Ver. 7.—He was oppressed. As Israel under the Egyptian taskmasters (Exod. 3:7). The cruel ill usage in the high priest’s house, and before Herod is, perhaps, specially pointed at. He was afflicted; rather, he abased himself (comp. ch. 31:4 and Exod. 10:3). The position of the emphatic pronoun (hu’) between the first participle and the second detaches the second clause from the first and conjoins it with the third. Otherwise the rendering of the Authorized Version might stand. Translate, He was oppressed, but he abased himself and opened not his mouth. The silence of Jesus before his judges (Matt. 26:22, 23; 27:14), when he could so easily have vindicated himself from every charge, was a self-abasement. It seemed like an admission of guilt. He opened not his mouth (comp. Ps. 38:13, 14; 39:2, 9). The contrast of the Servant’s silence and passivity with men’s ordinary vehemence of self-assertion under ill usage is most striking. Who was ever silent but he under such extremity of provocation? (For a contrast, see the account of the Jewish martyrdoms in 2 Macc. 7) He is brought as a lamb; rather, as the lamb. The Paschal lamb is, perhaps, intended, or, at any rate, the lamb of sacrifice. The prophet has often seen the dumb, innocent lamb led in silence to the altar, to be slain there, and thinks of that touching sight. It was probably the use of this imagery here which caused the Baptist to term our Lord “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As a sheep before her shearers. A second image, a reflex of the first, somewhat weaker, as so often in Isaiah (ch. 1:22, 30; 5:18, 24; 8:14; 10:24, 27, 34; 11:8; 13:14; 24:13; 25:7, etc.).
7. He was punished. Here the Prophet applauds the obedience of Christ in suffering death; for if his death had not been voluntary, he would not have been regarded as having satisfied for our disobedience. “As by one man’s disobedience,” says Paul, “all became sinners, so by one man’s obedience many were made righteous. (Rom. 5:19.) And elsewhere, “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philip. 2:8.) This was the reason of his silence at the judgment-seat of Pilate, though he had a just defence to offer; for, having become answerable for our guilt, he wished to submit silently to the sentence, that we might loudly glory in the righteousness of faith obtained through free grace.
As a lamb shall he be led to the slaughter. We are here exhorted to patience and meekness, that, following the example of Christ, we may be ready to endure reproaches and cruel assaults, distress and torture. In this sense Peter quotes this passage, shewing that we ought to become like Christ our Head, that we may imitate his patience and submissiveness. (1 Pet. 2:23.) In the word lamb there is probably an allusion to the sacrifices under the Law; and in this sense he is elsewhere called “the Lamb of God.” (John 1:29, 36.)
7. Oppressed: e.g. Exodus 3:7. Afflicted is the verb used in verse 4d, but what was imposed there is voluntarily accepted here. The verbal form here (reflexive niphal), with an emphatic pronoun, means ‘but he for his part submitted himself’. Did not open … silent … did not open: animals go as uncomprehending to slaughter as to shearing, but the Servant who knew all things beforehand (John 18:4) went to his death with a calm silence that reflected not an uncomprehending but a submitted mind and tongue. Lamb … sheep: the former was used in the sacrifices (Gen. 22:7–8, etc.), though not the latter, but this is of no significance. Verses 4–6 have already established that we are to think of the Servant’s death in terms laid down in the levitical sacrifices. The point here is the contrast between the silence of ignorance and the silence of deliberate self-submission. Yet a great principle of the sacrificial system is involved. Verses 4–6 first established our sinfulness (4–5), and then revealed it as our common folly (6a) and our individual culpable choice (6b). This is to say, sin involves the will. But this is precisely the point at which animals can only picture the substitute we require and cannot actually be that substitute: they have no consciousness of what is afoot nor of any deliberate, personal, self-submissive consent to it. Ultimately only a Person can substitute for people. This is the importance of the stress in verse 7 on the Servant’s voluntariness expressed in the acceptance of humiliation and the deliberately maintained silence.
7, 8. He was oppressed.—Christ’s sufferings and His deportment under them:—
The nature of the sufferings. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted.”
