Isaiah Chapter Fourteen
The destruction of Babylon, and the death of its proud monarch. (1-23) Assurance of the destruction of Assyria. (24-27) The destruction of the Philistines. (28-32)
Commentary on Isaiah 14:1-23
(Read Isaiah 14:1-23)
The whole plan of Divine Providence is arranged with a view to the good of the people of God. A settlement in the land of promise is of God's mercy. Let the church receive those whom God receives. God's people, wherever their lot is cast, should endeavour to recommend religion by a right and winning conversation. Those that would not be reconciled to them, should be humbled by them. This may be applied to the success of the gospel, when those were brought to obey it who had opposed it. God himself undertakes to work a blessed change. They shall have rest from their sorrow and fear, the sense of their present burdens, and the dread of worse. Babylon abounded in riches. The king of Babylon having the absolute command of so much wealth, by the help of it ruled the nations. This refers especially to the people of the Jews; and it filled up the measure of the king of Babylon's sins. Tyrants sacrifice their true interest to their lusts and passions. It is gracious ambition to covet to be like the Most Holy, for he has said, Be ye holy, for I am holy; but it is sinful ambition to aim to be like the Most High, for he has said, He who exalts himself shall be abased. The devil thus drew our first parents to sin. Utter ruin should be brought upon him. Those that will not cease to sin, God will make to cease. He should be slain, and go down to the grave; this is the common fate of tyrants. True glory, that is, true grace, will go up with the soul to heaven, but vain pomp will go down with the body to the grave; there is an end of it. To be denied burial, if for righteousness' sake, may be rejoiced in, Matthew 5:12. But if the just punishment of sin, it denotes that impenitent sinners shall rise to everlasting shame and contempt. Many triumphs should be in his fall. God will reckon with those that disturb the peace of mankind. The receiving the king of Babylon into the regions of the dead, shows there is a world of spirits, to which the souls of men remove at death. And that souls have converse with each other, though we have none with them; and that death and hell will be death and hell indeed, to all who fall unholy, from the height of this world's pomps, and the fulness of its pleasures. Learn from all this, that the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned. The royal city is to be ruined and forsaken. Thus the utter destruction of the New Testament Babylon is illustrated, Revelation 18:2. When a people will not be made clean with the besom of reformation, what can they expect but to be swept off the face of the earth with the besom of destruction?
Commentary on Isaiah 14:24-27
(Read Isaiah 14:24-27)
Let those that make themselves a yoke and a burden to God's people, see what they are to expect. Let those that are the called according to God's purpose, comfort themselves, that whatever God has purposed, it shall stand. The Lord of hosts has purposed to break the Assyrian's yoke; his hand is stretched out to execute this purpose; who has power to turn it back? By such dispensations of providence, the Almighty shows in the most convincing manner, that sin is hateful in his sight.
Commentary on Isaiah 14:28-32
(Read Isaiah 14:28-32)
Assurance is given of the destruction of the Philistines and their power, by famine and war. Hezekiah would be more terrible to them than Uzziah had been. Instead of rejoicing, there would be lamentation, for the whole land would be ruined. Such destruction will come upon the proud and rebellious, but the Lord founded Zion for a refuge to poor sinners, who flee from the wrath to come, and trust in his mercy through Christ Jesus. Let us tell all around of our comforts and security, and exhort them to seek the same refuge and salvation.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Isaiah》
 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
Chuse — Will renew his choice of them; for he had rejected them.
 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
Rule — Which they literally did, after their return into their own land. But this was more eminently verified in a spiritual sense, in the days of the gospel.
 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
Golden city — As they used to call themselves; which therefore he expresses here in a word of their own language.
 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
Anger — With rigour and not with clemency.
None — Neither the Babylonians themselves, nor their confederates.
 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
The earth — The subjects of that vast empire, who groaned under their cruel bondage.
 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
The trees — Which were felled for the service of her pride and luxury, but now are suffered to stand.
 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
Thrones — From their graves, which he seems to call their thrones by way of irony: the only thrones now left to them. Thrones both paved and covered with worms, instead of their former thrones, adorned with gold and precious stones.
 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
Thy pomp — All thy glory is buried with thee.
Viols — All thy musical instruments, which were much used in Babylon, and were doubtless used in Belshazzar's solemn feasts, Daniel 5:1, at which time the city was taken; to which possibly the prophet here alludes.
