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Isaiah 41:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Keep silence before me, O islands "Let the distant nations repair to me with new force of mind" - Εγκαινιζεσθε, Septuagint. For החרישו hacharishu, be silent, they certainly read in their copy החדישו hachadishu, be renewed; which is parallel and synonymous with כח יחלפו yechalephu coach, "recover their strength;" that is, their strength of mind, their powers of reason; that they may overcome those prejudices by which they have been so long held enslaved to idolatry. A MS. has הר har, upon a rasure. The same mistake seems to have been made in this word, Zephaniah 3:17. For באהבתו יחריש yacharish beahabatho, silebit in directions sua, as the Vulgate renders it; which seems not consistent with what immediately follows, exultabit super te in laude; the Septuagint and Syriac read באהבתו יחדיש yachadish beahabatho, "he shall be renewed in his love." אלי elai, to me, is wanting in one of De Rossi's MSS. and in the Syriac.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The design of this chapter is the same as that of the preceding, and it is to be regarded as the continuation of the argument commenced there. Its object is to lead those who were addressed, to put confidence in God. In the introduction to Isaiah 41:1.

II. He specifies that he will raise up a man from the east - who should be able to overcome the enemies of the Jews, and to effect their deliverance Isaiah 41:2-4.

III. The consternation of the nations at the approach of Cyrus, and their excited and agitated fleeing to their idols is described Isaiah 41:5-7.

IV. God gives to his people the assurance of his protection, and friendship Isaiah 41:8-14. This is shown:

1. Because they were the children of Abraham, his friend, and be was bound in covenant faithfulness to protect them Isaiah 41:8-9.

2. By direct assurance that he would aid and protect them; that though they were feeble, yet he was strong enough to deliver them Isaiah 41:10-14.

V. He says that he will enable them to overcome and scatter their foes, as the chaff is driven away on the mountains by the whirlwind Isaiah 41:15-16.

VI. He gives to his people the special promise of assistance and comfort. He will meet them in their desolate condition, and will give them consolation as if fountains were opened in deserts, and trees producing grateful shade and fruit were planted in the wilderness Isaiah 41:17-20.

VII. He appeals directly to the enemies of the Jews, to the worshippers of idols. He challenges them to give any evidence of the power or the divinity of their idols; and appeals to the fact that he had foretold future events; that he had raised up a deliverer for his people in proof of his divinity, and his power to save Isaiah 41:21-29. The argument of the whole is, that the idol-gods were unable to defend the nations which trusted in them; that God would raise up a mighty prince who should be able to deliver the Jews from their long and painful calamity, and that they, therefore, should put their trust in Yahweh.

Keep silence before me - (Compare Zechariah 2:13) The idea is, that the pagan nations were to be silent while God should speak, or with a view of entering into an argument with him respecting the comparative power of himself and of idols to defend their respective worshippers. The argument is stated in following verses, and preparatory to the statement of that argument, the people are exhorted to be silent. This is probably to evince a proper awe and reverence for Yahweh, before whom the argument was to be conducted, and a proper sense of the magnitude and sacredness of the inquiry (compare Isaiah 41:21). And it may be remarked here, that the same reasons will apply to all approaches which are made to God. When we are about to come before him in prayer or praise; to confess our sins and to plead for pardon; when we engage an argument respecting his being, plans, or perfections; or when we draw near to him in the closet, the family, or the sanctuary, the mind should be filled with awe and reverence. It is well, it is proper, to pause and think of what our emotions should be, and of what we should say, before God (compare Genesis 28:16-17).

O islands - (איים 'iyiym ). This word properly means islands, and is so translated here by the Vulgate, the Septuagint, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and the Arabic. But the word also is used to denote maritime countries; Countries that were situated on seacoasts, or the regions beyond sea (see the note at Isaiah 20:6). The word is applied, therefore, to the islands of the Mediterranean; to the maritime coasts; and then, also, it comes to be used in the sense of any lands or coasts far remote, or beyond sea (see Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 24:15; the notes at Isaiah 40:15; Isaiah 41:5; Isaiah 42:4, Isaiah 42:10, Isaiah 42:12; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 25:22; Daniel 11:18). Here it is evidently used in the sense of distant nations or lands; the people who were remote from Palestine, and who were the worshippers of idols. The argument is represented as being with them, and they are invited to prepare their minds by suitable reverence for God for the argument which was to be presented.

And let the people renew their strength - On the word ‹renew,‘ see the note at Isaiah 40:31. Here it means, ‹Let them make themselves strong; let them prepare the argument; let them be ready to urge as strong reasons as possible; let them fit themselves to enter into the controversy about the power and glory of Yahweh‘ (see Isaiah 41:21).

Let us come near together to judgment - The word ‹judgment‘ here means evidently controversy, argumentation, debate. Thus it is used in Job 9:32. The language is that which is used of two parties who come together to try a cause, or to engage in debate; and the sense is, that God proposes to enter into an argumentation with the entire pagan world, in regard to his ability to save his people; that is, he proposes to show the reasons why they should trust in him, rather than dread those under whose power they then were, and by whom they had been oppressed. Lowth renders it, correctly expressing the sense, ‹Let us enter into solemn debate together.‘

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Can any heathen god raise up one in righteousness, make what use of him he pleases, and make him victorious over the nations? The Lord did so with Abraham, or rather, he would do so with Cyrus. Sinners encourage one another in the ways of sin; shall not the servants of the living God stir up one another in his service? God's people are the seed of Abraham his friend. This is certainly the highest title ever given to a mortal. It means that Abraham, by Divine grace, was made like to God, and that he was admitted to communion with Him. Happy are the servants of the Lord, whom he has called to be his friends, and to walk with him in faith and holy obedience. Let not such as have thus been favoured yield to fear; for the contest may be sharp, but the victory shall be sure.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 39

Study the forty-first chapter of Isaiah, and strive to understand it in all its significance. God declares: “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. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: that they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.” Isaiah 41:18-20. 8T 39.1

He who has chosen Christ has joined himself to a power that no array of human wisdom or strength can overthrow. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee,” He declares; “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.” “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Verses 10, 13. 8T 39.2

“To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth. 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? 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. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth 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 40:25-31. 8T 39.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 480

In the forty-first to the forty-fifth chapters of Isaiah, God very fully reveals His purpose for His people, and these chapters should be prayerfully studied. God does not here instruct His people to turn away from His wisdom and look to finite man for wisdom. “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel,” He declares, “for thou art My servant: ... O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee. Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.” TM 480.1

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside Me.... Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to Him shall men come; and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” TM 480.2

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