Isaiah 41

1 “Keep silent before me, islands, and let the peoples renew their strength. Let them come near, then let them speak. Let’s meet together for judgement. 2 Who has raised up one from the east? Who called him to his foot in righteousness? He hands over nations to him, and makes him rule over kings. He gives them like the dust to his sword, like the driven stubble to his bow. 3 He pursues them, and passes by safely, even by a way that he had not gone with his feet. 4 Who has worked and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last, I am he.” 5 The islands have seen, and fear. The ends of the earth tremble. They approach, and come. 6 Everyone helps his neighbor. They say to their brothers, “Be strong!” 7 So the carpenter encourages the goldsmith. He who smooths with the hammer encourages him who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering, “It is good”; and he fastens it with nails, that it might not totter. 8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham my friend, 9 you whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and called from its corners, and said to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you away;’ 10 Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. 11 Behold, all those who are incensed against you will be disappointed and confounded. Those who strive with you will be like nothing, and shall perish. 12 You will seek them, and won’t find them, even those who contend with you. Those who war against you will be as nothing, as a non-existent thing. 13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I will help you.’ 14 Don’t be afraid, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel. I will help you,” says the LORD, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 15 Behold, I have made you into a new sharp threshing instrument with teeth. You will thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and will make the hills like chaff. 16 You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, and the whirlwind will scatter them. You will rejoice in the LORD. You will glory in the Holy One of Israel. 17 The poor and needy seek water, and there is none. Their tongue fails for thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers on the bare heights, and springs in the middle of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19 I will put cedar, acacia, myrtle, and oil trees in the wilderness. I will set cypress trees, pine, and box trees together in the desert; 20 that they may see, know, consider, and understand together, that the LORD’s hand has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it. 21 Produce your cause,” says the LORD. “Bring out your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob. 22 “Let them announce, and declare to us what shall happen. Declare the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or show us things to come. 23 Declare the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods. Yes, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and see it together. 24 Behold, you are of nothing, and your work is of nothing. He who chooses you is an abomination. 25 “I have raised up one from the north, and he has come; from the rising of the sun, one who calls on my name; and he shall come on rulers as on mortar, and as the potter treads clay. 26 Who has declared it from the beginning, that we may know? And before, that we may say, ‘He is right?’ Surely, there is no one who declares. Surely, there is no one who shows. Surely, there is no one who hears your words. 27 I am the first to say to Zion, ‘Behold, look at them;’ and I will give one who brings good news to Jerusalem. 28 When I look, there is no man; even amongst them there is no counselor who, when I ask of them, can answer a word. 29 Behold, all of them, their deeds are vanity and nothing. Their molten images are wind and confusion.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-4

This prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, Matt. 12:17. Let our souls rely on him, and rejoice in him; then, for his sake, the Father will be well-pleased with us. The Holy Spirit not only came, but rested upon him, and without measure. He patiently bore the contradiction of sinners. His kingdom is spiritual; he was not to appear with earthly honours. He is tender of those oppressed with doubts and fears, as a bruised reed; those who are as smoking flax, as the wick of a lamp newly lighted, which is ready to go out again. He will not despise them, nor lay upon them more work or more suffering than they can bear. By a long course of miracles and his resurrection, he fully showed the truth of his holy religion. By the power of his gospel and grace he fixes principles in the minds of men, which tend to make them wise and just. The most distant nations wait for his law, wait for his gospel, and shall welcome it. If we would make our calling and election sure, and have the Father delight over us for good, we must behold, hear, believe in, and obey Christ.

Verses 5-12

The work of redemption brings back man to the obedience he owes to God as his Maker. Christ is the light of the world. And by his grace he opens the understandings Satan has blinded, and sets at liberty from the bondage of sin. The Lord has supported his church. And now he makes new promises, which shall as certainly be fulfilled as the old ones were. When the Gentiles are brought into the church, he is glorified in them and by them. Let us give to God those things which are his, taking heed that we do not serve the creature more than the Creator.

Verses 13-17

The Lord will appear in his power and glory. He shall cry, in the preaching of his word. He shall cry aloud in the gospel woes, which must be preached with gospel blessings, to awaken a sleeping world. He shall conquer by the power of his Spirit. And those that contradict and blaspheme his gospel, he shall put to silence and shame; and that which hinders its progress shall be taken out of the way. To those who by nature were blind, God will show the way to life and happiness by Jesus Christ. They are weak in knowledge, but He will make darkness light. They are weak in duty, but their way shall be plain. Those whom God brings into the right way, he will guide in it. This passage is a prophecy, and is also applicable to every believer; for the Lord will never leave nor forsake them.

Verses 18-25

Observe the call given to this people, and the character given of them. Multitudes are ruined for want of observing that which they cannot but see; they perish, not through ignorance, but carelessness. The Lord is well-pleased in the making known his own righteousness. For their sins they were spoiled of all their possessions. This fully came to pass in the destruction of the Jewish nation. There is no resisting, nor escaping God’s anger. See the mischief sin makes; it provokes God to anger. And those not humbled by lesser judgments, must expect greater. Alas! how many professed Christians are blind as the benighted heathen! While the Lord is well-pleased in saving sinners through the righteousness of Christ he will also glorify his justice, by punishing all proud despisers. Seeing God has poured out his wrath on his once-favoured people, because of their sins, let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should be found to come short of it.

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