The worm — Instead of those stately carpets upon which thou didst frequently tread.
 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Fallen — From the height of thy glory.
Lucifer — Which properly is a bright star, that ushers in the morning; but is here metaphorically taken for the mighty king of Babylon.
Son — The title of son is given in scripture not only to a person or thing begotten or produced by another, but also to any thing which is related, to it, in which sense we read of the son of a night, Jonah 4:10, a son of perdition, John 17:12, and, which is more agreeable, to the present case, the sons of Arcturus, Job 38:32.
 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I — I will advance myself above the state of a weak man.
Above — Above all other kings and potentates; or, above the most eminent persons of God's church.
North — This is added as a more exact description of the place of the temple; it stood upon mount Moriah, which was northward from the hill of Zion strictly so called.
 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Like — In the uncontrolableness of my power, and the universal extent of my dominion.
 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
Cried not — Whereby he signifies both his irresistible power, and his continued cruelty.
 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
All — That is, other things most commonly do.
Lie — Are buried in their own sepulchres, having stately monuments erected to their memory.
 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
Cast out — Or, cast from thy grave or burying-place. Which very probably happened to Belshazzar, when his people had neither opportunity nor heart to bestow an honourable interment upon him, and the conquerors would not suffer them to do it.
Like — Like a rotten twig of a tree, which he that prunes the trees, casts away.
Raiment — Which, being mangled, and besmeared with mire, and blood, was cast away with contempt.
Go down — Who being slain, are cast into some pit. He saith, to the stones of the pit, because when dead bodies are cast in thither, men use to throw an heap of stones upon them.
Trodden — Neglected, like such a carcase. And this might literally happen to Belshazzar's dead body.
 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.
Joined — Not buried as they are.
Slain — Thou hast exercised great tyranny and cruelty, not only to thine enemies, but even to thine own subjects.
The seed — Such as Belshazzar was, being descended from that Nebuchadnezzar who had made such horrid slaughters and devastations in the world, merely to gratify his own insatiable lusts, and who had been so impious towards God and his temple, and so bloody towards his church and people.
Renowned — Or, shall not be renowned for ever: although I have long borne with thee and thy family.
 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
Children — Cut off all the branches of the royal family.
Rise — Not recover their former power.
 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
Remnant — The remembrance of those that are dead, and the persons of those who yet survive.
 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.
Bittern — A great water fowl, which delights in solitary places, as also in watery grounds. Such as those were about Babylon.
Pools — The ground about Babylon was of itself very moist, because of the great river Euphrates, running by it, which was kept from overflowing the country with charge and labour; this being neglected, when the city was destroyed, it was easily turned into pools of water.
 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
Saying — This verse does not only concern Babylon's destruction, but also the overthrow of Sennacherib and the Assyrian host, which was a pledge of the destruction of the city and empire of Babylon.
 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
My land — In Judea, which is my land in a peculiar manner.
Mountains — In my mountainous country, for such Judea was, especially about Jerusalem.
 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
The earth — Upon this vast empire, now in the hands of the Assyrians, and shortly to come into the hands of the Babylonians.
The hand — The providence of God executing his purpose.
 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
This burden — This following burdensome prophecy concerning the Philistines, who in Ahaz's time, made an inroad into Judah, and took divers of their cities.
 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
Of him — Most understand this of Uzziah, who did then much mischief, 2 Chronicles 26:3,6. But he was dead thirty-two years before this time, and therefore their joy for his death was long since past. Others understand it of Ahaz: but he was so far from smiting them, that he was smitten by them. We may understand this of the royal race of Judah, who had been a terrible scourge to them, whose rod might be said to be broken, because that scepter was come into the hands of slothful princes.
A serpent — From the root of David shall come Hezekiah, who, like a serpent, shall sting thee to death, as he did, 2 Kings 18:8.
 And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
The poor — The people of the Jews, who are brought to extreme poverty. The title of first-born is given to persons or things which are most eminent in their kinds, as to the people of Israel, Exodus 4:22, to David, Psalms 89:27; Job 18:13, and here to persons eminently poor.
Feed — Shall have plenty of provisions.
Kill — I will utterly destroy thee both root and branch.
 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
Gate — The gate is put for the city.
City — City is here put collectively for their cities.
The north — From Chaldea.
A smoak — A grievous judgment and calamity.
Times — When God's appointed time shall come, not one of all that numerous army shall desert his colours, or lag behind the rest.
