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Isaiah 26:1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city. God appoints salvation for walls and defences- The day in view is the time after the projected judgments on the entire eretz in Is. 24 which have left most dead, but the repentant remnants of the Gentiles and Jews will have come to Zion for salvation. The restored Kingdom of God is likewise described in Revelation in terms of a city, the new Zion with walls and defences which are not so much literal as spiritual. The Jews are condemned in the prophets for trusting in the physical defences of Jerusalem; Yahweh's salvation will then be perceived as their defence and strength. The physical "walls and defences" will have been destroyed, as they were by the Babylonians (s.w. Lam. 2:8)- so that they might now trust in Yahweh's salvation. This could have happened at the restoration; but the walls were rebuilt in human strength and without this faith in Yahweh. The final fulfilment therefore will be in latter day faith in Jesus, 'Yah's salvation'.

Isaiah 26:2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter: the one which keeps faith-
The idea is that although the physical walls and defences are destroyed (see on :1), the gates of salvation of the city will open to the returning exiles, who are described as "righteous... [keeping] faith"; see on :7. The exiles would only be described like that because their faith had led to righteousness being imputed to them (Is. 60:21) through the work of the suffering servant (Is. 53:11), "the righteous branch" (Jer. 23:5). The gates are opened by the same Messianic figure who opens and nobody shuts (see on Is. 22:22 for a possible primary application in Eliakim). "Keeps faith" is literally "keeps truth" and may be a reference to how they have held on to their faith in the covenant based upon the promises to Abraham, which imply this imputed righteousness. 

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in You-
The LXX understands this to be a description of the "righteous nation" of :2. They are saved from their traumas by the state of their mind. And Yahweh will respond to this through the work of His Spirit on the human spirit, to keep their mind in perfect peace. This is the peace which comes from knowing sin is forgiven. "Mind" here is literally 'imagination'. We must ask what are our fantasies, our hopes, according to which we live, think and feel day by day. If they are above all for the Kingdom, then we will be 'kept' in this. "Steadfast" is literally to lean, and in Isaiah's immediate context this was in contrast to leaning upon Egypt for salvation (s.w. Is. 36:6). The great salvation of the restored Kingdom could have come apart at that time, but it was precluded by a lack of real faith and focus on the Kingdom in the majority of Israel.

Isaiah 26:4 Trust in Yahweh forever; for in Yah, Yahweh, is an everlasting Rock-
The "eternal / forever age" of the Kingdom of peace could have come at that time, with the Messianic son of Isaiah as the father of that eternal age (see on Is. 9:6). But it didn't. An eternal Messianic kingdom could then have been established; here, Judah were urged to repent and believe  / trust in order to allow it to happen. And the same potential was there for the exiles who returned from Babylon (Is. 45:17; 65:18). And the "father" of that could have been a Messianic figure who arose in Jerusalem. But they preferred to look to Egypt as their rock (see on :3). But these potentials have been reapplied and rescheduled to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus to be established in Zion in the last days.

Isaiah 26:5 For He has brought down those who dwell on high, the lofty city. He lays it low, He lays it low even to the ground, He brings it even to the dust-
This refers to the city dominating Jerusalem; it had short term reference to Nineveh (Assyria) and Babylon. The Jews in Zion surrounded by the Assyrians were to imagine Nineveh as already ruined, and downtrodden by themselves (:6). This was the significance of Nahum's prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh, and Isaiah's earlier prophecies of the fall of Babylon. The language here and in :6 repeats the grand prophetic theme with which Isaiah began his prophecies- that the purpose of judgment is to bring down human pride and to exalt the humble.

Isaiah 26:6 The foot shall tread it down; even the feet of the poor, and the footsteps of the needy-
See on :5. As Zion had been trodden down by Babylon and others (s.w. Is. 16:4; Dan. 8:10), so the righteous remnant would tread down Babylon and the nations (s.w. Mic. 5:8). It was the poor and needy who were trodden down by the Jewish leadership; and they finally were to be exalted.      

Isaiah 26:7 The way of the just is uprightness; You who are upright make the path of the righteous level-
LXX "The way of the godly is made straight: the way of the godly is also prepared". This is the language of Is. 40. The way was open for the exiles to return as righteous, justified by faith, to a restored Zion; and if they made that journey, Zion's gates were open to them (see on :2). That way was potentially prepared at the restoration, but the exiles chose to remain in Babylon and Assyria, and those who did return did so without accepting the call to repentance which is part of the making straight of the path to Zion. But it was all potentially prepared. It is for us now to walk in that path likewise to Zion. In the future it seems there may be literal highways prepared leading to Zion for the repentant remnants of the nations (see on Is. 11:16;  19:23; 35:8; 62:10; Jer. 31:21).

