I have the joy of being part of a church where the Bible is systematically preached. Not merely referenced, but actually taught and preached. The pastor is in the midst of preaching through the book of Isaiah, one chapter each week. A benefit of this approach is that, knowing the text for the next week, one can read and ponder the text for the coming week and over time develop a better understanding of the book. The chapter for the address for the coming week as I write this is Isaiah 12. I was moved as I read through this chapter yesterday. I’ve read it aloud more than once since, as a prayer, as a song of worship.
Isaiah 12 (NKJV)
“And in that day you will say:
“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
2 Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”
3 Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
4 And in that day you will say:
“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth.
6 Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!”
I do not know Hebrew, but in English this poem easily divides into two sections, section one the first three verses, and section two verses four through six. They are parallel both in feel and in content, like two verses of a hymn. Earlier in Isaiah, there have been recurrent denunciations of the sins of the Jewish nation and prophecies of coming judgement and destruction, as well as promises of the future Messiah and preservation of a faithful remnant. Chapter eleven speaks of the future Deliverer and regathering of the Jewish nation, and chapter twelve is a hymn of praise to the future Deliverer and celebrates the future kingdom.
This is a writing of true worship. It worships God for Who He Is, for salvation from His just anger at sin, for what He has done and has promised to do for His people. The words are deeply meaningful, substantial, and true. It is not merely a song of faint praise for how He might make someone feel or how He might make someone feel good when He gives them a lot of good stuff or makes them successful.
The old commentator Matthew Henry wrote of this passage,
“This is a hymn of praise suited to the times of the Messiah. The song of praise in this chapter is suitable for the return of the outcasts of Israel from their long captivity, but it is especially suitable to the case of a sinner, when he first finds peace and joy in believing; to that of a believer, when his peace is renewed after corrections for backslidings; and to that of the whole company of the redeemed, when they meet before the throne of God in heaven. The promise is sure, and the blessings contained in it are very rich; and the benefits enjoyed through Jesus Christ, call for the most enlarged thanksgivings. By Jesus Christ, the Root of Jesse, the Divine anger against mankind was turned away, for he is our Peace.”
As a believer, I’m excited to, as verse five says, “Sing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things.” I’m excited to sing that song of Who He Is and what He has done for me in Christ, both now, and in “that day.”
I can’t wait to hear this chapter preached on Sunday!