Isaiah 41

The Helper of Israel

1 “Be silent before me, you islands! Let the nations renew their strength! Let them come forward and speak; let us meet together at the place of judgment.
2 “Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service[a] ? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.
3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before.
4 Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD—with the first of them and with the last—I am he.”
5 The islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble. They approach and come forward;
6 they help each other and say to their companions, “Be strong!”
7 The metalworker encourages the goldsmith, and the one who smooths with the hammer spurs on the one who strikes the anvil. One says of the welding, “It is good.” The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.
8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
22 “Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come,
23 tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
24 But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; whoever chooses you is detestable.
25 “I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes— one from the rising sun who calls on my name. He treads on rulers as if they were mortar, as if he were a potter treading the clay.
26 Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know, or beforehand, so we could say, ‘He was right’? No one told of this, no one foretold it, no one heard any words from you.
27 I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look, here they are!’ I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good news.
28 I look but there is no one— no one among the gods to give counsel, no one to give answer when I ask them.
29 See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion.

Images for Isaiah 41

Isaiah 41 Commentary

Chapter 41

God's care of his people. (1-9) they are encouraged not to fear. (10-20) The vanity and folly of idolatry. (21-29)

Verses 1-9 Can any heathen god raise up one in righteousness, make what use of him he pleases, and make him victorious over the nations? The Lord did so with Abraham, or rather, he would do so with Cyrus. Sinners encourage one another in the ways of sin; shall not the servants of the living God stir up one another in his service? God's people are the seed of Abraham his friend. This is certainly the highest title ever given to a mortal. It means that Abraham, by Divine grace, was made like to God, and that he was admitted to communion with Him. Happy are the servants of the Lord, whom he has called to be his friends, and to walk with him in faith and holy obedience. Let not such as have thus been favoured yield to fear; for the contest may be sharp, but the victory shall be sure.

Verses 10-20 God speaks with tenderness; Fear thou not, for I am with thee: not only within call, but present with thee. Art thou weak? I will strengthen thee. Art thou in want of friends? I will help thee in the time of need. Art thou ready to fall? I will uphold thee with that right hand which is full of righteousness, dealing forth rewards and punishments. There are those that strive with God's people, that seek their ruin. Let not God's people render evil for evil, but wait God's time. It is the worm Jacob; so little, so weak, so despised and trampled on by every body. God's people are as worms, in humble thoughts of themselves, and in their enemies' haughty thoughts of them; worms, but not vipers, not of the serpent's seed. Every part of God's word is calculated to humble man's pride, and to make him appear little in his own eyes. The Lord will help them, for he is their Redeemer. The Lord will make Jacob to become a threshing instrument. God will make him fit for use, new, and having sharp spikes. This has fulfilment in the triumphs of the gospel of Christ, and of all faithful followers of Christ, over the power of darkness. God has provided comforts to supply all their wants, and to answer all their prayers. Our way to heaven lies through the wilderness of this world. The soul of man is in want, and seeks for satisfaction; but becomes weary of seeking that in the world, which is not to be had in it. Yet they shall have a constant supply, where one would least expect it. I will open rivers of grace, rivers of living water, which Christ spake of the Spirit, ( john 7:38 john 7:39 ) . When God sets up his church in the Gentile wilderness, there shall be a great change, as if thorns and briers were turned into cedars, and fir-trees, and myrtles. These blessings are kept for the poor in spirit, who long for Divine enlightening, pardon, and holiness. And God will render their barren souls fruitful in the grace of his Spirit, that all who behold may consider it.

