The Song of the Soul Set Free

A word from the author:

My work The Song of the Soul Set Free was written some years ago. It is a commentary on Isaiah 12, which is a very rich vein of Scripture, taking up themes which run throughout the Bible. This has yet to be submitted it for publication.

Copyright © Timothy J Cross. These excerpts are from a pre-published work. For permission to cite, please contact the author.





CHAPTER ONE                  THE SOLACE




CHAPTER FIVE                 THE SONG




CHAPTER NINE                 THE SHOUT





The six verses of Isaiah’s twelfth chapter consist of an exuberant song of thanksgiving to God for a salvation He has given. Isaiah 12 is ‘The Song of the Soul Set Free.’ Every Scripture though has its setting, and all texts have their contexts, and this happy song is no exception. It can be read on various levels:-


1. First of all, in its original context, the song of thanksgiving in Isaiah 12 was a song of thanksgiving to God for His deliverance from exile.

The people of Israel were exiled in pagan Babylon for seventy years.  This exile was harsh. Those who have experienced acute homesickness know just how painful being away from home can be, and the Jews were no exception. They also found living under the yoke of foreigners, in a land dominated by false gods both oppressing and alien. By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion … How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1,4).

In due time though, just as Isaiah had predicted, God brought His people back home, and their joy was unbounded.  When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy … (Psalm 126:1,2). Isaiah 12 then articulated the Jews’ joy of deliverance from exile.


2. With New Testament hindsight however, Isaiah 12 seems to describe and articulate a greater salvation. Isaiah 12 describes the great salvation which only Christians truly know: it describes, enumerates and celebrates the benefits which come to us by virtue of Christ’s saving work on behalf of sinners at Calvary:-

It is by Christ’s sacrifice that God’s anger is turned aside (v.1). It is Christ’s death which effects eternal deliverance from the penalty and power of sin and the fires of hell (v.2). It is Christ alone who provides living water to satisfy thirsty souls (v.3). It is Christ Who puts the song of salvation into our hearts and the sincere praise of God on our lips.

Nothing can or ever will compare with Christian salvation. Here is a blessing that is eternal – imperishable, undefiled and unfading (1 Peter 1:4). Christian salvation though is both a present and a promised salvation. Eternal life may be enjoyed now, for Jesus said ‘Truly truly I say to you he who hears My Word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement but has passed from death to life  (John 5:24). Yet, eternal life will yet be enjoyed much more fully on a coming Day, for the Bible teaches that the salvation of God which we may enjoy now, having come to know Christ here in this life, will one day be consummated and climaxed, when we meet Him face to face in heaven, and continue to sing the praise of His salvation, yet with even more appreciation and understanding.  The words of Isaiah 12 will not be out of place in heaven!

Come then, and let us mine some of the riches of our Christian inheritance. Isaiah’s prophecy is full of Christ. In Isaiah 7:14 we see Him in His virgin birth. In Isaiah 9:6 we see Him as the Son given for our salvation. In Isaiah 11:1 we see Him as ‘great David’s Greater Son’. In Isaiah 53 we see His saving, substitutionary death for sinners at Calvary. Here in Isaiah 12 though we are concerned mainly with the benefits which Christ imparts to the believing soul. In Isaiah 12 we are privileged to explore some of the various, blessed facets of the great salvation which is our new-birthright in Christ.

As I commend this book to the tri-une God, my prayer is that this blessed portion of His Word, and the message of salvation it contains, will enlighten your mind, warm your heart and enable you to sing God’s praises with greater understanding and sincerity. It is in knowing and rejoicing in God’s salvation that we are truly able to sing THE SONG OF THE SOUL SET FREE.


Timothy Cross, Cardiff, Wales




You will say in that day: ‘I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD, for though Thou wast angry with me, Thy anger turned away, and Thou didst comfort me …(Isaiah 12:1).


