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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Isaiah 40:31

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
New American Standard Bible

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Blessing;   Desire;   God Continued...;   Power;   Readings, Select;   Righteous;   Waiting;   Worship;   Thompson Chain Reference - Attitudes of the Christian;   Birds;   Eagles;   New;   Power;   Promises, Divine;   Renewal, Spiritual;   Seven;   Source of Spiritual Power;   Strength;   Wait upon God;   Weakness-Power;   The Topic Concordance - Fainting;   Waiting;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Eagle, the;   Saints, Compared to;   Waiting upon God;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Image;   Isaiah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Restore, Renew;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Eagle;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Delilah;   Jacob;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Future Hope;   God;   Isaiah;   Providence;   Wing;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Eagle;   Micah, Book of;   Righteousness;   Servant of the Lord;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Eagle ;   Walk (2);   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Eagle;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Eagle;   Faint;   God, Names of;   Renew;   Text of the Old Testament;   Wings;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Courage;   God;   Patience;   Usque;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for September 10;   Every Day Light - Devotion for November 15;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Isaiah 40:31. They shall mount up with wings as eagles - "They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle"] It has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigour to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth. "Thou shalt renew thy youth like the eagle," says the psalmist, Psalms 103:5; on which place St. Ambrose notes, Aquila longam aetatem ducit, dum, vetustis plumis fatiscentibus, nova pennarum successione juvenescit: - "The eagle lives to a very advanced age; and in moulting his youth is renewed with his new feathers."

Phile, De Animalibus, treating of the eagle, and addressing himself to the emperor Michael Palaeologus junior, raises his compliment upon the same notion: -

Τουτου συ, βασιλευ, τον πολυν ζωοις βιον,

Αει νεουργων, και κρατυνων την φυσιν.

"Long may'st thou live, O king; still like the eagle

Renew thy youth, and still retain thy vigour."

To this many fabulous and absurd circumstances are added by several ancient writers and commentators on Scripture; see Bochart, Hieroz. II. ii. 1. Rabbi Saadias says, Every tenth year the eagle flies near the sun; and when not able any longer to bear the burning heat, she falls down into the sea, and soon loses her feathers, and thus renews her vigour. This she does every tenth year till the hundredth, when, after she has ascended near the sun, and fallen into the sea, she rises no more. How much proof do such stories require! Whether the notion of the eagle's renewing his youth is in any degree well founded or not, I need not inquire; it is enough for a poet, whether profane or sacred, to have the authority of popular opinion to support an image introduced for illustration or ornament. - L

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​isaiah-40.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Israel’s incomparable God (40:12-31)

Should any doubt God’s ability to re-establish Israel in its homeland, the psalm of praise that follows drives away those doubts. God is the great Creator; the universe appears insignificant compared with him. He does whatever he wants, without any help or advice from his creatures (12-14). Israel has no need to fear Babylon or any other ruling power, for nations also are insignificant and powerless before him (15-17). How absurd, therefore, for people to make lifeless idols and trust in them instead of in the living, almighty God. Yahweh’s people need have no fear of Babylon’s gods (18-20).
Since Yahweh created all and rules over all, the leaders of the nations are as powerless before him as ants or grasshoppers. They are as easily destroyed as dry grass (21-24). On the earth or in the heavens, God controls all (25-26).
In view of all this, the Jewish exiles need not become discouraged through thinking that God is either unwilling or unable to help them. He has not forgotten them, nor has he lost his power. Through him the weak can be made strong (27-29). Those who trust in their own strength will fail, no matter how capable they may appear to be. But those who trust in God will be constantly strengthened by his power, which will lead them on victoriously (30-31).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​isaiah-40.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

“Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest thou, O Israel, My way is hid from Jehovah, and the justice due to me is passed away from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? The everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary; there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Kelley and others suppose that these words of reproach coming here in Isaiah 40:27 from the Jews and directed against Jehovah were due to the terrible anguish the people were suffering in their captivity. However, there is not even a hint of such things in the text. This attitude on the part of the chosen people was characteristic of nearly any period in their long history of distrust and rebellion against God and by no means was confined to the captivity.Ibid., p. 301. As a matter of truth, the Jews fared very well in Babylon; and the vast majority of them found it so good there that they even refused to go back to Jerusalem when the opportunity finally came. Remember, it was only a “remnant,” and a very pitifully small one, that returned.

Of course, Isaiah designed these words to be of special comfort to Israel during the captivity who had prophesied in the preceding chapter; and the big admonition here is that Israel should stabilize and comfort herself by leaning “Upon God, (1) the everlasting; (2) the Creator; (3) the unwearied; and (4) the unsearchable.”The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 10b, p. 70.

The word “wait” (Isaiah 40:31) is of unusual interest. Kelley informs us that:

“The basic word from which `wait’ is derived means `to wind’ or `to twist,’ the word `rope’ being a noun that comes from this term. The meaning here is that the believer should let the Lord be his lifeline, his cord of escape.”Broadman Bible Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971), p. 302.

