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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 41

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


The Prophet continues his sermon through this Chapter, which he had begun in the former. The chief points here dwelt upon, are the proofs of God's power and grace, in testimony of his Godhead, both in creation and redemption, in opposition to all the idols which the corruption of man's fallen nature hath set up.

Isaiah 41:1

It should seem that this verse forms an immediate inference from the last verse of the former chapter. Silent waiting upon the Lord, at his footstool, when drawing nigh, in and through Jesus, being the way to renew the spiritual strength; it were to be wished, that this humbleness of soul, and waiting for the Lord's preparation to approach his throne, were more considered than it is; for it is very awful to rush into the presence of the Lord, as the unthinking horse rushed to the battle. See those scriptures, Ecclesiastes 5:2 ; Proverbs 16:1 ; James 1:17 . and Psalms 62:1 as the margin renders it, silent before God.

Verses 2-4

In these verses, Jehovah challengeth the inquiry into is sovereignty and power, that the eternity of his nature, and the graciousness of purposes in redemption, may be fully proved. And in the instance of Abraham, the great father of the faithful, as it should seem, is meant, the righteous man. See Genesis 15:6 ; Romans 4:11; Romans 4:11 . The Chaldee paraphrase renders the words, who brought Abraham publickly from the East. And it should seem that the Lord refers, in Abraham's instance, to the slaughter of the kings; Genesis 14:14-16 . But what is yet more particularly to be regarded, in the illustration of these verses of the Prophet, is that Jehovah seems to point to the sovereignty of his distinguishing grace, in the call of Abraham. Who was it called this righteous man? And what righteousness was it he had, but the righteousness of faith in the promised redemption by Christ? And who gave him this faith? Oh! how truly blessed is it to trace the Lord's hand as the first and predisposing cause, in all dispensations, whether of providence or grace? But while we behold Abraham, let us not overlook Christ. Who raised up Jesus, the Holy One of Israel, in his mediatorial character, and gave nations before him, and made him universal Lord of angels and of men! Here is the sum and substance of the scripture, to which the whole points, and in which the whole centres. Christ is indeed the Christ of God. Acts 3:26 ; Luke 9:20 .

Verses 5-7

It is enough to read the account which the Lord here gives of idolatry, to behold the folly of it to the full. One sinner encouraging another, is among the devices of Satan, to blind the eyes of all. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 .

Verses 8-10

I beg the Reader to pause over these blessed verses, and inquire, with me, whether it be not the Lord Jesus that is here spoken to by Jehovah, when beholding him as the Husband and Head of his Church and people? There can be no doubt that such is the case in that similar passage, Isaiah 49:3 . for there the Lord Jesus is surely the Speaker. And, indeed, those blessed promises which follow, must confirm it. For all the promises of the Bible are first made to the Person of Christ, and then in Him, they are all yea and amen, to his people. And, if we accept the passage in this delightful view, what beauty and glory do we discover in it? Reader! think what condescension there must be in thy Lord, that there should be a communication of names between Christ and his people, as well as an union and interest in all that Christ hath, as Redeemer. Was it not enough, thou dear Lord, that thy Church should be called by thy name; but wilt thou he called by her's? Is this the manner of men, O Lord God? No, surely! It is indeed customary for women to take the name of their husbands, but it is peculiar to the love and condescension of our Jesus, to call himself Israel, to show his love and oneness with his spouse, the Church; 2 Samuel 7:18-19 . When the Reader hath duly pondered the gracious promises, made by Jehovah, to this glorious Israel of ours, even our Christ, to whom they were certainly made, and in whom they were certainly fulfilled, with all their precious yeas and amens: (see some more of the same kind, Psalms 89:20-29 ; and then see the reasons for them, Hebrews 5:7-10 ) when the Reader has satisfied his mind on this grand point, let him then remember, for his personal comfort and interest in the same, that what, is given to Christ, as the Head of his Church, is given also to his people in him, as his body; and from an union with him, they are interested in every one. See in proof, 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ; 2 Corinthians 1:20 .

Verses 11-13

Read the gospel, and behold the confirmation of these promises, for there needs no more; John 18:4-6 .

Verses 14-16

If the Reader will observe, he will find that all these blessed promises are made to one individual person; and, to whom could these things be said, but to the person of our Lord? As Christ himself is the great promise of the Bible, so every promise is first made to Him, and then to his people in Him. Without an union with him, there can be no pretension to a single promise. The charter of grace is: Men shall be blessed in Him; Psalms 72:17 . The Reader will not see any objection to this doctrine, from Christ's being called Jacob. That difficulty will be at once removed, from what was offered in the observations on the preceding verses: Christ not only condescends to call himself by his Church's name; but God the Father (graciously to his people) beholds him; and speaks to him, under this same name; Isaiah 49:3 . And the Reader will find a farther confirmation of this blessed doctrine, if he will consult what Christ said of himself, under the spirit of prophecy, by his servant David: I am a worm (said that holy and lowly Lamb of God) and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people; Psalms 22:6 . Oh! how truly refreshing to my soul is it, in the moment of writing, to trace Jesus in these most blessed scriptures, under such precious views, as tend to endear Him more and more, to the heart. And, Reader! be not hurt, nor let your faith stagger, that such promises were needful for Christ to receive, and to have fulfilled. For the human nature of Christ, though united to the Godhead, continued human nature still, and, as such, required communications of strength, for the work of redemption, from Jehovah. And hence it was one part of the covenant, that what the Father called him to undertake, he would enable him to perform. See Psalms 89:19-24; Psalms 89:19-24 ; Isaiah 11:1-2; Isaiah 11:1-2 ; John 3:34 . I detain the Reader one moment longer on this most beautiful and interesting passage, just to remark the very great loveliness of the similitude chosen by the Lord, to represent the lowliness of our Jesus, and the almightiness of his victories. The worm Jacob threshing the mountains, is one of the strongest figures, to set forth how Jesus, in his apparent weakness, overcame strength; for on his cross were all his triumphs accomplished. He was, as his servant, the Apostle, expresseth it, crucified through weakness, yet he liveth through the power of God; 2 Corinthians 13:4 . Never, surely, was Jesus more glorious than in the humiliation of the cross, never more triumphant, than when, in that memorable day, he threshed the mountains of leopards; when spoiling principalities, and powers, and nailing all that was against his redeemed to his cross; Colossians 2:14-15 . And how the Lord Christ gloried in his Father at that hour, the Reader will discover by consulting those scriptures of his agony in the garden, and on the cross, John 13:31-32; John 13:31-32 . Now read the garden scene, Luke 22:39-44 ; then either of the Evangelists' account of the crucifixion; and say, did not our glorious Head rejoice in Jehovah, and glory in the Holy One of Israel?

