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Matthew Henry's Commentary

Isaiah Chapter 21

he taking of Babylon. (1-10) Of the Edomites. (11,12) Of the Arabs. (13-17)

Verses 1-10: Babylon was a flat country, abundantly watered. The destruction of Babylon, so often prophesied of by Isaiah, was typical of the destruction of the great foe of the New Testament church, foretold in the Revelation. To the poor oppressed captives it would be welcome news; to the proud oppressors it would be grievous. Let this check vain mirth and sensual pleasures, that we know not in what heaviness the mirth may end. Here is the alarm given to Babylon, when forced by Cyrus. An ass and a camel seem to be the symbols of the Medes and Persians. Babylon's idols shall be so far from protecting her, that they shall be broken down. True believers are the corn of God's floor; hypocrites are but as chaff and straw, with which the wheat is now mixed, but from which it shall be separated. The corn of God's floor must expect to be threshed by afflictions and persecutions. God's Israel of old was afflicted. Even then God owns it is his still. In all events concerning the church, past, present, and to come, we must look to God, who has power to do any thing for his church, and grace to do every thing that is for her good.

Verse 11,12: God's prophets and ministers are as watchmen in the city in a time of peace, to see that all is safe. As watchmen in the camp in time of war, to warn of the motions of the enemy. After a long sleep in sin and security, it is time to rise, to awake out of sleep. We have a great deal of work to do, a long journey to go; it is time to be stirring. After a long dark night is there any hope of the day dawning? What tidings of the night? What happens to-night? We must never be secure. But many make curious inquiries of the watchmen. They would willingly have nice questions solved, or difficult prophecies interpreted; but they do not seek into the state of their own souls, about the way of salvation, and the path of duty. The watchman answers by way of prophecy. There comes first a morning of light, and peace, and opportunity; but afterward comes a night of trouble and calamity. If there be a morning of youth and health, there will come a night of sickness and old age; if a morning of prosperity in the family, in the public, yet we must look for changes. It is our wisdom to improve the present morning, in preparation for the night that is coming after it. Inquire, return, come. We are urged to do it quickly, for there is no time to trifle. Those that return and come to God, will find they have a great deal of work to do, and but little time to do it in.

Verses 13-17: The Arabians lived in tents, and kept cattle. A destroying army shall be brought upon them, and make them an easy prey. We know not what straits we may be brought into before we die. Those may know the want of necessary food who now eat bread to the full. Neither the skill of archers, nor the courage of mighty men, can protect from the judgments of God. That is poor glory, which will thus quickly come to nothing. Thus hath the Lord said to me; and no word of his shall fall to the ground. We may be sure the Strength of Israel will not lie. Happy are those only whose riches and glory are out of the reach of invaders; all other prosperity will speedily pass away.


David Burnette's Life Application

A Watchman

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the Book of Isaiah with Chapter 21. In our text today we see more prophesy fulfilled at the fall of Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. In this prophesy we are introduced to the watchman that are first to see trouble coming to warn others just as Habakkuk who proclaimed the truth of the Word of God. In making application we see how the Word of God, the Bible, is a modern day watchman as it proclaims that judgment is coming but how much Jesus loves us giving us the free pardon of sin that He provided at the Cross of Calvary. How about you? Do you see the Bible as a Watchman? Let us learn from our text today and this book of Isaiah to see the prophecy contained within its pages for both Babylon and our modern day situation here in the world which we live.

 

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Isaiah 21

Isaiah 21

 1The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.

 2A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

 3Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

 4My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.

 5Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

 6For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

 7And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

 8And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

 9And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

 10O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

 11The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

 12The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

 13The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

 14The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.

 15For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.

 16For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:

 17And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.