the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities; Blessing; Faith; Righteous; War; Thompson Chain Reference - Discouragement-Encouragement; Encouragement; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Hands, the; Warfare of Saints;
The living God and idols (41:1-29)
At that time Cyrus of Persia had been expanding his empire. He had conquered all the countries to the north and east, and was now threatening Babylon. The prophet imagines God calling the nations to assemble before him and asking them a question: who is it that has stirred up Cyrus to carry out this conquest? The answer: Yahweh (41:1-4).
As the armies of Cyrus approach these nations the people panic, and in their distress call upon their gods for protection. Isaiah pictures the goldsmiths and other craftsmen helping and encouraging each other as they work overtime to meet the heavy demand for idols (5-7).
The people of Israel, by contrast, are the people of the living God. He chose them long ago and he has not forgotten them. He is always present to strengthen and protect them (8-10). They need not fear their enemies, for God will fight for them - and no enemy can stand against him (11-13).
By God’s power Israel will be victorious. As a farmer threshes and winnows wheat, so Israel will crush and scatter its enemies (14-16). God will answer the prayers of his people, and provide them with all they need for a healthy and prosperous life. His gracious gifts will be a demonstration of his character that all can see (17-20).
God then challenges the gods of the nations to prove their power by predicting coming events. Not only are they unable to predict the future, they cannot even relate the past. He challenges them to prove their existence by doing anything at all, good or bad, but again they are unable. They are lifeless (21-24). God points out that he predicts correctly and acts decisively. None of the gods of the nations predicted Cyrus’s conquest, but the God of Israel did (25-27). These gods can neither predict events nor answer questions. Being lifeless, they can only deceive those who worship them (28-29).
The Servant of Yahweh
In 42:1-4 we meet the first of the four so-called Servant Songs. (The others are in 49:1-6, 50:4-9 and 52:13-53:12.) The songs do not always give a clear indication who this servant is. In some cases the whole nation Israel is the servant, in other cases it is the faithful within Israel, while in some cases it is the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
The probable reason for this threefold meaning is that Israel as a whole failed, and the spiritual blessings God desired for Israel were experienced only by the faithful few who truly believed God. Yet even this faithful remnant did not experience the full blessings God intended for his people. God’s purposes for Israel were fulfilled only in Jesus the Messiah. The nation Israel was Abraham’s natural offspring (John 8:37); the few faithful believers within Israel, often referred to as the remnant, were his spiritual offspring (Romans 9:6-7; Galatians 3:29); but the Messiah himself was the one and only perfect off-spring, in whom all God’s purposes for Israel were fulfilled and through whom people of all nations are blessed (Galatians 3:16; cf. Genesis 12:1-3,Genesis 12:7).
Although the people of Israel repeatedly failed and suffered God’s punishment, they nevertheless looked forward to a golden age of glory and power. The expectancy of a golden age naturally became greater as the exiles in Babylon learnt that they were about to return to their land. But, having returned and rebuilt their nation, they again failed. Jesus Christ, the embodiment of ideal Israel, not only suffered God’s punishment because of his people’s sins, but brought the glory and power that Israel hoped for but never achieved (cf. Isaiah 42:1-4 with Matthew 12:17-21; cf. Isaiah 53:4 with Matthew 8:17).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 41:13". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​isaiah-41.html. 2005.
13.For I am Jehovah thy God. The Prophet had already shewn where the hope of salvation ought to be placed, so as to hold out against every attack; that is, when we are convinced that God is our God, and is on our side. He now lays down the same doctrine, but in different words; and yet the repetition is not superfluous, for we know how easily this doctrine slips out of our minds, even though it be frequently repeated; and it was impossible to bestow excessive commendation on this promise, which it is so difficult to root in our hearts. Let us therefore know that we shall have a prosperous issue of all our contests, for the Lord is present with us; and whenever we are attacked by any severe contest, let us learn to look to Him; for if we hesitate and look hither and thither, we shall never enjoy peace of mind. When he calls himself our God, he not only mentions his power, but gives proof of his goodness, which he intends to exercise towards us; for it would not be enough to be convinced of the power of God, if we were not equally certain of his love; and even when we are terrified by the mention of his power alone, his goodness is well fitted to give us peace.
