Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 40:11

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He shall feed his flock - In the previous verse, the fact had been asserted that God would come to subdue his foes, and to reward his people. In this verse, the mild and gentle character of his government over his people is predicted. It would not be that of a conqueror over vanquished subjects; but it would be mild and tender, like that of a shepherd who carries the lambs, which are unable to walk, in his own arms, and gently leads along the feeble and the delicate. The verb translated “to feed‘ (ירעה yire‛eh ), denotes more than our word feed at present. It refers to all the care of a shepherd over his flock; and means to tend, to guard, to govern, to provide pasture, to defend from danger, as a shepherd does his flock. It is often applied in the Scriptures to God represented as the tender shepherd, and especially to the Redeemer Psalm 23:1; Ezekiel 34:23; John 10:14; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4. It is often applied to a leader or a ruler of a people 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 7:7; Jeremiah 32:2. Thus Homer often uses the phrase, ποιμήν λαῶν poimēn laōn - ‹shepherds of the people,‘ to denote a ruler, or monarch. Here it denotes that God would evince toward his people the same tender care, guardianship and protection, which a shepherd shows for his flock.

He shall gather the lambs with his arm - This is a most beautiful expression, denoting the care of God the Saviour for the feeblest and weakest of his people, and for the young and feeble in years and piety. A similar thing is often done by a shepherd. The tender lamb, unable to keep up with the flock, becomes weary and exhausted; and the shepherd naturally takes it in his arms and carries it. Such a shepherd as this Virgil beautifully describes:

En, ipse capellas

Protenus aeger argo; hancetiam vix, Tityre, duco;

Hic inter densas corylos modo namque gemellos,

Spem gregis, Ah! silice in nuda connixa reliquet.

Eclog. i. 12.

Lo! I my goats urge fainting o‘er the mead;

This, feebler than the rest, with pains I lead.

Yean‘d mid yon herds upon the flinty plain,

Her dying twins, my flock‘s late hope, remain.


And shall gently lead … - Margin, ‹Give suck.‘ This is the more correct translation. It denotes the dams of the flock that would be easily exhausted by being overdriven, and of which there was, therefore, special care necessary. Thus Jacob says to his brother Esau, Genesis 33:13: ‹The flocks and the herds giving suck to their young are with me, and if they should be overdriven all the flock will die.‘ Of the necessity of such care and attention there is abundant evidence, and indeed it is manifest at a glance. Dr. Shaw, speaking of the exposure of the flocks in Syria, says: ‹The greatest skill and vigilance, and even tender care, are required in the management of such immense flocks as wander on the Syrian plains. Their prodigious numbers compel the keepers to remove them too frequently in search of fresh pastures, which proves very destructive to the young that have not strength to follow.‘ The following extract from Anderson‘s Tour through Greece will also serve to illustrate this passage: ‹One of the great delights in traveling through a pastoral country, is to see and feel the force of the beautiful imagery in the Scriptures, borrowed from pastoral life.

All day long the shepherd attends his flock, leading them into “green pastures,” near fountains of water, and chooses a convenient place for them to “rest at noon.” At night he drives them near his tent; and, if there is danger, encloses them in the fold. They know his voice, and follow him. When traveling, he tenderly watches over them, and carries such as are exhausted in his arms. Such a shepherd is the Lord Jesus Christ.‘ No description could more beautifully describe the character of the Redeemer. In the New Testament, he is often described as a kind and tender shepherd, and regarding the welfare of all his flock, and as ready to give his life for them John 10:7, John 10:9-11, John 10:14-15; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4. We are here also strikingly reminded of the solemn command which he gave to Peter, evincing his tender regard for his flock, ‹Feed my lambs:‘ ‹Feed my sheep‘ John 16:15-17. It proves in regard to the Redeemer:

1. That his nature is mild, and gentle, and tender.

2. That he has a kind regard for all his flock, and will consult the real interest of all, as a shepherd does of his flock.

3. That he has a special solicitude for the feeble and infirm, and that they will be the objects of his tender care.

4. That he feels a particular solicitude for the young. He knows their feebleness; he is acquainted with their temptations; he sees the importance of their being trained up with care; and he looks with deep interest, therefore, on all the efforts made to guard them from the ways of sin, and to train them up for his service (compare the note at Isaiah 42:3).

