The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 41

Isa 41:1

Isa 41: A challenge to the gods of the Gentile nations (vv 21-29; Isa 43:8-12; 45:20-26). Cp with Luk 3:

Seed of Abraham (Isa 41:8)
We have Abraham to our father (Luk 3:8)
Hills as chaff (Isa 41:15)
The chaff he will burn (Luk 3:17)
Fan them (Isa 41:16)
Whose fan is in his hand (Luk 3:17)
Wilderness, pool of water (Isa 41:18)
Voice in wilderness (Luk 3:4)
Trees planted (Isa 41:19)
Trees hewn down (Luk 3:9)
My elect, delight (Isa 42:1)
My beloved son, well-pleased (Luk 3:22)
I have put my Spirit upon him (Isa 42:1)
Holy Spirit descended upon him (Luk 3:22)

LET THE NATIONS RENEW THEIR STRENGTH: Cp Isa 40:31: The only source of such renewal of strength is Yahweh (see Isa 41:5n).

Isa 41:2

ONE FROM THE EAST: Sennacherib (Isa 46:11). God controls even Gentile kings (Isa 8:7; 10:5...).

Isa 41:3

UNSCATHED: "Shalom"; ie, he moves on to "Salem", or Jerusalem. Abraham returning from the battle of the kings to meet Melchizedek in Salem (Gen 14; cp v 8 here).

Isa 41:5

"Many brought offerings to Jerusalem for the LORD and valuable gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah. From then on he was highly regarded by all the nations" (2Ch 32:23).

Isa 41:6

Vv 6,7: The futility of the gods of Nineveh.

Isa 41:8

Ref to Hezekiah, the "life" of the nation.

ABRAHAM: Who delivered his kin when they were carried away captives by an invading force, and then returned to find blessing at Salem (Gen 14). Abraham, the righteous man of vv 2-4.

Isa 41:9

I HAVE CHOSEN YOU AND HAVE NOT REJECTED YOU: "That final assurance, expressed positively and negatively, was very necessary, for Hezekiah passed through the valley of the shadow, almost reaching the point of despair where he felt that all his loyalty to Jehovah counted for nothing. Yet how wonderfully did events prove ultimately the truth of that assurance" (WIsa 363).

Isa 41:10

I AM YOUR GOD. I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU AND HELP YOU: "Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth's huge pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength. While He is able to uphold the universe, dream not that He will prove unable to fulfil His own promises. Remember what He did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how He spake and it was done; how He commanded, and it stood fast. Shall He that created the world grow weary? He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall He who doth this be unable to support His children? Shall He be unfaithful to His word for want of power? Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not He ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds His chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of His hand? How can He fail thee? When He has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that He has outpromised Himself, and gone beyond His power to fulfil?" (CHS).

UPHOLD... RIGHT HAND: Moses' hands upheld against Amalek (Exo 17:12). Cp Psa 48:10 (by Hezekiah).

RIGHTEOUS: Here, sig "vindicated righteousness," ie, "victory, deliverance" (Isa 45:8; 51:5).

RIGHT HAND: Sym the LORD's power to deliver (Exo 15:6, 12) and protect (Psa 63:8).

Isa 41:11

The fate of Pharaoh's army (Exo 14:13), and of Sennacherib's (Isa 29:5,6).

Isa 41:14

WORM: Heb "toolath" (sw Psa 22:6; Job 25:6).

Isa 41:15

THRESHING SLEDGE: The mighty cherubim of Eze 1.

THRESH THE MOUNTAINS: Mt Zion had once been a threshing floor (2Sa 24:18).

Isa 41:18

The smitten rock in the wilderness (Exo 17:16; cp Isa 32:2; 35:6,7; 43:19; 44:3; 48:2; 49:10; 55:1). Cp Psa 107:35 (Hezekiah psalm). Also, the Messiah's divine teaching (Joh 7:37-39).

Isa 41:19

CEDAR: Temple (1Ki 6:15,16,23,31).

ACACIA: Tabernacle (Exo 25:5).

MYRTLE: Feast of tabernacles (Neh 9:15).

OLIVE: Oil in Temple.

Isa 41:21

Cp v 1: The 2nd hearing with the Gentile gods.

Isa 41:22

The challenge to foretell the future (Isa 42:9; 44:7,8), and to explain the past, ie the Creation ("the former things").

Isa 41:23

WHETHER GOOD OR BAD: 'Do something... anything... instead of just sitting there!' A silent, still, useless block of wood or metal (cp Jer 10:5). Cp Elijah's challenge to the priests of Baal: 1Ki 18:27.

Isa 41:24

UTTERLY WORTHLESS: Or poss, "that of the serpent" (cp AV mg). An allusion to brazen serpent smashed by Hezekiah (2Ki 18:4).

Isa 41:25

FROM THE NORTH: Sennacherib again (v 2), from east and north. Or perhaps the Angel of the LORD, who is in control of Sennacherib's army (cp idea in Rev 9:13,14).

WHO CALLS ON MY NAME: Or, "is called by my name"; ie, Sennacherib did God's work, being guided unawares by God's Angel. (Thus it is the Angel who calls on God's name!)

(NT) Christ raised up from north (Galilee), called by God's name, comes from the rising of sun (resurrection: Act 1:11; Zec 14:4), displaying divine power against Gentile princes.

Isa 41:26

Cp Christ's challenges to the Jews to "explain" the prophecies, re John the Baptist and himself; but "We cannot tell" (Mar 11:33; 12:35-37).

Isa 41:27

Sennacherib conquered land and cities as far as Jerusalem, but no further.

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