II. The carriage of Christ under them. “He opened not His mouth,” which is amplified and illustrated by two similitudes, of a lamb going to the slaughter, and a sheep before her shearers.
1. “He opened not His mouth.” This shows two things.
(1) The great patience of Christ.
(2) His great love to man, shown in His wonderful silence, even when He might justly have spoken in His own defence, but would not seem to interrupt the design of God.
2. The particular resemblance.
(1) “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” It is an emblem of innocence, meekness, and patience. It may import weakness and slenderness of appearance in the world. Christ is nothing in show, though mighty in power. It noteth the meekness and sweetness of Christ, willingly yielding to be a sacrifice for us.
(2) “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb.” Christ did not open His mouth, unless to pray, instruct, and reprove. (T. Manton, D.D.)
Christ’s patience in suffering:—
Christ upon the Cross is as a doctor in his chair, where He readeth unto us all a lecture of patience. (J. Trapp.)
The monarch surrenders Himself:—
In vers. 7, 8 there are five specific predictions:—
(1) That the Messiah would be subject to oppression.
(2) That amidst the oppression He would maintain silence.
(3) That from the midst of oppression and judicial procedure He would be hurried off.
(4) That beneath all the outer incidents in which men had a hand, there would be another work going on of which the men of His generation would never dream.
(5) That this work, unthought of by His generation, was, that He was being “stricken for them.” How each of these predictions was fulfilled in the event we know. It win be simplest for us, as we stand this side of the history, to note the several points as history.
- 1. The oppression to which Christ was subjected was of no ordinary kind. The first three Gospels indicate to some extent the spirit of hostility which animated the people, though in the fourth Gospel the advancing stages of that hostility are most clearly marked. At the last we find Jesus hurried off to trial. There were two trials: first, the Jewish, and then the Roman one. In the first, so far was the mind of the accusers set against Christ, that neither the fairness nor even the form of proper judicial procedure was observed. In the facts of
(1) the trial being begun, continued, and finished, apparently, in the course of one night,
(2) witnesses against the accused being sought for by the judges,
(3) the evidence of one witness not being sustained by another,
(4) questions being put to the accused which Hebrew law did not sanction,
(5) a demand being made for confession, which Jewish doctors expressly forbade, and
(6) all being followed by a sentence pronounced twenty-four hours too soon—in all these six main features the Jewish “trial” was an outrage on Hebrew law. Nor was the second trial a whit more in accordance with the rules of Roman procedure. In the first trial the point of law was, the claim of Jesus to be the Son of God; and, without any proof, that was pronounced invalid, and therefore blasphemous. In the Roman accusation the question concerned the claim of Christ to be a king; and the point on which the whole matter turned was this, “Did Christ’s Kingdom clash with Cæsar’s rights?” And though the Lord Jesus had expressed Himself with a clearness on this point which ought to have made mistake impossible, yet men came with lies on their lips to charge Him with plotting against the Roman Government. Pilate, the governor, who shows by turns indecision, complaisance, bluster and subserviency, evasion, protest, compromise, superstitious dread, conscientious reluctance, cautious duplicity and sheer moral cowardice—is overcome at last, and decides against his knowledge to please the people, perhaps (as men on the incline of scepticism must sooner or later be) “stricken with inward paralysis from want of a motive and a hope.” It would not be easy to say in which of the two trials the injustice was the more glaring; there was a more striking violation of form in the Hebrew trial; but, perhaps, a grosser violation of conscience in the president at the Roman one.
- 2. Amid this oppression there was no defence of Himself. Once He called attention to His rights as a Hebrew; once and again He reaffirmed His claims when challenged on oath. But “when He was reviled, He reviled not again.” Why this silence? He knew His hour was come, and He yielded Himself to the stroke. He knew that His words would not tell rightly on His accusers in the state of mind which they cherished. With the far-distant future before Him, He saw that the sequel would vindicate His honour, and He could wait. He loved, too, to show patience rather than to display power; and He would show us the Divine grandeur of keeping power in reserve.