Isaiah 26:8 Yes, in the way of Your judgement, Yahweh, have we waited for You. Your name and Your renown are the desire of our soul-
The faithful live now according to the principles which will be openly articulated at judgment day; hence LXX "For the way of the Lord is judgment". In the final glory of salvation revealed upon Zion, they exult that they "have waited for Him" (see on Is. 25:9), and this was exactly the position of Isaiah's family and school of prophets (s.w. Is. 8:17). That righteous remnant would finally have their faith and expectation rewarded.  

Isaiah 26:9 With my soul have I desired You in the night. Yes, with my spirit within me will I seek You earnestly; for when Your judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness-
Isaiah personally is speaking here. As noted on :8, Isaiah and his family were the parade examples of waiting for the Lord. Continually we see the importance of spiritual mindedness, where the imagination of our innermost heart is set;  see on :3.

The Kingdom, 99.99% of our future, will be purely spiritual, and therefore the Hope of the Kingdom must be the center of our present existence. Isaiah realized this when he said that the total devotion of the righteous now is because ultimately, devotion to God's ways will be what eternity is all about. We must come to appreciate this; that in real terms, the Lord can't be only part of our lives. And as we do, He will become, quite artlessly and naturally, the master passion of our souls.

God's judgments lead to the nations learning righteousness, or 'being taught righteousness'. The practical outcome of that judgment will be that therefore they will beat their swords into plough shares; and devote themselves to learning of God (Is. 2:2-4) rather than of war. His judgments are always ultimately creative in spiritual terms. But the LXX  sees this as an appeal to the nations: "for thy commandments are a light on the earth: learn righteousness, ye that dwell upon the earth".

Isaiah 26:10 Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal wrongfully, and will not perceive Yahweh’s majesty-
LXX offers: "For the ungodly one is put down: no one who will not learn righteousness on the earth, shall be able to do the truth: let the ungodly be taken away, that he see not the glory of the Lord".

To know God is to love Him, and to want to be like Him; there is something compulsive and magnetic about who He is. The knowledge of God elicits quite naturally a merciful spirit (Hos. 6:6). To “learn righteousness” is the result of beholding [after the pattern of Moses] the majesty of the Name (Is. 26:10). And so Is. 46:5-9 appeals for Israel to repent simply because God really is God; they were to “remember this” that they already knew, and “bring it again to mind” that God is really the great eternal, and His Name is as it is. And they that know His Name will put their trust in Him, day by day, as we cough and hack our way through these few years towards His eternal Kingdom.

To commit violence to others' persons is to live a lie (Hos. 12:1). Truth is not therefore merely a set of doctrines; it refers to an obedient life. The LXX uses the phrase 'to do truth', which John uses, in passages like 2 Chron. 31:20 (about Hezekiah's obedience to commandments), or in Gen. 47:29; Is. 26:10 to describe simply doing and living what is right. The fact truth must be done indicates it is not merely correct academic interpretation of doctrine.

"Yahweh's majesty" uses the same word as in Is. 12:5, where the repentant people of Israel, Judah and their attackers would behold these things and see Yahweh in their midst (Is. 12:6). The prophetic vision was of Yahweh Himself dwelling in Zion, so that the city would be called "the Lord is there" (Ez. 48:35). But the exiles failed to rebuild Zion and operate the services there as commanded in Ez. 40-48, and so this literal dwelling of God amongst His redeemed people is alluded to in Rev. 21,22 as being only fulfilled at the return of the Lord Jesus to earth. This would all be the result of grace being shown; but the wicked turn down even such an amazing offer. This is the power of entrenched sinful thinking.

Isaiah 26:11 Yahweh, Your hand is lifted up, yet they don’t see; but they will see Your zeal for the people, and be disappointed; yes, fire will consume Your adversaries-
The idea is that they don't see / know it when they could, so they will see / know it too late, in the day of condemnation. Yahweh's lifted up hand could refer to His offer of a new covenant, by grace (:10; Dt. 32:40) which was also offered to the Gentiles at the restoration (Is. 49:22), and His offer of the Kingdom (Ez. 20:6,28; Neh. 9:15 s.w.).  This uplifted hand of Yahweh in offering covenant relationship was seen but not seen; only too late will it be perceived. The Lord Jesus died with uplifted hands, beckoning all men to accept the new covenant offered; but it is seen but not seen.