Taking hold of thy right hand, and saying to thee. He now speaks about “taking hold of the hand,” and about his voice; for it is of great importance to us to believe the signs which God has given us of his love, and to connect with them the doctrine which assures us of his eternal favor. The word saying is therefore highly emphatic; for we must remain in suspense till the Lord speak, whose voice alone can remove fear and bring peace. If, then, we desire to have composure of mind, and to conquer the vexations which come upon us from various quarters, we must pay close attention to his voice, so as never to withdraw our mind from it; for they who refuse to hear this voice of God, or do not hear it attentively, must be miserably tormented by continual doubt and uncertainty.
These files are public domain.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 41:13". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​isaiah-41.html. 1840-57.
In the forty-first chapter of Isaiah in the first part of the chapter, God begins His predictions concerning Cyrus who was not yet born. A man who was not to be born for a hundred and fifty years. But God begins to talk about him. How he's going to raise him up. How he's going to prosper him. How he's going to give him a kingdom and subdue nations before him. As we progress in our study tonight, we'll find that God actually names him. "In order to prove that I'm really God, there's no one else like Me, I'm going to call you by your name. It is Cyrus," and He calls him His servant. So that it is interesting that God begins a hundred and fifty years before a man is born to tell about his life and what God is going to do through his life.
Keep silence before me, O ye coast ( Isaiah 41:1 );
The word islands there is literally coast.
and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; let them speak: let us come near together to judgment ( Isaiah 41:1 ).
Now as He speaks of Cyrus, He said,
Who raised up the righteous man from the east, he called him to his foot, he gave the nations before him, and made him to rule over the kings? ( Isaiah 41:2 )
Now the question is: who did this? And the answer is, "I the Lord," the last part of verse Isaiah 41:4 . "He made him to rule over the kings."
he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. For he [that is, Cyrus] pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet. Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? ( Isaiah 41:2-4 )
Or naming the persons from the beginning.
I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he ( Isaiah 41:4 ).
So the question: who's raised up this man? Who's brought him forth? Who's given him the kingdom? "I the Lord."
The coast saw it, and they feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, and they drew near, and came. They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smoothed 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. But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend ( Isaiah 41:5-8 ).
Now beginning with verse Isaiah 41:8 , he turns the attention away from Cyrus and now to Israel, the nation, to Jacob. "You're my servant," God declares. And in Isaiah, Isaiah speaks of Israel as the servant of the Lord and then, of course, it speaks of Jesus Christ as the servant of the Lord. And also David is mentioned as God's servant in the book of Isaiah. We will, as we progress in two weeks, come to quite a discourse on that righteous servant Jesus Christ that God has raised up. But here Jacob and Israel. "I have chosen the seed of Abraham, My friend." And Abraham has the title of the friend of God. What a beautiful title.
Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and I have called thee from the chief men, and I have said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness ( Isaiah 41:9-10 ).
Now, in a very narrow sense, this is the promise that God has made unto His chosen. Unto Jacob and Israel whom He will call together from the ends of the earth where they have been scattered. God said, "I have not cast thee away."
Now there is a teaching today that is not scriptural, and that is that God has cast away the nation of Israel and that God's purposes now will be fulfilled through the church, that Israel has been rejected and cast away. That is not scriptural. In fact, the whole prophecy of Hosea is dedicated to God taking back the unfaithful wife and redeeming her again and taking her for His bride once more. And the whole book of Hosea is a simile. It's an allegorical type of a book and even as God said, "Go down and take a wife and marry her." And he bore children and then he had a child but he said, "That's not mine." Called it, "Loruhamah, not my child." And she left and went out and became a harlot, a prostitute. And after years of time God said to Hosea, "Now go find your wife and redeem her." She had sold her life and God said, "Buy her back and take her as your wife once again and restore her." And then God spoke about how He was going to restore Israel.
Paul said, "Has God cast them away whom He has chosen? God forbid." And Paul all the way through his teaching tells about how God is going to restore them again and that the cutting off was the salvation of the Gentiles. What will the gathering together of them be? God's working with them once more. But the Kingdom Age. "Know ye not," he said, in Romans 11:1-36 , "that blindness has happened to Israel in part until the fullness of the Gentiles come in? But then all Israel shall be saved. Thus saith the scripture, There shall go forth, shall deliver out of Zion'" and so foRuth ( Romans 11:25-26 ). So God is yet to work with them. And when God begins to work with them, we will have entered into the final seven years of Satan's rule upon the earth. The final seven years prior to the establishing of God's kingdom upon the earth.
