Verses 6–9

Two things are here promised to Jerusalem:—

I. Plenty of the means of grace—abundance of good preaching and good praying (Isa. 62:6, 7), and this shows the method God takes when he designs mercy for a people; he first brings them to their duty and pours out a spirit of prayer upon them, and then brings salvation to them. Provision is made,

1. That ministers may do their duty as watchmen. It is here spoken of as a token for good, as a step towards further mercy and an earnest of it, that, in order to what he designed for them, he would set watchmen on their walls who should never hold their peace. Note, (1.) Ministers are watchmen on the church’s walls, for it is as a city besieged, whose concern it is to have sentinels on the walls, to take notice and give notice of the motions of the enemy. It is necessary that, as watchmen, they be wakeful, and faithful, and willing to endure hardness. (2.) They are concerned to stand upon their guard day and night; they must never be off their watch as long as those for whose souls they watch are not out of danger. (3.) They must never hold their peace; they must take all opportunities to give warning to sinners, in season, out of season, and must never betray the cause of Christ by a treacherous or cowardly silence. They must never hold their peace at the throne of grace; they must pray, and not faint, as Moses lifted up his hands and kept them steady, till Israel had obtained the victory over Amalek, Exod. 17:10, 12.

2. That people may do their duty. As those that make mention of the Lord, let not them keep silence neither, let not them think it enough that their watchmen pray for them, but let them pray for themselves; all will be little enough to meet the approaching mercy with due solemnity. Note, (1.) It is the character of God’s professing people that they make mention of the Lord, and continue to do so even in bad times, when the land is termed forsaken and desolate. They are the Lord’s remembrancers (so the margin reads it); they remember the Lord themselves and put one another in mind of him. (2.) God’s professing people must be a praying people, must be public-spirited in prayer, must wrestle with God in prayer, and continue to do so: “Keep not silence; never grow remiss in the duty nor weary of it.” Give him no rest—alluding to an importunate beggar, to the widow that with her continual coming wearied the judge into a compliance. God said to Moses, Let me alone (Exod. 32:10), and Jacob to Christ, I will not let thee go except thou bless me, Gen. 32:26. (3.) God is so far from being displeased with our pressing importunity, as men commonly are, that he invites and encourages it; he bids us to cry after him; he is not like those disciples who discouraged a petitioner, Matt. 15:23. He bids us make pressing applications at the throne of grace, and give him no rest, Luke 11:5, 8. He suffers himself not only to be reasoned with, but to be wrestled with. (4.) The public welfare or prosperity of God’s Jerusalem is that which we should be most importunate for at the throne of grace; we should pray for the good of the church. [1.] That it may be safe, that he would establish it, that the interests of the church may be firm, may be settled for the present and secured to posterity. [2.] That it may be great, may be a praise in the earth, that it may be praised, and God may be praised for it. When gospel truths are cleared and vindicated, when gospel ordinances are duly administered in their purity and power, when the church becomes eminent for holiness and love, then Jerusalem is a praise in the earth, then it is in reputation. (5.) We must persevere in our prayers for mercy to the church till the mercy come; we must do as the prophet’s servant did, go yet seven times, till the promising cloud appear, 1 Kgs. 18:44. (6.) It is a good sign that God is coming towards a people in ways of mercy when he pours out a spirit of prayer upon them and stirs them up to be fervent and constant in their intercessions.

II. Plenty of all other good things, Isa. 62:8. This follows upon the former; when the people praise God, when all the people praise him, then shall the earth yield her increase (Ps. 67:5, 6), and outward prosperity, crowning its piety, shall help to make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Observe,

1. The great distress they had been in, and the losses they had sustained. Their corn had been meat for their enemies, which they hoped would be meat for themselves and their families. Here was a double grievance, that they themselves wanted that which was necessary to the support of life and were in danger of perishing for want of it, and that their enemies were strengthened by it, had their camp victualled with it, and so were the better able to do them a mischief. God is said to give their corn to their enemies, because he not only permitted it, but ordered it, to be the just punishment both of their abuse of plenty and of their symbolizing with strangers, Isa. 1:7. The wine which they had laboured for, and which in their affliction they needed for the relief of those among them that were of a heavy heart, strangers drank it, to gratify their lusts with; this sore judgment was threatened for their sins, Lev. 26:16; Deut. 28:33. See how uncertain our creature-comforts are, and how much it is our wisdom to labour for that meat which we can never be robbed of.

2. The great fulness and satisfaction they should now be restored to (Isa. 62:9): Those that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord. See here, (1.) God’s mercy in giving plenty, and peace to enjoy it,—that the earth yields her increase, that there are hands to be employed in gathering it in, and that they are not taken off by plague and sickness, or otherwise employed in war,—that strangers and enemies do not come and gather it for themselves, or take it from us when we have gathered it,—that we eat the labour of our hands and the bread is not eaten out of our mouths,—and especially that we have opportunity and a heart to honour God with it, and that his courts are open to us and we are not restrained from attending on him in them. (2.) Our duty in the enjoyment of this mercy. We must gather what God gives, with care and industry; we must eat it freely and cheerfully, not bury the gifts of God’s bounty, but make use of them. We must, when we have eaten and are full, bless the Lord, and give him thanks for his bounty to us; and we must serve him with our abundance, use it in works of piety and charity, eat it and drink it in the courts of his holiness, where the altar, the priest, and the poor must all have their share. The greatest comfort that a good man has in his meat and drink is that it furnishes him with a meat-offering and a drink-offering for the Lord his God (Joel 2:14); the greatest comfort that he has in an estate is that it gives him an opportunity of honouring God and doing good. This wine is to be drunk in the courts of God’s holiness, and therefore moderately and with sobriety, as before the Lord.

3. The solemn ratification of this promise: The Lord has sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, that he will do this for his people. God confirms it by an oath, that his people, who trust in him and his word, may have strong consolation, Heb. 6:17, 18. And, since he can swear by no greater, he swears by himself, sometimes by his being (As I live, Ezek. 33:11), sometimes by his holiness (Ps. 89:35), here by his power, his right hand (which was lifted up in swearing, Deut. 32:40), and his arm of power; for it is a great satisfaction to those who build their hopes on God’s promise to be sure that what he has promised he is able to perform, Rom. 4:21. To assure us of this he has sworn by his strength, pawning the reputation of his omnipotence upon it; if he do not do it, let it be said, It was because he could not, which the Egyptians shall never say (Num. 14:16) nor any other. It is the comfort of God’s people that his power is engaged for them, his right hand, where the Mediator sits.