corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.09.22
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Isaiah 41

 

 

Verses 1-18

God enters into a controversy with those who had fallen into the worship of idols.

Isaiah 41:1. Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

He challenges them to a debate. He gives them breathing time — bids them prepare themselves, and come with the best arguments that their minds could find.

Isaiah 41:2-3. Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? He gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.

Who was it that raised up Cyrus, and who made him strong to defeat the foe? Did the false gods do it? Could they claim any share therein? He puts it to them.

Isaiah 41:4. Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Long before Cyrus was born, God thus spoke of him. It is declared what work he should do. What better proof could there be that God is God? Do the false gods foretell the future? Are their oracles to be depended upon? Yet the Lord’s word is true and standeth fast for ever. “I Jehovah, first, and with the last, I am he.”

Isaiah 41:5-6. The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came. They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.

When men fight against God, they get united. What a very sad thing it is that God’s children should ever fall out. There is one sin that I never heard charged upon the devils namely, the sin of disunity. Of all the evil things we have heard, I have never heard that among the principalities of the pit there has ever been any division into sects and parties. Oh! sad that in this respect we should fall short of them. The enemies of God helped everyone, his neighbour, “and everyone said to his brother, Be of good courage.”

Isaiah 41:7. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.

What a sarcastic description of god-making this is! There is the carpenter, and then the goldsmith to spread the plates of gold over the wood, and then it is soldered, and it has to be fastened with nails. The simple facts about the making of gods are sufficient to pour ridicule upon idolatry. God deliver us from idolatry of any form or shape, whether it comes from Rome or Canterbury. May we have no symbol — no visible object of worship whatever, but get rid of all that, and before the great invisible Spirit let us bow, worshipping him in spirit and in truth. For the least touch of the symbolical soon leadeth on to the idolatrous, and what at the first seemed harmless soon cometh to be harmful so that well doth the law say, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God.” Oh! to keep clear of this great and heinous sin!

Isaiah 41:8-9. But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

The people of Israel were reserved by God that they might worship him. While other nations went to their idols, the Israelites were to be his servants, chaste in heart towards himself. It is so with the Lord’s believing people. Ye are elected and selected, chosen and ordained, and set apart. You may fear the Lord, and not give your hearts to any other. May God grant that we may be true to this our sacred trust. Notice how very sweetly in this text the Lord alludes to his friendship to Abraham, “The seed of Abraham, my friend.” When the Lord makes a friend of a man, he means it, and he keeps up that friendship to his children and his children’s children. Happy are they who have a father who is a friend of God. Just as David did good to Mephibosheth for the sake of Jonathan, so, doubtless, many blessings come to the children for the sake of their parents. The Lord keepeth mercy to the third and fourth generation, yea, and throughout all generations to them that keep his covenant.

Isaiah 41:10. Fear thou not; for I am with thee:

What cause for fear now? If I am with thee, thou needest not fear all the men on earth, nor all the demons of the pit. Fear thou not, for I am with thee.”

Isaiah 41:10. Be not dismayed; for I am thy God:

“Thy God.” Lay the stress there if you will, or “thy God, therefore thine all-sufficient helper — thine immutable, faithful, everlasting friend.”

Isaiah 41:10-12. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.

Go on, then, child of God. All thy foes that resist thy salvation shall disappear before thy onward march. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Advance to meet thy cares, and God shall take thy cares away. Only be thou strong and of a good courage, and rest in the everlasting arm, and thou shalt be more than a conqueror.

Isaiah 41:13-14. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob,

Poor worm! How can it take care of itself? Even a bird can destroy it. “Fear not, thou worm Jacob.” You know what a worm does for its defense. It is all that it can do: it hides itself in the earth. Hide thyself in thy God. Get thee into the rock, and there be hidden till the danger be overpast. “Fear not, thou worm Jacob.”

Isaiah 41:14. And ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

How many times the Lord puts it, “I will help thee”! How again and again, he saith, “Fear not”! For despondency is deeply graven in some spirits. There are some minds that seem to gravitate that way again and again, and again; and even the divine assurances have to be given repeatedly before they feel comfort. have any of you been troubled because your children do not learn the first time you teach them? See how you are towards your heavenly Father! how many times he has to teach you, line upon line, precept upon precept — here a little, and there a little; and if he hath patience with our infirmities, we may very readily have patience with the infirmities of our little ones.

