Isaiah 49

Listen to Isaiah 49

The Servant of the Lord

1 Listen to me, 1O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples 2from afar. 3The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.
2 4He made my mouth like a sharp sword; 5in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, 6in whom I will be glorified."[a]
4 7But I said, "I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God."
5 8And now the LORD says, he 9who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him-- for 10I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength--
6 he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; 11I will make you 12as a light for the nations, that 13my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
7 Thus says the LORD, 14the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, 15to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: 16"Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

The Restoration of Israel

8 Thus says the LORD: 17"In a 18time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you 19and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, 20to apportion the desolate heritages,
9 21saying to the prisoners, 'Come out,' to those who are in darkness, 'Appear.' 22They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
10 23they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them 24will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.
11 25And I will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be raised up.
12 26Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, 27these from the north and from the west,[b] and these from the land of Syene."[c]
13 28Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD 29has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, 30"The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me."
15 31"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, 32I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
17 Your builders make haste;[d] 33your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
18 34Lift up your eyes around and see; they all gather, they come to you. 35As I live, declares the LORD, 36you shall put them all on as an ornament; you shall bind them on as a bride does.
19 "Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land-- 37surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 38The children of your bereavement will yet say in your ears: 39'The place is too narrow for me; make room for me to dwell in.'
21 Then you will say in your heart: 'Who has borne me these? 40I was bereaved and barren, exiled and put away, but who has brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; from where have these come?'"
22 Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, 41and raise my signal to the peoples; 42and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
23 43Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. 44With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and 45lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; 46those who wait for me 47shall not be put to shame."
24 Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant[e] be rescued?
25 For thus says the LORD: 48"Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.
26 49I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk 50with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that 51I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."

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Isaiah 49 Commentary

Chapter 49

The unbelief and rejection of the Jews. (1-6) Gracious promise to the Gentiles. (7-12) God's love to the church. (13-17) Its increase. (18-23) And deliverance. (24-26)

Verses 1-6 The great Author of redemption shows the authority for his work. The sword of his word slays the lusts of his people, and all at enmity with them. His sharp arrows wound the conscience; but all these wounds will be healed, when the sinner prays to him for mercy. But even the Redeemer, who spake as never man spake in his personal ministry, often seemed to labour in vain. And if Jacob will not be brought back to God, and Israel will not be gathered, still Christ will be glorious. This promise is in part fulfilled in the calling of the Gentiles. Men perish in darkness. But Christ enlightens men, and so makes them holy and happy.

Verses 7-12 The Father is the Lord, the Redeemer, and Holy One of Israel, as sending the Son to be the Redeemer. Man, whom he came to save, put contempt upon him. To this he submitted for our salvation. He is a pledge for all the blessings of the covenant; in him God was reconciling the world to himself. Pardoning mercy is a release from the curse of the law; renewing grace is a release from the dominion of sin: both are from Christ. He saith to those in darkness, Show yourselves. Not only see, but be seen, to the glory of God, and your own comforts. Though there are difficulties in the way to heaven, yet the grace of God will carry us over them, and make even the mountains a way. This denotes the free invitations and the encouraging promises of the gospel, and the outpouring of the Spirit.

Verses 13-17 Let there be universal joy, for God will have mercy upon the afflicted, because of his compassion; upon his afflicted, because of his covenant. We have no more reason to question his promise and grace, than we have to question his providence and justice. Be assured that God has a tender affection for his church and people; he would not have them to be discouraged. Some mothers do neglect their children; but God's compassions to his people, infinitely exceed those of the tenderest parents toward their children. His setting them as a mark on his hand, or a seal upon his arm, denotes his being ever mindful of them. As far as we have scriptural evidence that we belong to his ransomed flock, we may be sure that he will never forsake us. Let us then give diligence to make our calling and election sure, and rejoice in the hope and glory of God.

Verses 18-23 Zion is addressed as an afflicted widow, bereaved of her children. Numbers flock to her, and she is assured that they come to be a comfort to her. There are times when the church is desolate and few in number; yet its desolations shall not last for ever, and God will repair them. God can raise up friends for returning Israelites, even among Gentiles. They shall bring their children, and make them thy children. Let all deal tenderly and carefully with young converts and beginners in religion. Princes shall protect the church. It shall appear that God is the sovereign Lord of all. And those who in the exercise of faith, hope, and patience, wait on God for the fulfilment of his promises, shall never be confounded.

Verses 24-26 We were lawful captives to the justice of God, yet delivered by a price of unspeakable value. Here is an express promise: Even the prey of the terrible shall be delivered. We may here view Satan deprived of his prey, bound and cast into the pit; and all the powers that have combined to enslave, persecute, or corrupt the church, are destroyed; that all the earth may know that our Saviour and Redeemer is Jehovah, the mighty One of Jacob. And every effort we make to rescue our fellow-sinners from the bondage of Satan, is, in some degree, helping forward that great change.

