Isaiah 51

Everlasting Salvation for Zion

1 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
4 “Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.
7 “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.”
9 Awake, awake, arm of the LORD, clothe yourself with strength! Awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over?
11 Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass,
13 that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread.
15 For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name.
16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’ ”

The Cup of the LORD’s Wrath

17 Awake, awake! Rise up, Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORDthe cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes people stagger.
18 Among all the children she bore there was none to guide her; among all the children she reared there was none to take her by the hand.
19 These double calamities have come upon you— who can comfort you?— ruin and destruction, famine and sword— who can[a] console you?
20 Your children have fainted; they lie at every street corner, like antelope caught in a net. They are filled with the wrath of the LORD, with the rebuke of your God.
21 Therefore hear this, you afflicted one, made drunk, but not with wine.
22 This is what your Sovereign LORD says, your God, who defends his people: “See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.
23 I will put it into the hands of your tormentors, who said to you, ‘Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.’ And you made your back like the ground, like a street to be walked on.”

Isaiah 51 Commentary

Chapter 51

Exhortations to trust the Messiah. (1-3) The power of God, and the weakness of man. (4-8) Christ defends his people. (9-16) Their afflictions and deliverances. (17-23)

Verses 1-3 It is good for those privileged by the new birth, to consider that they were shapen in sin. This should cause low thoughts of ourselves, and high thoughts of Divine grace. It is the greatest comfort to be made serviceable to the glory of God. The more holiness men have, and the more good they do, the more gladness they have. Let us seriously reflect upon our guilt. To do so will tend to keep the heart humble, and the conscience awake and tender. They make Christ more precious to the soul, and give strength to our attempts and prayers for others.

Verses 4-8 The gospel of Christ shall be preached and published. How shall we escape if we neglect it? There is no salvation without righteousness. The soul shall, as to this world, vanish like smoke, and the body be thrown by like a worn-out garment. But those whose happiness is in Christ's righteousness and salvation, will have the comfort of it when time and days shall be no more. Clouds darken the sun, but do not stop its course. The believer will enjoy his portion, while revilers of Christ are in darkness

Verses 9-16 The people whom Christ has redeemed with his blood, as well as by his power, will obtain joyful deliverance from every enemy. He that designs such joy for us at last, will he not work such deliverance in the mean time, as our cases require? In this world of changes, it is a short step from joy to sorrow, but in that world, sorrow shall never come in view. They prayed for the display of God's power; he answers them with consolations of his grace. Did we dread to sin against God, we should not fear the frowns of men. Happy is the man that fears God always. And Christ's church shall enjoy security by the power and providence of the Almighty.

Verses 17-23 God calls upon his people to mind the things that belong to their everlasting peace. Jerusalem had provoked God, and was made to taste the bitter fruits. Those who should have been her comforters, were their own tormentors. They have no patience by which to keep possesion of their own souls, nor any confidence in God's promise, by which to keep possession of its comfort. Thou art drunken, not as formerly, with the intoxicating cup of Babylon's idolatries, but with the cup of affliction. Know, then, the cause of God's people may for a time seem as lost, but God will protect it, by convincing the conscience, or confounding the projects, of those that strive against it. The oppressors required souls to be subjected to them, that every man should believe and worship as they would have them. But all they could gain by violence was, that people were brought to outward hypocritical conformity, for consciences cannot be forced.

