Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 49:1Listen - God turns his speech to the Gentiles, and invites them to hearken to those counsels and doctrines which the Jews would reject. Me - Unto Christ: Isaiah speaks these words in the name of Christ.
isa 49:2A sword - As he made me the great teacher of his church, so he made my word, quick and powerful, and sharper than any two - edged sword. Hath he hid - He will protect me from all mine enemies. Made me - Like an arrow, whose point is bright and polished; which therefore pierceth deeper.
isa 49:3O Israel - As the name of David is sometimes given to his successors, so here the name of Israel may not unfitly be given to Christ, not only because he descended from his loins; but also because he was the true and the great Israel, who, in a more eminent manner, prevailed with God, as that name signifies, of whom Jacob, who was first called Israel, was but a type.
isa 49:4Then said I - Lord, thou sayest thou wilt be glorified by my ministry; but I find it otherwise. In vain - Without any considerable fruit of my word and works among the Israelites. My judgment - My right, the reward which by his promise, and my purchase, is my right.
isa 49:5To bring - To convert the apostate Israelites to God. Not gathered - Not brought home to God by my ministry. Yet - God will not despise me for the unsuccessfulness of my labours, but will honour and glorify me. My strength - To support and strengthen me under this and all other discouragements.
isa 49:6He - The Lord. It is - This is but a small favour. The tribes - That remnant of them which shall survive all their calamities. My salvation - The great instrument and author of that eternal salvation which I will give to the Gentiles.
isa 49:7His Holy One - The Holy One of Israel. To him - To Christ, to whom, in the days of his flesh, this description fully agrees: for men, both Jews and Gentiles among whom he lived, did despise him from their hearts; and the nation, of which he was a member, abhorred both his person and his doctrine; and he was so far from being a temporal monarch, that he came in the form of a servant, and was a servant of rulers, professing subjection and paying tribute unto Caesar. Kings - Though for a time thou shalt be despised, yet after a while thou shalt be advanced to such glory, that kings shall look upon thee with reverence. Arise - From their seats to worship thee. Faithful - Because God shall make good his promises to thee. Chuse thee - And although thou shalt be rejected by thine own people, yet God will manifest to the world, that thou, and thou only, art the person whom he hath chosen to be the Redeemer of mankind.
isa 49:8The Lord - God the Father unto Christ. Heard thee - Though not so as to deliver thee from death; yet so as to crown thee with glory and honour. For a covenant - To be the Mediator and surety of that covenant, which is made between me and them. To establish - To establish truth and righteousness upon earth, and subdue those lusts and passions, which are the great disturbers of human society. Desolate heritages - That desolate places may be repaired and repossessed. That Christ may possess the Heathen, who were in a spiritual sense in a most desolate condition.
isa 49:9Prisoners - To the Gentiles who are fast bound by the cords of their sins, and taken captive by the devil at his will. Go forth - Come forth to the light, receive divine illumination. In high places - They shall have abundant provision in all places, yea even in those which commonly are unfruitful, such are both common roads and high grounds.
isa 49:11A way - I will remove all hindrances, and prepare the way for them, by levelling high grounds, and raising low grounds.
isa 49:12These - My people shall be gathered from the most remote parts of the earth. He speaks here, and in many other places, of the conversion of the Gentiles, with allusion to that work of gathering, and bringing back the Jews from all parts where they were dispersed, into their own land. Sinim - Either of the Sinites as they are called, Gen 10:17, who dwelt about the wilderness. Or of Sin, a famous city of Egypt, which may be put for all Egypt, and that for all southern parts.
isa 49:14But - This is an objection. How can these things be true, when the condition of God's church is now so desperate?
isa 49:16Graven - He alludes to the common practice of men who put signs upon their hands or fingers of such things as they would remember.
isa 49:18These - Gentiles. Thy church shall not only be restored, but vastly enlarged and adorned by the accession of the Gentiles.
isa 49:19Thy waste places - Thy own land, whereof divers parts lie waste for want of people to possess them. Land of destruction - Which before was desolate and destroyed.
isa 49:20The children - Those Gentiles which shall be begotten by thee, when thou shalt be deprived of thine own natural children, when the generality of the Jews cut themselves off from God.
isa 49:21Who - Whence have I this numberless issue? Seeing - Seeing I was in a manner left childless. Desolate - Without an husband, being forsaken by God, who formerly owned himself for my husband.
isa 49:22Behold - I will call them to me. Set my standard - As generals do to gather their forces together. Thy sons - Those who shall be thine by adoption, that shall own God for their father, and Jerusalem for their mother. Carried - With great care and tenderness, as nurses carry young infants. Carried - As sick or infirm persons used to be carried.
isa 49:23Lick the dust - They shall highly reverence and honour thee. These expressions are borrowed from the practice of the eastern people, who bowed so low as to touch the ground. Ashamed - Their expectations shall not be disappointed.
isa 49:24Shall the prey - Here is a double impediment to their deliverance, the power of the enemy who kept them in bondage, and the justice of God which pleads against their deliverance.
isa 49:25For I - I the almighty God will undertake this work.