Isaiah 56 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Isaiah 56)

Verse 1

[1] Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

My salvation — That eminent salvation by the Messiah, and in which, without this you shall have no share.

Is near — So the scripture often speaks of things which are at a great distance, as if they were present or at hand, Habakkuk 2:3; James 5:8,9; Revelation 22:20.

My righteousness — The same thing which he called salvation.

Verse 2

[2] Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.

The man — Every man not only Jews but Gentiles, as it is explained in the following verses.

The sabbath — The sabbath seems to be put here, as sacrifice is elsewhere, for the whole worship of God.

Verse 3

[3] Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

The stranger — The stranger, the Gentile, who by birth is a stranger to God, that hath turned from dumb idols to the living God.

The eunuch — Who is here joined with the stranger, because he was forbidden to enter into the congregation of the Lord, Deuteronomy 23:1. Under these two instances he understands all those, who either by birth, or by any ceremonial pollution, were excluded from church privileges, and so he throws open the door to all true believers.

A dry tree — A fruitless tree, accursed by God with the curse of barrenness.

Verse 4

[4] For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

Take hold — That stedfastly keep the conditions of my covenant.

Verse 5

[5] Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

In mine house — In my temple.

Better — A far greater blessing and honour than that of having posterity, even my favour, and my spirit, and eternal felicity.

Verse 7

[7] Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Mountain — To my house, which stood upon mount Zion.

Joyful — By accepting their services, and comforting their hearts with the sense of my love.

Accepted — They shall have as free access to mine house and altar, as the Jews themselves, and their services shall be as acceptable to me. Evangelical worship is here described under such expressions as agreed to the worship of God which then was in use.

Verse 8

[8] The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

The Lord — Who will gather to himself, and bring into their own land, those that are cast out of their own land.

Yet — I will make a far more comprehensive gathering of the Gentiles.

Verse 9

[9] All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.

Come — This is a prediction of Israel's destruction by their cruel enemies. The prophet having largely discoursed concerning the Messiah, and his kingdom, and having encouraged the Gentiles with God's gracious promises made to them, now proceeds to terrify the unbelieving Jews, and to shew that as the Gentiles would believe, and be saved, so they would reject their Messiah, and be destroyed.

Verse 10

[10] His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

His — Israel's.

Watchmen — Priests and teachers; he mentions only the teachers, because ignorance was most shameful in them, but hereby he supposes the gross ignorance of the people.

Bark — They are also slothful and negligent in instructing the people, and do not faithfully reprove them for their sins.

Verse 11

[11] Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

They look — They regard neither God's glory, nor the peoples good, but only the satisfaction of their own base desires.

Quarter — In their several stations.

Verse 12

[12] Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

Say they — Unto their brethren, fellow-priests, or other jolly companions.

Fill ourselves — We will drink not only to delight, but even to drunkenness, as the word signifies, which shews their dreadful security and contempt of God, and their abandoning of all care of their own or peoples souls.