- 3. Underlying all this there was a Divine purpose being wrought out, of which the men of that generation had no conception. Man meant one thing, God was intending another.
- 4. This great work, of which the men of that generation never dreamt, was that the Messiah was cut off, “a stroke for them,” for the people who sought His life and crucified Him. Let us, then,
(1) Give the full and loving consent of our hearts to this Divine arrangement.
(2) Learn to see sin in the light in which God views it.
(3) Live a life of faith on Jesus Christ as being ever in His own glorious person our atoning sacrifice.
(4) Be perpetually thankful and devoted to Him who consented to lay down His life for us.
(5) Imitate our Saviour. In its relation to the government of God, the sacrifice of Christ must ever stand absolutely alone. But in that aspect of it which represented fidelity to the truth, and devotion to man, we can imitate it, even though at a far remove. It is precisely in connection with this view of it that Peter tells us, He “left us an example that we should follow His steps.” But how can we follow such steps? By patience under wrong. By being willing to renounce our own ease and comfort, if thereby we may advance the welfare of others. By taking the sorrows of others on ourselves, not only by suffering for them, but by suffering with them. Suffering for others is the divinest form of life in a sinful world. By bearing others on our hearts in prayer, even though they may be our bitterest foes. (C. Clemance, D.D.)
Yet He opened not His mouth.—The silence of Christ (with Matt. 26:63; Matt. 27:14):—
What can be said of the silence of Christ? Much has been said of the words He spake, and too much can never be said of them, for He spake as never man spake. Much has been said of the sacrifice He made. Much has been said of His miracles, etc., but how little of His silence, and yet how full of meaning to every thoughtful and inquiring mind.
- I. It was wonderful. Wonderful that Christ should remain silent, especially under false accusations—false witnesses giving testimony against Him, and a wicked judge about to deliver the charge. He who could with one word have made the world tremble, witnesses, judge and jury fall dead before Him, testifying to His innocence as well as His Divinity by their lifeless bodies. The silent years of Christ—how wonderful! He who knew so well how to speak and what to say. But we can understand something of this—it was a time of restraint, of growth, of preparation. But the preparation is over and Christ Jesus has asserted Himself. He has declared Himself by His life and by miracles to be the Son of God. He is falsely and basely accused, declared an impostor, sentenced and condemned to die, scourged mocked and spit upon, arrayed in a gorgeous robe and finally crucified, but silent amid it all. Do you ask why? The wonder is only increased. It was for our sake.
- II. His silence was full of suffering, suffering that was vicarious and expiatory. We are not to attribute the justification of sinners to the death of Christ alone. It was the sinless purity of perfect obedience of His whole life.
III. It was ominous; that is full of foreboding, portentous, inauspicious, foreshowing ills. It told of the utter degradation of the men before whom He stood. He had already said and done everything that was necessary to establish His claims to the Messiahship. His silence said, what more can I do unto My vineyard than I have already done unto it, and having done all He could do, He answered now to never a word. It is an appalling sign when Christ ceases to plead with any of us. It shows that we have seared our hearts—that we are bent on ruin.
- IV. Christ’s silence was inspired, and therefore full of instruction as well as the words He spake. I refer now to the general silence of Christ. If His words were inspired must not His silence have been also? It is absolutely inconceivable that He who is Himself the Truth could have connived at heresy in any of the great doctrines He taught, or desired that should be taught even through silence.
- 1. Take the great doctrine of our Lord’s Deity, and was it not the very question under dispute and for which He had been accused “of making Himself equal with God”? Now this fundamental doctrine is established by a vast and varied mass of evidence, but no stronger proof of it is anywhere to be found, as it seems to me, than that to be drawn from the silence of Christ. We know how Peter checked the homage of Cornelius, and how the angel shrank in alarm from the worship which John offered him. But Christ never acted so; He held His peace; He spake not a word. He never so much as hinted that this devotion should not be paid Him, and when His enemies accused Him of making Himself equal with God, He did not repel the charge with horror. Meek and lowly as He was He accepted all the worship that men offered Him; He welcomed it, and by His silent approval seemed to claim it.