Verses 17-20

Now, Reader, having given to our glorious Head the honour due unto his holy name, in having beheld him as the individual Person spoken to, in the promises before; we shall now be the better prepared, through grace, to enter into the proper enjoyment of these sweet promises which here follow, and which, if we are Christ's, are all our own: 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ; Galatians 3:29 . And here again remark, that as all the former promises were made to one certain person, even to the worm Jacob; so here they are all made to many, even to all who are poor and needy, who seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst. Mark, I pray you, the striking difference in the persons spoken to; and, I think under divine teaching, it will be impossible but to see Christ in the one, and his people in the other. And do not overlook the Father's love in all, and the many, many blessed things here promised, which, when spiritually interpreted, are most full and blessed indeed. For what are the rivers here spoken of, but rivers of grace? And what is the wilderness, but the barren, dry, and lifeless state of our poor fallen nature? And oh, how truly blessed is it, when we see Jehovah's hand in all, and acknowledge him all! Ephesians 1:3 .

Verses 21-24

Here is a solemn and unanswerable appeal to the despisers of God and his Christ, to show cause wherefore such mercy; as is in the covenant of redemption, is slighted? What the Apostle closeth one of his sermons with, is to the same amount; and, without all doubt, the final condemnation of such men will be on this very account. Acts 13:38-41 .

Verses 25-29

W hat a blessed view is here again given of Christ, and the glorious events of his coming! It seems as if our God and Father delighted to be forever calling upon the Church to notice him. The north is perhaps an allusion to our Lord's being called out of Nazareth; for this lay north of Canaan. Some have thought that Cyrus, as a type of Christ, was alluded to; and it is true, indeed, that in a subsequent part of Isaiah's prophecy, things are spoken of Cyrus by name, and many of them are, no doubt, typical of Christ. But we lose the beauty and glory of Scripture in all instances, wherein we make use of persons or things, which are typical, any farther than the mere type becomes necessary. When they are useful as mediums to convey to the mind the great objects to which they minister, I would very thankfully use them, as I would a carriage to convey me to a friend I longed to see, when, without this means I could not well, in my own strength, perform the journey. But when I arrived at the spot where my friend was, and I saw him, and embraced him, I would spring at once from the carriage, and leave it forever to fly into his arms. Reader! if you and I behold Christ in this and other scriptures, let us do by types as we would by carriages, and make Christ what the Father hath made him, so to love him, as to give all things into his hands: John 3:35 . I do not detain you to remark how much of Christ and his gospel are contained in this short but sweet passage, for the gospel is full of nothing else, but to show his person and righteousness, and the vanity of all beside. It is Jesus who first speaks to Zion, and bringeth good tidings to Jerusalem; and God the Spirit confirms the message in the hearts of his redeemed, that God is true; Isaiah 65:1 ; John 1:36 .

Verse 29


Holy Spirit! I beseech thee, by thy gracious influences, enable me to keep silence, and in humble waitings to distinguish thy divine leadings from my own carnal reasonings, when I draw nigh the throne of grace, in and through the Lord Jesus. Then shall I indeed come properly prepared, and renew my spiritual strength. Holy Father! I bow with reverence at thy footstool. I have access to the mercy-seat in and through Christ, but it was thou that didst call Jesus to be my High Priest, and gave him dominion over the people. Yea, Lord, thou art indeed the first and the last, Jehovah from the beginning. Precious Lord Jesus! I see in thee Jehovah's counsel, purpose, grace, and will! To thee were all the promises made, in thee are they all fulfilled, and from thee thy people derive all interest and right in them. Jesus hath threshed the mountains, and in him shall all his people be more than conquerors. Yea, Lord, thou hast subdued sin and Satan for us; and it is thou, and thou alone, that wilt subdue those powers in us. Oh! Lord! how are the souls of thy redeemed already made joyful in the assurance of victory, and both rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the Holy One of Israel. Blessed, almighty Father! blessed forever be thy name, that thou hast opened in the wilderness, to the thirst of poor sinners, fountains and rivers of waters! Thou hast planted the Plant of Renown! Thou hast given the Tree of Life! Thou hast, as the husbandman, made Jesus as the vine, and his people the branches. It is thou, even thou, that hast called him from the north, and made him blessings to the people. Oh! then, when my soul, which is poor and needy, shall at anytime seek water, and there is none, when all within me and without me is fainting for thirst, Oh! be thou to me, blessed Jesus, as rivers and streams from Lebanon; yea, be in me, a well of water, springing up to everlasting life, so shall I drink and live forever!

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 41". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/isaiah-41.html. 1828.
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