“For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace”
It seems best to take the two first titles as a compound name, and so to recognise four such compounds.
There is a certain connection between the first and second of these which respectively lay stress on wisdom of plan and victorious energy of accomplishment, while the third and fourth are also connected, in that the former gathers into one great and tender name what Messiah is to His people, and the latter points to the character of His dominion throughout the whole earth. ‘A wonder of a counsellor, ‘ as the words may be rendered, not only suggests His giving wholesome direction to His people, but, still more, the mystery of the wisdom which guides His plans [John 7:46]. Truly, Jesus purposes wonders in the depth of His redeeming design. He intends to do great things, and to reach them by a road which none would have imagined. The counsel to save a world, and that by dying for it, is the miracle of miracles.
‘Who hath been His counsellor in that overwhelming wonder?
He needs no teacher; He is Himself the teacher of all truth.
All may have His direction, and they who follow it will not walk in darkness.’
‘The mighty God.’ Chapter 10 v. 21 absolutely forbids taking this as anything lower than the divine name. The prophet conceives of Messiah as the earthly representative of divinity, as having God with and in Him as no other man has. We are not to force upon the prophet the full New Testament doctrine of the oneness of the incarnate Word with the Father, which would be an anachronism. But we are not to fall into the opposite error, and refuse to see in these words, so startling from the lips of a rigid monotheist, a real prophecy of a divine Messiah, dimly as the utterer may have perceived the figure which he painted [John 1:1,2,14]. Note, too, that the word ‘mighty’ implies victorious energy in battle. It is often applied to human heroes, and here carries warlike connotations, kindred with the previous picture of conflict and victory. Thus strength as of God, and, in some profound way, strength which is divine, will be the hand obeying the brain that counsels wonder, and all His plans shall be effected by it.
But these are not all His qualities. He is ‘the Father of Eternity ‘—a name in which tender care and immortal life are marvellously blended [Micah 5:2]. This King will be in reality what, in old days, monarchs often called themselves and seldom were,—the Father of His people, with all the attributes of that sacred name, such as guidance, love, providing for His children’s wants. Nor can Christians forget that Jesus is the source of life to them, and that the name has thus a deeper meaning. Further, He is possessed of eternity… Dying men need and have an undying Christ. He is ‘the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.’
The whole series of names culminates in ‘the Prince of Peace,’ which He is by virtue of the characteristics expressed in the foregoing names [Rom. 5:1; John 14:27; 16:33]. The name pierces to the heart of Christ’s work. For the individual He brings peace with God, peace in the else discordant inner nature, peace amid storms of calamity—the peace of submission, of fellowship with God, of self-control, of received forgiveness and sanctifying. For nations and civic communities He brings peace which will one day hush the tumult of war, and burn chariots and all warlike implements in the fire [vv. 1-5]. The vision tarries, because Christ’s followers have not been true to their Master’s mission, but it comes, though its march is slow. We can hasten its arrival.
Verses 7 and 8 declare the perpetuity of Messiah’s kingdom, His Davidic descent, and those characteristics of His reign, which guarantee its perpetuity…
“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
“So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”
From Exposition of Holy Scripture: Isaiah and Jeremiah. Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910) was a Baptist preacher and expositor from Scotland. “He had been for almost sixty-five years a minister, entirely devoted to his calling. He lived more than almost any of the great preachers of his time between his study, his pulpit, his pen … Maclaren’s religious life was hid with Christ in God. He walked with God day by day. He loved Jesus Christ with a reverent, holy love and lived to make Him known.” www.CCEL.org.
 Stanza 3 and chorus from What Child is This? by William Dix (1865). Added by GN editor.
Biblical quotations from the KJV. Brackets indicate references added by GN editor.