on Isaiah 44 :4
They shall spring up as among the grass "They shall spring up as the grass among the waters" - בבין חציר bebeyn chatsir, "They shall spring up to the midst of, or rather, in among, the grass. "This cannot be right: eleven MSS., and thirteen editions, have כבין kebeyn, or כבן keben. Twenty-four MSS. read it without the י yod, בבן beben, in the son of the grass; and so reads the Chaldee; בבן beben, in the son of the grass.
Twenty-four MSS. of Dr. Kennicott's, thirty-three of De Rossi's, and one of my own, with six editions, have this reading. The Syriac, מבין mibbeyn. The true reading is in all probability כבין kebeyn; and the word מים mayim, which should have followed it, is lost out of the text: but it is happily supplied by the Septuagint, ὡς ανα μεσον ὑδατος, as among the water "In every place where there is water, there is always grass; for water makes every thing grow in the east." Sir John Chardin's note on 1 Kings 17:5. Harmer's Observations 1:64.
on Isaiah 44 :4
And they shall spring up - The idea is, that as plants and trees planted by water-courses, and in well-watered fields, grow and flourish, so should their children grow in virtue, hope, piety, and zeal.
As among the grass - They shall spring up and flourish as the grass does when abundantly watered from heaven. On the meaning of the unusual form of the word בבים bebēyn, in the Hebrew ("in among"), see Vitringa and Rosenmuller. The ב (b) here is undoubtedly an error of the transcriber for כ (k) ("as") - an error which, from the similarity of the letters, might be readily made. The Septuagint reads it, Ὡς Hōs - 'As.' The Chaldee reads it, כ (k) ("as").
As willows by the water-courses - Willows are usually planted in such places, and grow rapidly and luxuriantly. It denotes here, abundant increase, vigor and beauty; and means that their posterity would be greatly blessed of God. A similar figure to denote the prosperity and happiness of the righteous occurs in Psalm 1:3 :
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
His leaf also shall not wither.
These two verses teach us:
1. That God will pour his blessings on the children of his people - a promise which in all ages, when parents are faithful, is abundantly fulfilled.
2. That one of the richest blessings which can be imparted to a people is, that God's Spirit should descend on their children.
3. That the Spirit of God alone is the source of true happiness and prosperity to our children. All else - property, learning, accomplishment. beauty, vigor, will be vain. It is by his blessing only - by the influence of piety - that they will spring forth as among the grass, and like willows by the streams of water.
4. Parents should pray earnestly for a revival of religion. No better description can be given of a revival than that given here - the Spirit of God descending like streams and floods on the young; and their springing forth in the graces of piety as among the grass, and growing in love to God and love to mankind like willows by the water-courses. Who would not pray for such a work of grace? What family, what congregation, what people can be happy without it?
on Isaiah 44 :4