants and enabled His children to worship Him as their Lord. V. 14. They, the enemies, are dead, they shall not live, they cannot return to their former power; they are deceased, they shall not rise, the enemies of God cannot hope to be delivered from the everlasting destruction to which they are condemned; therefore hast Thou visited and destroyed them and made all their memory to perish. That is the lot of the Lord’s adversaries. Over against that we have the blessings which He sends upon His own people. V. 15. Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, Thou hast increased the nation, for the Lord causes the number of His children to grow; Thou art glorified, by this act of mercy; Thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth, for thus far the Church of God, by His own promise, is to be extended. V. 16. Lord, in trouble have they visited Thee, thus the prophet once more cries out with reference to the night of affliction; they poured out a prayer, all the more fervent because it is made in secret, when Thy chastening was upon them, rendering them almost speechless with its severity. This is true to this day with regard to the consciousness of sin with its depressing effects. V. 17. Like as a woman with child that draweth near the time of her delivery is in pain and crieth out in her pangs, so have we been in Thy sight, O Lord. The more unendurable the affliction seemed, the nearer was the time of deliverance. V. 18. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have, as it were, brought forth wind, this being ever the result of man’s sinfulness, of his life without God, which is all vanity; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, for by their own reason and strength men cannot produce salvation; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen, literally, “no inhabitants of the world will drop,” that is, no new spiritual births can be brought out by the efforts of men, without the power of God. But in the hand of the Lord the matter assumes a different aspect: v. 19. Thy dead men shall live, by the power of God’s mercy; together with my dead body shall they arise, delivered by the might of God. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for Thy dew is as the dew of herbs, the divine glory imparting its heavenly power to the moldering dust of men, and the earth shall cast out the dead. The earth is forced to give up its victims, and the awakened believers join the number of those who are living the true life of the Spirit by the power of God. V. 20. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, hiding while God takes vengeance upon the ungodly, and shut thy doors about thee, to be secure from disturbance; hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast, until the judgment of God has gone forth upon His enemies. V. 21. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, reveal the murders committed, and shall no more cover her slain, everything being laid open before the eyes of the Judge of the world. Thus the chapter shows the deliverance and the resurrection of the believers in the midst of the judgment pronounced and carried out upon the ungodly.