 What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
What — What shall a Jew say to the people of other nations, who shall enquire concerning the state of Zion, when not only the Philistines, but even the Jews themselves, shall fall by the hands of the same enemy? That - They shall give them this answer, That although Zion at present be in a very distressed condition, yet she stands upon a firm foundation, and God who first founded her, will restore her, and his poor despised people shall resort to her, as to a strong refuge.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Isaiah》
14 Chapter 14
For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob
God’s mercy and Israel’s converts
THE PRINCIPLE OF GOD’S MORAL GOVERNMENT--Mercy. This people had grievously sinned.
1. They had sinned against light. The direct revelation of heaven had been given to them as a nation
2. They rebelled amid privileges. The Mighty God interfered to protect them from their foes.
3. They had sinned in spite of rebukes and punishments. The rebellious people had been carried captive into a heathen nation.
II. THE CONSTANCY OF DIVINE PURPOSES--“I will yet choose,” etc. Notwithstanding all their rebellion I will yet have mercy on them. Nothing can separate from the love of God.
III. THE RESTORATIVE BLESSEDNESS OF RELIGION. When God takes a man in hand, He restores him. In paradise he was the image and associate of God. Salvation will make him nothing more. Heaven will contain additional elements of joy, but the man will be restored.
IV. THE CONTAGION OF ENTHUSIASM. When the Jews should return, many of the heathen, leaving their own country and their idols, would return along with them. “And the strangers shall be joined with them.” This was part of God’s design in the Captivity. It was not only to punish His people for their sin, but also to render them a blessing to others. God often appoints the afflictions of His people for His own glory, and we must not mourn but rejoice if we are counted worthy of forwarding His cause.
V. THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF RELIGION. It commands affection and regard. It is our duty to render it attractive so as to win others. (Homilist.)
God’s passion to Israel
We have here in nuce the comforting substance of chaps. 40-46. Babylon falls in order that Israel may rise. (F. Delitzsch, D. D.)
The Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow
SORROW IS THE COMMON LOT. Though nobody is always sorrowful, there is in every life many a time when the mind is sore and the heart bruised. Yet people with a sore heart often sing; they find relief in breathing a hymn of prayerful trust. How beautiful is a good man under affliction! A child is often sore in mind because he is not understood and has not the heart-felt sympathy of those who direct him, Women also are sorrowful. Though a man be (n the most fortunate state of life he will have something to bruise his heart. I have heard of a lady whose husband was the worship of both her mind and heart; and when he was killed in a railway accident, her grief was so terrible that in a moment she seemed ten years older. A short time afterwards, she lost her children, and later on, through the failure of a bank, her fortune disappeared; but she endured these misfortunes with calmness, and her minister once asked, “How is it that you can bear up so well after the loss of your children and your money?” She replied, “In the death of my husband the greatest wound came the first.” It is unwise to meet sorrow halfway. But there is one sorrow that we should seek and cultivate; it is the sorrow that we are not more godly. There is another sorrow which is worth having; it is that pain of heart which feels for the man or woman who is wounded in the conflict of life. In the ancient world, sorrow was considered to be God’s curse, but the early Christians saw that God meant it as a sacred discipline: and therefore when sorrow came to them, they called it “tribulatio,” using the word and image to set forth an elevating truth, namely, the separation of the evil in them from the good.
II. Let us notice ONE OR TWO PERSONAL SORROWS IN WHICH SOME OF YOU ARE MORE OR LESS CONCERNED.
1. If you are sore in mind because you have done wrong, let your first thought be one of gratitude, that God can and does forgive your sins.
2. Many good people are sore in mind through a physical or temporal trouble. What is more unpleasant than to hear a cart wheel screeching every time it turns? So, you have in your lot something like a screeching wheel, and every move makes you feel the affliction. But the oil of Divine grace will cure it.
III. THE CROWN OF SORROW IS TRUSTING GOD. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him,” etc.
IV. Let us learn THE OBJECT OF SORROW. It is to teach us to be patient and kindly. If you put roses into a cracked pot of commonest clay, it will breathe forth perfume; and from the most prickly plant, the thorn, we gather the sweetest flowers, So if the peace of God perfume your sorrowing heart, the thorns and briars of your affliction shall make your life bright with the flowers of godliness and charity. Bear your sorrow with true courage and sublime cheerfulness, not only for your own sake, but for our sake who look on you; for we wish to learn the way to bear our pain. (W. Birch.)
