A covenant of the people "A covenant to the people" - For עם am, two MSS. of Dr. Kennicott's, and of my own, read עולם olam, the covenant of the age to come, or the everlasting covenant; which seems to give a clearer and better sense. But I think the word ברית berith, here, should not be translated covenant, but covenant sacrifice, which meaning it often has; and undoubtedly in this place. This gives a still stronger and clearer sense.
I the Lord have called thee in righteousness - The phrase ‹in righteousness‘ has been very differently understood by different expositors (see the note at Isaiah 41:10). The most probable meaning may be, ‹I have done it as a righteous and just God, or in the accomplishment of my righteous purposes. I am the just moral governor of the universe, and to accomplish my purposes of justice and fidelity, I have designated thee to this work.‘ Lowth has well rendered it, ‹For a righteous purpose.‘ In this work all was righteousness. God was righteous, who appointed him; it was because he was righteous, and could not save without a mediator and an atonement, that he sent him into the world; he selected one who was eminently righteous to accomplish his purpose; and he came that he might establish righteousness on the earth, and confirm the just government of God (see Isaiah 42:21).
And will hold thine hand - I will take thee by the hand, as one does who guides and leads another. The phrase denotes the same as to guard, or keep - as we protect a child by taking him by the hand.
And give thee for a covenant - This is evidently an abbreviated form of expression, and the meaning is, ‹I will give or appoint thee as the medium, or means by which a covenant shall be made with the people; or a mediator of the new covenant which God is about to establish with men‘ (see Isaiah 49:8). A similar expression occurs in Micah 5:5, where it is said of the Messiah, ‹and this man shall be the peace;‘ that is, he shall be the source of peace, or peace shall be established and maintained by him. So in Ephesians 2:14, it is said of him, ‹he is our peace.‘
Of the people - It has been doubted whether this means the Jewish people, or the Gentiles. Grotius, Hengstenberg, Vitringa, and others understand it of the Jews; Rosenmuller and others, of the Gentiles. It is not easy to determine which is the correct interpretation. But the meaning, as I apprehend, is, not that he would confirm the ancient covenant with the descendants of Abraham, as Hengstenberg and Vitringa suppose, but that his covenant would be established with all, with both Jews and Gentiles. According to this, it will refer to the Jews, not as Jews, or as already interested in the covenant, but as constituting one portion of the world; and the whole expression will mean, that his religion will be extended to Jews and Gentiles: that is, to the whole world.
For a light of the Gentiles - (See Luke 2:32). ‹Light‘ is the emblem of knowledge, instruction, and of the true religion. The Messiah is often called ‹light,‘ and the ‹light of the world‘ (see Matthew 4:16; compare the note at Isaiah 9:2; John 1:4, John 1:7, John 1:9; John 3:19; John 8:12; John 9:5; John 12:35, John 12:46; Revelation 21:23). This is one of the numerous declarations which occur in Isaiah, that the religion of the Messiah would be extended to the pagan world; and that they, as well as the Jews, would be brought to partake of its privileges.
“He shall not cry,
Nor lift up,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed shall He not break,
And the smoking flax shall He not quench.” PK 693.1
Verses 2, 3. PK 693
In marked contrast to the teachers of His day was the Saviour to conduct Himself among men. In His life no noisy disputation, no ostentatious worship, no act to gain applause, was ever to be witnessed. The Messiah was to be hid in God, and God was to be revealed in the character of His Son. Without a knowledge of God, humanity would be eternally lost. Without divine help, men and women would sink lower and lower. Life and power must be imparted by Him who made the world. Man's necessities could be met in no other way. PK 693.2Read in context »
“Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside Me there is no Saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are My witnesses.” “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” Isaiah 43:10-12; 42:6, 7. AA 10.1
“In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them. And I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted.... AA 10.2
“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.” Isaiah 49:8-16. AA 11.1Read in context »