Cross References 91

  • 1. S Isaiah 46:3
  • 2. ver 7; S Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 16:20; Psalms 94:15; Isaiah 63:8; Romans 9:30-31
  • 3. Isaiah 55:6; Isaiah 65:10
  • 4. Isaiah 17:10
  • 5. S Genesis 17:6; S Isaiah 29:22; Romans 4:16; Hebrews 11:11
  • 6. S Genesis 12:2
  • 7. S Isaiah 40:1
  • 8. S Psalms 51:18; S Isaiah 61:4
  • 9. Isaiah 44:26; Isaiah 52:9; Isaiah 61:4
  • 10. S Genesis 2:8
  • 11. S Isaiah 5:6; S Isaiah 41:19
  • 12. S Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 65:18; Isaiah 66:10; Jeremiah 16:9
  • 13. Jeremiah 17:26; Jeremiah 30:19; Jeremiah 33:11
  • 14. Exodus 6:7; Psalms 50:7; Isaiah 3:15; Isaiah 63:8; Isaiah 64:9
  • 15. S Psalms 78:1
  • 16. S Deuteronomy 18:18
  • 17. S Isaiah 2:4
  • 18. S Isaiah 26:18; S Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 42:4,6
  • 19. S Psalms 85:9; S Isaiah 12:2
  • 20. S Isaiah 35:4; Isaiah 46:13
  • 21. Psalms 98:1; Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:1,5
  • 22. S Isaiah 11:11
  • 23. S Genesis 49:10; S Psalms 37:9
  • 24. S Psalms 37:20; S Psalms 102:26; Matthew 24:35; Luke 21:33; 2 Peter 3:10
  • 25. Psalms 102:25-26; Hebrews 1:10-12
  • 26. S Isaiah 12:2
  • 27. ver 8; S Psalms 119:89
  • 28. Psalms 89:33; Isaiah 54:10
  • 29. S ver 1
  • 30. S Deuteronomy 6:6; Psalms 119:11; Psalms 37:31
  • 31. S Psalms 119:39; Isaiah 50:7; Isaiah 54:4; Matthew 5:11; Luke 6:22; Acts 5:41
  • 32. S Job 13:28; James 5:2; Isaiah 50:9
  • 33. S Isaiah 14:11
  • 34. S ver 6
  • 35. S Judges 5:12
  • 36. S Genesis 18:14; S Psalms 65:6; Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 52:1
  • 37. S Psalms 98:1; S Isaiah 30:30; S Isaiah 33:2
  • 38. Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 4:34; S Deuteronomy 32:7
  • 39. S Job 9:13
  • 40. S Psalms 68:30; S Psalms 74:13
  • 41. S Exodus 14:22; Zechariah 10:11; Revelation 16:12
  • 42. Exodus 15:5,8
  • 43. S Job 36:30
  • 44. S Exodus 15:13
  • 45. S Isaiah 35:9; S Isaiah 44:23
  • 46. S Psalms 109:28; Isaiah 65:14; Jeremiah 30:19; Zephaniah 3:14
  • 47. S Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 33:11
  • 48. S Isaiah 30:19; Jeremiah 31:13; S Revelation 7:17
  • 49. S Isaiah 40:1; S 2 Corinthians 1:4
  • 50. S 2 Kings 1:15
  • 51. Psalms 118:6; S Isaiah 2:22
  • 52. S Isaiah 15:6; Isaiah 40:6-7; 1 Peter 1:24
  • 53. S Job 8:13; S Isaiah 17:10
  • 54. S Job 4:17; Isaiah 17:7; Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 54:5
  • 55. S Genesis 1:1; Psalms 104:2; S Isaiah 48:13
  • 56. S Isaiah 7:4
  • 57. S Isaiah 9:4
  • 58. S Isaiah 42:7
  • 59. Isaiah 49:10
  • 60. S Exodus 14:21; Jeremiah 31:35
  • 61. S Psalms 93:3
  • 62. S Isaiah 13:4
  • 63. S Exodus 4:12,15; Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 59:21
  • 64. S Exodus 33:22
  • 65. S Isaiah 48:13
  • 66. Jeremiah 7:23; Jeremiah 11:4; Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 14:11; Zechariah 8:8
  • 67. S Judges 5:12; Isaiah 52:1
  • 68. S ver 22; S Psalms 16:5; S Matthew 20:22
  • 69. ver 20; Job 21:20; Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 66:15; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19
  • 70. S Psalms 75:8
  • 71. S ver 23; S Psalms 60:3
  • 72. Psalms 88:18
  • 73. S Job 31:18; S Isaiah 49:21
  • 74. S Isaiah 41:13
  • 75. S Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 47:9
  • 76. Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 54:11; Jeremiah 15:5; Nahum 3:7
  • 77. Isaiah 60:18; Isaiah 62:4; Jeremiah 48:3; Lamentations 3:47
  • 78. S Isaiah 14:30
  • 79. Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 24:10
  • 80. Isaiah 5:25; Jeremiah 14:16; Lamentations 2:19
  • 81. S Job 18:10
  • 82. S ver 17; S Job 40:11; Jeremiah 44:6
  • 83. S Deuteronomy 28:20
  • 84. S Isaiah 14:32
  • 85. ver 17; S Isaiah 29:9
  • 86. S Isaiah 49:25
  • 87. S ver 17; Jeremiah 25:15; Jeremiah 51:7; Habakkuk 2:16; S Matthew 20:22
  • 88. Isaiah 14:4; Isaiah 49:26; Jer 25:15-17,26,28; Jeremiah 49:12
  • 89. ver 17; Zechariah 12:2
  • 90. S Joshua 10:24
  • 91. Psalms 66:12; Micah 7:10

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; Masoretic Text "/ how can I"

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives the church and people of God reason to expect comfortable times and certain salvation, though they had many enemies. They are directed to look to Abraham and Sarah, signified by the rock and hole of the pit, and observe how he was called alone, blessed and increased; which should be improved as an argument to strengthen their faith, that God could and would bless and increase his church, though in a low estate, and bring it into a flourishing one, Isa 51:1-3. They are assured of the publication of the Gospel, expressed by the law, doctrine, and judgment of the Lord; by which means the righteousness and salvation of Christ should be brought nigh to them, as the object of their trust and confidence, Isa 51:4,5, and also of the perpetuity of his righteousness and salvation, when the heavens, and the earth, and the inhabitants of it, should decay, even their revilers and persecutors, and therefore they need not fear their reproaches and revilings, Isa 51:6-8, upon which follows a prayer of faith, that the Lord would exert his power as in former times, when he destroyed the Egyptians, and dried up the Red sea for Israel to pass through, the ransomed of the Lord; from whence it might be concluded, that the redeemed of the Lord would be brought into a very comfortable condition again, Isa 51:9-11 wherefore they had no reason to be afraid of men, since the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, would deliver, comfort, and establish them, of which he assured them by his prophet, Isa 51:12-16, and though Jerusalem and her sons were, or would be, in a very distressed condition, through the sword and famine, which is described, Isa 51:17-20, yet they should be delivered out of it, and their persecutors should be brought into the same, Isa 51:21-23.

Isaiah 51 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.