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Israel Assured of God’s Help


Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;

let the peoples renew their strength;

let them approach, then let them speak;

let us together draw near for judgment.



Who has roused a victor from the east,

summoned him to his service?

He delivers up nations to him,

and tramples kings under foot;

he makes them like dust with his sword,

like driven stubble with his bow.


He pursues them and passes on safely,

scarcely touching the path with his feet.


Who has performed and done this,

calling the generations from the beginning?

I, the L ord, am first,

and will be with the last.


The coastlands have seen and are afraid,

the ends of the earth tremble;

they have drawn near and come.


Each one helps the other,

saying to one another, “Take courage!”


The artisan encourages the goldsmith,

and the one who smooths with the hammer encourages the one who strikes the anvil,

saying of the soldering, “It is good”;

and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.


But you, Israel, my servant,

Jacob, whom I have chosen,

the offspring of Abraham, my friend;


you whom I took from the ends of the earth,

and called from its farthest corners,

saying to you, “You are my servant,

I have chosen you and not cast you off”;


do not fear, for I am with you,

do not be afraid, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.



Yes, all who are incensed against you

shall be ashamed and disgraced;

those who strive against you

shall be as nothing and shall perish.


You shall seek those who contend with you,

but you shall not find them;

those who war against you

shall be as nothing at all.


For I, the L ord your God,

hold your right hand;

it is I who say to you, “Do not fear,

I will help you.”



Do not fear, you worm Jacob,

you insect Israel!

I will help you, says the L ord;

your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.


Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge,

sharp, new, and having teeth;

you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,

and you shall make the hills like chaff.


You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away,

and the tempest shall scatter them.

Then you shall rejoice in the L ord;

in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.



When the poor and needy seek water,

and there is none,

and their tongue is parched with thirst,

I the L ord will answer them,

I the God of Israel will not forsake them.


I will open rivers on the bare heights,

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 put in the wilderness the cedar,

the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;

I will set in the desert the cypress,

the plane and the pine together,


so that all may see and know,

all may consider and understand,

that the hand of the L ord has done this,

the Holy One of Israel has created it.


The Futility of Idols


Set forth your case, says the L ord;

bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.


Let them bring them, and tell us

what is to happen.

Tell us the former things, what they are,

so that we may consider them,

and that we may know their outcome;

or declare to us the things to come.


Tell us what is to come hereafter,

that we may know that you are gods;

do good, or do harm,

that we may be afraid and terrified.


You, indeed, are nothing

and your work is nothing at all;

whoever chooses you is an abomination.



I stirred up one from the north, and he has come,

from the rising of the sun he was summoned by name.

He shall trample on rulers as on mortar,

as the potter treads clay.


Who declared it from the beginning, so that we might know,

and beforehand, so that we might say, “He is right”?

There was no one who declared it, none who proclaimed,

none who heard your words.


I first have declared it to Zion,

and I give to Jerusalem a herald of good tidings.


But when I look there is no one;

among these there is no counselor

who, when I ask, gives an answer.


No, they are all a delusion;

their works are nothing;

their images are empty wind.


1. Be silent to me, 133133     “Devant moy“ “Before me.” O islands. Though the Prophet’s discourse appears to be different from the former, yet he pursues the same subject; for, in order to put the Jews to shame, he says that he would have been successful, if he had been called to plead with unbelievers and blind persons. Thus he reproves not only the sluggishness, but the stupidity of that nation, “to whom God had been so nigh” and so intimately known by his Law. (Deuteronomy 4:7.) Yet we need not wonder that the people, overtaken by many terrors, trembled so that they scarcely received solid consolation; for we have abundant experience how much we are alarmed by adversity, because amidst; this depravity and corruption of our nature, every man labors under two diseases. In prosperity, he exalts himself extravagantly, and shakes off the restraint; of humility and moderation; but, in adversity, he either rages, or lies in a lifeless condition, and scarcely has the smallest perception of the goodness of God. We need not wonder, therefore, that the Prophet dwells so largely on this subject, and that he pursues it in many ways.