Some are tempted to view the last clauses of Isaiah 40:31 as an anticlimax, that is, in the words flying, running, and walking; but as Kelley noted:

“The man of faith may sometimes soar on eagles’ wings, or run without wearing; but most of the time he will merely walk. And the real test of his faith comes, not when he flies or runs, but when he must plod along. It is in the monotony of everyday life that the man of faith reveals his true character.”Ibid.

As Hailey noted, “`They that wait for Jehovah’ is another favorite expression of Isaiah.”Homer Hailey, p. 340. As we have already observed, the vocabulary, style, and favorite expressions of this great prophet are so abundantly used in this chapter that they are as valuable in the identification of Isaiah as the author of it, as would be a half dozen signatures!

It is curious that Lowth rendered a portion of Isaiah 40:31 thus, “They shall put forth fresh feathers.” His comment on this tells of a common and popular opinion, “that the eagle lives and retains his vigor to a great age; and that beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth. Psalms 103:5 has this: `Thou shalt renew thy youth like the eagle.’“Robert Lowth’s Commentary, p. 319.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​isaiah-40.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But they that wait upon the Lord - The word rendered ‘wait upon’ here (from קוה qâvâh), denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‘to wait on Yahweh,’ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him. It is applicable to those who are in circumstances of danger or want, and who look to him for his merciful interposition. Here it properly refers to those who were suffering a long and grievous captivity in Babylon, and who had no prospect of deliverance but in him. The phrase is applicable also to all who feel that they are weak, feeble, guilty, and helpless, and who, in view of this, put their trust in Yahweh. The promise or assurance here is general in its nature, and is as applicable to his people now as it was in the times of the captivity in Babylon. Religion is often expressed in the Scriptures by ‘waiting on Yahweh,’ that is, by looking to him for help, expecting deliverance through his aid, putting trust in him (see Psalms 25:3, Psalms 25:5, Psalms 25:21; Psalms 27:14; Psalms 37:7, Psalms 37:9, Psalms 37:34; Psalms 69:3; compare Isaiah 8:17, note; Isaiah 30:18, note).

It does not imply inactivity, or want of personal exertion; it implies merely that our hope of aid and salvation is in him - a feeling that is as consistent with the most strenuous endeavors to secure the object, as it is with a state of inactivity and indolence. Indeed, no man can wait on God in a proper manner who does not use the means which he has appointed for conveying to us his blessing. To wait on him without using any means to obtain his aid, is to tempt him; to expect miraculous interposition is unauthorized, and must meet with disappointment. And they only wait on him in a proper manner who expect his blessing in the common modes in which he imparts it to men - in the use of those means and efforts which he has appointed, and which he is accustomed to bless. The farmer who should wait for God to plow and sow his fields, would not only be disappointed, but would be guilty of provoking Him. And so the man who waits for God to do what he ought to do; to save him without using any of the means of grace, will not only be disappointed, but will provoke his displeasure.

Shall renew their strength - Margin, ‘Change.’ The Hebrew word commonly means to change, to alter; and then to revive, to renew, to cause to flourish again, as, e. g., a tree that has decayed and fallen down (see the note at Isaiah 9:10; compare Job 14:7). Here it is evidently used in the sense of renewing, or causing to revive; to increase, and to restore that which is decayed. It means that the people of God who trust in him shall become strong in faith; able to contend with their spiritual foes, to gain the victory over their sins, and to discharge aright the duties, and to meet aright the trials of life. God gives them strength, if they seek him in the way of his appointment - a promise which has been verified in the experience of his people in every age.

They shall mount up with wings as eagles - Lowth translates this ‘They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle;’ and in his note on the passage remarks, that ‘it has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigor to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth.’ He supposes that the passage in Psalms 103:5, ‘So that thy youth is renewed like the eagles,’ refers to this fact. That this was a common and popular opinion among the ancients, is clearly proved by Bochart (Hieroz. ii. 2. 1. pp. 165-169). The opinion was, that at stated times the eagle plunged itself in the sea and cast off its old feathers, and that new feathers started forth, and that thus it lived often to the hundredth year, and then threw itself in the sea and died. In accordance with this opinion, the Septuagint renders this passage, ‘They shall put forth fresh feathers (πτεροφυήσουσιν pterophuēsousin) like eagles.’ Vulgate, Assument pennas sicut aquiloe.

The Chaldee renders it, ‘They who trust in the Lord shall be gathered from the captivity, and shall increase their strength, and renew their youth as a germ which grows up; upon wings of eagles shall they run and not be fatigued.’ But whatever may be the truth in regard to the eagle, there is no reason to believe that Isaiah here had any reference to the fact that it moults in its old age. The translation of Lowth was derived from file Septuagint, and not from the Hebrew text. The meaning of the Hebrew is simply, ‘they shall ascend on wings as eagles,’ or ‘they shall lift up the wings as eagles;’ and the image is derived from the fact that the eagle rises on the most vigorous wing of any bird, and ascends apparently further toward the sun. The figure, therefore, denotes strength and vigor of purpose; strong and manly piety; an elevation above the world; communion with God, and a nearness to his throne - as the eagle ascends toward the sun.

