Isaiah 51




            TOPICS OF COMFORT - The address consists of three nearly

            equal stanzas, each commencing with a call, “Hearken unto me,”

            or“Attend to me.” The prophet appears to be the speaker, and to

            address himself to the more faithful portion of the people.


vs. 1-2 – The Past – “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn…..

            Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare

            you” - look back at your past history, especially at the early

            beginnings of it. Consider from an aged man (100 years old)

            and a barren woman (90 years old see Genesis 17:17) -  ye were

            raised up to be God’s people, a numerous nation, a multitude like

            the sand of the sea. How came this result  about?  Was it not simply

            by the blessing of God?



v. 3 – “The Lord shall comfort Zion bringing a garden from the “waste

            places….wilderness…desert” and making it “like the

            garden of the Lord; The Prophet Joel compares Judaea before its

            desolation to the garden of Eden” (Joel 2:3): and Ezekiel, like Isaiah,           

            prophesies that it shall once more become “like the garden of Eden,

            when the exiles have returned to it (Ezekiel 36:35). With Ezekiel,

            Eden represents all that is glorious, not in nature only, but in art (Ezekiel

            28:13; 31:8, 9, 16, 18) -  joy and gladness shall be found therein,

            thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” - (comp.Isaiah 35:10 and v. 11

            below. As music ceases out of the land in time of affliction (Isaiah 24:8), so

            when a “time of refreshing from the Lord” arrives, there is at once

            singing and“melody” (comp.Revelation 5:9; 14:2; 15:2).


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v. 4 – “Hearken unto me-  rather, attend to me — a stronger term than

hearken” — attend, and hear of a greater blessing than the restoration of

the land of Judah to cultivation and fruitfulness. God, enthroned anew in

Zion, will from thence send forth His light and His truth to the nations, will

make His Law known to them, and allow them to partake of His salvation.

“O my nation” -  a law shall proceed from me. The Christian

law” — the new covenant — is probably intended. This became, by the

preaching of the apostles, “a light of the people” or rather, of the peoples.






v. 5 – “My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth. “One

day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and. a thousand years as one day”

(2 Peter 3:8). Isaiah always speaks as if the Messianic kingdom was to

supervene almost immediately on the return of the exiles to Palestine. It

was not revealed to him that there would be an interval of from five

hundred to six hundred years between the two events. By God’s

righteousnesshere we must understand His righteous plans for the

redemption of His people through Christ, and for the punishment of those

who resist His will and remain impenitent. The salvation and the judgment

are the two parts of the “righteousness.’’ – “the isles shall wait upon me” –

The“isles” or “countries” that have been expecting the coming of a Deliverer

will have faith in His power to redeem and save them. Christianity was

received with more readiness by the Gentiles than by the “peculiar people”

(Acts 11:21; 13:42, 46; 14:1, 2; 17:4, 5; 18:6, etc.) - ....on mine arm shall

they trust”


v. 6 – “Lift up your eyes to the heavens-  Look to that which seems to

you most stable and most certain to endure — the vast firmament of the

heavens, and the solid earth beneath it, of which God “bears up the pillars”

(Psalm l25:3). Both these, and man too, are in their nature perishable, and

will (or may) vanish away and cease to be. But God, and His power to

save, and His eternal law of right, can never pass away, but must endure for

evermore – “The heavens shall vanish away like smoke (comp.Psalm 102:26;

Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:10-12) – “and the earth shall wax old like a garment.

So also in Psalm 102:26 and Hebrews 1:11. The new heaven and new earth promised

by the Lord  (Isaiah 65:17;66:22), St. Peter (2 Peter 3:13), and St. John

(Revelation 21:1) are created in the last times, because “the first heaven and the

first earth have passed away.” They that dwell therein shall die in like manner - the

Hebrew text does not say, “in like manner,” but “as in like manner.’’ Man is not

subject to the same law of perishableness as the external world, but to a different law.

External things simply “pass away” and are no more. Man disappears from the earth,

but continues to exist somewhere. He has, by God’s gift, a life that is to be unceasing.


v. 7 – “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness” - The highest

grade of faithfulness is here addressed not those who “seek” (v. 1),

but those who have found — who “know righteousness,” and have the

law” of God in their hearts. Such persons may still be liable to one

weakness — they may “fear the reproach of men.” The prophet exhorts

them to put aside this fear, remembering:


  • the nothingness of humanity, and
  • the eternity and imperishableness of God’s judgments.






the people in whose heart is my Law, fear ye not the reproach of men,

neither be ye afraid of their revilings” - The opinion formed of a man

by his contemporaries is frequently reversed by posterity!


It matters not what men think of us but what God thinks!


No one has been more reviled than Jesus Christ!


v. 8b – “my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from

            generation to generation”





vs. 9-10 - Work as in the days of old!


At the end of time the Bible says that He will!  Zecharaiah 14:3 –

“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations,

as when He fought in the day of battle”


v. 11 – “Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come

            with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their

            head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning

            shall flee away.”


No more separation of loved ones, no more loss of friends, or parents, or

children, or wife, or brother or sister - AND THERE IS NO MORE SIN –

the sense of shame is gone, remorse, and regret are gone.  So also labor and

sorrow, disappointment and delusion, hunger, thirst, weariness, cold, heat,

desire and passion – in its place A NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH





There is no very clear connection between this passage and the preceding,

to which it is certainly not an answer. God comforts the captives under the

oppression which they are suffering:


  • by reminding them of their oppressors’ weakness and short-livedness;
  • by assuring them of speedy deliverance (v. 14); and
  • by impressing upon them his own power as shown in the past, which is

            a guarantee that He will protect them in the future (vs. 15, 16).





vs. 12-13 – “I, even I, am He that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou

shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which

shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy Maker, that hath

stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast

feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if He

were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?


Man is the creature of a day but God is “from everlasting to everlasting”-

Men will tremble before the wrath of men with little thought given to

the wrath of God? The Bible from cover to cover asks what ye will do in the



vs. 15-16 – God is a personal God – “I  have covered thee in the shadow of

            my hand….Thou art my people”



The comfort afforded to Israel generally is now concentrated on Jerusalem.

Her condition during the long period of the Captivity is deplored, and her

want of a champion to assert her cause and raise her out of the dust is

lamented (vs. 17-20). After this, an assurance is given her that the

miseries which she has suffered shall pass from her to her great enemy, by

whom the dregs .of the “cup of trembling” shall be drained, and the last

drop wrung out (vs. 21-23).


“God that pleadeth the cause of His people - As His people have a relentless

adversary, who accuses them continually, and pleads against them

(Revelation 12:10), so it is needful that they should have an untiring Advocate. 

God the Father is the Judge of man, before whose tribunal all men must one day

appear. God the Son is the Advocate - 1 John 2:1) who pleads with the Father on

their behalf, intercedes  for them (Hebrews 7:25), deprecates the Father’s wrath,

implores His mercy, entreats for and obtains their pardon. Satan, on the other

hand accuses (Revelation 12:10); but the Lord Jesus Christ defends. He

defends His own, and He overcomes by His own blood (Revelation

12:11), wherewith He has washed away their sins. He “justifieth

(Romans 8:33), and then “who is he that condemneth?” Assuredly, NO ONE!


God’s mercy is over all His works,” over man especially; in a peculiar manner over

such as love Him and trust in Him. He will not suffer them to be tried “above that they

are able” – (I Corinthians 10:13) -  He loves them, and watches over them, and

sympathizes with their sufferings, and counts their wrongs, and hears their groans

(Exodus 2:23), and “knows their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7).