Isaiah 54 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Isaiah 54)

Verse 1

[1] Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

Sing — The prophet having largely discoursed of the sufferings of Christ, and of the blessed fruits thereof, and here foreseeing that glorious state of the church, he breaks forth into this song of triumph. And as the foregoing chapter literally speaks of Christ, so doth this of the church of Christ. This church, consisting at first of the Jews, and afterwards of the Gentiles, had been barren, 'till the coming of Christ.

The desolate — The church of the Gentiles, which in the times of the Old Testament was desolate, does now bring forth to God a more numerous posterity than that of the Jews.

Verse 2

[2] Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

Enlarge — That it may be capable of the Gentiles, who shall flock to thee in great numbers.

Strengthen — That they may be able to support that great weight which the tents thus enlarged, shall be upon them.

Verse 3

[3] For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

For — Thou shalt bring forth a multitude of children; for this word is commonly used of any extraordinary propagation of living creatures.

On the left — On every side, in all the parts of the world.

Thy seed — Thy spiritual seed, the church of the New Testament, which is accounted Abraham's seed, or children.

Verse 4

[4] Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

Ashamed — For the barrenness and widowhood, which once was the matter of thy grief and shame.

Forget — Thou shalt not be upbraided with thy former barrenness in thy youthful state.

Verse 5

[5] For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Thy maker — Will own thee for his spouse.

The Lord — Who hath the sovereign command of all men and creatures, and therefore can subdue the Gentiles to thee, and can make thee to increase and multiply in so prodigious a measure, even in thine old age, notwithstanding thy barrenness in the days of thy youth, of which he speaks in the foregoing verse.

The God — The God and father of all nations, whereas formerly he was called only the God of Israel.

Verse 6

[6] For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

Called thee — To return to him.

As forsaken — When thou wast like a woman forsaken.

And grieved — For the loss of her husband's favour.

Of youth — As affectionately as an husband recalls his wife which he married in his youth.

Verse 7

[7] For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

For a moment — In comparison of God's everlasting kindness.

Gather thee — From all the places where thou art dispersed, from all parts of the world.

Verse 8

[8] In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.

With everlasting kindness — With kindness to thee and thy seed through all succeeding generations.

Verse 9

[9] For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

This — This covenant of grace and peace made with thee shall be as certain and perpetual as that which I made with Noah, that there should never be another flood to drown the world.

Wrath — So as to forsake thee utterly.

Verse 10

[10] For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

The mountains — Shall sooner depart from their places than any kindness shall depart from thee.

The covenant — That covenant whereby I have made peace and friendship with thee, and have promised to thee all manner of happiness. God will not cast off his Christian church, as he cast off the church of the Jews, the New covenant is established upon better and surer promises than the Old.

The Lord — Who doth this not for thine own merits, but merely for his own grace and mercy.

Verse 11

[11] O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

O thou — Who hast been, in a most afflicted and comfortless condition.

With sapphires — I will make thee exceeding beautiful and glorious, by a plentiful effusion of excellent gifts, and graces.

Verse 12

[12] And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

Agates — The proper signification of the Hebrew names of precious stones is unknown to the Jews themselves. It may suffice us to know that this was some very clear and transparent, and precious stone.

Thy borders — The utmost parts or walls.

Verse 13

[13] And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Taught — Not only outwardly by his word, but inwardly by his spirit.

The peace — 1. Inward peace arising from the clear discoveries of God's love and reconciliation to us, and wrought by the spirit of adoption, which is more abundantly given to believers under the gospel, than under the law. 2. Outward peace, safety, and happiness.

Verse 14

[14] In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.

Established — Thine affairs shall be managed with righteousness, which is the glory of any society.

Oppression — Either by thine own governors, or by foreign powers.

Verse 15

[15] Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.

Behold — It is true some will combine and make an attempt against thee.

But — Without any such commission from me, as Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar had.

Verse 16

[16] Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

The smith — Both the smith that makes warlike instruments, and the soldier that uses them, are my creatures, and totally at my command, and therefore they cannot hurt you without my leave.

The waster — To destroy only whom and when I please.

Verse 17

[17] No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Condemn — And I will deliver thee not only from the fury of war, but also from the strife of tongues.

This — This blessed condition, is the portion allotted them by me.

Righteousness — The reward of their righteousness.

Of me — I give it, and I will continue it to them.