They shall run and not be weary - This passage, also, is but another mode of expressing the same idea - that they who trust in God would be vigorous, elevated, unwearied; that he would sustain and uphold them; and that in his service they would never faint. This was at first designed to be applied to the Jews in captivity in Babylon to induce them to put their trust in God. But it is as true now as it was at that time. It has been found in the experience of thousands and tens of thousands, that by waiting on the Lord the heart has been invigorated; the faith has been confirmed; and the affections have been raised above the world. Strength has been given to bear trial without complaining, to engage in arduous duty without fainting, to pursue the perilous and toilsome journey of life without exhaustion, and to rise above the world in hope and peace on the bed of death.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​isaiah-40.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

31.But they that wait for Jehovah. Hebrew writers employ the phrase, “exchanging strength,” (131) to denote “gathering new strength,” and thus “being restored.” The Prophet therefore shews, that godly persons, who shall hope in God, will not be deficient in strength; and he confirms what he formerly said,

“In rest and silence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15.)

We must not become agitated, or throw ourselves forward rashly, but “wait” patiently. In this passage, therefore, waiting means nothing else than patience. Violent men dash themselves to pieces by their own eagerness, but the vigor of godly men, though it has less display, and often appears to lie buried while they calmly “wait for” God’s assistance, is refreshed and renewed. We must therefore return to the saying of Paul, that

“the power of God is made perfect in our weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9.)

We must, therefore be fully convinced of our weakness, that we may yield to the power of God. The Jews, who were oppressed by that cruel captivity, had great need of this doctrine; but for us also, during this wretchedly ruinous condition of the Church, it is exceedingly needful.

They shall raise their wings as eagles. It is generally believed that the Prophet uses this phrase in the same sense that the Psalmist says,

“Thy youth shall be renewed like that of the eagle.”
(Psalms 103:5.)

It is certain that the “eagle” is very long-lived as compared with other birds.

Aristotle and Pliny affirm that it never dies of old age, but of hunger; that is, that when the upper part of the beak becomes too large, it cannot take food into its mouth, and for a long time subsists entirely on what it drinks. One Zaadias, as all Jews are audacious in constructing fables, pretends that the eagle flies upward into the region that is near the sun, and approaches the sun so closely, that its old wings are burned, and other new ones grow in their place; but this is utterly absurd and fabulous. The Prophet means that they who trust in the Lord will be vigorous, like eagles, till the most advanced old age. But seeing that eagles fly higher than other birds, by which they shew remarkable swiftness, which has also given rise to the proverb, “An eagle among the clouds,” this passage may be understood to denote not only long life, but also strength and agility; so that Isaiah, after having shewn that their strength is recruited, adds that they are more vigorous, and ascend to a great height. Such is also the import of what follows, —

They shall run and shall not be weary. It is as if he had said, that the Lord will assist them, so that they shall pursue their course without any molestation. It is a figurative expression, by which he intimates that believers (132) will always be ready to perform their duty with cheerfulness. But it will be said, “There are so many troubles which we must endure in this life; how then does he say that we shall be exempt from weariness?” I reply, believers are indeed distressed and wearied, but they are at length delivered from their distresses, and feel that they have been restored by the power of God; for it happens to them according to the saying of Paul,

“While we are troubled on every side, we are not overwhelmed; we are perplexed, but are not in despair; we suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but are not destroyed.”
(2 Corinthians 4:8.)

Let us therefore learn to flee to the Lord, who, after we have encountered many storms, will at length conduct us to the harbor; for he who hath opened up a path, and hath commanded us to advance in that course in which he hath placed us, does not intend to assist us only for a single day, and to forsake us in the middle of our course, (Philippians 1:6,) but will conduct us to the goal.

(131) “The phrase translated ‘they shall gain new strength,’ properly means ‘they shall exchange strength;’ but the usage of the verb determines its specific meaning to be that of changing for the better, or improving. The sense is therefore correctly given in the English Version (‘they shall renew their strength’).” —Alexander.

(132) Les fideles.

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​isaiah-40.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Chapter 40

But he's talking about a whole new message of God for the people as we get into the new covenant of God. And so it is appropriate that this new section of Isaiah begins with the word of the Lord declaring,

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all of her sins ( Isaiah 40:1-2 ).

So the day of God's forgiveness, reconciliation.

The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God ( Isaiah 40:3 ).

