He who smote - This may either refer to the king of Babylon, or to the rod or scepter which he had used, and which was now broken. Herder refers it to the scepter, ‹that which smote the nations.‘ (On the meaning of the word “smote,” see the notes at Isaiah 10:20)
The people - The nations that were subject to his authority.
With a continual stroke - Margin, ‹A stroke without removing.‘ Vulgate, Plaga insanabili - ‹With an incurable plague.‘ - Septuagint the same - Πληγῇ ἀνιάτῳ Plēgē aniatō The Hebrew is, as in the margin, ‹A smiting without removing,‘ or without cessation. There was no relaxation in its oppressions, it was always engaged in acts of tyranny.
He that ruled the nations - Babylon was the capital of a vast empire, and that empire was composed of many dependent nations.
Is persecuted - By those that make war upon it. Its turn had come to be oppressed, and overthrown.
And none hindereth - No nation opposes the invader. None of the dependent kingdoms of Babylon have any real attachment to it, but all rejoice at its downfall. The most mighty kingdom of the earth is helpless and ruined. What a change was this! How sudden and striking the revolution! And what a warning to proud and guilty cities!
Even the wicked are now placed beyond the power of Satan, and alone with his evil angels he remains to realize the effect of the curse which sin has brought. “The kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, everyone in his own house [the grave]. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch.... Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people.” Isaiah 14:18-20. GC 660.1
For a thousand years, Satan will wander to and fro in the desolate earth to behold the results of his rebellion against the law of God. During this time his sufferings are intense. Since his fall his life of unceasing activity has banished reflection; but he is now deprived of his power and left to contemplate the part which he has acted since first he rebelled against the government of heaven, and to look forward with trembling and terror to the dreadful future when he must suffer for all the evil that he has done and be punished for the sins that he has caused to be committed. GC 660.2
To God's people the captivity of Satan will bring gladness and rejoicing. Says the prophet: “It shall come to pass in the day that Jehovah shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy trouble, and from the hard service wherein thou wast made to serve, that thou shalt take up this parable against the king of Babylon [here representing Satan], and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! ... Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers; that smote the peoples in wrath with a continual stroke, that ruled the nations in anger, with a persecution that none restrained.” Verses 3-6, R.V. GC 660.3Read in context »