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God addresses men here by two designations, the one having reference to their remoteness and isolation, and the other to their unity. To the Hebrew all distant places were islands. They were afar, scattered and lonely. Keeping silence before God and renewing strength are duties prescribed to all men, as are also the coming near and the speaking. The series of injunctions begins with silence and ends in speech.
I. Silence before God. (1) Shall we not be silent in the endeavour to realise that God is, and what He is? Unless we can bear to be silent and brood, the thought of God will not rise before us in fulness and splendour. (2) God speaks and we must listen in silence. With what glad silence should we listen to the Divine voice! Every one that would be truly in heart and soul God's must have times when he is purely passive and recipient, letting the word of God, in small select portions, drop into his soul in silence, his only effort being to realise that God is speaking. (3) Our silence in the presence of God will often take the form of thinking of ourselves. Thinking of self becomes sincere and profitable when it goes on consciously in God's presence.
II. Speech to God, following upon the silence. Silence before God leads to a stirring of the soul, a forth-putting of endeavour and a drawing nearer to God. Silence before God heaps a load on the heart, which can only be thrown off by speaking to God. Words before God give a relief that nothing else can. The relief will be in proportion to the entireness of the outpouring and to the nearness to God. If a man does not come near to God in confidence and trust, the relief obtained even by thousands of words will be small. But coming near to God and speaking to Him will relieve any soul, however burdened. And much more than freedom from pressure will be experienced. The convictions that gather in silence will be strengthened by speech. If they did not find expression they would begin to decay. Light injures roots, but it is needed for branches. In silence there is the rooting of conviction, but in speaking to God its expansion and growth.
J. Leckie, Sermons Preached at Ibrox, p. 81.
References: Isaiah 41:1 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1215; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 2.
I. Look at God in His primary relation to His creature. "I the Lord, First." Understand clearly that everything which is was first an idea in the mind of God. Thence, by a creative act, it came forth and took form and being. So God was First, long before all His works as the mould is before the castings. Here is the truth and glory of predestination, that great argument of all comfort. It places God far away, beyond our little horizon, in advance of everything. Whatever is, is to fulfil its preordained purpose; each thing coming up and rising in its turn; everything a reflection of the eternal love, care, and wisdom, which dwelt from everlasting in the mind of God.
II. "With the Last." God is the God of the years that are past. There are those who say, "This world is on the decline and growing worse." Can it be, if He who was First is with the Last the same God yesterday, today, and for ever, the equal portion of all times? Is it not sufficient argument? The golden age cannot be over. From the fleeting and the changing, from the disappointing and the dying, I yearn to ask, "Where is the true?" Where is that which my soul wants, and for which my restless spirit has so long been craving, what shall satisfy my immortality? And the answer comes, as a whisper in the desert, louder and clearer from the solitude of my heart's waste places, "I the Lord, the First, and with the Last; I am He."
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 8th series, p. 149.
I. Encouragement must be lived as well as spoken.
II. Encouragement must begin at the nearest point.
III. Encouragement must not be merely seasonal.
IV. Encouragement must not be withdrawn by frequent failures.
V. Encouragement must be true, based on reasons.
W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiv., p. 408.
References: Isaiah 41:7 . E. P. Thring, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., p. 136. Isaiah 41:9 . Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 138.
God can be God and fearless, but we can scarcely be creatures and fearless. Still less is it likely that sinful creatures should be fearless. It is more than the Father looks for under the present mode of our existence. But when the fearful thing is coming down, or when the children see it looming in the distance and are frightened, and they catch the Father's countenance, and see that He is not frightened, it wonderfully reassures the poor children to see a fearlessness on the Father's face. Heaven is full of "Fear nots." And if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, it will break out of your midnight, and up from your deepest valley too, that voice of the Father, the All-in-all.
I. Of course the meaning of the word is, in the first place, that God is our All-sufficiency, and not disrelated but related to us. God, the Creator, who has related the universal deficiency to His own universal all-sufficiency, from a blade of grass up and up and up to immortal spirits, and Himself the Father, is Himself nearer to you than any other thing which He has made. Behold that blade of grass. Is it not bathed every moment with what it needs? Does it not touch it? Does not the atmosphere press sweetly round about its edge and ask to be received, and give itself into the myriads of little mouths of the blade of grass that it may lift itself up and be strong? So can we lie in God's bosom. We are His children. It only needs to be quiet enough to feel the throbbing of the eternal heart against me, and the instreaming of the fountain spirit through all the avenues and channels of my being.
II. Consider the use the children should make of this sufficiency of their Father. See what liberties we take with God's earth. We get stones wherever we like. They are not our stones. And we get gold wherever we like, and we get iron wherever we like, and we get coal wherever we can. I hope the day will come when, even without thought or intention, we shall, from the new nature of our being, take up God as easily as the blade of grass takes up atmosphere and light. Let us enter our home enter and be comforted, as all helpless things are, to find their source of supply so near. And let us not leave our nest and then fret that our rest is gone, but abide encircled by the everlasting strength.
J. Pulsford, Penny Pulpit, No. 729.
References: Isaiah 41:10 . Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times, " vol. vii., p. 1; A. Maclaren, Old Testament Outlines, p. 201; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., No. 930, vol. xiii., No. 670; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 357; A. M. Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xv., p. 353; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 351.
Courage, its source and necessity.
I. Its source. You can scarcely fail to observe the broad sense of the Divine presence and aid which is expressed by the figures of the promise we have read, "I will hold thy right hand." The grasp of the hand is significant of close and present friendship, of the living nearness of the Deliverer. And that sense of God's presence, so near that our faith can touch His hand and hear the deep still music of His voice realised as it may be in Christ, is the source of a courage which no danger can dispel, no suffering exhaust, and no death destroy. The clearest way of illustrating this will be to take the higher forms of courage among men, and observe what states of soul are most conducive to it. (1) Beginning with the courage of active resistance, we find its great element in the fixed survey of the means of conquest. Fear rises from the contemplation of difficulties, courage from the perception of the thing to be done. Rise now to spiritual courage, and the same principle holds true. It is by the aid of God that we conquer in spiritual battle; our reliance is on the constant influence of His strengthening grace. And while our gaze is fixed on that, fear vanishes. (2) Passing on to the courage needful for passive endurance, we find that its great feature is self-surrender to the highest law of life. The Christian endures, because the law of his being has become resignation to the will of God.
II. Notice the necessity for this courage. It is essential to Christian life for three reasons. (1) It requires courage to manifest the Christian character before men. (2) It requires courage to maintain steadfast obedience to the will of God. (3) It demands courage to hold fast to our highest aspirations.
E. L. Hull, Sermons, 3rd series, p. 157.
References: Isaiah 41:14 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii., Nos. 156, 157; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 16. Isaiah 41:17 , Isaiah 41:18 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 353.Isaiah 41:22 . W. M. Punshon, Old Testament Outlines, p. 205.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 41". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13