Memorizing Isaiah 61:1

I am convinced that memorizing Scripture properly requires study for at least two reasons:

  1. That we might use Scripture rightly in memory, not merely as servants of ourselves, but as servants of the Lord and His Word.

  2. That which is studied is often better remembered.

Concerning Isaiah 61:1, the first step toward memorization is looking back at the chapter previous (Ch. 60). We read that God promises a time of possession of the land and extraordinary growth for the church saying,

“Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified. The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the LORD; in it’s [literally: her] time I will hasten it.” Isaiah 60:21–22

The note above on the gender of the word “it’s” in v. 21 being her comes from Calvin’s observation. Nonetheless, Isaiah 61:1 cannot be understood without first what goes before it, and also what comes after. The end of chapter 61 speaks of God’s glory filling the earth.

“For as the earth brings forth its spouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” (v.11)

Whatever we understand of Isaiah 61:1 must involve this time in the future of Isaiah that the Lord will multiply his church and do so that all the nations will see it!

Calvin writes,

“this chapter is added as a seal to the former, to confirm what had hitherto been said about restoring the Church of Christ; and that for this purpose Christ testifies that he has been anointed by God, in consequence of which he justly applies this prophecy to himself; for he has exhibited clearly and openly what others have laid down in an obscure manner…And thus we see that those things which Isaiah said would be accomplished by Christ, have now been accomplished.” (Commentaries, p.303)

Now with some help from Calvin,

The Spirit’s anointing upon Jesus serves to regard him as a public individual as our power and efficacy. He is sent to teach and preach the gospel. He is clearly authoritative and gifted, for no one can claim such without the Spirit of God truly (1 Cor 12:3). He, therefore, has all the necessary gifts in his anointing (for that is what anointing is for). And thus, he brings “good news” that is Gospel. The gospel affects the poor or afflicted so they may have the courage and support they need. The gospel also heals or binds up the broken heart. The gospel’s end is to set those who were captive to sin and Satan free from both, and let them out of prison who were bound by this devil. The ministry of Jesus Christ does this, and increasingly until the world is filled with righteousness and praise for God’s glory!