Bible Commentary

Isaiah 26

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Isaiah 26)

Verse 1

[1] In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

In that day — When God shall do such glorious works, as are described in the foregoing chapter.

Sung — In the church of God.

A city — Jerusalem, or the church, which is often compared to a city.

For walls — God's immediate and saving protection shall be to his church instead of walls.

Verse 2

[2] Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

The gates — Of the city, mentioned verse 1.

The nation — The whole body of righteous men, whether Jews or Gentiles. For he seems to speak here, as he apparently did in the foregoing chapter, of the times of the gospel.

Keepeth truth — Which is sincere in the true religion.

Verse 4

[4] Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

For ever — In all times and conditions.

Verse 5

[5] For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust.

On high — He speaks not so much of height of place, as of dignity and power, in which sense also he mentions the lofty city in the next clause.

Lofty city — Which may be understood either of proud Babylon, or of all the strong and stately cities of God's enemies.

Verse 6

[6] The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.

The needy — God will bring it under the feet of his poor, and weak, and despised people.

Verse 7

[7] The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.

Thou — O God, who art upright in all thy ways, and therefore a lover of uprightness, and of all upright men, dost weigh (examine) the path of the just, the course of his actions, and, which is implied, dost approve of them, and therefore direct them to an happy issue.

Verse 9

[9] With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

In the night — When others are sleeping, my thoughts and desires are working towards God.

Early — Betimes in the morning.

For — And good reason it is that we should thus desire and seek thee in the way of thy judgments, because this is the very design of thy judgments, that men should thereby be awakened to learn and return to their duty; and this is a common effect, that those who have been careless in prosperity, are made wiser and better by afflictions.

Verse 10

[10] Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.

Will not learn — This is the carriage of thy people; but the course of wicked men is directly contrary in all conditions: for if thou dost spare them, they will not accept of that gracious invitation to repentance.

In the land — Even in God's church, and among his people, where righteousness is taught and practised.

Will not behold — Tho' God gives such plain discoveries of his majesty and glory, not only in his word, but also in works, and especially in this glorious work of his patience and mercy to wicked men, yet they will not acknowledge it.

Verse 11

[11] LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.

Will not see — And they are guilty of the same obstinate blindness when thou dost smite and punish them, which is commonly signified by lifting up the hand.

They shall see — They shall know that by sad experience, which they would not learn by easier ways.

These — Such fire or wrath as thou usest to pour forth upon thine implacable enemies.

Verse 12

[12] LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

Our works — All the good works done by us, are the effects of thy grace.

Verse 13

[13] O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.

Other lords — Others besides thee, and besides those governors who have been set up by thee, even foreign and heathen lords.

By thee — By thy favour and help.

Will we — Celebrate thy praise.

Verse 14

[14] They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.

Rise — Those tyrants are destroyed; they shall never live or rise again to molest us.

Verse 15

[15] Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.

The nation — This nation seems to be the people of Israel.

Removed — Thou hast removed thy people out of their own land, and suffered them to be carried captive to the ends of the earth.

Verse 16

[16] LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

They — Thy people.

Visited — Come into thy presence, with their prayers and supplications.

Verse 17

[17] Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD.

Like — Such was our anguish and danger.

Verse 18

[18] We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

We — We have had the torment of a woman in child-bearing, but not the comfort of a living child, for we have brought forth nothing but wind; all our labours and hopes were unsuccessful.

The world — The Assyrians, or our other enemies.

Verse 19

[19] Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Thy — The prophet here turns his speech to God's people, and gives them a cordial in their distress. Thy dead men are not like those, verse 14, for they shall not live; but thine shall live. You shall be delivered from all your fears and dangers.

My dead body — As I myself, who am one of these dead men, shall live again; you shall be delivered together with me.

Awake — Out of your sleep, even the sleep of death, you that are dead and buried in the dust.

Thy dew — The favour and blessing of God upon thee.

The dew — Which makes them grow and flourish.

Verse 20

[20] Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

Shut thy doors — Withdraw thyself from the world, and pour out thy prayers to God in thy closet.

Indignation — The dreadful effects of God's anger, mentioned in the following verse.

Verse 21

[21] For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

Cometh — Cometh down from heaven.

To punish — All the enemies of God, and of his people.

Her slain — The innocent blood which hath been spilled upon the earth shall be brought to light, and severely revenged upon the murderers.

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