Isaiah 26:12 Yahweh, You will ordain peace for us, for You have also worked all our works for us-
This is a  significant statement of humility. For trust in human works is the epitome of pride. Idols are so often called the work of men's' hands, and this is the abiding idolatry of our age. Only a complete trust in Yahweh's peace which comes by grace will empower us to never trust our own works. And we will realize that any works we do are His working through us. But "the works" in view here are of salvation and the gift of eternal peace.

Isaiah 26:13 Yahweh our God, other lords besides You have had dominion over us, but by You only will we make mention of Your name-
This could be read as a statement and admission of their historical submission to other gods. Or it could mean that despite the remnant's domination by others, the remnant had refused to accept their gods but had retained Yahweh as "our God" and unlike the majority of God's people, they had only made mention of Yahweh's Name.

Isaiah 26:14 Their dead shall not live, their deceased shall not rise. Therefore have You visited and destroyed them, and caused all memory of them to perish-
"Deceased" is the word used in Is. 14:9 of the dead people of the nations within the eretz. The context is their praising the God who has resurrected the faithful dead (Is. 25:7,8). At that glorious day it will be so apparent that Yahweh alone is the God of life and resurrection. "Memory" is the word just used in :8 of how God's Name has been the memory or "renown" of the faithful. And likewise they abide in His memory. The perishing of their memory may refer to the memory of God, as well as their being left without any human memorial on the earth.

Isaiah 26:15 You have increased the nation, O Yahweh, You have increased the nation! You are glorified! You have enlarged all the borders of the land-
As explained on Is. 24:1, this section of Isaiah envisages supernatural Divine judgments upon the entire eretz promised to Abraham; and then the repentant remnants of the Gentile nations there would join with those of God's people in a reestablished Kingdom of God based in Zion. God's nation would no longer live just in the coastal strip of that eretz; rather the nation would be enlarged to its original borders, so that Yahweh's multiethnic people were to live in the entire eretz.

Earlier, God had redefined the boundaries of the land in accordance to what Israel had the strength to subdue; He made account for their weakness. Thus Ephraim were given some cities within the inheritance of Manasseh (Josh. 16:9), presumably because Manasseh wouldn’t drive out the tribes living there. And the Lord seems to have alluded to this by saying that we will be given cities, the number of which depends upon our zeal to possess them. God had clearly promised: “Your God, he shall expel them from before you… and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God hath promised unto you” (Josh. 23:5). But this promise was conditional upon them making the effort, even though that condition is not specifically mentioned. Ultimately, God will “enlarge all the borders of the land” because Israel will finally rise up to the spiritual ambition He desires of them.  

Isaiah 26:16 Yahweh, in trouble they have come to You; they poured out a prayer when Your chastening was on them-
The terrible judgments upon the eretz of Is. 24 are this "trouble" which brought a remnant of the Gentiles, as well as of God's people, to pray to Him and come to Him; "trouble" is the same word used in Is. 25:4 of how the remnants find refuge from "trouble" in Zion alone. The time of Jacob's trouble which will lead them back to Him is going to be experienced by all the nations around them. This could have come true at the time of the Assyrians, but only a minority poured out their prayers; and these resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem being averted, but the Kingdom was still not then reestablished because the remnant was so tiny. Nehemiah grasped the spirit of all this when he pours out a prayer to God in response to all the "trouble" of the Babylonian invasion (Neh. 9:27,32). But again, the majority of Judah didn't have that spirit. And so these things are reapplied to the holocaust to come upon the eretz in the last days.

The LXX applies this to Isaiah personally; see on :8,9 : "Lord, in affliction I remembered thee; thy chastening was to us with small affliction". The last phrase was perhaps perceived by Ezra when he acknowledged that the sufferings in Babylon had been less than their iniquities deserved.

Isaiah 26:17 Like as a woman with child who draws near the time of her delivery and is in pain and cries out in her pangs; so we have been before You, Yahweh-
Again we see the creative power and intention in all the judgments. They were to bring forth new life. This was "before You", in the sense that all the travail was under His control and direction, and the fruit brought forth was "to Him". The "we" may refer to Isaiah and his family; see on :18. 

