Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 61:3

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

To appoint unto them - Hebrew, ‹To place;‘ that is, to place happiness before them; to give them joy arid consolation.

That mourn in Zion - (See the notes at Isaiah 1:8). The mourners in Zion mean those who dwelt in Jerusalem; then all those who are connected with the church of God - his poor and afflicted people.

To give unto them beauty for ashes - In the Hebrew there is here a beautiful paronomasia, which cannot be transferred to our language - אפר תחת פאר pe'ēr tachath 'êpher The word rendered ‹beauty‘ (פאר pe'ēr ) means properly a head-dress, turban, tiara, or diadem; and the idea is, that the Redeemer would impart to his mourning people such an ornament instead of the ashes which in their grief they were accustomed to easy on their heads. For the use of the word, see Isaiah 3:20; Isaiah 61:10; Exodus 39:29; Ezekiel 24:17-23. It was common among the Orientals to east dust and ashes upon their heads in time of mourning, and as expressive of their grief (compare the notes at Isaiah 57:5; 2 Samuel 13:19).

The oil of joy - The oil of joy denotes that which was symbolic or expressive of joy. Oil or ointment was employed on occasions of festivity and joy (see the notes at Isaiah 57:9); but its use was abstained from in times of public calamity or grief (see 2 Samuel 14:2).

The garment of praise - That is, the garment or clothing which shall be expresive of praise or gratitude instead of that which shall indicate grief.

For the spirit of heaviness. - Instead of a heavy, burdened, and oppressed spirit. The word used here (כהה kēhâh ), usually means faint, feeble, weak (see the notes at Isaiah 42:3). It is applied to a lamp about to go out Isaiah 42:3; to eyes bedimmed, or dull 1 Samuel 3:2; to a faint or pale color Leviticus 13:39. Here it denotes those of a faint and desponding heart. These expressions are figurative, and are taken from the custom which prevailed more in Oriental countries than elsewhere - and which is founded in nature - of expressing the emotions of the mind by the manner of apparel. These customs are stated in the book of Judith. She ‹pulled off the sackcloth which she had on, and pus off the garments of her widowhood, and washed her body all over with water, and anointed herself with precious ointment, and braided the hair of her head, and put on a tire upon it (Greek, μιτρε mitre ), and put on her garments of gladness wherewith she was clad during the life of Manasses her husband. And she took sandals upon her feet, and put about her her bracelets, and her chains, and her rings, and her ear-rings, and all her ornaments, and decked herself bravely to allure the eyes of all men that should see her‘ Isaiah 10:3-4.

That they might be called - That is, those who had mourned in Zion.

Trees of righteousness - In the Hebrew, ‹Oaks,‘ or terebinth trees. By their being oaks of righteousness is meant people distinguished for righteousness or justice. The Septuagint renders it, Γενεαὶ Geneai - ‹Generations;‘ Jerome, Fortes - ‹Strong;‘ the Chaldee, ‹Princes;‘ the Syriac, ‹Rams;‘ but the word properly denotes the oak, or the terebinth tree - a lofty, strong, and magnificent tree. It is not uncommon to represent people by trees (see Isaiah 1:29-30; Psalm 92:12-14):

The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree;

He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon,

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord,

Shall flourish in the courts of our God.

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age;

They shall be fat and flourishing.

See also the beautiful description in Psalm 1:3, and in Jeremiah 17:8. The idea here is, that they who had been oppressed and borne down by calamity and by a sense of sin, would become vigorous and strong; and would be such as aptly to be compared to majestic trees with far-spreading branches - an image everywhere of that which is truly beautiful.

The planting of the Lord - Those whom Yahweh had truly planted; that is, those who were under his care and culture (see the notes at Isaiah 60:21). The same figure is used by the Saviour. ‹Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up‘ Matthew 15:13.

That he might be glorified - (See the notes at Isaiah 60:21).