In the ninth chapter of Daniel, we'll be coming to Daniel in a few months, he declares, "Seventy sevens are determined upon the nation Israel. And from the time the commandment goes forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah the Prince will be sixty-nine sevens. But the Messiah will be cut off" ( Daniel 9:25-26 ). So the seventieth seven will complete the prophecies. To seal up the prophecies. To anoint the most holy place and to bring in the everlasting righteousness, that kingdom of everlasting righteousness. So you've got a seventieth seven that was unfulfilled which is yet future. Which will begin when Russia is destroyed by God in her aborted invasion of Israel.
So God is going to once more deal with the nation Israel in a very special way, after He has completed His work among the Gentiles. So here God declares, "I have chosen thee, I have not cast thee away." They are God's chosen people. You can't get away from it. God has not cast them away. They have, in a sense, cast God away as Isaiah will talk in the next few chapters of how they have not offered the sacrifices to God. How they have shut God out. But God has not shut them out, but shall yet deal with them in a very remarkable way.
Now God speaks about those that have been incensed against them, and surely these people have been a persecuted people. And it is indeed tragic that much of the persecution against the Jew has arisen from the church. I think that God is one of the most maligned persons in the universe. Maligned by Satan. How he has maligned God. And in the eyes of the people of the world, they say, "Well, the Protestants are fighting the Catholics over in Ireland." That's not a Protestant-Catholic kind of a thing; it's a political thing. They are not Christians against Christians as such. It's a whole political issue, but yet they call it the Protestants against the Catholics. And makes it look like God is stirring up people against each other. Surely it is not Christian nor have many of the things that have been done by the church or in the name of the church through history been Christian at all. Many things have been done in the name of Christianity. And you look... People say, "We are Christians," and they are not. Jesus said, "Not all who say, 'Lord, Lord,' are going to enter into the kingdom of heaven" ( Matthew 7:21 ).
And so, because of what people have done in the name of Christ, because of those that have persecuted the Jews in the name of Jesus Christ, it has created a great bitterness in the heart of many Jews. And rightfully so, for the church and against Christianity, because they usually equate the church with Christianity.
We are over in Israel quite a bit and we have many friends over there and they'll get going in their talking and all. And they'll start talking about, "Those Christians, those Christians." We say, "Wait a minute. Hold on. We're Christians." "Oh no," they said, "you're Calvary Chapel Christians. You're different. You love us. We know you love us." And they recognize over there a difference between Christians and Christians. They have a greater discernment than we often do. People so often just lump Christian America. And so if you're not a communist, not an atheist, you're a Christian. But a Christian is much more than that. He is one who has submitted his life to the lordship of Jesus Christ; one who seeks to follow Jesus Christ; one who lives his whole life governed by the Lord. So it is not loving Him in word, but in deed and in truth.
Now God said, "I am... "
All of those that were incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish ( Isaiah 41:11 ).
It doesn't pay to strive with them. God says, "I've chosen you. I've not cast you away. And those that strive with you are going to perish." God promised to Abraham, "I will bless those that bless thee, and I will curse those that curse thee" ( Genesis 12:3 ).
Jesus in the judgment, not the final judgment, but in the judgment that He will bring when He returns to the earth and gathers together the nations for judgment, the judgment against the nations will be concerning their treatment of the Jews. For He said, "I was hungry and you did not feed Me. Thirsty, you did not give Me to drink. Naked, you did not clothe Me. Sick and you did not help Me." "Lord, when did we see You hungry, naked, thirsty, sick?" He said, "Inasmuch as you did it not to the least of these My brethren, the Jews, you have not done it unto Me" ( Matthew 25:42-45 ). He still refers to them as His brethren. They've been chosen of God. God has not cast them away.
I oftentimes get hate mail from even ministers because they've heard of how Calvary Chapel has sought to help the Jewish people, what a love we have for them, and how that we've sought to demonstrate our love in practical ways. Contributing to their hospitals, contributing to many of the projects in Israel. This year we've given over $460,000 to the nation of Israel in various projects. And we get all this kind of hate mail because of it, a lot of times from pastors. For they feel that God has cut them off. That God is through with them and how can you reach out an arm to help and to love those that God has cast off? But God says, "I've not cast them off." And God has promised to bless those that bless them. And God has blessed us. Who can deny it? And so, "All of those that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed. They'll be confounded. They'll be as nothing. They that strive with thee shall perish."