Isaiah 26:18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, we gave birth, it seems, only to wind. We have not worked any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen-
In Isaiah's immediate context, the application would have been to the sense that the remnant had come to the birth but there was not strength to bring forth (Is. 37:3); apart from a few individuals, there was no bringing forth of a significant repentant remnant who would be the basis for the restored Kingdom. It felt like they were still under the curse of bringing forth in pain but in vain. Isaiah and his personal family may also be in view here (see on :8,9,16). They perhaps felt that the child of sign born had not in fact been the signal that Judah's sufferings were over, and didn't come to be the expected Messianic seed (see on Is. 8:1,18; 9:6). Isaiah has used the same words of his own personal travail in pain in his ministry (Is. 21:3). Judah generally were to conceive in vain due to their impenitence (Is. 33:11; 59:4); and so did Hezekiah, in that he and his children turned away from true faith (Is. 39:7). The pain in vain at the time of the Assyrian invasion led to Micah offering a reworked version of all this; they were to be in pain at the hands of the Babylonians, but would bring forth in Babylon in that they would there repent, and the spiritually reborn remnant would emerge and their captors therefore judged (Mic. 4:10). But that possibility also didn't work out.  And so this idea of bringing forth but not in vain, but rather finding meaning in the resurrection of Messiah and all in Him, came to be reapplied to the birth of the Lord Jesus from the grave in resurrection; and it would characterize the establishment of the Kingdom age in Zion (Is. 65:24).

The LXX however changes the sense entirely, as if the righteous remnant have brought forth in pain but not in vain, in that their tribulation has achieved spiritual rebirth: " We have conceived, O Lord, because of thy fear, and have been in pain, and have brought forth the breath of thy salvation, which we have wrought upon the earth: we shall not fall, but all that dwell upon the land shall fall".  

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; my dead body also shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth will cast forth her dead-
"My dead body" suggests Isaiah and his personal family may also be in view here (see on :8,9,16,19). He sees himself as representative of the remnant which will eventually be resurrected; his resurrection is paralleled with theirs. "Cast forth" is the language of child birth; all the pain of travail at the hands of the invaders (:17,18) would come to term in resurrection from the dead of those who perished in the eretz under their domination. There are similar teachings in Revelation. The idea is that dew would descend upon their graves and cause new life to come forth from the grave; and this is the picture of the Messianic Kingdom in 2 Sam. 23:4; Ps. 110:3. But it would come about because of their faith and endurance. However LXX has "but the land of the ungodly shall perish".

Isaiah 26:20 Come, My people, enter into your rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for a little moment, until the indignation is past-
The majority of the population of Judah and Jerusalem were intended to perish (Is. 10:20). But God urges the faithful remnant in Zion (Is. 10:24) to be assured of their own safety; the destruction of the majority was to happen suddenly, in only "a very little while". This is the situation of Is. 26:20, when the faithful minority would somehow be miraculously preserved in Zion, whilst the majority of the Jewish population were destroyed. This didn't happen as planned, and the Assyrians never took Jerusalem. Likewise the "little moment" is reinterpreted in Is. 54:7,8 as referring to the time of Judah's exile in Babylon. The "rooms" could have been opened had Judah repented and Messiah Himself would have emerged from them (s.w. Joel 2:16). But that scenario likewise didn't work out, in that the people didn't repent and many never returned, they remained in their "rooms".

But the essence of it will be fulfilled in the last days. And this passage therefore has been given a spiritual application by the Lord in Mt. 6:6. He taught the intensity of the life He required by taking Old Testament passages which refer to the crisis of the last days, and applying them to the daily life of His people. And so He took Is. 26:20, which speaks of how in the final tribulation, God’s people will shut the doors around them and pray. The Lord applies this to the daily, regular prayer of His people- we are to pray in secret, in our room, with doors closed (Mt. 6:6)- clearly an allusion to the Isaiah passage.

Isaiah 26:21 For behold, Yahweh comes forth out of His place-
This is the coming forth of the bride in response to Judah's repentance (Joel 2:16). This didn't happen, and so it comes to be reapplied to the emergence of the Lord Jesus in the last days. "His place" may refer to Zion rather than Heaven, in that He returns to Zion. However the similar language in Mic. 1:3 seems to have Heaven in view. The Lord's visible return from Heaven to earth would fulfill this.

To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth also will disclose her blood, and will no longer cover her slain- The blood of the faithful who would now be resurrected (:19) was not only shed by the Gentiles; but also by Manasseh and other Jewish leaders (Is. 1:27). The earth would disclose that blood in the sense that vengeance will now be taken for it (as in Gen. 4:10). This didn't happen at the time, but is the time when the blood under the altar calls for judgment in the last days at the Lord's return (Rev. 6:9,10). If they are to be punished at this final judgment, then they will be resurrected to this judgment. The final destruction of all those left alive in the eretz along with this large class of people will take place whilst the faithful resurrected ones are somehow screened from it (:20); for they like God will have no pleasure in seeing the death of the wicked.