The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 26

Isa 26:1

Isa 26: Another song of rejoicing (as refd to in Isa 24:16. Note many //s to Psa 118 (a Hezekiah psa).

GOD MAKES SALVATION ITS WALLS AND RAMPARTS: Cp Isa 33:6,20; 60:18. In ct with efforts made to build up Jerusalem's defenses (Isa 22:9,10; 2Ch 32:3-5).

WALLS: Sym the saints: the stones built up into God's house (1Pe 2:4,5), and indwelt by the Glory of God, which is a wall of fire to protect the city (Zec 2:5; cp Rev 21:12).

Isa 26:2

THE RIGHTEOUS NATION MAY ENTER: Freed captives from Assyria/Babylon return to Jerusalem in solemn and joyous procession. LD: Rev 22:14.

Isa 26:3

YOU WILL KEEP IN PERFECT PEACE HIM WHOSE MIND IS STEADFAST: "Let us not even wish for peace until we have, with God's help, created the conditions in our life and mind that justify peace. Short of this, 'peace' is not a blessing, but a dangerous deception and soporific. True peace can come only from oneness with God in heart and life and action. 'Steadfast' implies permanence and consistency: Total dependence and dedication. 'There is no peace to the wicked.' Hopefully, we are not 'wicked,' but to the degree that we are sinful (and though we must mightily strive, none of us can ever rise completely above that), to that degree will our peace be marred. The only peace is 'peace with God': and God is perfect in holiness. Any unpurged corruption or foolishness within us will prevent our being wholly comfortable or 'at peace' with Him, or He fully accepting us in oneness" (GVG).

PERFECT PEACE: Peace of mind; spiritual peace: Joh 14:27; Rom 5:1,2; Eph 2:14-16; Phi 4:7.

HIM WHOSE MIND IS STEADFAST: The personal and individual ref here is to righteous king Hezekiah -- delivered from his deadly illness, while his city is delivered from the Assyrian army.

Isa 26:4

"Trust in the LORD for an eternity of eternities, for in Jah Jehovah is a Rock of Ages." The figure of a Rock (Isa 17:10; 30:29; 44:8) finds its meaning with special ref to the altar stone where Abraham was ready to offer his son, and which became the foundation of the altar of burnt offering (Psa 118:22).

Isa 26:5

" 'Them that dwell on high' may be the Assyrians looking down on Jerusalem from Mount Scopus [where their army encamped during the siege]. And the 'lofty city' to be 'laid low' can hardly be other than Nineveh whose pride was crushed with the destruction of its army" (WIsa 271).

Isa 26:7

The way made plain and smooth for the captives from Assyria (v 2) to return to their Land.

Isa 26:8

YOUR NAME AND RENOWN ARE THE DESIRE OF OUR HEARTS: "Loving God enough is the key to everything: the only key. We need two things: desire and realization. First, the constant, intense desire to be better than we are, to be the very best we can be, to be one with God, perfectly and eternally. And we can never be satisfied with anything less -- with the poor little toys and lusts that the infantile world chooses and plays with and sets its empty mind on. And then we need realization: The realization of our utter helplessness and weakness and need -- that we can do nothing of ourselves. All is of God. Face it: the whole universe is of God, and is God. He is everywhere and everything. If we run from Him, or cross Him, He will destroy us. He must. He is perfect goodness, and must in the fulness of time abolish everything out of harmony with Himself. Only perfect goodness can be eternal. If we run to Him, He will accept and love us, and absorb us to Himself. He will bless us. He will glorify us. He will lift us up to His Own divine nature. Is there any question of the choice to make?" (GVG).

Isa 26:9

THE NIGHT: Passover night.

Isa 26:10

THOUGH GRACE IS SHOWN TO THE WICKED, THEY DO NOT LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS: The lavish payment of tribute in the time when the Assyrian was poised to invade the Land (2Ki 18:14-16). (What seems out of character, ie Hezekiah paying 'bribes' to the Gentiles, may be explained by the onset of his terrible illness, so that for a time the reins of power passed into the hands of far less righteous men.)

Isa 26:12

YOU HAVE DONE FOR US: Therefore, "stand still and see the salvation of Yahweh" (Exo 14:13). Cp Rom 6:23: salvation is the gift of God.

Isa 26:13

OTHER LORDS BESIDES YOU HAVE RULED OVER US: (1) Foreign rulers, like Sennacherib, and (2) their abomination "gods": Ahaz's compromises with the Assyrians in 2Ki 16:12-14,18.

Isa 26:14

THEY ARE DEAD; THEY LIVE NO MORE: The "gods" were never alive, AND their royal worshipers will die -- like Sennacherib -- never to rise again (cp Isa 14:9-12; ct Isa 26:19).

THEY LIVE NO MORE: Having no resurrection: Jer 51:39,57; Psa 49:12-14,20; Pro 21:16. "The swashbuckling, power-drunk dictators of the world now meet their due fate" (WIsa 277).

DEPARTED SPIRITS: "Rephaim": Psa 88:10n; Isa 26:14,19.

YOU HAVE WIPED OUT ALL MEMORY OF THEM: Ct with the "memorial" name of God (vv 8,13b).

Isa 26:15

YOU HAVE ENLARGED THE NATION: (1) The renewed adherence to the temple of the people out of the northern tribes (Isa 9:3,4; 2Ch 30:10-12), and (2) the return of the multitude of captives from Sennacherib's Babylon (Isa 49:19,20; etc).