He gives the name of islands to the countries beyond the sea; for the Jews, having no intercourse with them, gave to all that lay beyond the sea the name of “islands;” and therefore he addresses not only the nations which were at hand, but likewise those which were more distant, and requires them “to keep silence before him.” But of what nature is this silence? Isaiah describes a kind of judicial pleading which the Lord is not unwilling to enter into with all nations. He demands only that he shall be heard in his own cause, and that there shall be no confusion or disorder in the proceedings, which would be altogether at variance with a court of justice. On this account he commands the Gentiles to keep silence, that, when this has been done, he may openly plead his cause; for the order of a court of justice demands that every person shall speak in his turn; for, if all should cry aloud together, there must be strange confusion. 134134     “He alludes to the method observed in courts of judicature, where silence is always commanded to prevent interruption; he calls upon the idolatrous nations to appear at the bar with him, and see if they could give so convincing proofs of the divinity of their gods as he could of his own.” — White.

This reminds us, that the reason why we do not think with so much reverence as we ought concerning the power and goodness and wisdom and other attributes of God, is, that we do not listen to him when he speaks. Men roar and murmur against God; some, swelling with their pride, openly despise his word; while others, through some kind of slothfulness, disregard him, and, in consequence of being buried in earthly delights, take no concern about aspiring to the heavenly kingdom. Even now we perceive with what insolence and rebellion many persons speak against God. How comes it that Papists are so obstinate and headstrong in their errors, but because they refuse to listen to God? for if they would listen to him in silence, the truth would speedily convince them. In a word, the Lord shews by these words that he will be victorious, if men listen to him attentively. He does not wish that they shall listen to him in a careless manner, as unjust and corrupt judges, having already determined what sentence they shall pronounce, are wont to do; but that they shall examine and weigh his arguments, in which they will find nothing but what is perfectly just.

It may be asked, “Does the Prophet now exhort the Gentiles to hear?” I reply, these things relate chiefly to the Jews; for it would be long before this prophecy would reach the Gentiles. But this discourse would be fitted more powerfully to remove the obstinacy of the Jews, when he shows that the Gentiles, though they were estranged from him, would speedily acknowledge his power, provided only that they chose to listen to him in silence. There is greater weight and force in these words addressed directly to the “islands” themselves than if he had spoken of them in the third person.

And let the people collect their strength. The Lord defies all the Gentiles to the contest, and in a contemptuous manner, as is commonly done by those who are more powerful, or who, relying on the goodness of their cause, have no doubt about the result. “Let them collect their strength and league against me; they will gain nothing, but I shall at length be victorious.” As we commonly say, “I disdain them, (Je les despite.) Even though they bend all their strength both of mind and of body, still they shall be conquered; all I ask is, that they give me a hearing.” By these words he declares that truth possesses such power that it easily puts down all falsehoods, provided that men give attention to it; and, therefore, although all men rise up to overwhelm the truth, still it will prevail. Consequently, if we are led astray from God, we must not throw the blame on others, but ought rather to accuse ourselves of not having been sufficiently attentive and diligent when he spoke to us; for falsehoods would not have power over us, nor would we be carried away by any cunning attempt of Satan to deceive us, or by the force of any attack, if we were well disposed to listen to God.

As to his assuming the character of a guilty person, in order that he may appear and plead his cause before a court of justice, it may be asked, “Who among men will be competent to judge in so hard and difficult a cause?” I reply, there is nothing said here about choosing judges; the Lord means only, that he would be successful, if impartial judges were allowed to try this cause. He cannot submit either to men or to angels, so as to render an account to them; but, for the purpose of taking away every excuse, he declares that victory is in his power, even though he were constrained to plead his cause; and, consequently, that it is highly unreasonable to dispute among ourselves, and not to yield to him absolute obedience; that we are ungrateful and rebellious, in not listening to him, and in not considering how just are his demands. And, indeed, though nothing can be more unreasonable than for mortals to judge of God, yet it is still more shocking and monstrous, when, by our blind murmuring, we condemn him before he has been heard in his own defense.

2. Who shall raise up righteousness from the east? This shews plainly what is the design of the Prophet; for he intends to assure the Jews that they will be in no danger of going astray, if they choose to follow the path which he points out to them. And this is the reason why he mentions Abraham; for he might have enumerated other works of God, but selected an example appropriate to his subject; for, having been descended from Abraham, whom God had brought out of Chaldea amidst so many dangers, they ought also to have hoped that he would equally assist them; since his power was not diminished, and he is not wearied by acts of kindness. 135135     “Puisque sa force n’estoit point diminuee, ni sa beneficence refroidie.” “Since his strength was not diminished, nor his benevolence cooled.” Because it was difficult for captives and exiles, while they were at a great distance from their native country, to hope for a return, he exhorts them by a similar example to cherish favorable hopes. Having been scattered throughout Chaldea and the neighboring countries, they thought that the road which led homeward was shut up against them on account of numerous obstructions. But from the same place Abraham their father had traveled into Judea. (Genesis 11:31, and 12:1.) Could not he who conducted one poor, solitary man, with his father, his nephew, and his wife, safe and sound amidst so ninny dangers, be the leader of his people in the journey? Since, therefore, God had called Abraham out of his native country, and delivered him from all distresses, this fact drawn from the family history ought to have made a deeper impression on his children, that the departure of their father Abraham might be a pledge or mirror of their future deliverance from Babylon.