God an island when fortunes are wrecked
Let me tell you of a man who went home one day, and sitting down in his armchair, put his hand on his brow as if in great trouble. His little child went up to him, saying, “Father, what’s the matter?” Looking down upon her with eyes of despair, he replied, “Ah, little Mary, I’m ruined!” She said, “Ruined, father, what’s that?” He answered, “Why, my child, I’m like a man in a boat on the sea, and during a storm the boat has upset, and he is east on a desolate island.” She climbed on his knee, stroking his face, and after awhile, exclaimed. “Well but, father, you know, you have only lost the boat; you haven’t lost yourself, have you?” With tears in his eyes, he said, “Ah, no, thank God! I have only lost the boat; my heart and my life remain!” Then she asked, “Father, what’s the name of the island?” He replied, “That is the worst of it Mary.” “I don’t know.” She said, “But, father, I know; yea, I know the name of the island you are on; why, father, it is a nice island!” The wretched man tried to smile, and drawing the dear little face to his breast, said, “Mary, dear, tell me the name of the island!” She replied, “Oh, father, don’t you know? you are dull tonight! why, father, the name of the island is God!” The sorrowful man was very, still, and little Mary looking up in his face, put her arms round his neck, saying, “Poor father, what makes you cry? Why don’t you go upstairs and tell God about it?” Then he gently lifted the dear child down, and went to tell out his heart’s sorrow to God. It is true his business had fallen but a Divine hand upheld him. (W. Birch.)
Trusting God in affliction
A coloured preacher was in the habit of exhorting his people when they were in affliction to “Truss de Lord.” When they were in sore distress, he had only one remedy, “Brudder, truss de Lord!” One day, however, while the old parson was crossing a river, the boat upset, and being unable to swim, he made a great splutter and screamed like a madman. After much trouble, he was got out and brought safely to the river bank, when one of his congregation said, “Masea Preacher, why didn’t you truss de Lord; why did you holler and scream when you were in de river; why didn’t you truss de Lord, and be patient?” The dark minister exclaimed, “Ah, you know, brudder, It is truss de Lord on de land, not on de water.” Of course, anybody can trust in the Lord when they are on the land of peace and comfort; but it needs Christian faith and fortitude to be contented in the waters of affliction. (W. Birch.)
The Christian attitude towards trouble
Christians who give up their special religious work because they are in sorrow, may be likened to rusty nails in a bag under the counter of the ironmonger’s shop; while the man who keeps on doing his best, believing that God is with him, is a man in a sure place, ready to bear all the weight that is hung on it. (W. Birch.)
Thou shalt take up this proverb against the King of Babylon
The “proverb against the King of Babylon”
Lowth is generally thought not to speak with exaggeration when he
calls it the finest [song] of its kind extant in any language.
It is a song of triumph in the form of a dirge, and therefore involves an undercurrent of sarcasm or irony. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)
An ode of triumph
This ode, if it is to be admired as it deserves, must be read as a whole: its perfection as a work of art, its picturesque imagery, the delicate and subtle vein of irony by which it is penetrated--it is called a “taunt song”--will not endure partial quotation or paraphrase. The line of thought is as follows. In the first strophe (Isaiah 14:4-8), the prophet declares exultingly how at length the tyrant is stilled, the earth is at peace; only the sound of rejoicing is heard. In the second (Isaiah 14:9-11), he accompanies in thought the Shade of the King of Babylon as it journeys to the Underworld, and imagines the ironical greeting which there meets it from the lips of the other kings--still, as on earth, supposed to be invested with the panoply of State. The third strophe (Isaiah 14:12-15) depicts the abasement of the Babylonian monarch in its full magnitude: he who would have joined the ranks of the gods, is east down to the inmost recesses of the pit. In the fourth and last strophe (verse 16-20), the prophet’s thought passes to the battlefield--from the feeble Shade to the unburied, dishonoured corpse: the passers-by express their amazement at the contrast which its fate presents to that of other kings after their death; it is excluded from the royal burial place, flung aside as a worthless bough, hidden amongst the bodies of slain, common soldiers, The prophet concludes with an epilogue, spoken in his own person, and re-asserting emphatically the final and irretrievable ruin of the great city (Isaiah 14:21-23).
Destruction of the King of Babylon
The Babylonian monarchy bade fair to be an absolute, universal, and perpetual one, and in these pretensions vied with the Almighty; it is, therefore, very justly not only brought down, but exulted over when it is down. (M. Henry.)