You remember when John the Baptist began his ministry that many people gathered out to him there at the Jordan River. And the Pharisees came unto John and they said, "Who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "Nope." "Are you Jeremiah?" "Nope." "Are you the Messiah?" "Nope." "Then who are you?" And he quoted this scripture, "I am the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord" ( John 1:23 ). So he quoted to them this prophecy of Isaiah. And so we are coming into the new age, into the New Testament era, as from this point on Isaiah really begins to zero in on the coming Messiah. "The voice of him that cried in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'"

Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill will be brought down: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain ( Isaiah 40:4 ):

The Lord's going to smooth out things. Going to fill in the valleys and bring down the hills. He's going to straighten the crooked paths and smooth things out.

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it ( Isaiah 40:5 ).

And so God declares the day when His glory will be revealed and all will see it. What a glorious day! How we anticipate that glorious day of the return of Jesus Christ when every eye shall see Him in His glory. That's more or less an introduction to this new section. And now he cries out declaring the weakness and the frailty of man as it is contrasted with the glory and power of God.

The voice said ( Isaiah 40:6 ),

That is, the voice of the Lord to Isaiah.

Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? [Cry] All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withers, the flower fades: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever ( Isaiah 40:6-8 ).

So men are as grass. Actually, "What is life?" James said, "It's just like a vapor, it appears for a season and then it's gone" ( James 4:14 ). It's like, "the grass of the field, which today is, and is tomorrow cast into the oven" ( Luke 12:28 ). Speaking of the brevity of life and the frailty of life. Like a flower, it blossoms forth and then it fades away. That's what it's all about. I'm on the fading end. So is life. We're here for a time and then we pass on. But there is something that endures-the Word of the Lord. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away" ( Matthew 24:35 ). Oh, the value and the power of the Word of God. It is forever. Man, one generation will come and another will go and you got the changing generations of humanity, but God's Word lasting right on through from one generation to the next.

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with a strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work is before him ( Isaiah 40:9-10 ).

The coming of our Lord.

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd ( Isaiah 40:11 ):

Now this is obvious-a reference to Jesus Christ. "Behold, Jehovah God will come with a strong hand. His arm will rule. Behold, His reward is with Him and His work before Him." Jesus said, "Behold, I come and My reward is with Me" ( Revelation 22:12 ) in His messages to the churches. For He shall feed His flock like a shepherd.

he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young ( Isaiah 40:11 ).

Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd: I lay down My life for My sheep" ( John 10:11 ). "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd." And then it declares of the greatness of His power and of His glory.

Who measured the waters in the hollow of his hand ( Isaiah 40:12 ),

The great oceans of the earth-the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic, Arctic, Indian-measured them in the hollow of His hand. That's a pretty big God. When you fly over the Atlantic, the Pacific, you see all that water that is there. There it is; He's measured it out. Here, let's create the oceans. How great! But even more,

he meted out heaven with the span ( Isaiah 40:12 ),

The measurement for the universe. Now someone came to me this morning and said that he read an article the other day that we have just discovered a galaxy that is fifty billion light years away. Now I have to question that figure. How do they know it's fifty billion light years away? Could be forty-nine. I mean, when you get that far off, how can you really know? You see, there's a lot of assumptions that have to be made to come up with a figure like that. One of the assumptions is that light always travels at a hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second. That may not be a correct assumption. There may be variables that will cause a change in the speed of light that we don't know. Aspects of physics that may be that the speed of light isn't constant. So it's a lot of guesswork.

But at any rate, when he told me that he read this article that they found this galaxy fifty billion light years away, I said, "Wow, God's even bigger, isn't He?" 'cause He measured the thing with His span. I don't care how big it is. "He meted out the heavens with the span."

How big is your God? It is so important that our theology be correct, because if our theology is not correct, then we're going to have problems all the way along. Knowing God is the most important thing in the world. Knowing the truth of God. And God has revealed the truth concerning Himself in this book. And God is so great and so vast and so powerful, so awesome that He measured the waters in the palm of His hand and He meted out the heavens with the span.

he comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? ( Isaiah 40:12 )

God comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure. Have you ever wondered how many grains of sand there might be here upon the earth? You know that they've actually sort of come up with a figure? And do you know that the figure that they have come up with is approximately what they figure to be the number of stars in the heaven? Now it is interesting that when God said to Abraham, "Even as the stars of the heaven are innumerable and the sands of the sea, so will your descendants be innumerable" ( Hebrews 11:12 ). But God made a comparison between the stars of the heaven and the sands of the sea and they believe that it is something like 1025 power is the number. By weighing the earth and the grains of sand and so forth, got a formula by which they came to that. But who knows? Who counteth? Once more, who cares?

Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD ( Isaiah 40:13 ),

I have. Man, I've directed God in so many things. I've sought so many times to take over the reins and tell God how He ought to do it. "Now Lord, got it all figured out. If You'll just do this and this and this, just it will be smooth, Lord, and just really work like a clock." I've sought to direct God, Spirit of the Lord.

or being his counselor who hath taught him? ( Isaiah 40:13 )

In reality, we've all endeavored to do this a time or two. To teach God what's best for us.

