Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 52:1Awake - This is a prediction and promise what she should do, that she should awake or arise out of her low estate, and be strong and courageous. Beautiful garments - Thy sorrows shall be ended, and thou shalt be advanced into a glorious condition. O Zion - O my church. Come - Either to molest thee, or defile thee. The uncircumcised - Heathens or infidels. Unclean - Nor any others, who are unholy.
isa 52:2The dust - In which thou hast sat as a mourner. The bands - The yoke of thy captivity shall be taken off from thee.
isa 52:3Sold yourselves - By your sins, without any valuable consideration paid by them either to you, or to your Lord and owner. Without money - Without paying any ransom.
isa 52:4Egypt - Where they had protection and sustenance, and therefore owed subjection to the king of Egypt. And yet when he oppressed them, I punished him severely, and delivered them out of his hands. The Assyrian - The king of Babylon, who is called the king of Assyria, Kg2 23:29, as also the Persian emperor is called, Ezr 6:22, because it was one and the same empire which was possessed, first by the Assyrians, then by the Babylonians, and afterwards by the Persians. Without cause - Without any such ground or colour, by mere force invading their land, and carrying them away into captivity.
isa 52:5What have I - Why do I sit still here, and not go to Babylon to punish the Babylonians, and to deliver my people? For nought - Without any provocation, or pretence of right. Howl - By their unmerciful usage. Blasphemed - The Babylonians blasphemed me as if I wanted either power or good will to save my people out of their hands.
isa 52:6Shall know - They shall experience my power and goodness in fighting for them. In that day - When I shall redeem my people: which work was begun by the return of the Jews from Babylon, and perfected by the coming of the Messiah. Behold - That all these promises are the words of the omnipotent, unchangeable God.
isa 52:7The mountains - Of Judea, to which these glad tidings were brought, and from which they were spread abroad into other countries. Of him - Or, of them; the singular number being put for the plural. Returneth - In the days of the Messiah, God did discover and exercise his dominion over the world far more eminently than ever he had done from the beginning of the world until that time.
isa 52:8Thy watchmen - Thy ministers, who descry the approach of this heavenly king. Lift up thy voice - To give notice to all people of these glad tidings; and by way of exultation, to sing forth the praises of God for this glorious day. Eye - Distinctly and familiarly, their eyes beholding the eyes of this king of glory. They shall be eye and ear - witnesses of the words and works of Christ, and therefore their testimony shall be more certain and valuable. Bring again - When God shall complete the work of bringing his church out of captivity.
isa 52:11Depart - Out of Babylon. Touch - Carry not along with you any of their superstitions or idolatries. Ye - And especially your priests and Levites, who minister in holy things, and carry the holy vessels of the temple, keep yourselves from all pollution.
isa 52:12Not by flight - But securely, and in triumph, being conducted by your great captain the Lord of hosts. Rereward - So that none shall be able either to oppose you in your march, or to fall upon you in the rear.
isa 52:13Behold - This is the beginning of a new prophecy, which is continued from hence to the end of the next chapter. My servant - That it is Christ who is here spoken of, is so evident, that the Chaldee paraphrast, and other ancient, and some later Hebrew doctors, understand it directly of him, and that divers Jews have been convinced and converted to the Christian faith, by the evidence of this prophecy. Prosper - This is fitly put in the first place to prevent those scandals which otherwise might arise from the succeeding passages, which describe his state of humiliation. Very high - Here are three words signifying the same thing to express the height and glory of his exaltation.
isa 52:14Astonished - At his humiliation. Thee - At thee, O my servant. His form - Christ, in respect of his birth, breeding, and manner of life, was most obscure and contemptible. His countenance also was so marred with frequent watchings, and fastings, and troubles, that he was thought to be near fifty years old when he was but about thirty, Joh 8:57, and was farther spoiled with buffetings, and crowning with thorns, and other cruel and despiteful usages.
isa 52:15So - His exaltation shall be answerable to his humiliation. Sprinkle - With his word or doctrine; which being often compared to rain or water, may be said to be sprinkled, as it is said to be dropped, Deu 32:2; Eze 20:46. Kings - Shall be silent before him out of profound humility, reverence, and admiration of his wisdom. For - They shall hear from his mouth many excellent doctrines, which will be new and strange to them. And particularly that comfortable doctrine of the salvation of the Gentiles, which was not only new to them, but strange and incredible to the Jews themselves.