Good News!: Isaiah 51.1-52.12 (4)
Pray Psalm 17.6, 7.
I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
Read Isaiah 51.17-23.
1. How severe was the discipline the people of God were going to endure?
2. How does God comfort His people in this passage?
God does not “soft peddle” the season of discipline that is about to befall His people. It will be a time of deprivation, loss, desolation, destruction, sorrow, and fainting. But the people have brought this on themselves. They refused to drink the cup of God’s salvation by keeping His Law and rejecting the idols of the nations. Now they would have to drink the cup of His fury for a time (v. 17).
God’s wrath would take their leaders (v. 18) and their dearest offspring (v. 20). Israel would languish aimlessly in Babylon, with no one to sympathize with or comfort them (v. 19). They would feel like a wild animal, snared and waiting to be slaughtered (v. 20). Thus God would rebuke His people for their failure to keep covenant with Him.
But they should take comfort in knowing that God would visit all this wrath on their enemies and captors (vv. 21-23). He will divert His wrath from His people to those who taunt and trouble them (vv. 22, 23), and this will signal the deliverance to come under Cyrus, the anointed of the Lord.
In the short term, Israel must suffer the discipline of the Lord. But not forever. When the judgment of Babylon begins, the people should realize that their freedom and restoration is near. Notice here how God begins to comfort His people with “Awake, awake!” (v. 17) He will use just the same call to announce the salvation and restoration of His people in the next chapter (cf. 52.1).
1. Meditate on Hebrews 12.3-11. Why would you ever expect to know the Lord’s discipline? What should you do at that time?
2. Jesus has overthrown the enemy of our soul (Col. 3.11-15). How should this encourage us in the promised salvation of the Lord?
3. How can Christians sustain and encourage one another during seasons of discipline?
Anger, which is called “the cup in the hand of the Lord” and “the cup of falling that is drained,” is in proportion to transgressions, even though he abates to all some of what is their due and dilutes with compassion the unmixed draught of his wrath. For he inclines from severity to indulgence toward those who accept chastisement with fear, and who after a slight affliction conceive and are in pain with conversion and bring forth the perfect spirit of salvation. But he nevertheless reserves the dregs, the last drop of his anger, that he may pour it out entire on those who, instead of being healed by his kindness, grow obdurate, like the hardhearted Pharaoh. Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD), On His Father’s Silence, Oration 16.4
Strengthen me, Lord, so that, whatever comes at me today, I may…
Pray Psalm 17.
What temptations will you face today? How will the enemy of your soul try to distract and defeat you? Seek the Lord and His face and righteousness, that He might be present before you all day long.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 17 (Park Street: All You that Fear Jehovah’s Name)
Hear a just cause, O God the Lord! Gladly receive my plaintive word.
I cry with lips of purity: Look on my case with equity!
Look on my case with equity!
Let judgment from Your throne proceed; You have discerned my every need.
Let naught of sin in me be found, and from my tongue let truth resound!
And from my tongue let truth resound!
As for the deeds of sinful men, I will not walk those paths again.
My feet hold firm from first to last: Help me pursue Your righteous path;
Help me pursue Your righteous path!
When I have called, You answered me, Lord; hear now my fervent, seeking word!
Let kindness flow by Your command. Keep and preserve me by Your right hand,
keep and preserve me by Your right hand.
Treasure me in Your holy eye; shelter me from a troubling sky.
Around me all my enemies eagerly would despoil me,
eagerly would despoil me.
They their unfeeling hearts have closed, while with their mouths they loudly boast.
They set their eyes to cast us down, roaring and lurking all around,
roaring and lurking all around.
Rise up, O Lord, and bring them low! Brandish Your sword, and save my soul!
With children they are satisfied; treasures fulfill their hope and pride,
treasures fulfill their hope and pride.
But as for me, Lord, save and bless! Let me behold Your righteousness.
Your face in glory I would see, and thus forever blessèd be,
and thus forever blessèd be.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).