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The prophets had the Holy Spirit of God at times, teaching them what to say, and causing them to say it; but Christ had the Spirit always, without measure, to qualify him, as man, for the work to which he was appointed. The poor are commonly best disposed to receive the gospel, Jas 2:5; and it is only likely to profit us when received with meekness. To such as are poor in spirit, Christ preached good tidings when he said, Blessed are the meek. Christ's satisfaction is accepted. By the dominion of sin in us, we are bound under the power of Satan; but the Son is ready, by his Spirit, to make us free; and then we shall be free indeed. Sin and Satan were to be destroyed; and Christ triumphed over them on his cross. But the children of men, who stand out against these offers, shall be dealt with as enemies. Christ was to be a Comforter, and so he is; he is sent to comfort all who mourn, and who seek to him, and not to the world, for comfort. He will do all this for his people, that they may abound in the fruits of righteousness, as the branches of God's planting. Neither the mercy of God, the atonement of Christ, nor the gospel of grace, profit the self-sufficient and proud. They must be humbled, and led to know their own character and wants, by the Holy Spirit, that they may see and feel their need of the sinner's Friend and Saviour. His doctrine contains glad tidings indeed to those who are humbled before God.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion "To impart gladness to the mourners of Zion" - A word necessary to the sense is certainly lost in this place, of which the ancient Versions have preserved no traces. Houbigant, by conjecture, inserts the word ששון sason, gladness, taken from the line next but one below, where it stands opposed to אבל ebel, sorrow or mourning, as the word lost here was to אבלי abeley, mourners: I follow him. - L.

Beauty for ashes "A beautiful crown instead of ashes" - In times of mourning the Jews put on sackcloth, or coarse and sordid raiment, and spread dust and ashes on their heads; on the contrary, splendid clothing and ointment poured on the head were the signs of joy. "Feign thyself to be a mourner," says Joab to the woman of Tekoah, "and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil," 2 Samuel 14:2. These customs are at large expressed in the Book of Judith: "She pulled off the sackcloth which she had on, and put off the garments of her widowhood, and washed her body all over with water and anointed herself with precious ointment, and braided the hair of her head, and put on a tire [mitre, marg.] upon it; and put on her garments of gladness;" chap. 10:3. - L.

אפר תחת פאר peer tachath ephar, glory for ashes; a paronomasia which the prophet often uses: a chaplet, crown, or other ornament of the head (for so the Vulgate renders the word here and in the both verse; in which last place the Septuagint agree in the same rendering), instead of dust and ashes, which before covered it; and the costly ointments used on occasions of festivity, instead of the ensigns of sorrow. - L.

Trees of righteousness "Trees approved" - Hebrews oaks of righteousness or truth; that is, such as by their flourishing condition should show that they were indeed "the scion of God's planting, and the work of his hands;" under which images, in the preceding chapter, Isaiah 60:21, the true servants of God, in a highly improved state of the Church, were represented; that is, says Vitringa on that place, "commendable for the strength of their faith, their durability, and firmness."

Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 650

The heirs of God have come from garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains, from deserts, from the caves of the earth, from the caverns of the sea. On earth they were “destitute, afflicted, tormented.” Millions went down to the grave loaded with infamy because they steadfastly refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human tribunals they were adjudged the vilest of criminals. But now “God is judge Himself.” Psalm 50:6. Now the decisions of earth are reversed. “The rebuke of His people shall He take away.” Isaiah 25:8. “They shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord.” He hath appointed “to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 62:12; 61:3. They are no longer feeble, afflicted, scattered, and oppressed. Henceforth they are to be ever with the Lord. They stand before the throne clad in richer robes than the most honored of the earth have ever worn. They are crowned with diadems more glorious than were ever placed upon the brow of earthly monarchs. The days of pain and weeping are forever ended. The King of glory has wiped the tears from all faces; every cause of grief has been removed. Amid the waving of palm branches they pour forth a song of praise, clear, sweet, and harmonious; every voice takes up the strain, until the anthem swells through the vaults of heaven: “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” And all the inhabitants of heaven respond in the ascription: “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.” Revelation 7:10, 12. GC 650.1

In this life we can only begin to understand the wonderful theme of redemption. With our finite comprehension we may consider most earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy, that meet in the cross; yet with the utmost stretch of our mental powers we fail to grasp its full significance. The length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of redeeming love are but dimly comprehended. The plan of redemption will not be fully understood, even when the ransomed see as they are seen and know as they are known; but through the eternal ages new truth will continually unfold to the wondering and delighted mind. Though the griefs and pains and temptations of earth are ended and the cause removed, the people of God will ever have a distinct, intelligent knowledge of what their salvation has cost. GC 651.1