- 2. Apply it to the authenticity of the Old Testament Scriptures, and what an argument we find! He held His peace in regard to all these criticisms that are being made. He condemned the unscriptural traditions of the Jews, but He at no time questioned the purity or integrity of the Old Testament Canon.
- 3. Apply His silence to the perpetuity of the Sabbath law and with what force it speaks. There are those amongst us who maintain that the Sabbath was only an institution for the Jews, and that its observance is not binding now under the Christian dispensation, but Christ nowhere says so. He often spoke in reference to Sabbath observance. He found the Sabbath a standing ordinance of God, and He left it such, only freshened by the dew of His blessing.
- V. Christ’s silence was beautiful, especially during His dread trial. It is difficult to speak aright amid enemies and detractors, but it is even more difficult to be silent right before them. The lip is ever ready to curl unbidden, the light of malice hurries to the eye, in a moment the crimson of anger mounts to the cheek before we are aware, but not so with Christ.
- VI. Christ’s silence is exemplary to us all. Self-imposed silence often becomes a duty. There are calumnies good men cannot refute. There are accusations which they must leave unanswered.
- 1. Because of the perils of speech. In self-justification we are liable to self-glorification, to irritability, to extravagance.
- 2. Because of the blessings of the discipline of silence. If we spend our time in self-vindication, then farewell labour for Christ, for we will have no time for anything else. ( I. Blackburn.)
Is it not always true with those that are called to suffer that they suffer most at times when one hears no sound from their lips? It is considered a relief to cry out in the midst of pain. So long as one can plead his case the excitement of pleading enables him to forget the painfulness of his position. When the tongue is silent then it is that the brain is busy. What must have been the thoughts of Christ when He held His peace? Must they not have been of the most painful nature? The silence of Christ was full of the most awful suffering and that suffering was expiatory and vicarious. Because He was wounded, we are healed; and because He kept silent before this earthly tribunal, we shall hereafter speak. (Ibid.)
Why this speechlessness? In part it was due to the Saviour’s clear apprehension of the futility of arguing with those who were bent on crucifying Him. It was also due to the quiet rest of His soul on God, as He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously, and anticipated the hour when the Father would arise to give Him a complete vindication. But it was due also to His consciousness of carrying in His breast a golden secret, another explanation of His sufferings than men were aware of, a Divine solution of the mystery of human guilt. (F. B. Meyer, B.A.)
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.—The sufferings of Christ:—
St. Peter makes it almost a description of a Christian, that he loves Him whom he has not seen. Unless we have a true love of Christ, we are not His true disciples; and we cannot love Him unless we have heartfelt gratitude to Him; and we cannot duly feel gratitude, unless we feel keenly what He suffered for us. No one who will but solemnly think over the history of those sufferings, as drawn out for us in the Gospels, but will gradually gain, through God’s grace, a sense of them.
- 1. As to these sufferings, our Lord is called a lamb in the text; He was as defenceless, and as innocent as a lamb is. Since then Scripture compares Him to this inoffensive and unprotected animal, we may, without presumption or irreverence, take the image as a means of conveying to our minds those feelings which our Lord’s sufferings should excite within us. Consider how very horrible it is to read the accounts which sometimes meet us of cruelties exercised on brute animals. What is it moves our very hearts, and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes? First, that they have done no harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which makes their sufferings so especially touching. He who is higher than the angels, deigned to humble Himself even to the state of the brute creation.
- 2. Take another example, and you will see the same thing still more strikingly. How overpowered should we be, nay not at the sight only, but at the very hearing of cruelties shown to a little child, and why so? for the same two reasons, because it was so innocent, and because it was so unable to defend itself. You feel the horror of this, and yet you can bear to read of Christ’s sufferings without horror. Our Lord was not only guiltless and defenceless, but He had come among His persecutors in love.
