- Wesley Bible Commentary
- Isaiah 9
John Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Read Isaiah 9
Joy in the midst of affliction, ver. 1-5. The birth, person,
office, and kingdom of Christ, ver. 6, 7. Judgments for their pride,
ver. 8-12. For their impenitency and hypocrisy, ver. 13-21.
Verse 1. Nevertheless - The calamity of this land and its inhabitants
shall be great, yet not such as that which was brought upon it by
the king of Assyria, who at first indeed dealt more gently with
them, but afterwards rooted them out. He - God. Zebulun - These
parts are particularly mentioned, because this storm fell most
heavily upon them; but under them the other parts of the land are
understood. Afterward - By Shalmaneser, who took Samaria, and
carried Israel into captivity, 2 Kings xvii, 5, 6. Of which calamity,
though yet to come, he speaks as if it were past, as the manner of
the prophet is. The sea - In that part of the land which borders
upon the sea, the lake Genesareth, upon which the portions of
Zebulun and Naphtali bordered. Galilee - Or, Galilee of the
Gentiles, namely, the upper Galilee, so called because it bordered
upon the Gentiles.
Verse 2. The people - Israel and Judah. Darkness - The expression is
general and so may well comprehend both calamity and
ignorance, idolatry and profaneness, in which those parts were
eminently involved. Have seen - Shall see at the coming of the
Verse 3. Thou hast - Thou hast made good thy promise to Abraham
concerning the multiplication of his seed, by gathering in the
Gentiles to the Jews. Before thee - In thy presence, and in the
place of thy worship.
Verse 4. The yoke - His burdensome yoke. The staff - The staff or staves
by which he was forced to carry burdens upon his shoulders. The
rod - Wherewith he beat him. Oppressor - Of all his oppressors,
but especially of sin and the devil. As - When God destroyed the
Midianites in so admirable a manner by three hundred men.
Verse 5. Noise - With the triumphant exclamations of the conqueror, and
the bitter Lamentations of the conquered, and the different cries of
the same persons, sometimes conquering, and sometimes
conquered. Blood - With great difficulty and slaughter. But - But
this victory which God's people shall have over all their enemies,
shall be more terrible to their adversaries, whom God will utterly
consume, as it were by fire.
Verse 6. For - Having spoken of the glorious light, and joy, and victory
of God's people, he now proceeds to shew the ground of it. Us -
Unto us Jews, of whom Christ was born, and to whom he was
primarily sent. A child - The Messiah by the consent of
interpreters, not only Christian, but Jewish: for so the ancient
Hebrew doctors understood the place, and particularly the
Chaldee paraphrast; although the latter Jews, out of opposition to
Christ, wrest it to Hezekiah. Which extravagant conceit, as it hath
no foundation in this or any other text of scripture, so it is fully
confuted by the following titles, which are such as cannot without
blasphemy and nonsense be ascribed to Hezekiah, nor indeed to
any mere mortal man, as we shall see. Is born - Or, shall be born,
as the prophets generally speak. The government - Of God's
people, to whom he is given. Shoulders - Upon him, or in his
hands. He mentions shoulders, because great burdens are
commonly laid upon men's shoulders. His name - This is not to be
taken for a description of his name, but of his glorious nature and
qualities. Wonderful counsellor - And so Christ is, because he
hath been the counsellor of his church in all ages, and the author
and giver of all those excellent counsels delivered not only by the
apostles, but also by the prophets, and hath gathered and enlarged,
and preserved his church, by admirable counsels and methods of
his providence, and, in a word, hath in him all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge, Colossiansii, 3. Mighty God - This title
can agree to no man but Christ, who was God as well as man, to
whom the title of God or Jehovah is given, both in the Old and
New Testament. And it is a true observation, that this Hebrew
word El is never used in the singular number, of any creature, but
only of the almighty God. The father - The father of eternity.
Who, though as man he was then unborn, yet was and is from
everlasting to everlasting.
Verse 7. No end - His peaceable and happy government shall be
extended to all the ends of the earth. The throne - Which was
promised to David, and to his seed for ever. For ever - From the
beginning of it to all eternity. The zeal - This great work shall be
brought to pass by almighty God, out of that fervent affection
which he hath to his own glory, to the honour of his son, and to
Verse 8. The Lord - The prophet, having inserted some consolatory
passages for God's faithful people, returns to his former
comminution against the rebellious Israelites. And - Hebrew. it
fell, that is, it shall fall, in the prophetical style. It shall certainly
Verse 9. Know - They shall know whether my word be true or false.
Even - The people of the ten tribes, and particularly Ephraim, the
proudest of them all. Samaria - The strongest place, and the seat
of the king and court.
Verse 10. Stones - We have received some damage; but, we doubt not
we shall quickly repair it with advantage.
Verse 11. Therefore - To chastise your pride, and defeat your hopes. Set
up - The Assyrians, who, presently after this prophecy, prevailed
against him, 2 Kings xvi, 7. He mentions Rezin, because he was confederate
with Ephraim. Join - So that they shall invade him from several
quarters. His - Not Rezin's, but Ephraim.
Verse 12. Syrians - For though Rezin, king of Syria was destroyed, yet
the body of the nation survived, and submitted themselves to the
king of Assyria, and upon his command invaded Israel afterwards.
Before - Hebrew. on the east: for Syria stood eastward from
Israel. Behind - On the western side of the land of Israel. Devour -
Like wild beasts.
Verse 13. Him - To God.
Verse 14. Head - High and low. Branch - The goodly branches of tall
trees, the mighty and noble. Rush - The bulrush, the weakest and
meanest persons. One day - All together, one as well as another.
Verse 15. The prophet - Whose destruction he mentions, not as if it were
a punishment to them to be deprived of such persons, but partly to
shew the extent of the calamity, that it should reach all sorts of
persons; and partly to beat down their vain presumptions of peace
and prosperity, by shewing that those false prophets, which had
fed their vain hopes, should perish, and their false prophecies with
them. Tail - The basest part of the whole people.
Verse 16. The leaders - Their false prophets. Cause - By false doctrines
and evil counsels and persuasions. Destroyed - Shall certainly
Verse 17. No joy - Shall not rejoice over them to do them good.
Fatherless - Who are the special objects of his care and pity, and
much less upon others. Every one - Not precisely; for there were
seven thousand elect persons among them, when they seemed to
Elijah to be universally corrupt, but the body of the people.
Hypocrite - For though they professed to worship God, yet indeed
they had forsaken him. Folly - Wickedness.
Verse 18. Burneth - Shall burn you, as it follows, shall devour. Thorns -
The low and mean persons; for these are opposed to the thickets
of the forest, in the next clause. Forest - In the wood, where the
trees are tall, and stand thick, having their bows entangled
together, which makes them more ready both to catch and to
spread the fire. Smoak - Sending up smoak like a vast furnace.
Verse 21. Manasseh - Though more near and dear to one another than
any other tribe, being both sons of Joseph.
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