“The golden city”
(Isaiah 14:4) is a graphical description of that city, which was renowned for its immense riches and intern parable splendour. (R. Macculloch.)
Deliverance from an evil dominion
If the nations rejoice at the overthrow of a haughty, tyrannical prince, and the re-establishment of tranquillity and liberty, how much greater ought to be the triumph of those who are delivered from the dominion of divers impetuous lusts, and enjoy the earnests of spiritual and eternal rest! (R. Macculloch.)
(Isaiah 14:9), as always in the Old Testament = the Greek Hades; not a place of torment, but the “meeting place of all living” (Job 30:23). The prophet’s representation is based upon the ideas current among the people. See Bishop Lowth’s “Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews,” Lecture 7. The same idea is elaborated in greater detail by Ezekiel 32:17-32. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)
An image of the soul
The mythological idea of Hades proceeds on the two-fold truth, that what and how man has been in this world is not obliterated in the other world, but becomes essentially manifest, and that there is an immaterial self-formation of the soul in which all that the individual man has become through his own self-determination under God-given relations is reflected as in a mirror, and that in an abiding figure. This image of the soul, to which the dead body is related as the shattered form of a mould, is the shadowy corporeity of the inhabitants of Hades, in which they appear essentially, although in the condition of spirits, as what they were in this life. (F. Delitzsch.)
“Hell” is moved as a city is moved when a great king is brought prisoner thither, and everyone runs out of his house to see him. (W. Day, M. A.)
(Isaiah 14:12):--In his splendour [the King of Babylon] is likened to the morning star, which was worshipped by the Babylonians under the name of Istar. (Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)
Impious expectations disappointed
(Isaiah 14:13-15):--That he should go to Sheol at all was a fate never contemplated by his soaring and self-deifying pride. (Prof. J. Skinner, D. D.)
Pride and ambition know no bounds (Isaiah 14:14). (R. Macculloch.)
(Isaiah 14:23), Hebrews kippod. The word occurs also in chap. Zephaniah 2:14. It has been rendered otter, tortoise, owl, beaver, porcupine (R.V.). No one of the renderings proposed is satisfactory. “Bittern” is freer from objection than any other bird which might be proposed. It is a solitary bird, and loves such haunts as would be supplied by the marshes which were found in districts of Edom and Babylon and Nineveh, as the fruit of the desolation sent on them. It feeds at night, and hides during the day among the long grass and rushes of its favourite habitats. (J. Duns, D. D., F. R. S. E.)
“The bosom of destruction”
(Isaiah 14:23):--When a people have nothing among them but dirt and filth, and will not be made clean with the besom of reformation, what can they expect but to be swept off the face of the earth with “the bosom of destruction”? (M. Henry.)
The Church’s exultation over her foes
Surely, in some such terms as these, the Church shall one day exult over all her foes, and especially over the great apostate power of Babylon the Great, the City of the Seven Hills. And still more, over the cast out prince of this world, of whom the King of Babylon and other princes of this world have been the types and representatives. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
Hell from beneath is moved for thee
The first five minutes after death
There is a very well-known story told of a man who had served his
king and country in many a distant land, and in many a strange experience,
coming back home, and talking to his friends of the wonderful sights which he
had seen, and the wonderful experiences which he had gone through.
And when they remarked to him on the sort of wonders he had experienced and known, he checked them with saying, “There is something more wonderful than anything I have yet known, which I still have to experience,” and when they asked him what it was, he said, “It is the first five minutes after death.” The first five minutes after death! It was upon what happens in the first five minutes after death that the prophet was exercising himself here in this particular prophecy. (Davey Biggs, D. D.)
Life beyond the grave
1. The prophet believed that for those who pass through the gate of death there would be recognition in the strange life beyond the grave. He believed that those who were inhabiting that world before other individuals entered into it would know them, would be there ready to greet them, greet them as in this ease with horror, with dismay, with, as it were, congratulations that what had been tyrannical in the world of life before death had now, as it were, found its level, the opportunity of tyranny gone.
The prophet pictures the expectation that there was in the hearts of those who had known what it was to be cruelly oppressed in this world when their oppressor came to join them. He shows that the attitude of those who were within the grave in the unseen world was one of expectation.
2. There is memory there, memory not only of our past selves, but about other people; memory, too, of those living on the earth. (Davey Biggs, D. D.)