YOU HAVE EXTENDED ALL THE BORDERS OF THE LAND: In that your praise has been extended far afield (Psa 48:10), and much of the northern kingdom and the former captives have been joined to Jerusalem (Isa 43:6; Amo 9:9).

Isa 26:16

THEY COULD BARELY WHISPER A PRAYER: The righteous Hezekiah, brought to the point of death, barely able to breathe out a prayer of hope to Yahweh (Isa 38:3).

Isa 26:17

Figure of mother and children in Isaiah: Isa 8:3,4; 11:8; 26:17,18; 28:9; 45:10,11; 46:3,4; 49:15,20-23; 54:1; 60:16; 66:11-13.

"The nation in its trouble is likened to a pregnant woman suffering all the pain of delivery, yet unable to give birth to her child. Micah (Mic 4:9,10) has the same figure in the same sort of context. When the official deputation -- Eliakim the High Priest, and Shebna -- returned from the fruitless and discouraging encounter with Rabshakeh, the king promptly sent them to seek the aid of God through the mediation of Isaiah; and here again the same harrowing figure of speech was employed: 'The children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring forth' (Isa 37:3)... the nation had made its effort to achieve a new birth (a reformation Hezekiah himself had led), and yet has found itself suffering more than ever... 'So have we been in thy sight, O Lord.' The Heb text here suggests: 'from before thy Beloved', with ref to the messengers sent by the son of David. Isaiah, characteristically, prob meant both ideas" (WIsa 274).

Isa 26:18

BUT WE GAVE BIRTH TO WIND: Sb prob read: "Like him (Hezekiah) we have brought forth wind," ie, no real achievement. 'We have brought no deliverance to the Land... we have achieved no real reformation in the people...'

Isa 26:19

"Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise" (KJV): In Hezekiah's day, the dead (plural) coming back to life = the Assyrian captives (given up for dead) returning to their own Land! And the dead (singular) refs, of course, to his body as good as dead in leprosy -- raised up by God's power.

"Together WITH MY DEAD BODY" (KJV) is alluded to by Paul in 1Th 4:14: "God will bring WITH JESUS those who have fallen asleep in him."

"It is not certain whether the resurrection envisioned here is intended to be literal or figurative. A comparison with Isa 25:8 and Dan 12:2 suggests a literal interpretation, but Eze 37:1-14 uses resurrection as a metaphor for deliverance from exile and the restoration of the nation (see Isa 27:12-13)" (NET notes): both are correct!

DEAD (1st): "Muth".

YOU WHO DWELL IN THE DUST: Cp Dan 12:2: "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake."

WAKE UP AND SHOUT FOR JOY: Resurrection: Hos 13:13,14; cited in 1Co 15:54.

THE DEW OF THE MORNING: Cp Psa 110:3: "the dew of your youth" = a renewal of youth, a resurrection! Sym effects of Holy Spirit, causing the resurrection of the faithful in the "morning" of Christ's coming (cp Isa 26:19; 2Sa 23:4; Psa 133:3). Also, sym a multitude (2Sa 17:12; Mic 5:7), enjoying the favor of the king (Pro 19:2); and/or the unfailing compassions of God for His people (Gen 27:28; Lam 3:22,23); and/or the manna fresh every morning (Num 1:9). Some dew results from condensation of atmosphere (cp those alive at Christ's coming), but most dew is formed from moisture risen to surface of ground or plant leaves (cp those resurrected at Christ's return).

DEAD (2nd): "Rephaim": Psa 88:10n; Isa 26:14,19.

Isa 26:20

ENTER YOUR ROOMS: This v alludes to both the ark of Noah (Gen 7:16) and the passover of Moses (Exo 12:22,23) -- the doors shut, the protecting presence of the angel of Yahweh, while all outside was hopelessness and death. But the most direct historical context is the action of Hezekiah who, when he received the threatening message from Sennacherib, promptly went to the house of God, secluding himself there to pray (Isa 37:1,14,15). Thus was Jerusalem made a strong city, the walls thereof appointed to salvation (Isa 26:1); and the people who fled to the city were protected from the Assyrian host by the Divine Hand. But the "chambers" of protection can be anywhere that a believer turns to God for help. So Jesus can exhort his followers: "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Mat 6:6).

Jewish men wore a garment called a "talith", "talis", or "prayer shawl", all the time, not just at prayer. "Talith" consists of two Hebrew words; "tal" (tent) and "ith" (little). Thus, each man had his own little tent. (The apostle Paul was a Jewish Pharisee, but also a tentmaker. Some believe that he made prayer shawls, not tents to live in.) Since all Jews could not worship in the Tent of Meeting at one time, God gave to each Jew his own private sanctuary where he could meet with God. In prayer, the man would pull it up over his head, forming a tent, where he could retreat to call upon Yahweh. It was intimate, private, and set apart from anyone else -- enabling him to totally focus upon God. It was his prayer closet. Cp Mat 6:6.

FOR A LITTLE WHILE: Which would see both retribution on the brutal invader and salvation for the faithful (Isa 10:25).

Isa 26:21

THE LORD IS COMING OUT OF HIS DWELLING: That is, He is defending His own house, the Temple!

THE BLOOD: Cp blood of righteous Abel, a witness against sin of Cain.

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