When he calls Abraham righteousness, he does so, not for the purpose of extolling the man, but of shewing that God had assigned to him a character which belonged to the whole condition of the Church; for he was not called as a private individual, but the demonstration of God’s eternal justice which was given in his calling is common to all believers; as if he had said, that in his person the Church had once been delivered, in order that he might confidently believe that his salvation and the justice of God would be alike eternal. And indeed in a single individual we behold the calling of believers, and a sort of model of the Church, and the beginning and end of our salvation. In short, Abraham may be regarded as a mirror of the justice of God, so far as it shines in the affairs of this world. This word is used for the sake of amplification, (πρὸς αὔξησιν); for to “raise up righteousness from the east,” where everything had been corrupted and polluted by the most abominable superstitions, was an astonishing work of God. If, therefore, such a display of God’s goodness and power had once been given, why ought; they not to expect the same or a similar display in future?

Called him to his foot. 136136     “L’ a-il pas appele pour venir apres soy.” “Called him to come after himself.” Some interpret this as meaning that Abraham, wherever he went, called on the name of the Lord; for as soon as he came into any country, he erected an altar to God, that he might offer sacrifice upon it. (Genesis 12:7, and 13:18.) This is indeed true, but I interpret it differently, that the Lord was the leader in the journey to Abraham, who followed him step by step; for when he was commanded to depart, no particular country was pointed out to which he should go; and thus when he set out he knew not either how far, or in what direction he should travel, but God kept him in suspense till he entered into the land of Canaan. (Genesis 12:1; Acts 7:3.) When Abraham had been called, he immediately appeared, and though he was uncertain as to his journey, he listened to the mouth of God, and was satisfied with having God for his leader. On this account the expression is appropriate, that he followed him “to his foot,” because he surrendered himself to God to be a footman, like obedient and submissive servants who follow the footsteps of their master, though they are uncertain whither he is leading them.

Gave nations before him. This means that although the good man might be afflicted and tormented every moment by many anxieties, yet God removed every obstruction that could annoy him. Moses does not enumerate all the difficulties which Abraham encountered at his departure, but any person may conclude that this journey could not be free from very great annoyances; for it was impossible for him, when he set out, not to draw upon himself the hatred of the nation, and to be universally condemned as a madman for leaving his native land, and relations, and friends, and wandering to an unknown country. After having come into the land of Canaan, he had to do with wicked and cruel men, with whom he could not be agreed, because he was entirely opposed to their superstitions. What Moses relates shews plainly enough that Abraham was never at rest, and yet that wicked men durst not attempt to do anything against him; so that when he wished to purchase a sepulcher from the children of Heth, they offered it to him freely and for nothing, and acknowledged him to be a man of God and a prince. (Genesis 23:6.)

And subdued kings. The Prophet illustrates the grace of God, by shewing that he did not spare even kings, so as to make it evident that he was a faithful protector of his servant or vassal Abraham. The history of the four kings whom he vanquished and routed is well known, (Genesis 14:14, 15,) and might be extended to Pharaoh, (Genesis 12:17,) and Abimelech, (Genesis 20:3,) who are also mentioned in Psalm 105:14, where this subject is handled; for they were chastised because they dared to “touch the Lord’s Anointed.” (Psalm 105:15.) But strictly it denotes that victory which he obtained over four kings, (Genesis 14:14, 15,) who had carried off his nephew Lot, with all that belonged to him; for it is very evident from the context that the Prophet does not speak of kings or nations that had been soothed, but of armed enemies that had been violently made to pass under the yoke.

As dust to his sword. Lastly, he magnifies the ease with which that victory was gained, and thus expresses the highest contempt by comparing those kings to dust and stubble; for he subdued them without exposing himself to danger. At the same time he reminds us that this ought not to be ascribed to the power of man, but to the assistance of God; because it is not by human power that victory can be so easily gained.

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