Comfort ye, comfort ye - "The whole of this prophecy," says Kimchi, "belongs to the days of the Messiah."
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people - This is the exordium, or the general subject of this and the following chapters. The commencement is abrupt, as often happens in Isaiah and the other prophets. The scene where this vision is laid is in Babylon; the time near the close of the captivity. The topic, or main subject of the consolation, is stated in the following verse - that that captivity was about to end, and that brighter and happier days were to succeed their calamities and their exile. The exhortation to ‹comfort‘ the people is to be understood as a command of God to those in Babylon whose office or duty it would be to address them - that is, to the ministers of religion, or to the prophets. The Targum of Jonathan thus renders it: ‹Ye prophets, prophesy consolations concerning my people.‘ The Septuagint renders it, ‹Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith God. O priests, speak to the heart of Jerusalem; comfort her.‘ The design of Isaiah is doubtless to furnish that which should be to them a source of consolation when amidst the deep distress of their long captivity; to furnish an assurance that the captivity was about to end, and that brighter and happier times were to ensue.
The exhortation or command is repeated, to give intensity or emphasis to it, in the usual manner in Hebrew, where emphasis is denoted by the repetition of a word. The word rendered ‹comfort‘ (from נחם nâcham ) means properly to draw the breath forcibly, to sigh, pant, groan; then to lament, or grieve Psalm 90:13; Jeremiah 15:6; then to comfort or console one‘s-self Genesis 38:12. then to take vengeance (compare the note at Isaiah 1:24). All the forms of the word, and all the significations, indicate deep emotion, and the obtaining of relief either by repenting, or by taking vengeance, or by administering the proper topics of consolation. Here the topic of consolation is, that their calamities were about to come to an end, in accordance with the unchanging promises of a faithful God Isaiah 40:8, and is thus in accordance with what is said in Hebrews 6:17-18.
My people - The people of God. He regarded those in Babylon as his people; and he designed also to adduce such topics of consolation as would be adapted to comfort all his people in all ages.
Saith your God - The God of those whom he addressed - the God of the prophets or ministers of religion whose office was to comfort the people. We may remark here, that it is an important part of the ministerial office to administer consolation to the people of God in affiction; to exhibit to them his promises; to urge the topics of religion which are adapted to sustain them; and especially to uphold and cheer them with the assurance that their trials will soon come to an end, and will all terminate in complete deliverance from sorrow and calamity in heaven.
15. Usefulness Not Proved by Noise and Bustle—We need a calm waiting upon God. The need of this is imperious. It is not the noise and bustle we make in the world which proves our usefulness. See how silently God works. We do not hear the noise of His steps, and yet He is walking about us, laboring for our good. Jesus did not seek for notoriety; His life-giving virtue was going out to the needy and the afflicted through silent actions, whose influence extended far into all countries and was felt and expressed in the life of millions of human beings. Those who desire to labor with God have need of His Spirit every day; they need to walk and labor in meekness and humility of spirit, without seeking to accomplish extraordinary things, satisfied to do the work before them and doing it faithfully. Men may not see or appreciate their efforts, but the names of these faithful children of God are written in heaven among His noblest workers, as scattering His seed in view of a glorious harvest. “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Manuscript 24, 1887). 4BC 1144.1
Take Time to Rest, Think, Appreciate—The Lord wants human beings to take time to rest, time to think of and appreciate heavenly things. Those who do not value the things of heaven sufficiently to give time to them will at last lose all (Letter 181, 1903). 4BC 1144.2Read in context »
In the visions of the prophet, those who have triumphed over sin and the grave are now seen happy in the presence of their Maker, talking freely with Him as man talked with God in the beginning. “Be ye glad,” the Lord bids them, “and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” “The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” PK 729.1
“In the wilderness shall waters break out,
And streams in the desert.
And the parched ground shall become a pool,
And the thirsty land springs of water.” PK 729.2
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree.” PK 729.3
In the darkest days of her long conflict with evil, the church of God has been given revelations of the eternal purpose of Jehovah. His people have been permitted to look beyond the trials of the present to the triumphs of the future, when, the warfare having been accomplished, the redeemed will enter into possession of the promised land. These visions of future glory, scenes pictured by the hand of God, should be dear to His church today, when the controversy of the ages is rapidly closing and the promised blessings are soon to be realized in all their fullness. PK 722.1
Many were the messages of comfort given the church by the prophets of old. “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people” (Isaiah 40:1), was Isaiah's commission from God; and with the commission were given wonderful visions that have been the believers’ hope and joy through all the centuries that have followed. Despised of men, persecuted, forsaken, God's children in every age have nevertheless been sustained by His sure promises. By faith they have looked forward to the time when He will fulfill to His church the assurance, “I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.” Isaiah 60:15. PK 722.2Read in context »