Recognition beyond the grave
We know that what was only conjecture in the mind of the prophet when he painted hell stirring up the dead to meet Belshazzar, King of Babylon, has become certainty through the revelation given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. I do not know how anybody can read through the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and not feel that, whatever the intention was with which the parable was spoken, incidentally our Lord does teach us that in the life beyond the grave the personality which we have known here in this life continues. As personality shows itself in self-consciousness, so our Lord shows that the rich man and Lazarus are conscious of their own existence. There is mutual recognition too. The rich man has not any doubt whatever who it is in whose bosom Lazarus was reposing; and I suppose at the very least fifteen centuries parted them. In the same mysterious way Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration knew that it was Moses and Elijah who were talking with the Messiah. There is a wonderful power of recognition of even those whom we have never met. We shall know, and our Lord Jesus Christ wishes us to know that we shall know, the great people in the past to whom we owe such great debts. (Davey Biggs, D. D.)
Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass
God’s infinite intelligence
To think and to purpose are the attributes of all rational beings, whether created or uncreated.
I. God is such an infinitely perfect being, that His thoughts and purposes are CO-ETERNAL WITH HIMSELF. God cannot possibly exist Without His thoughts and purposes. A child at school in France, was asked whether God reasoned or not. The child paused awhile, and answered, “No: God is too perfect to reason. He knows everything without reasoning.” Newton himself could not have given a better answer. Everything that exists in God now, has existed in Him from eternity.
II. As His thoughts and put poses flow exclusively from Himself, they are ABSOLUTE they are, primarily considered, unconditional. This is a necessity that does not militate, in the least degree, against the accountability of man. They must have been absolute, or no being could possibly have existed.
III. The thoughts and purposes of the Almighty are INFINITELY GLORIOUS in other words, are infinitely worthy of Himself. It is in the fulfilment of His own thoughts and purposes that He develops all the beauty of His own perfections; it is in the development of all the beauty of His own perfections, that He confers every good on the creature. Take two axioms in divinity. All good is from God--all evil is from the creature. Do justice to these truths, and they will, as two keys, unlock some of the most difficult passages in Scripture.
IV. The purpose of God is REPLETE WITH LOVE AND TENDERNESS. The sovereign purpose of God, properly speaking, involves nothing but good. Evil is to be traced to another source. But what does it comprise chiefly? A Saviour. We were suffered to fall into the deepest guilt, that God might display His glory to the utmost in our salvation. (W. Howels.)
God’s purposes must be fulfilled
The wheels in a watch or a clock move contrary one to another, someone way, and some another, yet all serve the intent of the workman, to show the time, or to make the clock to strike. So in the world the providence of God may seem to run cross to His promises. One man takes this way, another runs that way. Good men go one way, wicked men another. Yet all in conclusion accomplish the will, and centre in the purpose of God, the great Creator of all things. (R. Sibbes, D. D.)
Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina
Philistia was the southwest coast of the land of Canaan, to the
whole of which it afterwards gave its name in the Greek form of Palestine, and
was nominally included in the tribe of Judah.
It was originally inhabited by the Avites, who were expelled by the Caphtorim, a race of Egyptian origin, but supposed to have come immediately from Crete or Cyprus, and who, under the name of Philistines, continued as a distinct, and for the most part independent nation, in spite of the efforts of Israel to subdue them. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)
The Philistines were very formidable enemies to Israel in the days of Samuel and of Saul. The strong kings, David, Solomon, and Jehoshaphat, kept them in subjection, but in the days of Jehoram they invaded Judah 2 Samuel 5:17-25; 2 Samuel 21:15; 2 Chronicles 17:11; 2 Chronicles 21:16-17). Uzziah again repressed them, and crippled their power, dismantling their walled cities, and building fortresses of his own to command them (2 Chronicles 26:6-7); and no doubt they continued tributary during the still vigorous government of his successor Jotham. But during the weak reign of Ahaz, they “invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah”; and not only invaded, but settled themselves in them and their neighbouring villages (2 Chronicles 28:18): and to this state of things Isaiah addresses himself in this prophecy. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)
The rod of the taskmaster
The rod of the taskmaster is Isaiah’s frequent image for the control of a dependent and tributary nation: all Philistia had rejoiced when the rod of David and of Uzziah fell broken from the hands of Ahaz, and expressed their joy by wasting or taking possession of their former master’s lands; but Isaiah warns them that the old root of Israel, which from the days of Samson had sent forth many a rod with a serpent’s life like the rod of Moses, would soon again produce a basilisk with its royal crest, its inevitable spring, and its mortal bite, to take vengeance on his enemies. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)
Hezekiah and the Messiah
The basilisk is Hezekiah, and the flying dragon is the Messiah (such is the explanation of the Targum); or, what is the same thing, the former is the Davidic kingdom of the immediate future, and the latter the Davidic kingdom of the ultimate future. The figure may appear inappropriate, because the serpent is a symbol of evil; but it is not a symbol merely of creaturely evil, but also of the Divine curse; the curse, however, is the energy of penal justice, and as the executor of this justice as a judgment of God on Philistia, the Davidic king is here called a serpent in a climax rising through three stages. Perhaps the choice of the figure was suggested by Genesis 49:17; for the saying concerning Dan was fulfilled in Samson the Danite, the sworn enemy of the Philistines. (F. Delitzsch.)
