Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary

Verses 1-3 (Isaiah 51:1-3)

Observe, 1. How the people of God are here described, to whom the word of this consolation is sent and who are called upon to hearken to it, Isa. 51:1. They are such as follow after righteousness, such as are very desirous and solicitous both to be justified and to be sanctified, are pressing hard after this, to have the favour of God restored to them and the image of God renewed on them. These are those that seek the Lord, for it is only in the say of righteousness that we can seek him with any hope of finding him. 2. How they are here directed to look back to their original, and the smallness of their beginning: ?Look unto the rock whence you were hewn? (the idolatrous family in Ur of the Chaldees, out of which Abraham was taken, the generation of slaves which the heads and fathers of their tribes were in Egypt); ?look unto the hole of the pit out of which you were digged, as clay, when God formed you into a people.? Note, It is good for those that are privileged by a new birth to consider what they were by their first birth, how they were conceived in iniquity and shapen in sin. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. How hard was that rock out of which we were hewn, unapt to receive impressions, and how miserable the hole of that pit out of which we were digged! The consideration of this should fill us with low thoughts of ourselves and high thoughts of divine grace. Those that are now advanced would do well to remember how low they began (Isa. 51:2): ?Look unto Abraham your father, the father of all the faithful, of all that follow after the righteousness of faith as he did (Rom. 4:11), and unto Sarah that bore you, and whose daughters you all are as long as you do well. Think how Abraham was called alone, and yet was blessed and multiplied; and let that encourage you to depend upon the promise of God even when a sentence of death seems to be upon all the means that lead to the performance of it. Particularly let it encourage the captives in Babylon, though they are reduced to a small number, and few of them left, to hope that yet they shall increase so as to replenish their own land again.? When Jacob is very small, yet he is not so small as Abraham was, who yet became father of many nations. ?Look unto Abraham, and see what he got by trusting in the promise of God, and take example by him to follow God with an implicit faith.? 3. How they are here assured that their present seedness of tears should at length end in a harvest of joys, Isa. 51:3. The church of God on earth, even the gospel Zion, has sometimes had her deserts and waste places, many parts of the church, through either corruption or persecution, made like a wilderness, unfruitful to God or uncomfortable to the inhabitants; but God will find out a time and way to comfort Zion, not only by speaking comfortably to her, but by acting graciously for her. God has comforts in store even for the waste places of his church, for those parts of it that seem not regarded or valued. (1.) He will make them fruitful, and so give them cause to rejoice; her wildernesses shall put on a new face, and look pleasant as Eden, and abound in all good fruits, as the garden of the Lord. Note, It is the greatest comfort of the church to be made serviceable to the glory of God, and to be as his garden in which he delights. (2.) He will make them cheerful, and so give them hearts to rejoice. With the fruits of righteousness, joy and gladness shall be found therein; for the more holiness men have, and the more good they do, the more gladness they have. And where there is gladness, to their satisfaction, it is fit that there should be thanksgiving, to God?s honour; for whatever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving; and the returns of God?s favour ought to be celebrated with the voice of melody, which will be the more melodious when God gives songs in the night, songs in the desert.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary