This chapter in its opening verses is an exposure of the sins that separate us from God (verses 1-8). In verses 9-15a the people describes their sorrowful state, and make confession. But they feel that if action on God’s part is to be forever restrained by their sinfulness, the position seems hopeless indeed (see Note 2 on ‘justice’ below). Then in the closing verses of the chapter comes the triumphant divine answer (verses 15b-21). God is not baffled, and when there is no human help he himself comes to the rescue, in judgment upon evil-doers on the one hand, and in redemption for the penitent on the other.
- Verses 1-15. What various sins are mentioned here, and what are the consequences in the personal, social and the spiritual life of the people? With verses 1, 2 cf. 1:15-17; Mic. 3:4.
- What is the motive of God’s intervention as described in verses 15b-21? What is its twofold purpose, and what its worldwide issue? When does St Paul look for this to be fulfilled to Israel (Rom. 11:25-27)? Yet, for us who believe on Jesus Christ, is it not in part fulfilled to us now, and not least verse 21? Cf. John 14: 16, 26.
- Verses 5, 6. The plan and plots of evil-doers working fresh evil, and giving no useful result.
- Verse 9. The word ‘justice’ is used in these verses in two senses: (a) as right done by men (verse 8, 15b), and (b) as divine judgment, exercised on behalf of Israel against her oppressors (verse 9, 11, 14) the people’s lament was that the later was withheld because the former was lacking.
An inspired vision of Zion, when God shall have fulfilled towards her all his purposes, and clothed her with his glory.
- Try to build up the picture of the glorified Zion as given in this vision. Gather out the references to God and observe carefully the place he occupies in Zion. Has he this central place in your life and in your Christian fellowship?
- Consider how many of the features of beauty and glory in the Zion of this chapter are to be found, in their spiritual counterpart, in a life dwelling in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. See especially verses 2, 5, 7 (last clause), 13 (last clause), 16b, and 17-21; and cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6; 6:16; Eph. 3:14-21.
- Verses 8, 9. The ships coming from the west, with their white sails, looking like a flock of doves.
- Verse 13. ‘The place of my sanctuary’: i.e. the temple called also ‘the place of my feet’.
- Verse 21. ‘For the display of my splendor’: compare ‘he has endowed you with splendor’ (verse 9) and ‘I will adorn my glorious temple’ (verse 7; so also verse 13). Where God is glorified all else is glorified in Him. Cf. 2 Thess. 1:12.
- How would you summarize the teaching of chapters 61 and 62 regarding the Lord’s purpose of good for Zion? What do we learn, for example, about: (a) the relation to God into which God’s people will be brought (61:6, 8, 9; 62:4, 12) and (b) the response of God’s people to his promised salvation (61:10)? Is your experience of this kind?
- In chapter 61 the coming salvation is proclaimed in 62 it is prayed for (verses 1, 6, 7). If the gospel is to prevail on earth, are not both the proclamation of it and prayer concerning it still necessary? Cf. Rom. 10:14, 15; 2 Thess. 3:1. What characteristic of prevailing prayer is emphasized here?
- In Luke 4:17-21 our Lord says that the opening words of chapter 61 were spiritually fulfilled in his own ministry. Why did he cut his reading in the synagogue short in the middle of 61:2? Meditate on the scope of our Lord’s ministry as revealed in these verses.
- 61:2. ‘A new name’: the symbol both of a new character, and of a new relation of a God. Cf. Rev. 2:17; 3:12.
- 63:4. The day of redemption is also a day of judgment. Cf. 61:2; John 3:17-19.