Isaiah 41:15. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth:

He will make poor feeble worms to be like that great corn-drag which they were accustomed to draw over the straw to bruise out the wheat.

Isaiah 41:15-16. Thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.

Truly, when mountains are beaten into chaff, and blown away with the winnowing fan, there is room for rejoicing and magnifying God. If there were no difficulties, there would be no victories. If we had no trials, we should have no tests of Jehovah’s strength; but out of our afflictions we get our joys. The deeper our sorrows, the higher our exultations when God helps us through them.

Isaiah 41:17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

What a blessed promise that is! God thinks of poor and needy men. When they are in their greatest extremity, with nothing to quench their thirst, and they are ready to die, then he is pleased to make the rocks run with rivers, in order that they may be supplied.

Isaiah 41:18. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.


Verses 1-20

Isaiah 41:1. Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

God invites people to argue with him. He bids them first “listen” to him, and then speak to him. They had been worshipping idols, so the Lord shows them that the idols are nothing, and that all worship paid to them is a lie. He begins by asking a question:?

Isaiah 41:2. Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his east, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.

These words are supposed to allude to Cyrus, who came “from the east”, and conquered “the nations”, and then did good to the house of Israel. It was God who spoke of Cyrus long before he was born. What idol god has been able to utter any prophecy? Only the Most High who lives in heaven can foretell things to come. One of the best proofs of our holy religion is to be found in the prophecies which have been fulfilled to the letter in various countries, and at different periods. Now, when they dig up old stones, that have been hidden for hundreds of years from the eyes of men, they see the proofs of how God saw into the future, and bade his prophets foretell the things that should be hereafter.

Isaiah 41:4. Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.

They helped every one his neighbour; and ever one said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the soldering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.

A very graphic picture of the making of an idol. The people were afraid of Cyrus, so they began to appeal to their gods. A pretty god it must have been that had to be made by a carpenter! Then the wood had to be covered with gold plates by the goldsmith, and the god would not be complete without the help of a man smoothing with a hammer and a smith smiting upon an anvil. When it was made, they had to solder it to keep it together; and they had to get nails to fasten it in its place lest, like Dagon, it should fall down and be broken. This is nothing but literal truth; yet what sarcasm it is upon idolatry! What good can come of idols that are made by men, idols that cannot move, and must be fixed in their places with soldering irons?

Isaiah 41:8. But thou, Israel, art my servant,

You do not worship idols; you worship Jehovah, the living and true God.

Isaiah 41:8. Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

What a title for God to give to a man, “Abraham my friend”! Could not we also endeavor to get into God’s friendship, where Abraham was; to trust and love God much; to talk with him much, and enjoy high and holy fellowship with him?

Isaiah 41:9. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

To many here this verse will come home very sweetly. God is your God. and you are God’s servants. he has chosen you; he will never repent of his choice; his election is never changed. “I have Chosen thee, and not cast thee away;” and you have chosen him, and you will not cast him away. By his grace, you will never leave your God, nor forsake the ways of Christ. May his mercy keep you faithful, even to the end!

Isaiah 41:10. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:

Where God is, there is no cause for fear: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee.” That is a grand argument. “Be not dismayed; for I am thy God.” Everything we need lies within the compass of those words.

Isaiah 41:10. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Beloved believer, are you weak tonight? Claim this precious promise, “I will strengthen thee.” Have you something to do that is quite beyond your strength? Take hold of this comforting word, “I will help thee.” Are you ready to slip? Do you feel as if you must fall? Lean on this gracious message, “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Do not let these precious pearls lie at your feet to be trodden on; pick them up, and wear them, and beautify the neck of your faith with them.

Isaiah 41:11. Behold, all they that are incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.

Your sins, your temptations, everything that would keep you out of heaven, and drive you away from God, the Lord will overcome all these enemies of yours, and deliver you.

Isaiah 41:12-13. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

That is the second time that we have had that precious promise to forbid our fear; first in verse 10, and now in verse 13, “I will help thee.”

Isaiah 41:14. Fear not, thou worm Jacob,

You are earthly, groveling, weak, like a worm; yet even you need not fear:

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob.”