Unusually, Isaiah’s happy song of salvation begins with a heartfelt thanksgiving to the LORD, not for something He has given, but for something He has withheld. The song begins with a great rejoicing that the one trusting in God has been delivered from the fearful wrath of God. God’s retributive anger, which is the sinner’s just due, has, in the mercy of God, been turned away. It’s a fitting way to start the song, as Christian salvation begins at this very point. At its basic level, salvation means ‘deliverance.’ Deliverance from what? Deliverance from the wrath of God which is our due. Christians are a saved and spared people. When we realise what we have been saved from and to, our relief and rejoicing knows no bounds, and the joy and wonder of our salvation, whilst having a distinct beginning in time, in our personal experience, continues throughout our life and even for all eternity. When God’s anger against us has been removed, our relationship with Him has been restored. And when we are at one with our Maker, all is well with us for time and eternity. We have been reconciled to our Maker, and made fit to enjoy His presence both here on earth and hereafter in heaven.


The Reality of the Wrath of God


Though Thou was angry with me …  Popular theology is under a misconception. It has no room for a God of wrath. The sentimental, ‘woolly’ God of modern, liberal thought seems to paint a picture of the Almighty as some kind of celestial Santa Claus, who indulges his children, tolerates anything, and allows His creatures to do anything and get away with everything, winking at their sin.

The Bible though reveals that the true God is a God of wrath. He has His standards, and woe betides those who violate them. The Bible reveals that God’s wrath characterises Him as much as His love, mercy, justice, wisdom and goodness:-


The LORD … will by no means clear the guilty … (Exodus 34:6,7).

The LORD is a jealous God and avenging, the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps wrath for His enemies (Nahum 1:2).

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men … (Romans 1:18).

…the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6).


What then do we mean by the wrath, or anger of God? – that anger from which the singer of the song of salvation has been spared. God’s wrath refers to His holy determination to punish sin. Sin is an affront to God’s holy nature. His wrath is a consequence of His holiness and moral purity. God’s anger is thus His just reaction and revulsion to all that is contrary to His holy nature. The God Who is infinite in righteousness can only be a God Who is infinite in righteous indignation. The perfection of the Creator and the perversity of the creature can only be at odds. God has to punish sin. If fellowship with our Maker is to be attained, God’s wrath has to be overcome.


The Backcloth to the Gospel


The bad news of sin always precedes the good news of salvation. It is its necessary backcloth. Salvation makes no sense otherwise. We will never rejoice in salvation unless we first realise that we need to be saved. Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (Mark 2:17). The glorious edification of salvation is built by digging deep foundations. Conviction of sin – our own personal sin and guilt – is always the necessary preliminary to the joy of salvation.  Salvation begins when the Holy Spirit of God convinces us that we are guilty, lost sinners. The bad news is that we are ‘sinners in the hands of an angry God.’ Without exception, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Both who we are by nature, and what we do by practice, has put us in a perilous condition. We are sinners under the wrath of God – by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:3).

Isaiah’s song then, in-line with all true Christian experience, does not deny either the fact of the wrath of God, or that by nature we are personally liable to this judicial wrath. God is angry with sinners. He has to punish sin. Christian experience though, whilst reckoning with the reality of God’s wrath, also has its chief joy in the fact of:-


The Removal of the Wrath of God


‘I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD, for though Thou wast angry with me, Thy anger turned away, and Thou didst comfort me …’(Isaiah 12:1). Isaiah’s song of salvation therefore teaches us that it is possible for us to be spared from God’s anger. There is a way of escape/deliverance/rescue from the most fearful reality of all – from God’s judicial wrath against sinners. What is this way of escape? Isaiah in general and the whole Bible is particular are thankfully crystal clear on this matter. The way of escape lies in a Person. We may escape the wrath of God because another Person has intervened and taken the wrath of God on our sins in our place.

Isaiah foretold of the sinner’s Saviour-substitute. Speaking in the prophetic, past tense, he spoke of One Who was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:3). Isaiah was speaking of the Christ of Calvary. The central message and unanimous testimony of the Bible is that salvation is to be found only in Christ crucified – the Christ Who died for sinners at Calvary. The wrath of God is avoided solely by personal faith in the crucified Saviour:-

We are now justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).

It is Jesus Who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Christians alone can say God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).


