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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 12

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Isaiah 12:0


Thanksgiving ExpressedA Hymn of PraiseTwo SongsHymn of ThanksgivingPsalm
Isaiah 12:1-6Isaiah 12:1-2Isaiah 12:1-2Isaiah 12:1-3Isaiah 12:1-2
Isaiah 12:3Isaiah 12:3-4Isaiah 12:3-6
Isaiah 12:4-6Isaiah 12:4-6
Isaiah 12:5-6

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compareyour subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. This (or these) hymns of praise closes out “Immanuel's book” (i.e., Isa. 7-12).

B. Because the opening phrase, “on that day” is repeated in Isaiah 12:4, some (JB, NASB Study Bible) think there are two hymns.

Isaiah 12:1. Isaiah 12:1-3, cf. Exodus 15:1-17; Psalms 118:0

Isaiah 12:2. Isaiah 12:4-6, cf. Psalms 105:1; Psalms 148:13

C. It is similar to Exodus 15:0 (the song of Moses) and Psalms 118:0. Often at times of great victory or deliverance, Israel composed hymns of praise to their God.

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 12:1-6 1Then you will say on that day, “I will give thanks to You, O LORD; For although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, And You comfort me. 2Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.” 3Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation. 4And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.” 5Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. 6Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 12:1 “you will say” The VERB (BDB 55, KB 65, Qal PERFECT) denotes a settled attitude of an individual Israelite (SINGULAR). It is much like the song of victory found in Exodus 15:1-17. This is also a song of praise for YHWH's deliverance . One person speaks on behalf of the covenant community.

This brief poem was placed here because it connects to the return from exile mentioned in Isaiah 11:11-16. It also has a relation to the theological goal of the nations knowing and coming to YHWH (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 12:4-6).

“on that day” This is an idiom for YHWH's action within history, either temporally or eschatologically. There is a time of reckoning coming. For some, a time of joy and victory, for others a time of judgment and rejection! Covenant disobedience affects time and eternity!

Because this phrase appears in both v. Isaiah 12:1 and Isaiah 12:4 it is possible that this chapter is two hymns of praise (cf. JB).

“I will give thanks” This VERB (BDB 392, KB 389 II, Hiphil IMPERFECT used in a COHORTATIVE sense) basically means “to throw” or “to cast.” However, especially in the Psalms, in the Hiphil stem it denotes “to confess” or “to praise.” It is found in Isaiah in Isaiah 12:1, Isaiah 12:4; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 38:18, Isaiah 38:19.

“O LORD” See Special Topic: Names for Deity.

“although You were angry with me” This reflects YHWH's reaction to His covenant love being violated repeatedly (cf. Isaiah 40:1-2; Isaiah 54:8; and many others). God's wrath is difficult for many Bible readers to understand. For me a comparison of Deuteronomy 5:9 with Isaiah 5:10 and Isaiah 7:9 helps. God's anger is best understood as parental discipline (cf. Hebrews 12:5-13).

“Your anger is turned away” This VERB (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal JUSSIVE) is often translated “repent,” when used of humans. In a sense YHWH repents (i.e., changed His mind and actions) toward His covenant people (i.e., Hosea 11:8-9). In the OT it is often specifically connected to their repentance. However, in the NT (and new covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-38) it is motivated by His grace and mercy, apart from fallen humanity's ability to perform/conform/reform!

“And You comfort me” This VERB (BDB 636, KB 688, Piel IMPERFECT) means “comfort,” or “console” (cf. Isaiah 22:4; Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 51:3, Isaiah 51:12, Isaiah 51:19; Isaiah 61:2; Isaiah 66:13). After judgment comes comfort; after discipline fellowship is restored! There is hope for rebels and sinners in the unchanging merciful character of YHWH (cf. Malachi 3:6).

Isaiah 12:2 “God is my salvation” There is no VERB in this line of poetry, which intensifies the phrase.

For the term “salvation” (BDB 447) see Special Topic: Salvation (OT Term).

“I will trust” This VERB (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal IMPERFECT) denotes that which is firm (i.e., reliable) or “to fall prostrate before.” This VERB expresses a confident reliance on God (cf. Isaiah 26:3, Isaiah 26:4; Psalms 78:22).

“and not be afraid” This VERB (BDB 808, KB 922, Qal IMPERFECT) is the opposite of trust (cf. Deuteronomy 28:66; Isaiah 44:8, Isaiah 44:11). Because they trust YHWH, there is no reason to fear His wrath, but rely on His covenant love and promises (cf. 1 John 4:17-18)!

“the LORD GOD” This is two related titles for Deity.

1. יה, BDB 219 contraction of YHWH (cf. Exodus 17:16; Psalms 118:14; Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 38:11)

2. יהוה, BDB 217 (YHWH)

For a full discussion of the theories connected to the covenant name of God from the VERB “to be,” see Special Topic: Names for Deity.

