Isaiah 14 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Isaiah 14)

Verse 1

[1] 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.

Verse 2

[2] 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.

Verse 4

[4] 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.

Verse 6

[6] 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.

Verse 7

[7] 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.

Verse 8

[8] 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.

Verse 9

[9] 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.

Verse 11

[11] 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.

Verse 12

[12] 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.

Verse 13

[13] 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.

Verse 14

[14] 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.

Verse 17

[17] 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.

Verse 18

[18] 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.

Verse 19

[19] 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.

Verse 20

[20] 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.

Verse 21

[21] 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.

Verse 22

[22] 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.

Verse 23

[23] 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.

Verse 24

[24] 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.

Verse 25

[25] 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.

Verse 26

[26] 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.

Verse 28

[28] 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.

Verse 29

[29] 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.

Verse 30

[30] 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.

Verse 31

[31] 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.

Verse 32

[32] 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.