Isaiah 9:1-21 (Basic Bible Commentary)

November 24th, 2013

The Messianic King (9:1-7)

Verse 1 of chapter 9 indicates that the prophet is moving from judgment to promise in his message to his audience. In the original Hebrew text, this verse is the last verse in chapter 8. In the Hebrew, chapter 9 begins with the English verse 2. These verses sound much like the hymns of thanksgiving we find in the Psalter. (See Psalm 21:1, for example.)

Verse 1 mentions Zebulun and Naphtali. These areas are in the northern part of the country, which later came to be called Galilee. The way of the sea refers to the route between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea. The Assyrians probably used this route in their march on Judah. Verse 2 describes the future deliverance of God's people in metaphorical language (darkness and light).

Verse 2 addresses God directly, offering praise for the joy the people are experiencing because of their future deliverance. In verses 4-7, the reasons for the people's joy are given. God has broken the yoke of oppression that lay on the people, God has broken the staff, and has broken the rod of their oppressor. The Day of Midian refers to a battle in which Gideon fought against high odds and defeated a Midianite army (see Judges 7:1). God has also defeated the enemy (verse 5). And God has restored the house of David by sending a king (verses 6-7).

This king will have the authority of the government on his shoulder. He is given four names in this prophecy. Wonderful counselor refers to his integrity in the political sphere. Mighty God stresses his power. Everlasting Father signifies his care for the people. Prince of Peace shows his ability to bring lasting peace to the nation. Verse 7 summarizes the lasting effect this king will have.

Pride Brings Punishment (9:8-12)

These verses are addressed to the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim, or Israel), of which Samaria was the capital. The prophet describes in symbolic language the defeat of the land by its enemies. The Syrians dwell north of Israel, and the Philistines inhabit the area directly to the west along the Mediterranean seacoast.

The Leaders Are Corrupt (9:13-17)

This prophecy judges both the corrupt leaders who led the people astray, and the people who allowed themselves to be led. Note the use of this people in a derogatory tone (as in 6:10).

Immorality Among the People (9:18-21)

Moral corruption burns like a fire among the people. Ultimately, the people will bring destruction upon themselves. The people are greedy, stealing from their neighbors and never getting enough. The prophet is alluding to the fact that the neighbors Israel and Judah have turned against one another (see 7:1-9).

excerpt from: Basic Bible Commentary in the Ministry Matters Library

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