a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Blessings in Store for God’s People


Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness,

you that seek the L ord.

Look to the rock from which you were hewn,

and to the quarry from which you were dug.


Look to Abraham your father

and to Sarah who bore you;

for he was but one when I called him,

but I blessed him and made him many.


For the L ord will comfort Zion;

he will comfort all her waste places,

and will make her wilderness like Eden,

her desert like the garden of the L ord;

joy and gladness will be found in her,

thanksgiving and the voice of song.



Listen to me, my people,

and give heed to me, my nation;

for a teaching will go out from me,

and my justice for a light to the peoples.


I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,

my salvation has gone out

and my arms will rule the peoples;

the coastlands wait for me,

and for my arm they hope.


Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

and look at the earth beneath;

for the heavens will vanish like smoke,

the earth will wear out like a garment,

and those who live on it will die like gnats;

but my salvation will be forever,

and my deliverance will never be ended.



Listen to me, you who know righteousness,

you people who have my teaching in your hearts;

do not fear the reproach of others,

and do not be dismayed when they revile you.


For the moth will eat them up like a garment,

and the worm will eat them like wool;

but my deliverance will be forever,

and my salvation to all generations.



Awake, awake, put on strength,

O arm of the L ord!

Awake, as in days of old,

the generations of long ago!

Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,

who pierced the dragon?


Was it not you who dried up the sea,

the waters of the great deep;

who made the depths of the sea a way

for the redeemed to cross over?


So the ransomed of the L ord shall return,

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain joy and gladness,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.



I, I am he who comforts you;

why then are you afraid of a mere mortal who must die,

a human being who fades like grass?


You have forgotten the L ord, your Maker,

who stretched out the heavens

and laid the foundations of the earth.

You fear continually all day long

because of the fury of the oppressor,

who is bent on destruction.

But where is the fury of the oppressor?


The oppressed shall speedily be released;

they shall not die and go down to the Pit,

nor shall they lack bread.


For I am the L ord your God,

who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—

the L ord of hosts is his name.


I have put my words in your mouth,

and hidden you in the shadow of my hand,

stretching out the heavens

and laying the foundations of the earth,

and saying to Zion, “You are my people.”



Rouse yourself, rouse yourself!

Stand up, O Jerusalem,

you who have drunk at the hand of the L ord

the cup of his wrath,

who have drunk to the dregs

the bowl of staggering.


There is no one to guide her

among all the children she has borne;

there is no one to take her by the hand

among all the children she has brought up.


These two things have befallen you

—who will grieve with you?—

devastation and destruction, famine and sword—

who will comfort you?


Your children have fainted,

they lie at the head of every street

like an antelope in a net;

they are full of the wrath of the L ord,

the rebuke of your God.



Therefore hear this, you who are wounded,

who are drunk, but not with wine:


Thus says your Sovereign, the L ord,

your God who pleads the cause of his people:

See, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering;

you shall drink no more

from the bowl of my wrath.


And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors,

who have said to you,

“Bow down, that we may walk on you”;

and you have made your back like the ground

and like the street for them to walk on.


12. I, I am. Here the Lord not only promises grace and salvation to the Jews, but remonstrates with them for refusing to believe him, and for valuing his power less than they ought. It is exceedingly base to tremble at the threatenings of men to such a degree as to care nothing about God’s assistance; for he displays his power for this purpose, that he may at least fortify; us against every attack. Accordingly, by an excessive fear of men we betray contempt of God.

Hence it is evident how sinful it is to be agitated by the terrors of men, when God calls us to repose. And indeed it is amazing ingratitude in men, who, when they hear that God is on their side, derive no hope from his magnificent promises, so as to venture boldly to exclaim, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31.) The consequence is, that when dangers arise, they are terrified and confounded, and attribute far more to the power of mortal man in attacking than to the power of God in defending. Justly, therefore, does he upbraid the Jews with not fortifying themselves by these promises, and with not rendering themselves invincible against every danger; for God is treated with the highest dishonor when we doubt his truth, that is, when we are so completely overcome by human terrors that we cannot rest on his promises.

The repetition, I, I, is highly emphatic. He who promises consolation is the God of truth, against whom neither the strength nor the contrivances of men will be of any avail. When thou distrustest him, it follows that thou dost not consider who he is.