Cross References 51

  • 1. See Isaiah 11:11
  • 2. Isaiah 33:13
  • 3. See Isaiah 44:2
  • 4. Isaiah 11:4; Hosea 6:5; [Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16]
  • 5. Isaiah 51:16
  • 6. Isaiah 44:23
  • 7. [Isaiah 65:23]; See Isaiah 50:6-8; Isaiah 53:10-12
  • 8. [Isaiah 50:4]
  • 9. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 10. [Isaiah 52:13]
  • 11. Cited Acts 13:47
  • 12. Isaiah 42:6
  • 13. [Psalms 98:3]
  • 14. Isaiah 48:17
  • 15. ver. 1; Isaiah 53:3; [Isaiah 50:6, 7]
  • 16. ver. 23
  • 17. Cited 2 Corinthians 6:2
  • 18. Psalms 69:13
  • 19. Isaiah 42:6
  • 20. Isaiah 61:4
  • 21. Isaiah 42:7
  • 22. [Isaiah 41:18]
  • 23. Cited Revelation 7:16
  • 24. Revelation 7:17; See Isaiah 40:11
  • 25. [Isaiah 40:4]
  • 26. Isaiah 43:5, 6
  • 27. [Psalms 107:3]
  • 28. See Isaiah 44:23
  • 29. Isaiah 40:1
  • 30. [Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 54:6; Isaiah 62:4]
  • 31. [Isaiah 43:1; Psalms 27:10]
  • 32. Song of Songs 8:6; Revelation 13:16
  • 33. See Zechariah 1:18-21
  • 34. Isaiah 60:4
  • 35. Numbers 14:21; See Ezekiel 5:11
  • 36. [Jeremiah 43:12]
  • 37. [Zechariah 10:10]
  • 38. Isaiah 54:1
  • 39. [See ver. 19 above]
  • 40. [See ver. 20 above]
  • 41. Isaiah 11:12
  • 42. Isaiah 14:2
  • 43. Isaiah 60:3, 16
  • 44. Isaiah 60:14
  • 45. Psalms 72:9; [Micah 7:17]
  • 46. [Isaiah 40:31]
  • 47. Psalms 25:3; Joel 2:27
  • 48. [Matthew 12:29; Luke 11:21, 22]
  • 49. [Isaiah 9:20; Zechariah 11:9]
  • 50. [Revelation 14:20; Revelation 16:6]
  • 51. Isaiah 43:3; See Exodus 20:2

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or I will display my beauty
  • [b]. Hebrew from the sea
  • [c]. Dead Sea Scroll; Masoretic Text Sinim
  • [d]. Dead Sea Scroll; Masoretic Text Your children make haste
  • [e]. Dead Sea Scroll, Syriac, Vulgate (see also verse 25); Masoretic Text of a righteous man

Chapter Summary


This is a prophecy concerning Christ, and redemption by him; and of the enlargement of the church in the latter day, by the conversion of Jews and Gentiles; which the isles, and people afar off, are exhorted to listen and hearken to, delivered out by the prophet, in the person of Christ; who gives an account of his call to his office, and the time of it; of what the Lord did for him, and said unto him, Isa 49:1-3, then follows a complaint of his labouring in vain, and a correction of it, Isa 49:4 and a further declaration of his call and appointment to office, and of each of the parts of the work assigned him, with encouragement to it, Isa 49:5,6. Christ is again represented under discouraging circumstances, as despised of men, abhorred by the nation, and a servant of rulers; who is encouraged by divine promises that kings should rise up before him, and worship him; that God would be faithful to his promise to him, and yet choose him, hear and help him, at a proper time; preserve him, and give him for a covenant to the people, to the establishment of the earth, and making it habitable, Isa 49:7,8 for the release of prisoners, and feeding, leading, and guiding them, and removing all difficulties out of the way, Isa 49:9-11 when the calling of the Gentiles is foretold, which would occasion great joy in the world, Isa 49:12,13 yet the church is introduced as complaining that she was forsaken of God, Isa 49:14 which is denied, and the contrary affirmed; being dear to the Lord as a sucking child to its mother, and more so; never forgotten by him, and always under his care, Isa 49:16, and, for her comfort, she is assured that those who had destroyed and made her waste should be removed; and that she should have converts that would be an ornament to her, and these numerous, insomuch that the place of their habitation would be too strait and narrow, and which would be matter of astonishment to her, Isa 49:17-21 and, besides those that would be converted in the land of Judea, there would be great numbers in the Gentile world converted by the power of God accompanying his Gospel, set up as a standard there, kings and queens countenancing and encouraging the interest of Christ, Isa 49:22,23 and yet still it is questioned whether the church should be delivered from her oppressors, Isa 49:24 to which it is answered, that she should be delivered, and her persecutors destroyed; by which it would be known that the Lord is the Redeemer and Saviour of his people, Isa 49:25,26.

Isaiah 49 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.