The Gospel of God


Whilst our sin and the wrath of God has given us a desperate need for a Saviour, the Christian Gospel proclaims that God, in His mercy has provided us with the Saviour we so desperately need. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

How though does Jesus, God’s Son, divert the anger of God aside from us? He does so because He actually took the full anger of God, which is our due, upon Himself, when He died for our sins, in our place, on Calvary’s cross. At Calvary Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). The reason for Christ’s living was His dying. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and the sinner’s salvation was procured, not by Christ’s living but by His dying – by His dying in the place of sinners at Calvary. At Calvary, Christ was punished so that by believing in Him we may be pardoned. He was judged so that we might be justified. He suffered God’s intense anger on our sins so that we might receive atonement for our sins. It is by believing in Jesus – by personal faith in Christ crucified – that we escape the wrath of God.


The Gospel of Propitiation


The Bible describes Christ’s death as a ‘propitiation.’ In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). ‘Propitiation’ is a word which encapsulates all we have said so far. To propitiate means ‘to appease, to satisfy, to turn anger aside and away.’ In explaining Christ’s death as a propitiation, the Bible assures us that Christ’s death in our place has delivered us from the wrath of God. In taking God’s wrath for our sins upon His sinless self, Christ has turned this wrath aside from us, satisfied God’s holy law and delivered us from eternal danger. Christ’s death at Calvary has wrought the believer’s eternal peace with God.

The Psalmist foretold how Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet, righteousness and peace will kiss each other (Psalm 85:10). Paradoxically, Calvary is the supreme demonstration of both the wrath and the mercy of God, for at Calvary, in the Person of His Own Son, God both condemned sin and spared the sinner. In the Bible, all roads lead to the cross of Calvary. Calvary is the heart of the heart of the Biblical revelation and Christian Gospel. The Good News is that He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). No time in history compares with the first ‘Good Friday’, when Christ endured the wrath of God in our place, on the centre cross of Golgotha. The very skies were darkened, and Christ was separated from His Father so that He cried ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me/’ (Matthew 27:46). He was separated from God so that we might be reconciled to Him. He tasted hell that we might go at last to heaven. He died so that we might live. He endured the wrath of God to save us from it. He alone is the propitiation for our sins.


Jehovah  lifted up His rod

O Christ it fell on Thee

Thou wast sore stricken of Thy God

There’s not one stroke for me

Thy tears Thy blood beneath it flowed

Thy bruising healeth me


Jehovah bade His sword awake

O Christ it woke ‘gainst Thee

Thy blood the flaming blade must slake

Thy heart its sheath must be

All for my sake my peace to make

Now sleeps that sword for me.


The Divine Well-being : The Divine Warning


The ‘Song of the Soul Set Free’ thus begins by rejoicing in being delivered from God’s wrath. The mercy of God in sparing sinners is a matter of both thanksgiving and wonder:- ‘I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD, for though Thou wast angry with me, Thy anger turned away, and Thou didst comfort me’ (Isaiah 12:1).

The salvation of the Bible is actually the only solace – the only lasting comfort – which we have, for even when the present heaven and earth passes away, this will still remain. When all our earthly possessions and pleasures are left behind, this will stay with us if we belong to Christ. Salvation is a blessing which this world can neither give nor take away. Salvation truly is the greatest blessing of all. It is a unique and incomparable blessing and it is an exclusive blessing. For the Bible is adamant that salvation is found in Jesus alone: And there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Hence the Bible also warns us that if our faith is not in the crucified Saviour, we will have to endure the wrath of God ourselves – eternally. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him (John 3:36).

The solace of the saved then is also a warning to the sinner outside of Christ. The warning is to Flee from the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7). The Gospel exhortation is Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).




Behold, God is my salvation … (Isaiah 12:2).




Salvation is one of the all-embracing and all-encompassing themes which unifies the sixty six books which comprise the Bible. What though do we mean when we refer to ‘salvation’? Salvation refers to a deliverance – a rescue or saving from a deadly, deathly and damnable peril. Yet salvation is more than a deliverance. Salvation, in the Bible, has a positive as well as a negative facet to it. Biblical salvation is a salvation to as well as a salvation from. Positively, salvation refers to the supreme blessedness. Salvation refers to intimate fellowship with God Himself – a fellowship which will transcend this life into the next, and continue for all eternity.