With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? ( Isaiah 40:14 )

Now as we realize the greatness and the vastness of God, and surely the power and the wisdom of God, how foolish for me to attempt to instruct God in anything! And yet, so often our prayers are like little information times. "Now Lord, I want You to know what's going on. And I don't like it." And I start laying the trip on God. "This is what they did and this is what I said." Hey, He... What are you telling Him that He doesn't already know? Who's given God understanding? Who's instructed Him?

Our very endeavor to do so only indicates our lack of a true comprehension of the omniscience of God. This is what makes these doctrines of prosperity and everybody ought to be healed and all of this so ridiculous, because the effect of these doctrines is to place man in the driver's seat and God in the servant's seat. And now I am directing God what to do and how to do it. And rather than me taking my orders from God, it's reversed and God's got to be taking orders from me. Rather than God's will being done, there's an insistence that my will be done. And that whole system just is utterly blasphemous! To think that I know better than does God. What should be done in a given situation. Or I know what's best for me. I don't. I do. What's best for me is God to work out His will perfectly and completely in my life. That's what best for me. Nothing finer could ever happen to me.

Behold, the nations are like a drop of a bucket ( Isaiah 40:15 ),

So that's where that phrase "a drop in a bucket" has come from.

and are counted as the small dust of the balance ( Isaiah 40:15 ):

In those days, of course, they did all of their weighing in balanced scales. They had the little weights, and in Proverbs, you remember how God doesn't like divers weights? Some of the crooked merchants would have one weight for buying stuff and another weight for selling stuff. And they were both marked one pound, but one of them was heavier than the other. And so if you're buying you use one set of weights and in selling you use another set. And God said, "I hate those divers weights." And He really came down on them in the Proverbs. Now other merchants in endeavoring to show how totally honest they were, before they would put the merchandise in the scales, they would blow the dust off. So give me a pound of the almonds. And so he blows the dust off the scale and I think, "My, he's such an honest man. I'm not having to buy the dust. He's going to give me an honest weight. After all, he's taking care even to blow the dust off." So it was a common practice of blowing the dust off the scales before you weighed it in order to show how honest you were. So it's a figure of speech that Isaiah used that would be very vivid and picturesque to the people 'cause they could see the merchants blowing the dust off the scale. And as that dust is blowing off the scales, Isaiah is saying, "That's how the nations are before God. He can blow any of them out of existence in a moment."

Nations that become so powerful, so strong, the Assyrian, like dust in the balance. God can blow them right out into oblivion. And God did. You haven't met an Assyrian lately, have you? God blew.

behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon ( Isaiah 40:15-16 )

The tremendous forests that were in Lebanon at that time, should you cut the whole forest down,

It would not be sufficient to burn [for an altar of sacrifice unto God], or if you took all of the beasts they would not be sufficient for a burnt offering sacrifice. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and emptiness. To whom then will ye liken God? what kind of a likeness will ye compare unto him? ( Isaiah 40:16-18 )

And he's talking now of the folly of the people making a little idol to represent God. What are you going to make Him like? So you take a piece of wood or you take gold or silver and you start to carve. What are you going to carve to make a likeness of God? What are you going to make Him like? Now you think of the Hindu religion and the gods that they have carved out. Ugly, gargoyle kind of things. Multi-legged and armed and weird. Is that what God looks like? If you're going to make a likeness of God, what kind of a likeness you going to make, Isaiah says.

The workman melts a graven image, and the goldsmith spreads it over with gold, and he places silver chains on it. He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooses a tree ( Isaiah 40:19-20 );

Now you don't have enough money to make a gold god, then you'd go out and get a tree and you start carving out a little wooden idol.

a tree that will not rot ( Isaiah 40:20 );

So you seek to get good strong wood.

and then he seeks a cunning workman to prepare a carved out image, that he can set it up and worship ( Isaiah 40:20 ).

And say, "That's my god."

Have ye not known? have ye not heard? has it not been told you from the beginning? have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; he stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in ( Isaiah 40:21-22 ):

The greatness of God. Now what are you going to make Him like and what are you going to fashion to look like your god? Don't you realize how vast and great and so over-awing that He is that there's no representation that you can make in a likeness of Him.

Notice He sits upon the circle of the earth. The Bible did not and does not and has never taught a flat earth. That was the view of the scientists of those days, not the men of God. The Bible has never taught that the earth rested on the back of an elephant or a turtle, or was being held by Atlas. That was taught by the men of science in those days. But Job said, "He hanged the earth on nothing" ( Job 26:7 ). He was scoffed at. How ridiculous! And so here, the circle of the earth. The earth is round. God's Word declared it. Scientists finally caught up with it.