- 3. And now, let us suppose that some venerable person whom we have known as long as we could recollect any thing, and loved and reverenced, suppose such a one, who had often done us kindnesses, rudely seized by fierce men, made a laughing-stock, struck, spit on, severely scourged and at last exposed with all his wounds to the gaze of a rude multitude who came and jeered him, what would be our feelings? But what is all this to the suffering of the holy Jesus, which we bear to read of as a matter of course! A spirit of grief and lamentation is expressly mentioned in Scripture as a characteristic of those who turn to Christ. If then we do not sorrow, have we turned to Him? ( H. Newman, B.D.)
Christ the victim and the example:—
- 1. There is only One in whom are fulfilled all the prophecies of this wonderful Lesson (Acts 8:34, 35).
- 2. It may be noticed how animals are chosen in Holy Scripture as symbols of Divine Persons and mysteries; and Christian art has perpetuated the association. The dove has been the symbol of the Holy Ghost from earliest times. The man, the calf, the lion, and the eagle represent the four Evangelists, and are types of the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. Christ is represented by a lamb, for this was the symbol of our Lord both in the Old Testament and the New. Indeed, it was such a popular symbol in the early ages of the Church, that authority was invoked to check it as a substitute for His human body.
- 3. Throughout Holy Scripture, by hints and prophecies, by types and fulfilment, Christ is depicted by the lamb (Gen. 22:8; the Paschal lamb; the daily sacrifice in the temple; St. John’s exclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God!” John 19:36; 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6, 12; 6:1; 7:14, etc.). The symbol has two aspects—that of the victim, and that of the example. Let us look at it in both lights.
- I. The Victim.
- 1. The text expresses the willingness of the Sufferer. “He was ill-treated whilst He bowed Himself,” e. “suffered voluntarily,” as the simile of the unresisting animal explains. It is a prophecy of the self-oblation of Christ John 10:15, 18). The oblation was the result of love. He was led to the slaughter with the full knowledge of all that was before Him. The voluntariness of Christ’s sufferings is a ground of merit and a secret of attractiveness. Sacrifice must “be the blood of the soul,” the offered will, to have value before God; and it must be spontaneous, to touch and win the hearts of men.
- 2. “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” reminds us of the greatness of Christ’s sufferings. He was “obedient unto death,” a sacrificial death—different from a mere martyr’s death, as the words just before the text show. The Lord had laid on Him the punishment of Israel’s guilt—nay, “the iniquity of us all.” There can be no getting rid of “the pœna vicaria here” (Delitzsch).
This is a great mystery. But it is not one man suffering for another, for “no man can deliver his brother;” but God Himself in man’s nature suffering. Those who think such a mode of redemption unjust, it will be found, have not grasped the dogma of the Incarnation, or the oneness of will in the Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity. It was an act of love. Death is the test of love, and the worst kind of death, that of the cross, the most convincing test. “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter” is a sentence which at once would bring up before the mind of the Jew the sacrificial worship in which he had often taken part. In the language of St. Paul, Christ “became sin for us”—a Sin Offering—“who knew no sin.” In the language of St. Peter, we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish.”
- II. The Example.
- 1. One of the purposes for which Christ came was to be an Example. The truth is sometimes obscured by dwelling too exclusively upon the mystery of redemption; as, on the other hand, there have not been wanting those who have been too much absorbed in that view of our Lord as the True Light which meets the cravings of the human intellect. To keep the proportion of faith is not always easy, especially as personal needs and experiences are apt to exaggerate some one aspect of a mystery.
- 2. Christ’s life throughout has this twofold view—sacrificial and exemplary. We might have expected that the latter view would be associated chiefly with His public ministry, and the former with His Passion. But it is not so. Both culminate on the cross. “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example” (1 Pet. 2:21); and, as the context shows, the final sufferings are before the apostle’s gaze. A suffering world needs a suffering Example. The Passion brought out to view the virtues which man is ever requiring to exercise, and in a manner which exercises a spell upon all who look upon “that sight.” Even those who are blind to the atoning efficacy of the mystery are touched by its moral loveliness.
