Isaiah 14:1. For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
This promise had a measure of fulfilment when Israel was brought back from Babylon; and still is it true that, when God’s people come to their worst, there is always something better before them. On the other hand, it is equally sure that, when sinners come to their best, there is always something terrible awaiting them. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew;” and his declaration agrees with this prophecy, “The Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land.” I believe that there will be a far grander fulfilment of this prophecy in that day when God shall bring back his chosen people to their own country, and then shall be the fullness of blessing to the Gentiles also: “The strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.”
Isaiah 14:2. And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
The chosen people have the worst of it now in many parts of the world, but they shall have the best of it by-and-by; they shall not always be trampled on, their time of uplifting shall come at the last, sad there is nothing after the last; that which is last, lasts for ever.
Isaiah 14:3-4. And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
O child of God, thou shalt by-and-by have a glorious season of rest! Today is thy time of labour; thou art now under hard bondage; but thou shalt yet come forth into the fullness of thy liberty in Christ Jesus. In that day, Jehovah himself shall give thee rest from all thy grief’ and fears; thou shalt obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. This was a great prophecy for Isaiah to utter, for, in his day, there was no power on earth equal to that of Babylon. That great city abounded in palaces and extraordinary wealth, and its power was such that no kingdom could stand against it. For a while, it broke in pieces all those who fought against it; yet God broke Babylon in his own time; and here is a song of rejoicing in anticipation of its overthrow, “How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!”
Isaiah 14:5. LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.
No power can ever be permanently strong that is founded upon wickedness; sooner or later, it will have to come to an end. A falsehood may array itself in the garments of wisdom and strength, and go forth to fight hopefully for victory; but, in the end, it must die. The stone of truth will find out the giant’s brow, and lay him headlong in death.
Isaiah 14:6-7. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
The Babylon, that none could resist, becomes herself destroyed and there is no one to come up to her assistance. Go at this day, and see where the owl dwells, and mark the habitation of the dragons, and say to yourself, “This is Babylon, the great city that was the queen over all nations; but she did evil in the sight of the Lord, and spake extremely proudly; and, behold, Jehovah hath crumbled her in the dust; and, now that Babylon is gone, ‘the whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they breath forth into singing.’”
Isaiah 14:8. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
For the cruel kings of Babylon cut down the nations as the woodman with his axe fells the trees of the forest; but when the power of Babylon was broken, peace and quietness reigned everywhere, O brethren, what a blissful day it will be when the modern Babylon is taken away also, for to this hoar she is the troubler among the nations! Wherever the blight of Popery comes, there is evil, there is oppression, there is bondage; and only when Romanism shall be utterly swept sway, and cast like a millstone into the flood, will it be said, “The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.” Here is a very wonderful picture of the king of Babylon going down to the grave.
Isaiah 14:9-10. Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
It is a fine pictorial representation of the spirits of departed kings lifting themselves up from their beds of dust, and saying, “Art thou, king of Babylon, that slew us, also come here? The mighty conqueror, art thou thyself conquered, and brought to the grave?”
Isaiah 14:11-15, Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
God hates pride with a perfect hatred. He drives his sword through the very heart of it, and cuts it in pieces. None can be great and mighty, and boast of what they are able to do, without provoking the King of kings to put forth against them some of his great power. Oh, let none of as talk about climbing to heaven by our good works, or getting there by our merits, lest it should happen to us also that we should “be brought down to Hades, to the sides of the pit.”
Isaiah 14:16-18. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
That is, they lie in state, each one in the mausoleum of his family. They went down to death, and they were buried with all the honour and glory that were supposed to be due to their high position.
Isaiah 14:19. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
So total, so terrible, so disgraceful, was the destruction of Babylon, that no honour or glory remained to it.
Isaiah 14:20-22. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renounced. Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities. For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts,—
And he has done it. It seemed the most unlikely thing to happen; but the Lord spake, and it was done; and all the glory of Babylon was swept away. “I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts,” —
Isaiah 14:22-27. And cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts. The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall dis-annul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
And God did this to the Assyrians in the day when Sennaeherib invaded the land, and the angel of destruction slew the whole host in one night. What a striking simile the Lord uses here! “This is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall dis-annul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” Conceive in your mind the picture here drawn,— Jehovah himself puts out the hand of his almightiness, and challenges the nations to stand up in opposition to it.
Isaiah 14:28. In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.
About this time, the Philistines had plucked up courage, and had invaded Judah.
Isaiah 14:29. Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
Ahaz was defeated, but Hezekiah was raised up to be the leader of the LORD’s people.
Isaiah 14:30. And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
If God’s enemies have a bright day or two, it shall soon be showery weather with them. They may for the moment exult over God’s people, but he knows that their day of reckoning is coming.
Isaiah 14:31. Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whose Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
That is the way the Babylonians would come running down from the north. No one would be able to hide himself from them, not a single person would find a shelter, or escape from their terrible adversaries.
Isaiah 14:32. What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
Though the passage seems dark at first, yet it is full of consolation to the people of God, and is of similar import to that other gracious promise: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.”