Isaiah 41:14. And ye men of Israel; I will help thee,

That is the third time that we have had that promise, “I will help thee.” “Ring that silver bell again,” says the Holy Spirit to Isaiah, “let it comfort my tired ones.” “I will help thee.”

Isaiah 41:14. Saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy one of Israel.

I was wonderstruck, as I looked at this verse, to find it put “Thou worm Jacob, I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy God,” that is the Hebrew word which is translated “Redeemer”, “Thy next of kin.” Is the next of kin to a worm the Almighty God? Does he undertake to be our Brother, to pay the redemption price for us, because he is our Kinsman? So the text says. Let us drink in the comfort of it: “Thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” In order to become our Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel himself became “a worm, and no man.”

Isaiah 41:15. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small. and shalt make the hills as chaff.

The Easterns drag a wooden machine over the corn to fetch out the grain from the ear. This is called a corn-drag, and they put teeth in it, similar to the teeth of a harrow. God said that he would turn his Church, his people, into a new corn-drag, with teeth sharp and tearing, and that they should go against their difficulties, which were like mountains, and against their trials, which were like hills, and they should thresh them small, and make them to be like chaff.

Isaiah 41:16. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.

All difficulty is gone, torn to pieces small as chaff, and then winnowed away, as the chaff is blown from among the heap on the threshing floor. What a promise this is! You who fear God, believe it, go and practice it, and see if God does not make your greatest difficulties utterly to disappear. Now come two sweet verses:?

Isaiah 41:17. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

See what God can do. Men are thirsty, they have no water; and lo! of a sudden, behold rivers, fountains, springs, pools, floods; for God does nothing in halves. He is an all-sufficient, overflowing God. When he gives, he gives like a king. He does not measure his gifts of water by the pint and by the gallon; but here you have pools, and springs, and rivers. When he has given waters, he will give trees to grow by the waters. When God gives blessing, he makes other blessings to spring out of it.

Isaiah 41:19. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:

Making a paradise of streams of water and lovely trees, evergreen trees of the most comely aspect, and of great variety. See what God can do. Where there is a wilderness, where there were hills and valleys, and all was dry and parched, he makes woods and forests, rivers and fountains. He can do all things. Oh, that we had faith in him! But we forget him: we turn not to him; we look everywhere but to God; we try every method except that of trusting in the living God. Have we a God? If so, why do we act as we sometimes do? Martin Luther was a very cheerful man, as a rule; but he had terrible fits of depression. he was at one time so depressed that his friends recommended him to go away for a change of air, to see if he could get relief. he went away; but he came home as miserable as ever; and when he went into the sitting-room, his wise wife Kate, Catherine von Bora, was sitting there, dressed in black, and her children round about her, all in black. “Oh, oh!” said Luther, “who is dead?” “Why,” said she, “doctor, have not you heard that God is dead? My husband, Martin Luther, would never be in such a state of mind if he had a living God to trust to.” Then he burst into a hearty laugh, and said, “Kate, thou art a wise woman. I have been acting as if God were dead, and I will do so no more. Go and take off thy black.” If God be alive, why are we discouraged? If we have a God to look to, why are we cast down? Let us rejoice and be glad together; for God will do all that he has promised, for this reason:?

Isaiah 41:20. That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

God wants you to know that he is at work on your behalf. he wants you so to trust him as to see how his promises can be applied to your case, and what his right hand can accomplish even for you. Let us trust him tonight with all our hearts.


Verses 8-20

Isaiah 41:8. But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom l have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

Let us, for the time being, forget the people to whom this message was addressed, and see whether it might not be spoken to ourselves. Come, my friend, art thou truly God’s servant? Dost thou delight to do his will, and to walk in his ways? If so, then thou art God’s chosen; for, wherever there is the true spirit of obedience to the Lord, it is the result of his grace, and grace never comes except from the well-head of electing love. If thou art God’s servant, thou art God’s chosen. Then, see to it that thou dost walk and live as one of the seed of Abraham, whom God calls, “my friend.” It was very touching, the other day, to notice how the Queen spoke of one who was her servant, but who had gained the friendship of his royal mistress. So the Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends.” May we so faithfully serve him that it will be fitting for the Lord to speak of us in all three of these terms: “Thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.”