“my strength and song” Like Isaiah 12:2a, there is no VERB with these two NOUNS, which are pointed by the Masoretic scholars.

1. strength, BDB 738, describes the “Servant” in Isaiah 49:5 and Israel's praise in Psalms 81:1

2. song, BDB 274 I; these same two NOUNS are found in Moses' song of victory in Exodus 15:2, also in Psalms 118:14

The meaning of the second NOUN, הרמז is uncertain (BDB 275 II).

1. song, NASB, NKJV, NJB, Peshitta (BDB 274 I, KB 274 I)

2. might, NRSV, TEV, JPSOA (KB 274 II)

3. LXX has “my glory and my praise”

4. REB has “my refuge and defense”

5. the same form (זמרת) as here appears in Genesis 43:11, where it is translated “the best products of the land”

It is surprising that line 1 seems to affirm something that line 4 sees as progressive. Hebrew poetry is ambiguous. See Special Topic: Hebrew Poetry.

Isaiah 12:3 The VERB has two metaphors.

1. God's gift of life-giving water, so important to those who depend on agriculture and livestock. Good water was seen as a blessing from God (cf. Deuteronomy 27-29).

2. Salvation/deliverance is described as an abundant source of God's gift (cf. Isaiah 48:18; Psalms 36:9; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13).

“you” The SINGULAR of Isaiah 12:1-2 changes to the PLURAL of collective joy (cf. Isaiah 12:4-6).

Isaiah 12:4-6 These verses list the things God's joyful, grateful people (cf. Isaiah 12:6b) should do and why (Isaiah 12:5b; 6b)

1. give thanks, BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil IMPERATIVE, cf. Isaiah 12:1 (i.e., worship setting)

2. call on His name, BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal IMPERATIVE (i.e., worship setting)

3. make known His deeds among the peoples, BDB 393, KB 390, HIphil IMPERATIVE

4. make them remember that His name is exalted, BDB 269, KB 269, Hiphil IMPERATIVE

5. praise the Lord in song, BDB 274 I, KB 273, Piel IMPERATIVE (i.e., worship setting)

6. let this be known through the earth, Kethiv (it is written) BDB 393, KB 390, Pual PARTICIPLE; Qere (it is read) BDB 393, KB 390, Hophal PARTICIPLE (Owens, Analytical Key has Hiphil PARTICIPLE)

7. cry aloud, BDB 843, KB 1007, Qal IMPERATIVE, cf. Isaiah 54:1

8. shout for joy, BDB 943, KB 1247, Qal IMPERATIVE, cf. Isaiah 54:1

Again notice the missionary mandate (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 51:4-5).

Isaiah 12:4 “call on His name” This phrase implies participation in a worship setting (cf. Genesis 4:26; Genesis 12:8; Genesis 21:33; Genesis 26:25; Exodus 34:5-7; Romans 10:9-13). The name would represent His person, His character! By calling on Him we acknowledge our need for Him and our desire to be like Him and pleasing to Him. This phrase denotes a desire for fellowship (cf. Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 45:3, Isaiah 45:4)!

The NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 150, has a good list related to YHWH's name.

1. it can be praised, Joel 2:26

2. it can be loved, Psalms 5:11

3. it can be declared, Psalms 22:22

4. it can be feared, Malachi 4:2

5. it can be waited on, Psalms 52:9

6. it can be proclaimed, Isaiah 12:4

7. it can be walked on, Micah 4:5

8. it can be blasphemed, Isaiah 52:5

9. it can be polluted, Jeremiah 34:6

10. it can be profaned, Ezekiel 36:21-23

God's people can reflect Him positively or negatively, but we do reflect Him (cf. Matthew 5:13-16)!

Isaiah 12:5 “Let this be known throughout the earth” YHWH's goal is that all humans made in His image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:27); created with fellowship with Himself (cf. Genesis 3:8) return to an intimate, daily faith relationship with their Creator! This is the goal of revelation (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 25:6-9; Isaiah 42:6-12; Isaiah 45:22-23; Isaiah 49:5-6; Isaiah 51:4-5; Isaiah 56:6-8; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 66:23; Psalms 22:27; 66:24; Psalms 86:8-10; Micah 4:1-4; Malachi 1:11; John 3:16; John 4:42; 1 Timothy 2:4; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 4:14).

Isaiah 12:6 This verse is set in the Temple in Jerusalem. The space between the wings of the two Cherubim over the Ark of the Covenant was seen as YHWH's footstool, the place where heaven and earth met. This description parallels the child's name, “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” There is no greater blessing than the presence of YHWH and a personal relationship with Him!

“the Holy One of Israel” See notes at Isaiah 1:11, Isaiah 1:24.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Isaiah 12". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/isaiah-12.html. 2021.
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