You will seek them, and you will not find them, even those that contended with you: and they that war against you shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nothing ( Isaiah 41:12 ).
Boy, it doesn't pay to go over and talk to the Egyptians, I'll tell you. Be at war with these people.
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee ( Isaiah 41:13 ).
And who can deny but what God has not helped these people immeasurably.
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. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: and you will thresh the mountains, and beat them small, you will 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. 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 up 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. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, and the acacia trees, and the myrtle, and the oil trees; 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 ( Isaiah 41:14-20 ).
To go over to Israel today is just a live experience in the fulfillment of prophecy, as you see these things of which Isaiah spoke actually being fulfilled. Areas that were once parched wilderness, desert areas, you see the vast irrigation project, the pools of water. You see the giant sprinkler systems and all that they have, as they have become a very strong agricultural nation. Planting hundreds of millions of trees in those wilderness areas, and the interesting thing, the various types of trees for the various benefits that each tree gives. Planting the pine tree and the fir tree because they have a capacity of growing almost on rocks. The roots go down into the crevices and as they grow down and they begin to grow, then they crack the rocks and with the rocks cracking, the rain of course, comes and carries the top soil on down. And they're forming tremendous topsoil in the valleys and getting tremendous agricultural crops again and planting the eucalyptus trees in the marsh areas because they drink up so much water. And their whole project of reforestation of Israel is just an exciting thing. And here all predicted in Isaiah as God declares, "I've not cast them off," and what He is going to do. And the purpose of doing is that they might see, and know, and consider, and understand together that the hand of the Lord hath done this.
Now I like this. God makes a challenge to those false gods that the people were worshipping at that time. And He said,
Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things that are yet to come. Show the things that are to come after these things, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he who chooses you ( Isaiah 41:21-23 ).
So God speaks out against the worship of the false gods that the Israelites were involved in at this particular period of their history. "Now look, if they're really God, let them tell us something before it happens, so that after it happens we really know that they know what they're talking about." And He's challenging them in the area of prophecy. Now prophecy is one of the strongest arguments for the inspiration of the scriptures. The fact that God has spoken in advance of things that would happen, giving the names of persons, the names of places, and detailing the events that would be happening and the fact that they have been fulfilled becomes one of the strongest arguments for the inspiration of the scriptures.
For you see, when you delve into this area of prophecy, in order to prove the inspiration of the scriptures, it is necessary that you have one hundred percent accuracy. If one word of God failed, then it means that it wasn't God who spoke. But when you have thousands of prophecies that have come to pass exactly as declared, then it begins to give extremely strong evidence that it was indeed God who spoke. Now there was a very tragic day in the history of Israel when the Roman government took away from the Jews the rite of capital punishment. And when the Roman government removed from them the rite of capital punishment, they felt that at that point they had lost their power to govern. For they related capital punishment to government, for when God established human government under Noah, He established it with the provision of capital punishment.
Now you remember when Jacob was pronouncing the prophecies upon his sons on his dying bed, he said unto Judah that, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah until the Messiah comes" ( Genesis 49:10 ). The sceptre being the ruling power. And when the government of Rome took away in about 12 A.D., they took away from the Jews the power of capital punishment, the rabbis and the priests put on sackcloth. They put ashes on their heads. And for a week they went wailing through the streets of Jerusalem because they said, "God's Word has failed. The scepter has departed. Shiloh has not come." What they didn't know was that in the village of Nazareth at that time He was there growing up. But they really felt that God's Word had failed. And that means that it wasn't God's Word because God's Word can't fail. And to them it was a national disaster that God's Word should fail. But not one word of God's prophecy has failed.
And so God challenges the other gods, "If you're really gods, you say you're gods, all right then, do something. Show yourself. Make us amazed. Tell us something before it happens so that when it comes to pass, we will really know that you are gods." And I love the way God challenges these false gods. Now God goes on to declare,
I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun he shall call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay. Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that showeth, yea, there is none that declares, yea, there is none that hears your words ( Isaiah 41:25-26 ).
God was speaking again of Cyrus. "I've raised up one. He's going to come and you're going to know that I know what I'm talking about. But which of you, the false gods, have declared anything before it happened and it actually came to pass?"
The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that brings good tidings. For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counselor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion ( Isaiah 41:27-29 ).