Salvation has many synonyms. Salvation is explained by using words such as redemption, forgiveness, justification etc. A positive synonym for salvation though is that of ‘eternal life.’ Eternal life refers to that quality and quantity of life which is the life which is life indeed (1 Timothy 6:19). Jesus said ‘This is eternal life, that they know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent’ (John 17:3).

            Salvation then refers ultimately to knowing God Himself. It is in knowing God that we realise and reach our chief reason for being.


‘What is the chief end of man?’

‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever’ (Shorter Catechism, Q.1).


Divine Salvation


Behold, God is my salvation … Isaiah here is articulating both the root conviction of all true Christians and the touchstone of all true religion. He is articulating that Salvation belongs to our God Who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb! (Revelation 7:10).

According to the Bible, salvation is a divine work, not a human one. It is this which distinguishes the true Christian Gospel of salvation from all the false gospels which are proclaimed today and have been proclaimed since time immemorial. Whilst the non-Christian religions and cults of the world are myriad, they all have one factor in common: they all teach a self-salvation. Salvation here is supposedly gained by human graft and goodness. According to the Bible though salvation is divine not human. Behold, God is my salvation. It is a matter of God’s grace, not human graft – it concerns what God does for the sinner, and not what the sinner supposedly does for God. The Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of God’s saving grace: By grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not because of works, lest any man should boast  (Ephesians 2:8,9).


Isaiah by name and nature


The name ‘Isaiah’ actually means ‘The Lord is salvation.’ Isaiah’s name and message then were all apiece. Isaiah knew that the human condition is such that we are powerless to save ourselves – there is no hope of salvation apart from a merciful, divine intervention. The Bible shows that the initiative in salvation is divine from first to last. The Lord is a God Who saves:-


i. Egypt


In liturgy, the Israelites celebrated an earthly salvation which the Lord had wrought for them. They never forgot how, as a nation, they had been in cruel bondage in Egypt. Humanly, there seemed no way out of their oppressed plight. But God intervened. He delivered His people from a land of slavery  into a blessed land of promise:-

The Egyptians treated us harshly, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. Then we cried to the LORD the God of our Fathers, and the LORD heard our voice, and saw our affliction, our toil and oppression; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm … and He brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 26:7-9).


ii. Babylon


Years later, the Israelites were in bondage again. They had been taken over by the Babylonians, and found themselves in exile. They were out of their promised land, and in a strange, ungodly land – Babylon. Again, there seemed no human way out. But God intervened. Isaiah himself prophesied of a time when the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing (Isaiah 35:10). It was Cyrus, the king of Persia, who decreed that Israel could return to their promised land. But behind this ‘secondary cause’ lay the hand of the LORD Himself. Israel’s celebrations focused on what the LORD, not what Cyrus had done:- When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream … The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad (Psalm 126:1,3).


iii. Christ


The incidents above foreshadowed a greater deliverance and a greater salvation – yet a salvation accomplished once again by the sovereign intervention of God Himself. In this intervention, God stepped in to save His people from their sins and bring them to Himself. The Creator entered into His creation. God became man. God Himself sent His Own Son into the world to save sinners. The message of the Bible is that God saves! God is my salvation.  And this salvation was effected by His sending His Son into the world to redeem lost, condemned sinners:-

            For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved  through Him (John 3:17).

But when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4,5).

The message of the Bible then is the message of divine salvation – and this divine salvation is focused on the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son. It is by His death on the cross that the eternal salvation of all who believe in Him has been effected. Salvation and the Saviour are intertwined and inextricably bound. The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘Saviour’ – You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Salvation is found exclusively in Him – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).