That thou shoudest be afraid of a man. He describes how frail, fading, transitory: and unsubstantial is the condition of men, in order to exhibit more fully their criminal stupidity in preferring a shadow and smoke to God. He shews that men, so long as they are mindful of God, cannot be struck down by fear. Consequently, when we are stunned by dangers that assail us, it follows that we have forgotten God; and therefore he adds, —

13. And hast forgotten Jehovah thy Maker. It is not enough to imagine that there is some God, but we ought to acknowledge and embrace him as ours. When he calls him “Maker,” this must not be understood to refer to universal creation, but to spiritual regeneration, as we have already explained under other passages. In this sense Paul calls us (τὸ ποίημα) “the workmanship of God,” (Ephesians 2:10,) because he hath created us to every good work. Thus, if we remember our creation and adoption, these beginnings may encourage us to hope for continued progress, that we may not be ungrateful to God, when he has proved his veracity by undoubted experience.

Who hath stretched out the heavens and founded the earth. To the special kindness which God had exercised towards his people he likewise adds his boundless power which he contrasts with the weakness of men, whom he formerly compared to withered grass. (Isaiah 40:7.) He demonstrates that power by his works, so that they who do not perceive it must be exceedingly stupid; for we cannot tum our eyes in any direction without perceiving very abundant testimonies of divine goodness and power, which, however, are briefly described by a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole, when he says that it is “He who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth.” It is therefore the greatest folly and indolence to forget him, for so numerous are the signs and testimonies which recall him to the remembrance of men.

And hast dreaded continually. He follows out the same comparison. “What are men,” says he, “that thou shouldst dread them, if thou compare them to God, who promises thee his assistance?” Assuredly, God is grievously blasphemed, if we refuse to believe that he is more powerful to preserve than enemies are to destroy us; and therefore the Lord bids us consider who and what he is, how vast and extensive is his power, that we may not dread the fury of a mortal man, who vanishes like a whirlwind or like smoke.

14. The exile hasteneth to be loosed. This verse is expounded in various ways; for some think that it refers to Cyrus, and take the word, צעה (tzoeh) 2828     “Que nons avons traduit banni.” “Which we have translated banished.” in a transitive sense, and explain it to mean, “Causing to migrate.” 2929     That is, they treat it as the Kal participle of an active verb, signifying “Banishing,” and not as the participle of a passive or neuter verb, signifying “Banished,” or “Wandering.” — Ed. But it is more customary to interpret it as meaning one who is imprisoned and oppressed, or an exile who wanders about without any settled abode. Now, the Jews were not only exiles but captives, so that they were not at liberty to return to their native land; and therefore I explain it as referring to the Jews.

But still there are two senses in which it may be understood, either that the Prophet reproves their excessive haste, in impatiently desiring to return, or that the Prophet means that their return to their native country is immediately at hand, that they may not sink under the discouragement of long delay; as if he had said, that the time when they must prepare for departure will speedily arrive. The second of these expositions has been more generally approved; and I adopt it the more readily, because it agrees best with the context.

But it may appear strange that he should say that the people will quickly return, since their captivity was of long duration. Yet with good reason does God say that that event will come quickly which he delays till a fit season; for, although to us it may appear to be long, yet, being appropriate and suitable, the time is short. And indeed it was a short time, if we look at the condition of that monarchy, which was so vast and strong that it appeared as if it could never be destroyed. Thus, what appears to be long in the promises of God will appear to be short, provided that we do not refuse to lift up our eyes to heaven. This meaning is confirmed by what immediately follows.

That he may not die in a pit. Such then is God’s haste to come early to deliver his people; that they may come forth safely out of the dungeon. The Lord does not promise to his people some sudden assistance, that he may only bring them out of prison, but also that, after having been delivered, they may be the objects of his kindness; for he promises everything necessary for their food and support, that they may be convinced that God will always take care of them; and he is wont not only to assist his people for a moment, but to remain with them continually.

15. And I am Jehovah thy God. Again the Lord declares his power; for so great is the unbelief and sluggishness of men, that, although it is frequently declared, yet the very smallest temptation shews that they are not fully convinced of it. They quickly fall back upon themselves, when they are hard pressed by afflictions; and when they hear that anything is in the power of God, they do not think that it belongs to them.

