Isaiah 44:9-20

The Folly of Idolatry

9 1All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame.
10 2Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?
11 3Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.
12 4The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.
13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. 5He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house.
14 6He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.
15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it.
16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, "Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!"
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. 7He prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!"
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, "Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an 8abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?"
20 9He feeds on 10ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not 11a lie in my right hand?"

Isaiah 44:9-20 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 44

In this chapter the Lord comforts his people with the promise of the effusion of his Spirit, and the blessings of his grace upon them; the consequence of which would be fruitfulness in them, and the conversion of others, who should profess themselves the Lord's people, Isa 44:1-5, he proves his deity in opposition to all false gods from his eternity, omniscience, and foretelling future events, Isa 44:6-8, exposes the stupidity of idol makers and the worshippers of them, Isa 44:9-20, makes gracious promises of the remembrance of his people, the remission of their sins, and their redemption by Christ, Isa 44:21-23, of which redemption from Babylon was a type; and of that assurance is given, from the Lord's creating all things by his power; from his frustrating and infatuating diviners and wise men; from his fulfilling his predictions delivered by his prophets; and from his mentioning by name the instrument of their redemption, Cyrus, Isa 44:24-28, which makes way for a particular prophecy concerning him in the next chapter.

Isaiah 44:9-20 In-Context

7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any."
9 All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame.
10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?
11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.
12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.
13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house.
14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.
15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it.
16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, "Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!"
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!"
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, "Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?"
20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
21 Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Cross References 11

  • 1. Isaiah 41:24, 29
  • 2. [Isaiah 40:19, 20; Isaiah 41:6, 7; Isaiah 46:6, 7; Habakkuk 2:18]; See Jeremiah 10:3-5
  • 3. Isaiah 45:16; Psalms 115:8; See Isaiah 42:17
  • 4. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 5. See Psalms 115:5-7
  • 6. [Isaiah 40:20]
  • 7. [Isaiah 45:20]
  • 8. Deuteronomy 27:15
  • 9. Hosea 12:1
  • 10. [Job 13:12]
  • 11. Psalms 144:8; [Romans 1:25]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.