- 3. “Brought as a lamb to the slaughter;” “dumb before her shearers.” This is a difficult virtue which the words unveil—patience, or meekness. What we read in the prophecy we see in the Passion (Matt. 27:12, 14; John 19:9) and upon the cross. “All three hours His silence cried.” “When He was reviled, He reviled not again.” The lamb, innocent and silent, aptly represents the Lamb of God, meek and patient in the midst of His slaughterers.
- 1. Let us seek through the sufferings of Christ to realize the enormity and malice of sin. Pardon without any revelation of Divine justice and holiness might have demoralized mankind. We know not “how that satisfaction operated towards God,” and the Church has not attempted to define this. That Christ died “for us men and for our salvation” is all that we are required to believe, and that is the kernel of the doctrine.
- 2. Seek to imitate the patience of Jesus—to be silent when “reviled,” and to still within the movements of anger and pride.
- 3. To be able to do this we must meditate upon Christ’s sufferings, and see in all things, as they reach us, the will of God, though our sufferings may arise from the faults and sins of others. We must “commit our cause to Him that judgeth righteously,” accepting calmly all that we may have to bear.
- 4. We must pray for the help of the Holy Ghost, without which we cannot grow in patience and meekness, which are “fruits” of the Spirit. (The Thinker.)
And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb.—The sheep before the shearers:—
- I. Our Saviour’s patience. Our Lord was brought to the shearers that He might be shorn of His comfort, and of His honour, shorn even of His good name, and shorn at last of life itself; but when under the shearers He was as silent as a sheep. How patient He was before Pilate, and Herod, and Caiaphas, and on the cross.
- 1. Our Lord was dumb and opened not His mouth against His adversaries, and did not accuse one of them of cruelty or injustice.
- 2. As He did not utter a word against His adversaries, so He did not say a word against any one of us. Zipporah said to Moses, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me,” as she saw her child bleeding; and surely Jesus might have said to His Church, “Thou art a costly spouse to Me, to bring Me all this shame and bloodshedding.” But He giveth liberally, He openeth the very fountain of His heart, and upbraideth not.
- 3. There was not a word against His Father, nor a syllable of repining at the severity of the chastisement laid upon Him for our sakes. You and I have murmured when under a comparatively light grief, thinking ourselves hardly done by. But not so the Saviour. Many are the Lamentations of Jeremiah, but few are the lamentations of Jesus. Jesus wept, and Jesus sweat great drops of blood, but He never murmured nor felt rebellion in His heart. I see in this our Lord’s complete submission. There was complete self-conquest too. There was complete absorption in His work.
- II. View our own case under the same metaphor as that which is used in reference to our Lord. As He is so are we also in this world. Just as a sheep is taken by the shearer, and its wool is cut off, so doth the Lord take His people and shear them, taking away all their earthly comforts, and leaving them bare.
- 1. A sheep rewards its owner for all his care and trouble by being shorn. Some of God’s people can give to Christ a tribute of gratitude by active service, and they should do so gladly every day of their lives; but many others cannot do much in active service, and about the only reward they can give to their Lord is to render up their fleece by suffering when He calls upon them to suffer, submissively yielding to be shorn of their personal comfort when the time comes for patient endurance. The husband, or perhaps the wife, is removed, little children are taken away, property is shorn off, and health is gone. Sometimes the shears cut off the man’s good name; slander follows; comforts vanish. Well, it may be that you are not able to glorify God to any very large extent except by undergoing this process.
- 2. The sheep is itself benefited by the operation of shearing. Before they begin to shear the sheep the wool is long and old, and every bush and briar tears off a bit of the wool, until the sheep looks ragged and forlorn. If the wool were left, when the heat of summer came the sheep would not be able to bear itself. So when the Lord shears us, we do not like the operation any more than the sheep do; but first, it is for His glory; and secondly, it is for our benefit, and therefore we are bound most willingly to submit. There are many things which we should like to have kept which, if we had kept them, would not have proved blessings but curses. A stale blessing is a curse.
- 3. Before sheep are shorn they are always washed. If the Good Shepherd is going to clip your wool, ask Him to wash it before He takes it off; ask to be cleansed in spirit, soul and body.