Isaiah 41:9. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

May the Lord just now say that to each one of you who are his servants! Especially, may he say the latter part of it, “I have not cast thee away”! Many times, he might have done so if he had dealt with us according to our deserts. “Dismiss me not thy service, Lord,” is a prayer we ought often to put up, for, in that service, we are far from perfect. I think I speak for all sane Christians; — I do not undertake to speak for certain insane ones that abound at this time, — but I believe that all sane servants of the Lord confess that they are such poor servants that their wonder is that they have not been dismissed from his service. Yet it is sweet to hear him say, “I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”

Isaiah 41:10. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:

Oh, the riches of that word, “I am thy God”! That is more than “Thy Friend, thy Helper.” “I am thy God.”

Isaiah 41:10. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; —

First, “I will give thee strength, and then I will use my own strength on thy behalf: ‘I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;’” —

Isaiah 41:10. Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

The poor child of God seems to cry, “Lord, thou sayest, ‘I will help thee,’ but I can hardly stand; I am such a babe, I have not yet learned to stand alone.” “Well, then,” says God, “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Are any of you afraid that you will slip with your feet? Are you put in very perplexing positions, so that you hardly know which way to turn? Then rest on this sweet promise, “Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:11. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.

The Lord Jesus Christ will put to rout all the enemies of his people. Their sins and their sorrows, their foes and their woes, shall alike be scattered to the wind.

Isaiah 41:12. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.

You know how it happened to Pharaoh and all his hosts; the Israelites could not find them after the Lord had overthrown them in the Red Sea. The psalmist sang, long afterwards, concerning the Egyptians who were drowned, “There was not one of them left.” So shall it be with all those whom you now fear and dread; God shall appear, and work such a deliverance for you that you shall wonder where your trouble is. It shall be drowned, utterly washed away, like the Egyptians whom the children of Israel saw no more.

Isaiah 41:13-14. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

You must not miss those charming words, dear friends. Let me read them again. Some of you will want them, so do not miss them. There is some medicine here that you will need, may be, before long: “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”

Isaiah 41:15. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.

You know the corn-drag was made rough at the bottom, as though it had sharp teeth, and when it was drawn over the wheat after it was spread out on the threshing-floor, the grain was separated from the chaff. So God tells his people, if they trust him, that he will make them into a threshing instrument having teeth, and they shall thresh, not ordinary harvests, but shall thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff. No task is too hard for God’s people to accomplish when God is with them; difficulties vanish, and their fears are driven before the wind, when God strengthens them.

Isaiah 41:16. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.

Come, ye that are drooping in spirit, here is God’s promise to you that you shall overcome all your difficulties, and then shall rejoice in God. “Oh!” say you, “I could rejoice in God if he enabled me to do that. Put the “if” away, and believe that he is about to help you, and anticipate the victory he is going to give you by singing the song of faith.

Isaiah 41:17. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, —

They have come to such a state that they cannot even tell their wants; they do not know how to speak to others about their grief, or even to describe it to themselves. “Their tongue faileth for thirst.” What then?

Isaiah 41:17. I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

“But, Lord, they could not speak. Didst thou not say, ‘Their tongue faileth’? Yet thou sayest, ‘I the Lord will hear them.’” It shows, dear friends, that a groan is a prayer, a sigh is a prayer, and that, even if we cannot get as far as to sigh or groan, our very hunger and thirst make up a prayer before God: “I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.”

Isaiah 41:18. I will open rivers in high places,-

That is an unusual place to find rivers; but God does strange things when he shows mercy to the poor and needy: “I will open rivers in high places,” —

Isaiah 41:18. And fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

There shall be enough and to spare; there shall be an abundance of the water of which before they could not find a single drop. When God is gracious to a soul, he is gracious. When his mercy is made to enter a man’s heart, then he pours floods upon him. No little grace will God bestow, but endless grace, and boundless grace, “and crown that grace with glory, too.”

Isaiah 41:19-20. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

May these gracious promises be fulfilled in you and me, that we may praise our faithful covenant-keeping God for ever and ever! Amen.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 41:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/isaiah-41.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology