By N. B. Hardeman I next call your attention to the first roman writer of note. Caius Cornelius Tacitus, whose ancestors are unknown, was born about the middle of the first century and died in the year 117. Thus he lived contemporary with the apostles and early Christians. He was chosen praetor of Rome in the year 88, and was made consul in 97. He wrote, Description of Germany, The Life of Agricola (his father-in-law), History of Rome, and Annals of Rome. He is one of the most reliable of Roman writers and his superiority of style is such that two of his books are used as texts in our best colleges. Tacitus had no respect for Christians and speaks of them in the bitterest of terms. His evidence, therefore, is the evidence of a foe, and becomes all the stronger because of such. Summing up his testimony, we offer the following:
…so He will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of Him, for they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard. (52:15; HCSB)
The servant redeemer is going to sprinkle many nations. This also seems to point to the work of the cross, as sprinkling refers to atonement that people received as the high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat and on the worshiper for consecration. The servant will cleanse the people. But what should be fascinating to us is that the sprinkling is upon the nations, that is, the Gentiles. The Gentiles are going to see something that had not been told to them. They are going to understand what they have not heard.
The word “sprinkle” may also mean “startle,” as your margins may indicate. This is also a fitting description. God was going to do something shocking and outstanding. Something amazing is going to happen and the nations are going to see and understand what took place. The contrast to this statement is made in verse 1 (now we can see that we are missing the context by starting the reading in the first verse of chapter 53).