These false gods that the people were worshipping. God says there's no counselor among them. They're empty. They're vain.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 41:13". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​isaiah-41.html. 2014.
The fearful servant, Israel 41:1-20
The Lord, through His prophet, assured fearful Israel in this segment. Israel need not fear the nations (Isaiah 41:1-7) because Yahweh remained committed to His people and would use them to accomplish His purposes in the world (Isaiah 41:8-20). This expression of God’s grace would have encouraged and motivated the Israelites to serve their Lord.
The courtroom setting pictured in Isaiah 41:1-7 enabled Isaiah to make God’s transcendent monotheism clear and compelling (cf. Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 43:26; Isaiah 50:8). Isaiah 41:1 is a call to judgment, Isaiah 41:2-4 set forth God’s case, namely, his acts in history, and Isaiah 41:5-7 relate the frightened response of the Gentile nations.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 41:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-41.html. 2012.
Yahweh restated His promise and His exhortation from Isaiah 41:10. Israel’s God would strengthen, encourage, and help His people. He would stand with them while He defended them because He was Yahweh their God (cf. Exodus 20:2).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 41:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​isaiah-41.html. 2012.
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand,.... Take hold of it, join in league and alliance with his people as it were, go hand in hand with them; and having such an one with them, and on their side, they need fear no enemy: or it is expressive of great freedom, familiarity, and friendship, which may assure believers of the strong affection of God towards them; and they may conclude themselves safe, being held by him as a child in the hand of its parents, which is then not afraid of anything. The Lord holds the right hand of his people, teaching them to walk by faith, leading them into his presence, and to communion with himself, and keeps them from falling: or, he "will strengthen their right hand" r; to do his work and service, and oppose their enemies; or he will relieve their wants, and fill their hands with his good things, which is sometimes the sense of the phrase,
saying unto thee, fear not, I will help thee; as one friend takes another by the hand in distress, and bids him be of good cheer, promising him all needful assistance and supply.
Ezekiel 16:45- :.
r מחזיק ימינך "qui confortat dexteram tuam", Gataker.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 41:13". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​isaiah-41.html. 1999.
|Israel Encouraged.||B. C. 708.|
10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. 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. 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. 13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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: 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.
The scope of these verses is to silence the fears, and encourage the faith, of the servants of God in their distresses. Perhaps it is intended, in the first place, for the support of God's Israel, in captivity; but all that faithfully serve God through patience and comfort of this scripture may have hope. And it is addressed to Israel as a single person, that it might the more easily and readily be accommodated and applied by every Israelite indeed to himself. That is a word of caution, counsel, and comfort, which is so often repeated, Fear thou not; and again (Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 41:13), Fear not; and (Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 41:14), "Fear not, thou worm Jacob; fear not the threatenings of the enemy, doubt not the promise of thy God; fear not that thou shalt perish in thy affliction or that the promise of thy deliverance shall fail." It is against the mind of God that his people should be a timorous people. For the suppressing of fear he assures them,
I. That they may depend upon his presence with them as their God, and a God all-sufficient for them in the worst of times. Observe with what tenderness God speaks, and how willing he is to let the heirs of promise know the immutability of his counsel, and how desirous to make them easy: "Fear thou not, for I am with thee, not only within call, but present with thee; be not dismayed at the power of those that are against thee, for I am thy God, and engaged for thee. Art thou weak? I will strengthen thee. Art thou destitute of friends? I will help thee in the time of need. Art thou ready to sink, ready to fall? I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness, that right hand which is full of righteousness, in dispensing rewards and punishments," Psalms 48:10. And again (Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 41:13) it is promised, 1. That God will strengthen their hands, that is, will help them: "I will hold thy right hand, go hand in hand with thee" (so some): he will take us by the hand as our guide, to lead us in our way, will help us up when we are fallen or prevent our falls; when we are weak he will hold us up-wavering, he will fix us-trembling, he will encourage us, and so hold us by the right hand,Psalms 73:23. 2. That he will silence their fears: Saying unto thee, Fear not. He has said it again and again in his word, and has there provided sovereign antidotes against fear: but he will go further; he will by his Spirit say it to their hearts, and make them to hear it, and so will help them.
