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Isaiah 42:4

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He shall not fail - He shall not be weak, feeble, or disheartened. However much there may be that shall tend to discourage, yet his purpose is fixed, and he will pursue it with steadiness and ardor until the great work shall be fully accomplished. There may be an allusion in the Hebrew word here (יכהה yı̂kheh ) to that which is applied to the flax (כהה kēhâh ); and the idea may be that he shall not become in his purposes like the smoking, flickering, dying flame of a lamp. There shall never be any indication, even amidst all embarrassments, that it is his intention to abandon his plan of extending the true religion through all the world. Such also should be the fixed and determined purposes of his people. Their zeal should never fail; their ardor should never grow languid.

Nor be discouraged - Margin, ‹Broken.‘ The Hebrew word ירוּץ yârûts may be derived either from רצץ râtsats to break, to break in pieces; or from רוץ rûts to run, to move hastily, to rush upon any one. Our translators have adopted the former. Gesenius also supposes that this is the true interpretation of the word, and that it means, that he would not be broken, that is, checked in his zeal, or discouraged by any opposition. The latter interpretation is preferred by Vitringa, Rosenmuller, Hengstenberg, and others. The Chaldee renders it, ‹Shall not labor,‘ that is, shall not be fatigued, or discouraged. The Septuagint renders it, ‹He shall shine out, and not be broken.‘ The connection seems to require the sense which our translators have given to it, and according to this, the meaning is, ‹he shall not become broken in spirit, or discouraged; he shall persevere amidst all opposition and embarrassment, until he shall accomplish his purposes.‘ We have a similar phraseology when we speak of a man‘s being heart-broken.

Till he have set judgment - Until he has secured the prevalence of the true religion in all the world.

And the isles - Distant nations (see the note at Isaiah 41:1); the pagan nations. The expression is equivalent to saying that the Gentiles would be desirous of receiving the religion of the Messiah, and would wait for it (see the notes at Isaiah 2:3).

Shall wait - They shall be dissatisfied with their own religions, and see that their idol-gods are unable to aid them; and they shall be in a posture of waiting for some new religion that shall meet their needs. It cannot mean that they shall wait for it, in the sense of their already having a knowledge of it, but that their being sensible that their own religions cannot save them may be represented as a condition of waiting for some better system. It has been true, as in the Sandwich Islands, that the pagan have been so dissatisfied with their own religion as to east away their idols, and to be without any religion, and thus to be in a waiting posture for some new and better system. And it may be true yet that the pagan shall become extensively dissatisfied with their idolatry; that they shall be convinced that some better system is necessary, and that they may thus be prepared to welcome the gospel when it shall be proposed to them. It may be that in this manner God intends to remove the now apparently insuperable obstacles to the spread of the gospel in the pagan world. The Septuagint renders this, ‹And in his name shall the Gentiles trust,‘ which form has been retained by Matthew Matthew 12:21.

His law - His commands, the institutions of his religion. The word ‹law‘ is often used in the Scriptures to denote the whole of religion.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
This prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, Mt 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.
Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God's favour and good-will to his people speak abundant comfort to all believers. The new creature, wherever it is, is of God's forming. All who are redeemed with the blood of his Son, he has set apart for himself. Those that have God for them need not fear who or what can be against them. What are Egypt and Ethiopia, all their lives and treasures, compared with the blood of Christ? True believers are precious in God's sight, his delight is in them, above any people. Though they went as through fire and water, yet, while they had God with them, they need fear no evil; they should be born up, and brought out. The faithful are encouraged. They were to be assembled from every quarter. And with this pleasing object in view, the prophet again dissuades from anxious fears.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He shall not fail nor be discouraged "His force shall not be abated nor broken" - Rabbi Meir ita citat locum istum, ut post ירוץ yaruts, addat כוחו cocho, robur ejus, quod hodie Ilon comparet in textu Hebraeo, sed addendum videtur, ut sensus fiat planior.

"Rabbi Meir cites this passage so as to add after ירוץ yarats כוחו cocho, his force, which word is not found in the present Hebrew text, but seems necessary to be added to make the sense more distinct." Capell. Crit. Sac. p. 382. For which reason I had added it in the translation, before I observed this remark of Capellus. - L.

Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 134

How can a physician stand in the community as an example of purity and self-control, how can he be an effectual worker in the temperance cause, while he himself is indulging a vile habit? How can he minister acceptably at the bedside of the sick and the dying, when his very breath is offensive, laden with the odor of liquor or tobacco? MH 134.1

While disordering his nerves and clouding his brain by the use of narcotic poisons, how can one be true to the trust reposed in him as a skillful physician? How impossible for him to discern quickly or to execute with precision! MH 134.2

If he does not observe the laws that govern his own being, if he chooses selfish gratification above soundness of mind and body, does he not thereby declare himself unfit to be entrusted with the responsibility of human lives? MH 134.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 242

To those who are laboring in the South I would say: Be not discouraged by the present feebleness of the work. You have had to struggle against difficulties that have at times threatened to overcome you. But by God's help you have been enabled to move forward. If all in our ranks knew how difficult it was in years past to establish the work in places that have since become important centers, they would realize that it takes courage to face an unpromising situation and to declare, with hands uplifted to heaven: “We will not fail nor become discouraged.” Those who have not broken the ground in new and difficult fields do not realize the difficulties of pioneer work. If they could understand God's working they would not only rejoice because of what has been done, but they would see cause for rejoicing in the future of the work. 7T 242.1

My brethren, there is no reason for discouragement. The good seed is being sown. God will watch over it, causing it to spring up and bring forth an abundant harvest. Remember that many of the enterprises for soul saving have, at the beginning, been carried forward amidst great difficulty. 7T 242.2

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Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 469

The worker in a foreign field must carry in his heart the peace and love of heaven; for this is his only safety. Amid perplexity and trial, discouragement and suffering, with the devotion of a martyr and the courage of a hero, he is to hold fast to the hand that never lets go, saying, “I will not fail nor be discouraged.” He must be a close Bible student, and should be often in prayer. If, before talking with others, he will seek help from above, he may be assured that angels of heaven will be with him. At times he may yearn for human sympathy, but in his loneliness he may find comfort and encouragement through communion with God. Let him be cheered by the words of the Saviour, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:20.] From this divine Companion he will receive instruction in the science of soul-saving. GW 469.1

Energy and self-sacrifice are needed in the missionary field. God calls for men who will push the triumphs of the cross; men who will persevere under discouragements and privations; men who have the zeal and resolution and faith that are indispensable in the missionary field. By persevering toil and a firm trust in the God of Israel, resolute, courageous men will accomplish wonders. There is scarcely a limit to what may be achieved if the efforts made are governed by enlightened judgment and backed by earnest endeavor. GW 469.2

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 199

Jesus looked upon the world in its fallen state with infinite pity. He took humanity upon Himself that He might touch and elevate humanity. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He reached to the very depth of human misery and woe, to take man as He found him, a being tainted with corruption, degraded with vice, depraved by sin, and united with Satan in apostasy, and elevate him to a seat upon His throne. But it was written of Him that “He shall not fail nor be discouraged,” and He went forth in the path of self-denial and self-sacrifice, giving us an example that we should follow in His steps. We should work as did Jesus, departing from our own pleasure, turning away from Satan's bribes, despising ease, and abhorring selfishness, that we may seek and save that which is lost, bringing souls from darkness into light, into the sunshine of God's love. We have been commissioned to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature. We are to bring to the lost the tidings that Christ can forgive sin, can renew the nature, can clothe the soul in the garments of His righteousness, bring the sinner to His right mind, and teach him and fit him up to be a laborer together with God. FE 199.1

The converted soul lives in Christ. His darkness passes away, and a new and heavenly light shines into his soul. “He that winneth souls is wise.” “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” What is done through the co-operation of men with God is a work that shall never perish, but endure through the eternal ages. He that makes God his wisdom, that grows up into the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus, will stand before kings, before the so-called great men of the world, and show forth the praises of Him who hath called him out of darkness into His marvelous light. Science and literature cannot bring into the darkened mind of men the light which the glorious gospel of the Son of God can bring. The Son of God alone can do the great work of illuminating the soul. No wonder Paul exclaims, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” The gospel of Christ becomes personality in those who believe, and makes them living epistles, known and read of all men. In this way the leaven of godliness passes into the multitude. The heavenly intelligences are able to discern the true elements of greatness in character; for only goodness is esteemed as efficiency with God. FE 199.2

“Without Me,” Christ says, “ye can do nothing.” Our faith, our example, must be held more sacred than they have been held in the past. The word of God must be studied as never before; for it is the precious offering that we must present to men, in order that they may learn the way of peace, and obtain that life which measures with the life of God. Human wisdom so highly exalted among men sinks into insignificance before that wisdom which points out the way cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. The Bible alone affords the means of distinguishing the path of life from the broad road that leads to perdition and death.—The Review and Herald, December 15, 1891. FE 200.1

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