- 4. After the washing, when the sheep has been dried, it actually loses what was its comfort. You also will have to part with your comforts. The next time you receive a fresh blessing call it a loan. A loan, they say, should go laughing home, and so should we rejoice when the Lord takes back that which He had lent us.
- 5. The shearers take care not to hurt the sheep: they clip as close as they can, but they do not cut the skin. When they do make a gash, it is because the sheep does not lie still: but a careful shearer has bloodless shears. The Lord may clip wonderfully close: I have known Him clip some so close that they did not seem to have a bit of wool left, for they were stripped entirely.
- 6. The shearers always shear at a suitable time. It would be a very wicked, cruel, and unwise thing to begin sheep-shearing in winter time. Have you ever noticed that whenever the Lord afflicts us He selects the best possible time?
- 7. It is with us as with the sheep, there is new wool coming. Whenever the Lord takes away our earthly comforts with one hand, one, two, three, He restores with the other hand, six, a score, a hundred; we are crying and whining about the little loss, and yet it is necessary in order that we may be able to receive the great gain. If the Lord takes away the manna, as He did from His people Israel, it is because they have the old corn of the land of Canaan to live upon. If the water of the rock did not follow the tribes any longer, it was because they drank of the Jordan, and of the brooks.
III. Let us endeavour to imitate the example of our blessed Lord when our turn comes to be shorn. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Those who have seen the noise and roughness of many of our washings and shearings will hardly believe the testimony of that ancient writer Philo-Judæus when he affirms that the sheep came voluntarily to be shorn. He says: “Woolly rams laden with thick fleeces put themselves into the shepherd’s hands to have their wool shorn, being thus accustomed to pay their yearly tribute to man, their king by nature. The sheep stands in a silent inclining posture, unconstrained under the hand of the shearer. These things may appear strange to those who do not know the docility of the sheep, but they are true.” (Ibid.)
Lying still under the Divine hand:—
I went to see a friend, the other day, who has had a great number of sore afflictions, yet I found her singularly cheerful and content; and when I was speaking with her about the matter, she said, “I have for years enjoyed perfect submission to the Divine will, and it was through what I heard you say.” So I asked her, “What did I say?” She replied, “Why, you told us that you had seen a sheep that was in the hands of the shearers, and that, although all the wool was clipped off its back, the shears never cut into its flesh; and you said that the reason was because the sheep was lying perfectly still. You said, ‘Lie still, and the shears will not cut you; but if you kick and struggle, you will not only be shorn, for God has resolved to do that, but you will be wounded into the bargain.’ ” (Ibid.)
7 The opening of the stanza focuses attention on the manner of harsh and unjust treatment given to the servant. His oppression is described by use of the verb that is employed in Exodus 3:7 to denote the harsh treatment measured out to Israel in Egypt (nâgas). It implies the use of physical violence. The next phrase is made emphatic by the use of the personal pronoun ‘he’, while the form of the Hebrew verb (‘ânâh, Nif.) certainly allows for a reflexive meaning: ‘and he allowed himself to be afflicted’ (cf. Jesus’ insistence that he gave his life freely for his sheep, John 10:14–18). The death of the servant is depicted in sacrificial terms, emphasising his silence in comparison to a lamb or adult sheep being slaughtered. The figure of a dumb sheep appears elsewhere in Jeremiah 11:19. The servant unresistingly stands before his persecutors, uttering not a word in his own defence. Peter seems to have this passage in mind when he speaks of the meek endurance of Christ (1 Pet. 2:23). While the servant is depicted as a lamb, it is only in the New Testament that the phrase ‘lamb of God’ appears (John 1:29; see also Acts 8:32–33, 35; 1 Pet. 1:18–19).
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1910). Isaiah (Vol. 2, p. 296). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Vol. 4, p. 119). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Motyer, J. A. (1999). Isaiah: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 20, p. 379). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Exell, J. S. (n.d.). Isaiah (Vol. 3, pp. 124–129). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company.
 Harman, A. (2005). Isaiah: A Covenant to Be Kept for the Sake of the Church (p. 366). Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.