II. That though their enemies be now very formidable, insolent, and severe, yet the day is coming when God will reckon with them and they shall triumph over them. There are those that are incensed against God's people, that strive with them (Isaiah 41:11; Isaiah 41:11), that war against them (Isaiah 41:12; Isaiah 41:12), that hate them, that seek their ruin, and are continually picking quarrels with them. But let not God's people be incensed at them, nor strive with them, nor render evil for evil; but wait God's time, and believe, 1. That they shall be convinced of the folly, at least, if not of the sin of striving with God's people; and, finding it to no purpose, they shall be ashamed and confounded, which might bring them to repentance, but will rather fill them with rage. 2. That they shall be quite ruined and undone (Isaiah 41:11; Isaiah 41:11): They shall be as nothing before the justice and power of God. When God comes to deal with his proud enemies he makes nothing of them. Or they shall be brought to nothing, shall be as if they had never been. This is repeated (Isaiah 41:12; Isaiah 41:12): They shall be as nothing and as a thing of nought, or as that which is gone and has failed. Those that were formidable shall become despicable; those that fancied they could do any thing shall be able to bring nothing to pass; those that made a figure in the world, and a mighty noise, shall become mere ciphers and be buried in silence. They shall perish, not only be nothing, but be miserable: Thou shalt seek them, shalt enquire what has become of them, that they do not appear as usual, but thou shalt not find them as David, Psalms 37:36. I sought him, but he could not be found.
III. That they themselves should become a terror to those who were now a terror to them, and victory should turn on their side, Isaiah 41:14-16; Isaiah 41:14-16. See here, 1. How Jacob and Israel are reduced and brought very low. It is the worm Jacob, so little, so weak, and so defenceless, despised and trampled on by every body, forced to creep even into the earth for safety; and we must not wonder that Jacob has become a worm, when even Jacob's King calls himself a worm and no man,Psalms 22:6. God's people are sometimes as worms, in their humble thoughts of themselves and their enemies' haughty thoughts of them--worms, but not vipers, as their enemies are, not of the serpent's seed. God regards Jacob's low estate, and says, "Fear not, thou worm Jacob; fear not that thou shalt be crushed; and you men of Israel" (you few men, so some read it, you dead men, so others) "do not give up yourselves for gone notwithstanding." Note, The grace of God will silence fears even when there seems to be the greatest cause for them. Perplexed but not in despair. 2. How Jacob and Israel are advanced from this low estate, and made as formidable as ever they have been despicable. But by whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small? We are here told: I will help thee, saith the Lord; and it is the honour of God to help the weak. He will help them, for he is their Redeemer, who is wont to redeem them, who has undertaken to do it. Christ is the Redeemer, from him is our help found. He will help them, for he is the Holy One of Israel, worshipped among them in the beauty of holiness and engaged by promise to them. The Lord will help them by enabling them to help themselves and making Jacob to become a threshing instrument. Observe, He is but an instrument, a tool in God's hand, that he is pleased to make use of; and he is an instrument of God's making and is no more than God makes him. But, if God make him a threshing instrument, he will make use of him, and therefore will make him fit for use, new and sharp, and having teeth, or sharp spikes; and then, by divine direction and strength, thou shalt thresh the mountains, the highest, and strongest, and most stubborn of thy enemies: thou shalt not only be at them, but beat them small; they shall not be a corn threshed out, which is valuable, and is carefully preserved (such God's people are when they are under the flail, Isaiah 21:10; Isaiah 21:10: O my threshing! yet the corn of my floor, that shall not be lost); but these are made as chaff, which is good for nothing, and which the husbandman is glad to get rid of. He pursues the metaphor, Isaiah 41:16; Isaiah 41:16. Having threshed them, thou shalt winnow them, and the wind shall scatter them. This perhaps had its accomplishment, in part, in the victories of the Jews over their enemies in the times of the Maccabees; but it seems in general designed to read the final doom of all the implacable enemies of the church of God, and to have its accomplishment like wise in the triumphs of the cross of Christ, the gospel of Christ, and all the faithful followers of Christ, over the powers of darkness, which, first or last, shall all be dissipated, and in Christ all believers shall be more than conquerors, and he that overcomes shall have power over the nations,Revelation 2:26.
IV. That, hereupon, they shall have abundance of comfort in God, and God shall have abundance of honour from them: Thou shalt rejoice in the Lord,Isaiah 41:16; Isaiah 41:16. When we are freed from that which hindered our joy, and are blessed with that which is the matter of it, we ought to remember that God is our exceeding joy and in him all our joys must terminate. When we rejoice over our enemies we must rejoice in the Lord, for to him alone we owe our liberties and victories. "Thou shalt also glory in the Holy One of Israel, in thy interest in him and relation to him, and what he has done for thee." And, if thus we make God our praise and glory, we become to him for a praise and a glory.