The law of conquests and exterminations
If the spread of civilisation, knowledge, justice, virtue, religion, and whatever else distinguishes men from beasts, is a good and not an evil, then it is good for men to use all the means which are really necessary to effect that end, even though some of them be never so rough and unpleasing; and it is not less base in public than in private morals to shrink from the responsibility of ourselves doing that which we know it is good to have done. If a weak, effeminate, degenerate nation can be improved by subjection to a stronger, manlier, more virtuous nation, then it is not only the right but the duty of the latter to bring it into subjection, whenever the indications of God’s providence, be they of peace or war, show that the time has come. And if the nation is not merely degenerate but hopelessly corrupt, then it is not only the right but the duty of some worthier nation to destroy it, and rid the world of its abominations. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)
The Gospel a means of national salvation
The Gospel has given to us, in modem Christendom, means of reclaiming nations who would have been irreclaimable by any measures which Greeks or Romans or even Jews could apply; and we are bound to act with corresponding gentleness and forbearance. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)
“The first born of the poor”
(Isaiah 14:30) seems to be a Hebrew idiom for the “really, eminently poor,” like that of “Son of Man” to express the man. Or the prophet may mean that the first of the next generation, the children of the present depressed Israelites, shall he delivered from the miseries which the Philistines are now inflicting on their fathers. (Sir E. Strachey, Bart.)
What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation?
God’s work in founding Zion
The kingdom of Judah was low and broken; foreign invasions and intestine divisions had made it so. In this state of things God takes notice of the joy and triumphing of the Philistines. To take them off from their pride and boasting He lets them know that from the people whom they despised their desolation was at hand, though they seemed to be perplexed and forsaken for a season (Isaiah 14:29-31).
I. There is AN INQUIRY. “What shall one answer,” etc. They come to make inquiry after the work of God among His people, and it is fit that an answer be given to them. Two things are observable in this interrogation.
1. The nations about will be diligently inquiring after God’s dispensations among His people. There are certain affections and principles that are active in the nations, that will make them restless, and always put them upon this inquiry. The people of God, on one account or other, shall be in all seasons a separated people. No sooner, then, is any people, or portion of them, thus dedicated to God, but all the nations about, and those amongst them not engaged in the same way with them, instantly look on them as utterly severed from them, having other ways, ends, and interests than they; being built up wholly on another account and foundation. They reckon not of them as a people and a nation. The conclusion they make concerning them is, that of Haman (Esther 3:8).
2. The issues of God’s dispensations amongst His people shall be so evident and glorious, that everyone, anyone, though never so weak, if not blinded by prejudice, shall be able to give a convincing answer concerning them to the inquiries of men.
II. THERE IS THE RESOLUTION GIVEN OF THE INQUIRY. Hereof are two parts--
1. The great design of God in His mighty works and dispensations is the establishment of His people, and their proper interest, in their several generations. To make this clear some few things are previously to be considered--
2. It is the duty of God’s preserved remnant, laying aside all other aims and contrivances, to betake themselves to the work of God, founding Zion, and preserving the common interest of His people. “God hath founded Zion, and the poor of the people shall trust therein,” or betake themselves unto it. We are apt to wander on hills and mountains, everyone walking in the imagination of his own heart, forgetting our resting place. When God was bringing the power of the Babylonian upon His people, the prophet Jeremiah could neither persuade the whole nation to submit to his government, nor many individuals among them to fall to him in particular. And when the time of their deliverance from that captivity was accomplished, how hardly were they persuaded to embrace the liberty tendered! (J. Owen, D. D.)