The God of our Salvation


Behold, God is my salvation … In Habakkuk 3:18 we read I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. This verse is noteworthy in that it is set in a very fraught context of devastation. Habakkuk was living through a time of personal trauma,  economic hardship, social breakdown and military failure. Yet Habakkuk knew a joy which was independent of his dire circumstances. He knew a joy which this world could neither give nor take away. Every Christian knows a similar joy – the joy of knowing the salvation of God and the God of our salvation. Here is the blessing of all blessings. Here is a joy which money cannot buy. I will joy in the God of my salvation … Behold, God is my salvation.  The Bible teaches that all three members of the Godhead are active in securing the sinner’s salvation. Salvation is a blessing which flows to us from the tri-une God Himself:-


i. God the Father and our Salvation


If we are saved, and so currently rejoicing in the salvation of God, the root cause of this blessing is God’s election, that is, God’s sovereign choice of us before the foundation of the world, in eternity past – as He (the Father) chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). A Christian is one chosen and destined by God the Father (1 Peter 1:2). For we know, brethren beloved by God, that He has chosen you (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

Divine election is humbling. Why God should choose any of us at all is baffling. Divine election shows that salvation ultimately is due to the will of God and not the will of man – His choice of us rather than our choice of Him. So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy (Romans 9:16).


Chosen not for good in me

Wakened up from wrath to flee

Hidden in the Saviour’s side

By the Spirit sanctified

Teach me Lord on earth to show

By my love how much I owe.


How though may we know if we are one of God’s chosen? We may know so if we belong to Jesus, as the Bible teaches that those chosen by God for salvation in eternity will be effectually drawn to Christ crucified for salvation in time. In the Bible, election is linked with vocation. Those whom He predestined He also called; and those whom He called He also justified (Romans 8:30). Saving faith in Christ is evidence of our eternal election – as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).


ii. God the Son and our Salvation


Salvation is a result of the work of Christ on the cross, sometimes referred to as ‘the finished Work of Calvary.’ Christ died to procure our salvation. When Jesus died at Calvary He said ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). Note that Christ’s death actually secured His people’s salvation – He did not die just to make our salvation a possibility. Those trusting the crucified Saviour are eternally saved by virtue of the perfection of His Person and Work. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7). There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). He paid the penalty for our sins in full, so leaving us with nothing left to pay.


iii. God the Holy Spirit and our Salvation


We have stated that the Bible teaches that all three members of the Trinity are active and co-operate in bringing us to salvation. God the Father chose us for salvation. God the Son died to procure our salvation. And the Holy Spirit of God – the third Person of the Trinity – is He Who applies the work of salvation to our souls and makes it effective:-


‘We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ by the effectual application of it to us by His Holy Spirit’ (Shorter Catechism).


To God the Spirit’s name

Immortal worship give

Whose new-creating power

Makes the dead sinner live

His work completes the great design

And fills the soul with joy divine.


Sin renders us totally incapable as regards salvation. We are totally unable to save ourselves. Our sin puts us in a state of spiritual deadness. Dead people cannot believe in Jesus for salvation. The Holy Spirit of God however is He Who regenerates us – He imparts new life to us. He raises us to spiritual life. He wakes us out of spiritual slumber, alerts us to our lost, condemned plight and enables us to avail ourselves of the only remedy for sin: He enables us to trust in the crucified Saviour for full salvation.


‘Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of God and renewing our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel’ (Shorter Catechism).


Jesus stated that ‘No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws Him’ (John 6:44). Jesus stated ‘It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail’ (John 6:63). The Holy Spirit alone is able to awaken us and shake us out of our natural and perilous spiritual complacency. ‘When He comes, He will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement’ (John 16:8).


Salvation then, according to the Bible, is distinctly and distinctively ‘of God.’ Behold, God is my salvation …  Salvation is the gracious work of none less than the Tri-une God Himself. As salvation is His work, all the glory is His as well – not a particle of glory is ours. The Song of the Soul set Free gives all the glory to where it belongs – to the tri-une God of gods. We bow before God our Saviour, Who in amazing grace has seen fit to bestow His great salvation upon us:-


Almighty God to Thee

Be endless honours done

The undivided Three

And the mysterious One

Where reason fails with all her powers

Then faith prevails and love adores.



Copyright © Timothy J Cross. These excerpts are from a pre-published work. For permission to cite, please contact the author.