The cross of Christ will be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In Christ glorified they will behold Christ crucified. Never will it be forgotten that He whose power created and upheld the unnumbered worlds through the vast realms of space, the Beloved of God, the Majesty of heaven, He whom cherub and shining seraph delighted to adore—humbled Himself to uplift fallen man; that He bore the guilt and shame of sin, and the hiding of His Father's face, till the woes of a lost world broke His heart and crushed out His life on Calvary's cross. That the Maker of all worlds, the Arbiter of all destinies, should lay aside His glory and humiliate Himself from love to man will ever excite the wonder and adoration of the universe. As the nations of the saved look upon their Redeemer and behold the eternal glory of the Father shining in His countenance; as they behold His throne, which is from everlasting to everlasting, and know that His kingdom is to have no end, they break forth in rapturous song: “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His own most precious blood!” GC 651.2

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Ellen G. White
Child Guidance, 116

Fill the Mind With Images of Purity—The Christian life is one of constant self-denial and self-control. These are the lessons to be taught the children from their infancy. Teach them that they must practice temperance, purity in thought and heart and act, that they belong to God because they have been bought with a price, even the precious blood of His dear Son.9 CG 116.1

If in their tender years the minds of children are filled with pleasant images of truth, of purity and goodness, a taste will be formed for that which is pure and elevated, and their imagination will not become easily corrupted or defiled. While if the opposite course is pursued, if the minds of the parents are continually dwelling upon low scenes; if their conversation lingers over objectionable features of character; if they form a habit of speaking complainingly of the course others have pursued, the little ones will take lessons from the words and expressions of contempt and will follow the pernicious example. The evil impress, like the taint of the leprosy, will cleave to them in afterlife. CG 116.2

The seed sown in infancy by the careful, God-fearing mother will become trees of righteousness, which will blossom and bear fruit; and the lessons given by a God-fearing father by precept and example will, as in the case of Joseph, yield an abundant harvest by and by.10 CG 116.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 243

Little differences dwelt upon lead to actions that destroy Christian fellowship. Let us not allow the enemy thus to gain the advantage over us. Let us keep drawing nearer to God and to one another. Then we shall be as trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord, and watered by the river of life. And how fruitful we shall be! Did not Christ say: “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit”? John 15:8. 8T 243.1

The heart of the Saviour is set upon His followers’ fulfilling God's purpose in all its height and depth. They are to be one in Him, even though they are scattered the world over. But God cannot make them one in Christ unless they are willing to give up their own way for His way. 8T 243.2

When Christ's prayer is fully believed, when its instruction is brought into the daily life of God's people, unity of action will be seen in our ranks. Brother will be bound to brother by the golden bonds of the love of Christ. The Spirit of God alone can bring about this oneness. He who sanctified Himself can sanctify His disciples. United with Him, they will be united with one another in the most holy faith. When we strive for this unity as God desires us to strive for it, it will come to us. 8T 243.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 42

Now the church is militant. Now we are confronted with a world in midnight darkness, almost wholly given over to idolatry. But the day is coming in which the battle will have been fought, the victory won. The will of God is to be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. Then the nations will own no other law than the law of heaven. All will be a happy, united family, clothed with the garments of praise and thanksgiving—the robe of Christ's righteousness. All nature, in its surpassing loveliness, will offer to God a constant tribute of praise and adoration. The world will be bathed in the light of heaven. The years will move on in gladness. The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold greater than it is now. Over the scene the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy, while God and Christ will unite in proclaiming: “There shall be no more sin, neither shall there be any more death.” 8T 42.1

This is the scene that is presented to me. But the church must and will fight against seen and unseen foes. Satan's agencies in human form are on the ground. Men have confederated to oppose the Lord of hosts. These confederacies will continue until Christ shall leave His place of intercession before the mercy seat and shall put on the garments of vengeance. Satanic agencies are in every city, busily organizing into parties those opposed to the law of God. Professed saints and avowed unbelievers take their stand with these parties. This is no time for the people of God to be weaklings. We cannot afford to be off our guard for one moment. 8T 42.2

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-17. 8T 42.3

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