He brings princes to nothing; he makes the judges of the earth empty. Yea, they shall not be planted ( Isaiah 40:23-24 );

I guess some of the judges are empty. Boy, I'll tell you. Did you read in the L.A. Times this week? God help us! They've got new parlors in Los Angeles, Hollywood. Hollywood's got everything. Where you can go in and get beat for a half hour. Go in and get flogged. And they said the majority of their customers are judges in Los Angeles. And they say that it relaxes you and stimulates you sexually so you go home and ravish with your wife. But they say it isn't really a sexual experience. Though, of course, the masochist can have an orgasm by being beat and all. But you go in and pay these people to flog you for half an hour. Now if that isn't sick, I don't know what is. And they're bragging about the fact that so many of their customers are judges in Los Angeles. That they go in before the court in the morning and they get flogged and then they come to court and decide the future of people's lives. God keep me out of court in L.A., I'll tell you. But what I know of some of the Orange County judges, I wouldn't want to be in court here either.

I feel like Habakkuk sometimes. "God, please don't show me anything else. I can't take it. Lord, I don't want to know it. Ignorance is bliss. God, I'd just rather not know these things. It just upsets me so much!" And Habakkuk, he said, "Lord, please, the whole thing is going down the tubes and You're not doing anything, God. I'd just rather not know. God, please, just don't show me anything else. I'm just tired of seeing it, Lord. I just can't take it. I just... Don't let me see it."

Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble ( Isaiah 40:24 ).

The princes and the judges of the earth.

To whom then will ye liken God ( Isaiah 40:25 ),

What are you going to compare Him to? What kind of a standard would you use in trying to compare with God? Who is the equal? You see, how can you compare the finite with the infinite? There is no even basis for comparison. There's no standards.

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created all of these stars, that brings out the constellations and all by their number: and he calls them all by their names ( Isaiah 40:26 )

The Bible says that God calls all the stars by their names. And if there's 1025 power stars, that's a good memory. And these names aren't George or Joe, but they are Arcturus and a lot of really fancy names. God calls them all by their names. Who you going to liken Him like? Who you going to make Him equal to? Who's created all of these things?

by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why do you say, O Jacob, and you speak, O Israel, [saying] My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? ( Isaiah 40:26-27 )

What makes you think you can hide from God? What makes you think God isn't going to judge you? The prophet is saying to the people, "You're only fooling yourself if you think that you've hidden it from God. You're only fooling yourself if you think that God isn't going to bring judgment."

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, Yahweh, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding ( Isaiah 40:28 ).

There is no way by which the understanding or wisdom or knowledge of God can be measured. He's omniscient. And yet,

He gives power to those who are fainting; and to those who have no might he increases strength ( Isaiah 40:29 ).

How beautiful that is. That this great God who created the universe will strengthen me and help me in my weakness. Paul the apostle said that he had a weakness, but he said that that weakness was something that he actually gloried in in order that God's power might be demonstrated through him. For he said, "His strength is made perfect in our weakness" ( 2 Corinthians 12:9 ). And so it's a glorious thing that I recognized my weakness, because then I learn to rely on Him and trust in Him. As long as I think I'm strong, as long as I think I can manage it, as long as I think I've got it. I can handle it, I've got it, don't worry. I'll take care of it. Man, I'll tell you, I'm heading for disaster. But when I say, "Hey, there's no way. I can't do it." Don't panic. Feel secure, because in my weakness, His strength is perfected.

Now we're so prone to feel secure when a guy says, "Well, don't worry, I'll handle that for you. I can do it." We think, "All right, this guy has really got it together." Hey, watch out, man. That's the kind of guy that's going to fold when the pressure really gets heavy. But the guy who is not certain of himself but certain of his God is the one you want to be around when the chips are down. Because that is the man through whom the power of the eternal God will be demonstrated. He gives power to the faint. And to them who have no might He increases strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint ( Isaiah 40:30-31 ).

For the strength of the Lord is their portion and shall sustain them. This is the beginning of this glorious new section of the book of Isaiah and it is exciting. These last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah are just thrilling to read of what God has in store for the future.

May the Lord be with you, watch over and keep you through the week. And may His strength be perfected in your weakness as you learn to just wait upon the Lord for His work and His help in your lives. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​isaiah-40.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The dependable Lord 40:27-31

Isaiah now applied this knowledge of God to the discouraging prospect that the Judahites faced, namely: Babylonian captivity (cf. Isaiah 39:6). Even though Isaiah spoke to the nation from the perspective of the captivity being past, he still addressed his pre-exilic contemporaries. He encouraged them by pointing to the sufficiency of their God. Since the Creator knows the name of everything in His complex creation, how could He, the God of Israel, possibly forget His covenant people? Since He is as powerful as He is, how could He be incapable of helping them?

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-40.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Circumstances may overcome even the strongest young people in their prime, either through lack of inner resources or because of the hardness of life. Yet those who continually rest on, trust in, and wait for Yahweh will receive renewed and different-divine-strength. The Hebrew verb translated "gain" suggests an exchange of strength, our inadequate strength for His abundant strength.