Who divide the sea. He does not speak in general terms, but brings forward the instance which he had often mentioned before; for, by once redeeming the fathers, he held out to posterity the hope of eternal salvation. Justly, therefore, does he exclaim that he is the same God who long ago “divided the sea;” and next he magnifies the miracle by saying that its roaring billows were stilled at his command. (Exodus 14:21.) We ought to know, therefore, that there are no raging billows which God cannot allay and calm in order to deliver his Church. “It is he who,” by his power, “stills the sea and makes it calm,” (Job 26:12,) though it rage furiously; and he likewise drives and swells its waves, when he thinks fit; though literally, as I have remarked, the Prophet alludes to the history of the deliverance from Egypt. 3030     “A l’histoire de la deliverance d’Egypte.”

Jehovah of hosts. The Lord is adorned with this title, that we may know how extensive is his power; and he exhibits that power as often as he is pleased to render assistance to his Church.

16. And I have put my words in thy mouth. He again retums to the doctrine which he had formerly stated, namely, that the Lord comforts his Church: “I, I am he that comforteth you,” (ver. 12.) So he now says that he put into the mouth of the prophets what they should say. Hence we may infer that these words do not proceed from men, who often prove false, but from “God, who cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2.) The Lord speaks to all the prophets, first to Isaiah, and then to the rest in their order; but at last we must come to Christ. These things must not be limited either to Isaiah or to Christ, but must be extended to all the prophets. The Lord wishes that believers should hear the consolation from the prophets, as if he were present and addressed them, and even declares that he speaks openly by their mouth.

Hence also we ought to conclude that none ought to come forward to comfort the Church but they who speak from the mouth of the Lord; for they who alter their own dreams, though they take shelter under the name of God, ought to be rejected. But; we must understand the Prophet’s meaning; for, seeing that he shows that the consciences of men always tremble, till the Lord confirm them, he instructs us to abide by this principle, that it is God who speaks by the prophets; for otherwise consciences will always remain in doubt and uncertainty. Yet the mode of expression is highly emphatic, when he repeats the commandments of God, by which he was encouraged to the execution of his office.

And in the shadow of my hand. Though he had already said this, yet the repetition is not superfluous, that we may fully believe that God will always assist his ministers, so that, relying on his immediate aid, they may be raised by him above all obstructions. Now, in order to being covered with that shadow of the Lord, two things are necessary; first, that they are certain that what they utter is the word of God, and secondly, that they do so by God’s command. They who rashly put themselves forward may indeed boast of the name of God, but in vain; for when they come to fight in earnest, they will faint. And if we have the testimony of conscience, we have no reason for entertaining doubts as to God’s protection and aid, by which he will enable us to gain the victory. Next comes the object of the embassy.

That I may plant the heavens; that is, that I may restore everything to its proper order. There are, indeed, various interpretations of these words; but the true meaning appears to me to be this, that heaven and earth are said to be restored by the doctrine of salvation; because “in Christ,” as Paul says, “are collected all things that are either in heaven or in earth.” (Ephesians 1:10.) Since the fall of the first man we see nothing but frightful confusion, which troubles even the dumb creatures, and makes them suffer, in some respects, the punishment of our sins; and, consequently, that confusion cannot be repaired but by Christ. Since therefore the whole face of the world is disfigured by frightful desolation, there are good grounds for saying that godly teachers renovate the world, as if God formed heaven and earth anew by their hand. And hence it is evident how great is the heinousness of our guilt, which has been followed by such dreadful confusion in the nature of things. Thus, “the heavens” are said to be “planted and the earth to be founded,” when the Lord establishes his Church by the word; and he does this by the agency of ministers, whom he directs by his Spirit, and protects against hidden enemies and various dangers, that they may effectually accomplish what he has enjoined.

That I may say to Zion, Thou art my people. At length he shews that this aims at something higher than the visible form of the world, which shall quickly perish; namely, to excite and nourish in the hearts of believers the hope of a heavenly life. The true stability of the Church, the restoration of the world, consists in this, that the elect be gathered into the unity of faith, so that, with one consent, all may lift their hearts to God, who also invites them sweetly and gently by these words, “I am thy God.” And hence we see how highly God values the salvation of the Church, since he not only prefers it to the whole world, but even shews that the stability of the world depends upon it. We must likewise observe what is the word which the Lord enjoins to be proclaimed; for it not only lays down a rule of life, but also gives a testimony of our adoption, in which our salvation chiefly consists.

VIEWNAME is study