V. That they shall have seasonable and suitable supplies of every thing that is proper for them in the time of need; and, if there be occasion, God will again do for them as he did for Israel in their march from Egypt to Canaan, Isaiah 41:17-19; Isaiah 41:17-19. When the captives, either in Babylon or in their return thence, are in distress for want of water or shelter, God will take care of them, and, one way or other, make their journey, even through a wilderness, comfortable to them. But doubtless this promise has more than such a private interpretation. Their return out of Babylon was typical of our redemption by Christ; and so the contents of these promises, 1. Were provided by the gospel of Christ. That glorious discovery of his love has given full assurance to all those who hear this joyful sound that God has provided inestimable comforts for them, sufficient for the supply of all their wants, the balancing of all their griefs, and the answering of all their prayers. 2. They are applied by the grace and Spirit of Christ to all believers, that they may have strong consolation in their way and a complete happiness in their end. Our way to heaven lies through the wilderness of this world. Now, (1.) It is here supposed that the people of God, in their passage through this world, are often in straits: The poor and needy seek water, and there is none; the poor in spirit hunger and thirst after righteousness. The soul of man, finding itself empty and necessitous, seeks for satisfaction somewhere, but soon despairs of finding it in the world, that has nothing in it to make it easy: creatures are broken cisterns, that can hold no water; so that their tongue fails for thirst, they are weary of seeking that satisfaction in the world which is not to be had in it. Their sorrow makes them thirsty; so does their toil. (2.) It is here promised that, one way or other, all their grievances shall be redressed and they shall be made easy. [1.] God himself will be nigh unto them in all that which they call upon him for. Let all the praying people of God take notice of this, and take comfort of it; he has said, "I the Lord will hear them, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them; I will be with them, as I have always been, in their distresses." While we are in the wilderness of this world this promise is to us what the pillar of cloud and fire was to Israel, an assurance of God's gracious presence. [2.] They shall have a constant supply of fresh water, as Israel had in the wilderness, even where one would least expect it (Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 41:18): I will open rivers in high places, rivers of grace, rivers of pleasure, rivers of living water, which he spoke of the Spirit (John 7:38; John 7:39), that Spirit which should be poured out upon the Gentiles, who had been as high places, dry and barren, and lifted up on their own conceit above the necessity of that gift. And there shall be fountains in the midst of the valleys, the valleys of Baca (Psalms 84:6), that are sandy and wearisome; or among the Jews, who had been as fruitful valleys in comparison with the Gentile mountains. The preaching of the gospel to the world turned that wilderness into a pool of water, yielding fruit to the owner of it and relief to the travellers through it. [3.] They shall have a pleasant shade to screen them from the scorching heat of the sun, as Israel when they pitched at Elim, where they had not only wells of water, but palm-trees (Exodus 15:27): "I will plant in the wilderness the cedar,Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 41:19. I will turn the wilderness into an orchard or garden, such as used to be planted with these pleasant trees, so that they shall pass through the wilderness with as much ease and delight as a man walks in his grove. These trees shall be to them what the pillar of cloud was to Israel in the wilderness, a shelter from the heat." Christ and his grace are so to believers, as the shadow of a great rock,Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 32:2. When God sets up his church in the Gentile wilderness there shall be as great a change made by it in men's characters as if thorns and briers were turned into cedars, and fir-trees, and myrtles; and by this a blessed change is described, Isaiah 55:13; Isaiah 55:13. [4.] They shall see and acknowledge the hand of God, his power and his favour, in this, Isaiah 41:20; Isaiah 41:20. God will do these strange and surprising things on purpose to awaken them to a conviction and consideration of his hand in all: That they may see this wonderful change, and knowing that it is above the ordinary course and power of nature may consider that therefore it comes from a superior power, and, comparing notes upon it, may understand together, and concur in the acknowledgment of it, that the hand of the Lord, that mighty hand of his which is stretched out for his people and stretched out to them, has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it, made it anew, made it out of nothing, made it for the comfort of his people. Note, God does great things for his people, that he may be taken notice of.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 41:13". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​isaiah-41.html. 1706.