"This expression ["those who wait for the Lord"] implies two things: complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow him to decide the terms." [Note: Oswalt, The Book . . . 40-66, p. 74]


". . . the Old Testament applies to faith a number of synonyms denoting trust, hope, and longing, and thus describes it according to its inmost nature, as fiducia and as hope, directed to the manifestation and completion of that which is hoped for." [Note: Delitzsch, 2:156.]

They who wait on the Lord will be able to overcome natural drawbacks, endure with energy to spare, and keep on living without becoming excessively tired.

"The threefold description forms a climax, not its opposite; for the exceptional flying and the occasional running do not require, as does the constant walking, an ever-flowing stream of grace." [Note: Grogan, p. 246.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-40.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But they that wait upon the Lord,.... As children on their parents, to do them honour, to obey their commands, and receive food and blessings from them; as servants on their masters, to know their pleasure, do their work, and have their wages; as clients on their patrons, to have advice of them, put their cause into their hands, and know how it goes; and as beggars at the door, who knock and wait, tell their case and wait, meet with repulses, yet keep their place, and continue waiting: such an act supposes a knowledge and reverence of God, confidence in him, attendance on him, not with the body only, in public and private, but with the soul also, and with some degree of constancy, and with patience and quietness: the Lord is to be waited upon for the manifestations of himself, who sometimes hides himself, but is to be waited for, since he has his set time to show himself again, and his presence is worth waiting for; also for the performance of his promises, which may be expected from his perfections, the nature of the promises, and their being in Christ; likewise for answers of prayer, and for the fresh discoveries of pardoning grace and mercy; and as Old Testament saints waited for the first coming of Christ, so New Testament saints for his second coming, and for eternal glory and happiness: and such "shall renew their strength"; which is to be understood of spiritual! strength in the heart, and of the graces of the Spirit there: it supposes strength received already, which natural men have not, but converted men have; and yet they want more, and more they shall have; to assist them in the performance of duty, to enable them to resist Satan and his temptations, and the corruptions of nature, and to cause them to endure afflictions and persecutions patiently, and to persevere unto the end:

they shall mount up with wings as eagles; swiftly and strongly; it is expressive of the motion of the affections heavenwards towards God and Christ, and things above; of the entrance of faith and hope within the veil, and of the exercise of these graces on Christ, who is now at the right hand of God; of the expectation of glory and happiness in heaven hereafter, and of present support under afflictions, the Lord bearing them as on eagles' wings; see Psalms 103:5 g:

they shall run, and not be weary; in the way of God's commandments; which shows great affection for them, haste to obey them, delight and pleasure, cheerfulness and alacrity, therein, so as to be without weariness:

and they shall, walk, and not faint: in the ways of God, in the name of the Lord, or in Christ, as they have received him; leaning on him, trusting in him, continuing to do so, till they receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls; and so shall not sink under their burdens, nor give out till they enjoy it; different persons, though all of them believers, may be here intended; particularly Christians under the Gospel dispensation, tried and exercised by many enemies; some shall soar aloft, and dwell on high; others, though they cannot rise and "fly" so swiftly and strongly, yet shall "run" without weariness; and others, though they can neither fly nor run, yet shall "walk" without fainting.

g The Jews have a notion, that for ten years the eagle ascends very high in the firmament of heaven, and approaching near to the heat of the sun, it falls into the sea, through the vehemence of the heat; and then it casts its feathers, and is renewed again, and its feathers grow, and it returns to the days of its youth; and so every ten years to a hundred; and in the hundredth year it ascends according to its custom, and falls into the sea, and dies. So Ben Melech from Saadiab Gaon.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​isaiah-40.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Jehovah's Grandeur and Compassion. B. C. 708.

      27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?   28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.   29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.   30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:   31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

      Here, I. The prophet reproves the people of God, who are now supposed to be captives in Babylon for their unbelief and distrust of God, and the dejections and despondencies of their spirit under their affliction (Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 40:27): "Why sayest thou, O Jacob! to thyself and to those about thee, My way is hidden from the Lord? Why dost thou make hard and melancholy conclusions concerning thyself and thy present case as if the latter were desperate?" 1. The titles he here gives them were enough to shame them out of their distrusts: O Jacob! O Israel! Let them remember whence they took these names--from one who had found God faithful to him and kind in all his straits; and why they bore these names--as God's professing people, a people in covenant with him. 2. The way of reproving them is by reasoning with them: "Why? Consider whether thou hast any ground to say so." Many of our foolish frets and foolish fears would vanish before a strict enquiry into the causes of them. 3. That which they are reproved for is an ill-natured, ill-favoured, word they spoke of God, as if he had cast them off. There seems to be an emphasis laid upon their saying it: Why sayest thou and speakest thou? It is bad to have evil thoughts rise in our mind, but it is worse to put an imprimatur--a sanction to them, and turn them into evil words. David reflects with regret upon what he said in his haste, when he was in distress. 4. The ill word they said was a word of despair concerning their present calamitous condition. They were ready to conclude, (1.) That God would not heed them: "My way is hidden from the Lord; he takes no notice of our straits, nor concerns himself any more in our concernments. There are such difficulties in our case that even divine wisdom and power will be nonplussed." A man whose way is hidden is one whom God has hedged in,Job 3:23. (2.) That God could not help them: "My judgment is passed over from my God; my case is past relief, so far past it that God himself cannot redress the grievances of it. Our bones are dried." Ezekiel 37:11.

