Saving Health
Isaiah 26:1-10
In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.…

(1) Political theorists have been fond of picturing an ideal State, the government of which would be perfect.

(2) The ideal State in the mind of the average Hebrew was limited to his own race, but in the writings of the inspired psalmists and prophets it could not be so restricted, but widened itself out so as to embrace the whole world. Thus was the way prepared for the grand conception of the kingdom of heaven as first proclaimed and then established by the Son of God.

(3) But it is a difficult thing, except in moments of great exaltation, to put much intensity of feeling. Into a conception so vast. It was a great deal easier to conceive an ideal State than an ideal world, and an ideal city was still more manageable for the imagination. We need not wonder, then, that even after the great proclamation about all the kingdoms of the world becoming the kingdom of God, the seer of Patmos should fondly return to the thought of the city, and revel in anticipating the advent of the New Jerusalem. Nor shall we be astonished that the prophets, though they had the wider outlook, should even in their moods of highest exaltation cling fondly to the thought of a holy city as the best picture, the more serviceable that it was a miniature of the coming kingdom of God.

(4) In these early days of insecurity, the first requisite of a city was strength. So it is natural that this should be the feature on which the prophet here lays special stress. But wherein does its strength lie? He speaks not of ramparts or forts, of fleets or armies, but of salvation as the bulwarks of the city. We find this word salvation in other places translated by the more suggestive rendering "health," or "saving health."

1. The first thought suggested in this connection is that the city should be a clean place to live in, healthy from end to end and in every corner, each house in it a fitting abode for sons of God and daughters of the King. When we pass from the sanitation of the city to the saving health of the citizen, we think first of his body, and recognise the necessity of having all the conditions as conducive as possible to its health.

2. But clearly we cannot stop there. We must have the "mens sana in corpore sane"; hence the need of universal education, to secure intellectual sanity.

3. Nor may we end here, for moral sanity, a sound conscience, is even still more important. The nation must be a righteous nation.

4. Clearly, there must be sanitation for the will before we have reached saving health; and inasmuch as the will is swayed by desire, the sanitation must reach the heart. What sanitary measures could we here summon to our aid? The purest water will not cleanse the heart; the most bracing air will have no effect upon the soul. There must be a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, and some breath of God for inspiration to the soul.

5. And here we reach the prophet's highest, dominating thought. "In that day," the passage begins. What day? Look back (Isaiah 25:9). "It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us." And look forward (ver. 4), "Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." "Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us; for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us" (ver. 12). This introduces us to one of the most important questions of the day. There are many, sound and strong on the subject of righteousness, who yet fail to realise that righteousness is so bound up with saving truth — that truth of God and His salvation through Jesus Christ His Son, and by His Holy Spirit breathed in human hearts, which they sometimes offensively set aside as mere dogma — that the one cannot be had where it does not exist already, and cannot be retained long where it does without the other. "Open ye the gates that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in."

6. How can we open or help to open these gates of national strength and saving health? For individual action the answer would be such as this: First, by loving truth and keeping righteousness ourselves; next, by doing all we can to help others to a life of godliness and righteousness; further, by earnest and frequent prayer to Him who gave of old the promise, "I will open to you the two-leaved gates"; and lastly, by the faithful exercise of the privileges of citizens, seeing to it that in the forming of our opinions, in the giving of our votes, in the use of all our influence, not selfish interest, or class interest, or even party interest, but the interests of righteousness and truth be the determining factor. But individual action is not enough. We must combine; we must bring our united force to bear. And here the main reliance must be on the Church of Christ, on which is laid the responsibility of carrying on His great work of salvation.

(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

WEB: In that day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah: "We have a strong city. God appoints salvation for walls and bulwarks.

Salvation, I.E
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