Verses 21-29 There needs no more to show the folly of sin, than to bring to notice the reasons given in defence of it. There is nothing in idols worthy of regard. They are less than nothing, and worse than nothing. Let the advocates of other doctrines than that of salvation through Christ, bring their arguments. Can they tell of a cure for human depravity? Jehovah has power which cannot be withstood; this he will make appear. But the certain knowledge of the future must be only with Jehovah, who fulfils his own plans. All prophecies, except those of the Bible, have been uncertain. In the work of redemption the Lord showed himself much more than in the release of the Jews from Babylon. The good tidings the Lord will send in the gospel, is a mystery hid from ages and generations. A Deliverer is raised up for us, of nobler name and greater power than the deliverer of the captive Jews. May we be numbered among his obedient servants and faithful friends.

Cross References 102

  • 1. Psalms 37:7; Habakkuk 2:20; Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 2:13
  • 2. S Isaiah 11:11
  • 3. S 1 Samuel 2:4
  • 4. Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 57:3
  • 5. S Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 34:1; Isaiah 50:8
  • 6. S Ezra 1:2
  • 7. ver 25; Isaiah 13:4,17; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1,13; Isaiah 48:14; Jeremiah 50:3; Jeremiah 51:11
  • 8. Isaiah 45:8,13
  • 9. Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 25:9
  • 10. S 2 Samuel 22:43
  • 11. Psalms 1:4; Isaiah 40:24
  • 12. S Isaiah 13:18
  • 13. Daniel 8:4
  • 14. ver 9; Isaiah 43:7
  • 15. ver 26; S Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 46:10
  • 16. Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 1:8,17; Revelation 22:13
  • 17. S Deuteronomy 32:39
  • 18. S Isaiah 11:11; Ezekiel 26:17-18
  • 19. S Deuteronomy 30:4; S Isaiah 11:12
  • 20. S Joshua 1:6
  • 21. Isaiah 44:13; Jeremiah 10:3-5
  • 22. S Isaiah 40:19
  • 23. S 1 Samuel 5:3; Isaiah 46:7
  • 24. S Psalms 136:22; S Isaiah 27:11
  • 25. S Isaiah 14:1
  • 26. S Isaiah 29:22; Isaiah 51:2; Isaiah 63:16
  • 27. 2 Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23
  • 28. Isaiah 11:12; S Isaiah 37:16
  • 29. S ver 4
  • 30. S Isaiah 20:3
  • 31. S Deuteronomy 7:6
  • 32. S Genesis 15:1
  • 33. S Deuteronomy 3:22; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:2,5; Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27-28; Romans 8:31
  • 34. S Psalms 68:35; S Psalms 119:28
  • 35. ver 13-14; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 50:7,9
  • 36. S Psalms 18:35; S Psalms 119:117
  • 37. S Exodus 3:20; S Job 40:14
  • 38. S Isaiah 17:12
  • 39. Isaiah 29:22; Isaiah 45:24; Isaiah 54:17
  • 40. S Exodus 23:22
  • 41. S Isaiah 29:8; S Jeremiah 2:3
  • 42. Psalms 37:35-36; S Isaiah 34:12
  • 43. S Job 7:8; Isaiah 17:14; Isaiah 29:20
  • 44. Psalms 73:23; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 45:1; Isaiah 51:18
  • 45. ver 10
  • 46. S Genesis 15:1
  • 47. S Job 4:19; S Psalms 22:6
  • 48. S ver 10
  • 49. S Exodus 15:13; S Job 19:25; S Isaiah 1:27
  • 50. ver 16,20; S Isaiah 1:4
  • 51. S Job 41:30; S Isaiah 10:5; S Isaiah 21:10; Micah 4:13
  • 52. S Exodus 19:18; S Psalms 107:33; Jeremiah 9:10; Ezekiel 33:28
  • 53. S ver 2
  • 54. Jeremiah 15:7; Jeremiah 51:2
  • 55. Isaiah 40:24
  • 56. Daniel 2:35
  • 57. S Isaiah 25:9
  • 58. Isaiah 45:25; Isaiah 60:19
  • 59. S ver 14; S Mark 1:24
  • 60. Isaiah 43:20
  • 61. S Isaiah 35:7
  • 62. S Isaiah 30:19
  • 63. S Deuteronomy 31:6; S Psalms 27:9
  • 64. S Isaiah 30:25
  • 65. Isaiah 43:19
  • 66. S 2 Kings 3:17
  • 67. S Job 38:26; S Isaiah 35:7
  • 68. S Isaiah 35:1; Isaiah 51:3
  • 69. Ex 25:5,10,13
  • 70. S Isaiah 37:24
  • 71. Isaiah 44:14
  • 72. Isaiah 60:13
  • 73. S Exodus 6:7
  • 74. S Isaiah 29:24
  • 75. Ezra 7:6; Ezra 8:31; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 59:1; Isaiah 66:14; Jeremiah 32:17
  • 76. S ver 14; Isaiah 43:3,14
  • 77. S Isaiah 4:5; Job 12:9
  • 78. S ver 1
  • 79. Isaiah 43:15; Isaiah 44:6
  • 80. ver 26; Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 44:7; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 48:14
  • 81. Isaiah 43:18,26; Isaiah 46:9; Isaiah 48:3
  • 82. Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 46:10; Isaiah 48:6; Isaiah 65:17; John 13:19
  • 83. Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 44:7-8; Isaiah 45:3
  • 84. Jeremiah 10:5
  • 85. S 2 Kings 19:26
  • 86. S Isaiah 37:19; Isaiah 44:9; 1 Corinthians 8:4
  • 87. S 1 Samuel 12:21; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 10:5,8,15
  • 88. S Psalms 109:7; S Isaiah 1:13; S Isaiah 48:8; Psalms 115:8
  • 89. S Ezra 1:2
  • 90. S ver 2; Jeremiah 50:9,41; Jeremiah 51:48
  • 91. S 2 Samuel 22:43; S Isaiah 5:5; Nahum 3:14
  • 92. S ver 4
  • 93. S ver 22; Isaiah 52:6
  • 94. S 1 Kings 18:26; Habakkuk 2:18-19
  • 95. Isaiah 48:3,16
  • 96. S Isaiah 40:9
  • 97. Psalms 22:11; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5; Isaiah 64:7; Ezekiel 22:30
  • 98. Isaiah 40:13-14
  • 99. S 1 Kings 18:26; Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4; Jeremiah 25:4
  • 100. S 1 Samuel 12:21; ver 24
  • 101. S Isaiah 37:19
  • 102. Jeremiah 5:13