      II. He reminds them of that which, if duly considered, was sufficient to silence all those fears and distrust. For their conviction, as before for the conviction of idolaters (Isaiah 40:21; Isaiah 40:21), he appeals to what they had known and what they had heard. Jacob and Israel were a knowing people, or might have been, and their knowledge came by hearing; for Wisdom cried in their chief places of concourse. Now, among other things, they had heard that God had spoken once, twice, yea, many a time they had heard it, That power belongs unto God (Psalms 62:11), That is,

      1. He is himself an almighty God. He must needs be so, for he is the everlasting God, even Jehovah. He was from eternity; he will be to eternity; and therefore with him there is no deficiency, no decay. He has his being of himself, and therefore all his perfections must needs be boundless. He is without beginning of days or end of life, and therefore with him there is no change. He is also the Creator of the ends of the earth, that is, of the whole earth and all that is in it from end to end. He therefore is the rightful owner and ruler of all, and must be concluded to have an absolute power over all and an all-sufficiency to help his people in their greatest straits. Doubtless he is still as able to save his church as he was at first to make the world. (1.) He has wisdom to contrive the salvation, and that wisdom is never at a loss: There is no searching of his understanding, so as to countermine the counsels of it and defeat its intentions; no, nor so as to determine what he will do, for he has ways by himself, ways in the sea. None can say, "Thus far God's wisdom can go, and no further;" for, when we know not what to do, he knows. (2.) He has power to bring about the salvation, and that power is never exhausted: He faints not, nor is weary; he upholds the whole creation, and governs all the creatures, and is neither tired nor toiled; and therefore, no doubt, he has power to relieve his church, when it is brought ever so low, without weakness or weariness.

      2. He gives strength and power to his people, and helps them by enabling them to help themselves. He that is the strong God is the strength of Israel. (1.) He can help the weak, Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 40:29. Many a time he gives power to the faint, to those that are ready to faint away; and to those that have no might he not only gives, but increases strength, as there is more and more occasion for it. Many out of bodily weakness are wonderfully recovered, and made strong, by the providence of God: and many that are feeble in spirit, timorous and faint-hearted, unfit for services and sufferings, are yet strengthened by the grace of God with all might in the inward man. To those who are sensible of their weakness, and ready to acknowledge they have no might, God does in a special manner increase strength; for, when we are weak in ourselves, then are we strong in the Lord. (2.) He will help the willing, will help those who, in a humble dependence upon him, help themselves, and will do well for those who do their best, Isaiah 40:30; Isaiah 40:31. Those who trust to their own sufficiency, and are so confident of it that they neither exert themselves to the utmost nor seek unto God for his grace, are the youth and the young men, who are strong, but are apt to think themselves stronger than they are. And they shall faint and be weary, yea, they shall utterly fail in their services, in their conflicts, and under their burdens; they shall soon be made to see the folly of trusting to themselves. But those that wait on the Lord, who make conscience of their duty to him, and by faith rely upon him and commit themselves to his guidance, shall find that God will not fail them. [1.] They shall have grace sufficient for them: They shall renew their strength as their work is renewed, as there is new occasion; they shall be anointed, and their lamps supplied, with fresh oil. God will be their arm every morning,Isaiah 33:2; Isaiah 33:2. If at any time they have been foiled and weakened they shall recover themselves, and so renew their strength. Heb. They shall change their strength, as their work is changed--doing work, suffering work; they shall have strength to labour, strength to wrestle, strength to resist, strength to bear. As the day so shall the strength be. [2.] They shall use this grace for the best purposes. Being strengthened, First, They shall soar upward, upward towards God: They shall mount up with wings like eagles, so strongly, so swiftly, so high and heaven-ward. In the strength of divine grace, their souls shall ascend above the world, and even enter into the holiest. Pious and devout affections are the eagles' wings on which gracious souls mount up, Psalms 25:1. Secondly, They shall press forward, forward towards heaven. They shall walk, they shall run, the way of God's commandments, cheerfully and with alacrity (they shall not be weary), constantly and with perseverance (they shall not faint); and therefore in due season they shall reap. Let Jacob and Israel therefore, in their greatest distresses, continue waiting upon God, and not despair of timely and effectual relief and succour from him.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​isaiah-40.html. 1706.
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