The Fertility of Zion
In the Israelite culture, the barren woman was made heavy with shame and disgrace. Israel has been held captive by the Babylonians and the Lord likens them to a barren woman. Now the Lord tells them that they can sing a new song because the children of a desolated nation are more than that of an established nation.
The Israelites oppression by the Babylonians was a disgraceful shame and humiliation to the Israelite nation. The Apostles Paul also used this verse in his letter to the Galatians. “For it is written, “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more numerous are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband.” (Galatians 4:27) Paul may have been pointing that there would be more children of the New Covenant than there were children of the Old Covenant.
The Lord is telling His people that the increase of children would be so many that they would have to expand their living quarters. This would be of great comfort to the returning exiles as they felt small in number and weak. This is a promise from the Lord that would strengthen them.
God had compared their disgrace to the shame of bareness and now He compares their humiliation to that of a widow. The Lord God now promises to rescue them from their shame. “Shame . . . disgrace . . . humiliated represent three synonymous Hebrew verbs sharing the fundamental idea of disappointed hopes, the embarrassment of expecting – even publicly announcing – one thing and then reaping another.” (Motyer)
Israel is the wife of God and He is their Maker and He is their Husband. The people of Israel may have regarded themselves as forsaken as a widow but now God comforts them by telling them He is their Husband. What wonderful words for a hurting woman to hear. A woman who feels forsaken by her husband now has the comfort of knowing that God would be their Husband. This principle is true when all others have forsaken us God will supply our needs emotionally. It is God who will rescue us from the humiliation and shame of being forsaken.
To reinforce His comfort and strength God reminds them of what a wonderful Savior He is. God is their Maker, He is the Lord of host, and He is their Redeemer. He is the God of the universe and now He is the Husband of His people. What better husband can a nation or a woman have than the Lord God? God never provides second best but always the very best. This truth is what every single woman should remember and no married woman should forget. No earthly husband can fulfill every need that a Heavenly Husband can.
This verse may be misleading to some. God never forsakes His people but for a moment He allowed them to feel they were forsaken. In the present tense for a moment God forsook them and in the future tense, He will show them great mercies. Israel who felt forsaken now have cause to place their hope and trust in the Lord God. We see the contrast of the pain of a moment and the everlasting kindness of God’s mercy. If we should feel forsaken we should realize that it is just for the moment that will come to an everlasting blessing from God.
As in the days of Noah God promised that the flood waters would never cover the whole of the earth His anger will also recede from Israel. Flood waters will recede but the mountains do not. Even if the mountains did recede, even if the mountains did depart, even if the hills were to be removed, the kindness of the Lord will never depart from His people.
So many when they become afflicted and tossed without comfort tend to wonder if God really cares. They wonder why God would allow this to happen to them. People must remember that we live in a sin fractured world and affliction is a norm. They must remember that God does care and offers His comfort in the promises that He has given. This is the comfort from God to rest in His promises of strength to endure the trials of life.
Upon the hurting and afflicted, the ones tossed and not comforted, they that feel poor no matter their wealth, God promises to make them truly rich by the riches of His glory. When we are afflicted we feel bad not only for ourselves but also for our children. God will not only calm our fears but also the fears of the children. Our comfort comes not from ourselves but from God where we find our comfort and protection when we seek security in Him.
When the weapons of our enemies are used against us we may feel the pain of the first blow but God will not allow the weapon to prosper against us. He is able to transform the sword into a tool to build His Kingdom.
The tongue of a man is a powerful weapon and can destroy the life of one. “Satan leaves no stone unturned against the Church of God. He uses not simply the hand; but, what is oftener a sharper weapon, the tongue. We can bear a blow, sometimes, but we cannot endure an insult. There is a great power in the tongue. We can rise from a blow which smote us to the ground; but we cannot so easily recover from slander, that lays the character low.” (Spurgeon) Yet, we can trust in the LORD’s triumph. “The more accusers, the more acquittals; the more slander, the more honor; so the enemy may slander us as much as he pleases.” (Spurgeon)
These are not promises for anyone who just attends His Church. They are promises given to the servants of the Lord, those who find their righteousness from the Lord. Those who find their righteousness from the Lord, they are the ones who the Lord will protect His righteous ones.