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always. Troubles are removed in love, when sin is pardoned. In the great atonement of the death of Christ, the mercy of God is exercised to the glory of his justice. In Christ, and his sufferings, true penitents receive of the Lord's hand double for all their sins; for the satisfaction Christ made by his death was of infinite value. The prophet had some reference to the return of the Jews from Babylon. But this is a small event, compared with that pointed out by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament, when John the Baptist proclaimed the approach of Christ. When eastern princes marched through desert countries, ways were prepared for them, and hinderances removed. And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hinderance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. What are all that belongs to fallen man, or all that he does, but as the grass and the flower thereof! And what will all the titles and possessions of a dying sinner avail, when they leave him under condemnation! The word of the Lord can do that for us, which all flesh cannot. The glad tidings of the coming of Christ were to be sent forth to the ends of the earth. Satan is the strong man armed; but our Lord Jesus is stronger; and he shall proceed, and do all that he purposes. Christ is the good Shepherd; he shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a sorrowful spirit. By his word he requires no more service, and by his providence he inflicts no more trouble, than he will strengthen them for. May we know our Shepherd's voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Shall gently lead those that are with young "The nursing ewes shall he gently lead" - A beautiful image, expressing, with the utmost propriety as well as elegance, the tender attention of the shepherd to his flock. That the greatest care in driving the cattle in regard to the dams and their young was necessary, appears clearly from Jacob's apology to his brother Esau, Genesis 33:13; : "The flocks and the herds giving suck to their young are with me; and if they should be overdriven, all the flock will die." Which is set in a still stronger light by the following remark of Sir John Chardin: "Their flocks," says he, speaking of those who now live in the east after the patriarchal manner, "feed down the places of their encampments so quick, by the great numbers that they have, that they are obliged to remove them too often, which is very destructive to their flocks, on account of the young ones, who have not strength enough to follow." Harmer's Observ. i., p. 126.

Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 191

Christ says, “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” Verses 11-14. PP 191.1

Christ, the Chief Shepherd, has entrusted the care of His flock to His ministers as undershepherds; and He bids them have the same interest that He has manifested, and feel the sacred responsibility of the charge He has entrusted to them. He has solemnly commanded them to be faithful, to feed the flock, to strengthen the weak, to revive the fainting, and to shield them from devouring wolves. PP 191.2

To save His sheep, Christ laid down His own life; and He points His shepherds to the love thus manifested, as their example. But “he that is an hireling, ... whose own the sheep are not,” has no real interest in the flock. He is laboring merely for gain, and he cares only for himself. He studies his own profit instead of the interest of his charge; and in time of peril or danger he will flee, and leave the flock. PP 191.3

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Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 211

Youthful talent, well organized and well trained, is needed in our churches. The youth will do something with their overflowing energies. Unless these energies are directed into right channels, they will be used by the youth in a way that will hurt their own spirituality, and prove an injury to those with whom they associate. GW 211.1

Let the heart of the instructor be linked with the hearts of those under his charge. Let him remember that they have many temptations to meet. We little realize the objectionable traits of character given to the youth as a birthright, and how often temptation comes to them as a result of this birthright. GW 211.2

The guarding care that the under-shepherd will give the lambs of his flock is well illustrated by a picture I have seen representing the Good Shepherd. The shepherd is leading the way, while the flock follow close behind. Carried in his arms is a helpless lamb, while the mother walks trustingly by his side. Of the work of Christ, Isaiah says, “He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom.” [Isaiah 40:11.] The lambs need more than daily food. They need protection, and must constantly be guarded with tender care. If one goes astray, it must be searched for. The figure is a beautiful one, and well represents the loving service that the under-shepherd of the flock of Christ is to give to those under his protection and care. GW 211.3

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 67.1

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. TDG 67.1

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 53

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11. TMK 53.1

A true shepherd knows and pities and helps the sheep that most need his help—those that are bruised and lame and feeble. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd.” TMK 53.2

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