Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 51:1Look - Consider the state of Abraham and Sarah, from whom all of you sprang.
isa 51:2Him alone - To follow me to an unknown land: him only of all his kindred. Increased - Into a vast multitude, when his condition was desperate in the eye of reason. And therefore God can as easily raise his church when they are in the most forlorn condition.
isa 51:3Therefore - For the sake of Abraham, and of that covenant which I made with him. Garden - Flourishing as the garden of Eden.
isa 51:4My people - Ye Jews, whom I chose to be my peculiar people. A law - A new law, even the doctrine of the gospel. Judgment - Judgment is here the same thing with law, the word of God, or the evangelical doctrine, of which he saith that he will make it to rest, that is settle and establish it. The people - People of all nations.
isa 51:5My righteousness - My salvation, the redemption of all my people, Jews and Gentiles, which is the effect of his righteousness, his justice, faithfulness, or mercy. Is gone - Shall shortly go forth. Judge - Shall subdue the Gentiles to my authority, and rule them by my word and spirit. Isles - The remote countries shall expect this salvation from me, and from me only.
isa 51:6The heavens - The heavens and earth shall pass away, in regard of their present state, and properties, and use, as smoak is said to vanish, tho' the substance of it be not destroyed.
isa 51:7Know - That love and practise it.
isa 51:8Like wool - Like a woollen garment, which is sooner corrupted by moths or such creatures, than linen.
isa 51:9Put on - Put forth thy strength. Rahab - Egypt, from its pride or strength. The dragon - Pharaoh so called, Psa 74:13.
isa 51:11Therefore - This verse contains an answer to the prophet's prayer. I did these great things, and I will do the like again. Joy - Like a crown of glory.
isa 51:13Where is the fury - Is it not all gone? He speaks of the thing as if it were already done, because it should certainly and suddenly be done.
isa 51:16I have - These words are spoken by God to his church and people, to whom he speaks both in the foregoing and following verses. For God's word is frequently said to be put into the mouths, not only of the prophets, but of the people also. Covered - Have protected thee by my almighty power, that I may bring thee to that perfect and blessed estate which is reserved for the days of the Messiah, which in scripture phrase is called a making of new heavens, and a new earth, Isa 65:17.
isa 51:17Awake - Heb. Rouse up thyself: come out of that forlorn condition in which thou hast so long been. Stand up - Upon thy feet, O thou who hast been thrown to the ground. Drunk - Who hast been sorely afflicted. The cup - Which strikes him that drinks it with deadly horror. And wrung - Drunk every drop of it.
isa 51:18None to guide - When thou wast drunk with this cup, and not able to go.
isa 51:19These things - Those which follow, which tho' expressed in four words, may fitly be reduced to two things, the desolation or devastation of the land, and the destruction of the people by famine and sword. So famine and sword are not named as new evils, but only as the particular ways of bringing the destruction. By whom - I cannot find any man who is able to comfort and relieve thee.
isa 51:20Fainted - They are so far from being able to comfort thee, that they themselves faint away. They lie - Dead by famine or the sword. As a bull - Those of them who are not slain are struggling for life.
isa 51:21Not with wine - But with the cup of God's fury.
isa 51:22That pleadeth - Who, tho' he has fought against thee, is now reconciled to thee, and will maintain thy cause against all thine adversaries.
isa 51:23Go over - That we may trample upon thee.