God’s care for His people
1. The great things God doth for His people are, and cannot but be, taken notice of by their neighbours (Psalms 126:2).
2. Messengers will be sent to inquire concerning them. Jacob and Israel have long been a people distinguished from all others, and dignified with uncommon favours; and therefore, some for goodwill, others for ill-will, and all for curiosity, are inquisitive concerning them.
3. It concerns us always to be ready to “give a reason of the hope” that we have in the providence of God, as well as in His grace, in answer to everyone that asks it, “with meekness and fear.”
4. The issue of God’s dealings with His people shall be so manifestly glorious that anyone, everyone, shall be able to give an account of them to those that inquire concerning them. (M. Henry.)
The Church founded for a refuge
At first sight the prediction which closes the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah seems of temporary interest only, and to speak of judgments which within a very few years were destined to fall upon one of the most inveterate enemies of God’s ancient people; and yet I cannot but think those commentators right who, following the opinion of divers of the fathers of the Church, have found in the passage an allusion to the Gospel and Church of Christ.
I. That the prophecy would be one of PRESSING AND IMMEDIATE INTEREST TO THE CONTEMPORARIES OF THE PROPHET is obvious from the manner in which it is ushered in: “In the year that King Ahaz died was this burden” (or, as we should nowadays say, this denunciation of wrath) against the Philistines. After bidding the inhabitants of Palestine howl for the judgments that were impending, Isaiah, speaking as he was moved by the Holy Ghost, makes the inquiry and gives the answer of the text. It was usual for neighbouring nations, who were friends and allies, to send ambassadors, and congratulate each other on success. When, therefore, the coming triumph over the Philistines should be known abroad, and the envoys of friendly states should inquire of Judah into the circumstances of his success, “let this answer,” said the prophet, “suffice: that the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall trust in it.”
II. No one can read that promise and not feel that it was INTENDED TO HAVE AN AMPLER SCOPE for its fulfilment than in the personal security of a handful of Jewish peasants; the whole turn of expression is redolent of Gospel times. Such words were never fully verified till Christ, the Son of David, had founded the Christian Church, and made His gracious offer to a world enslaved in the most cruel of all bondage: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (F. E.Paget, D. D.)
The Church’s heavenly origin and beneficent mission
I. “The Lord hath founded Zion”; THIS IS THE GUARANTEE OF HIS LOVE AND HER STABILITY. The strongest, most fundamental title of protection is creation. Even among ourselves, no one frames an object to destroy it; he who makes, makes that he may preserve. And if this be so in human nature, shall there be nothing to compare with it in the Divine? God, indeed, who is eternal, can require no successor to whom to devise His purposes of love; but all the claims that the thing framed can have on Him who framed it, hold with tenfold force when the object is not, as in our humbler works, the mere apposition of pre-existing materials, in which nothing is ours except the order of arrangement, but is itself, alike in matter and in form, the direct offspring of His own inexhaustible power and goodness.
1. Behold, then, how as His own “God loved the world”; how as not only His own, but His own in pain and anguish, and endeared to His inmost heart as such, God hath loved His Church. He spoke to bid the one, He died to make the other, exist.
2. In this Church of His is His own honour pledged. He hath not covenanted with the world that now is to immortalise it; but He has passed His own word for the perpetuity of His Church. Nothing so framed was ever framed to perish; He has infused into it His own Spirit, and His Spirit is life.
3. Is not the Church in its ultimate perfection set forth as the very reward of all the sorrows of its Lord; and shall He be defrauded of His recompense?
4. There is more than creation to bind the Church to Christ, more than promise, more than reward; there is communion, oneness, identification. A man may desert his child; he cannot desert himself. With such a union there can be no separation; if Christ be immortal, the Church is so; when He dies she shall perish, but not till then.
II. “The poor of her people shall trust in it”--or, as the margin has it, shall betake themselves unto it: THIS IS ONE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH’S MISSION UPON EARTH--the care, the teaching, the education, the guidance of the poor. (W. Archer Butler, D. D.)
God the Protector of His Church
We tell our Lord God that if He will have His Church, He must keep it Himself, for we cannot do it; and it is well for us that we cannot, else we should be the proudest asses under heaven (M. Luther.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》