Isaiah 51

1 “Listen to me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock you were cut from, and to the quarry you were dug from. 2 Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him, and made him many. 3 For the LORD has comforted Zion. He has comforted all her waste places, and has made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. 4 “Listen to me, my people; and hear me, my nation: for a law will go out from me, and I will establish my justice for a light to the peoples. 5 My righteousness is near. My salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples. The islands will wait for me, and they will trust my arm. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish away like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment; and its inhabitants will die in the same way: but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will not be abolished. 7 “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law: Don’t fear the reproach of men, and don’t be dismayed at their insults. 8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” 9 Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of the LORD! Awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Isn’t it you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the monster? 10 Isn’t it you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? 11 Those ransomed by the LORD will return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die, and of the son of man who will be made as grass? 13 Have you forgotten the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth? Do you live in fear continually all day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he prepares to destroy? Where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 The captive exile will speedily be freed; and he will not die and go down into the pit, and his bread will not fail. 15 For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar: the LORD of Armies is his name. 16 I have put my words in your mouth, and have covered you in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and tell Zion, ‘You are my people.’” 17 Awake, awake! Stand up, Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the LORD’s hand the cup of his wrath. You have drunken the bowl of the cup of staggering, and drained it. 18 There is no one to guide her amongst all the sons to whom she has given birth; and there is no one who takes her by the hand amongst all the sons who she has brought up. 19 These two things have happened to you—who will grieve with you?—desolation and destruction, and famine and the sword. How can I comfort you? 20 Your sons have fainted. They lie at the head of all the streets, like an antelope in a net. They are full of the the LORD’s wrath, the rebuke of your God. 21 Therefore now hear this, you afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: 22 Thus says your Lord GOD, your God who pleads the cause of his people, “Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of staggering, even the bowl of the cup of my wrath. You will not drink it any more: 23 and I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to your soul, ‘Bow down, that we may walk over you;’ and you have laid your back as the ground, like a street to those who walk over.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-3

It is good for those privileged by the new birth, to consider that they were shapen in sin. This should cause low thoughts of ourselves, and high thoughts of Divine grace. It is the greatest comfort to be made serviceable to the glory of God. The more holiness men have, and the more good they do, the more gladness they have. Let us seriously reflect upon our guilt. To do so will tend to keep the heart humble, and the conscience awake and tender. They make Christ more precious to the soul, and give strength to our attempts and prayers for others.

Verses 4-8

The gospel of Christ shall be preached and published. How shall we escape if we neglect it? There is no salvation without righteousness. The soul shall, as to this world, vanish like smoke, and the body be thrown by like a worn-out garment. But those whose happiness is in Christ’s righteousness and salvation, will have the comfort of it when time and days shall be no more. Clouds darken the sun, but do not stop its course. The believer will enjoy his portion, while revilers of Christ are in darkness

Verses 9-16

The people whom Christ has redeemed with his blood, as well as by his power, will obtain joyful deliverance from every enemy. He that designs such joy for us at last, will he not work such deliverance in the mean time, as our cases require? In this world of changes, it is a short step from joy to sorrow, but in that world, sorrow shall never come in view. They prayed for the display of God’s power; he answers them with consolations of his grace. Did we dread to sin against God, we should not fear the frowns of men. Happy is the man that fears God always. And Christ’s church shall enjoy security by the power and providence of the Almighty.

Verses 17-23

God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God’s promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon’s idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God’s people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.

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