19. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
19. Et egredietur ab ipsis laus et vox laetitiarum; et augebo eos, et non minuentur; et decorabo eos, nec attenuabuntur.
The Prophet confirms what he had said. We have stated that the Jews, while any hope remained for them, were perverse towards God, but that, after they were brought to extremities, they became extremely dejected; for they lost all hope as to their state, and became so desponding that they would receive no consolation. It was not therefore enough, slightly, or in a few words, to promise them restoration; it was necessary that the promise should be repeatedly confirmed. This then is now the subject of the Prophet; he promises that praise and the voice of joy would proceed from them.
We ought to notice here the contrast between sighings, groanings, complaints, lamentations, and giving of thanks; for as long as they were detained in exile, no praise could have been heard among them. Sorrow is, indeed, no hinderance to prevent us to bless God in extreme misery; but we cannot with a full mouth, so to speak, bless God, except when some cause of joy is presented to us. Hence is that saying of James,
|Is any joyful among you? let him sing.| (James 5:13)
As then the Prophet speaks of thanksgiving, he intimates that God's favor would be so great as to remove every sorrow and sadness from the Jews. But he indirectly exhorts the faithful to celebrate God's kindness. Had he only said, |Go forth from them shall the voice of joy,| it would, indeed, have been a complete sentence; but it was also necessary to remind the faithful for what end God would deal so kindly with his people, even that they might proclaim his goodness; for this is the design for which we receive every good from God's hand. Thanksgiving is then usually connected with joy, when mention is made of the Church.
But we have said that the faithful cannot with so much alacrity praise God, when they are pressed down by distresses, as when God makes their hearts to rejoice; for grief holds bound all the feelings of men; but joy, proceeding from a perception of God's paternal favor, dilates as it were their souls; and hence also their tongues are set loose. For this reason it is said in Psalm 51:15,
|O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.|
David there intimates that he had been for a time silent; when God hid from him his face, he could not taste of his paternal goodness. During that time David had his heart as it were bound and his mouth closed; but he prays the Lord to open his mouth, that is, to grant him joy that he might give him thanks.
We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet: he intimates, that though the Jews would be in sorrow for a time, would groan and mourn, yet this condition would not be perpetual; for God would at length comfort them, so that they would not only rejoice, but also proclaim his mercy when liberated.
He adds, I will increase them, and they shall not be lessened; I will adorn them, etc. Some render this also, |I will increase them:| but the words are different; and kvdcebed, means sometimes to increase, and sometimes to adorn, to glorify, to honor. The words which follow are also different, mt moth, and tsr tsor. And though the Prophet meant to repeat nearly the same thing, yet there is no doubt but that he intended to set forth the favor of God by this variety, as though he had said, that so remarkable would be the mercy of God, that the Jews would acknowledge, that what had been promised to their father Abraham had been fillfilled to them,
|Thy seed shall be as the sand of the sea, and as the stars of heaven.| (Genesis 22:17)
The perpetuity also, or the continuity of his favor is denoted, when he says, they shall not be lessened, they shall not be made small. It is possible for a people to increase for a short time; but such a thing is often of no long duration, for the form of this world passeth away. God then promises stability and perpetuity to his Church, for he would manifest his favor to it from day to day, and from year to year. This is the meaning. It follows --