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "east," / "whom victory meets at every step"

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a summons to the enemies of Christ to come and try the cause between God and them before him; words of comfort to true believers, promising them help, protection, and provision; full conviction of idolaters, and their practices; and is closed with a promise of some great person, and what he will do unto them, and for the people of God. The summons is in Isa 41:1, expressed according to the forms used in courts of judicature. The issue of the controversy is put upon this foot, the raising up a certain person from the east, who it was that did it, which appearing to be the work of the Lord, proves the point contended about, Isa 41:2-4, the obstinate persistence of idolaters in their idolatry, notwithstanding this is observed, Isa 41:5-7, the people of God, under the names of Jacob and Israel, the objects of God's choice and affection, Isa 41:8,9 are encouraged against the fear of men, with promises of help and strength from the Lord, Isa 41:10,13,14 of confusion to their enemies, and victory over them, Isa 41:11,12,15,16, and of spiritual provisions, and great prosperity in their wilderness state, in which they should manifestly see the hand of the Lord, Isa 41:17-20 when the idolatrous nations are challenged to produce their strong reasons for their idolatry, and are put upon proving that their idols can foretell things to come, or do good or evil to men, or own they are nothing but an abomination, Isa 41:21-24,26 and then one is spoken of that should come as a mighty warrior, and tread down the Pagan princes, and a set of Gospel ministers should be sent, bringing good tidings to Zion, to the silencing of idolaters, and the cessation of idolatrous worship, Isa 41:25,27,28.

Isaiah 41 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.