Isaiah 40:12-17

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit[a] of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor?
14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?
15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.

Isaiah 40:12-17 Meaning and Commentary


This chapter treats of the comforts of God's people; of the forerunner and coming of the Messiah; of his work, and the dignity of his person; of the folly of making idols, and of the groundless complaints of the church of God. The consolations of God's people, by whom to be administered, and the matter, ground, and reason of them, Isa 40:1,2. John the Baptist, the harbinger of Christ, is described by his work and office, and the effects of it; it issuing in the humiliation of some, and the exaltation of others, and in the revelation of the glory of Christ, Isa 40:3-5, then follows an order to every minister of the Gospel what he should preach and publish; the weakness and insufficiency of men to anything that is spiritually good; their fading and withering goodliness, which is to be ascribed to the blowing of the Spirit of God upon it; and the firmness and constancy of the word of God is declared, Isa 40:6-8, next the apostles of Christ in Jerusalem are particularly exhorted to publish fervently and openly the good tidings of the Gospel; to proclaim the coming of Christ, the manner of it, and the work he came about; and to signify his faithful discharge of his office as a shepherd, Isa 40:9-11, the dignity of whose person is set forth by his almighty power, by his infinite wisdom, and by the greatness of his majesty, in comparison of which all nations and things are as nothing, Isa 40:12-17 and then the vanity of framing any likeness to God, and of forming idols for worship, is observed, Isa 40:18-25, and from the consideration of the divine power in creation and upholding all things, the church of God is encouraged to expect renewed strength and persevering grace, and is blamed for giving way to a distrustful and murmuring spirit, Isa 40:26-31.

Cross References 15

  • 1. S Job 12:15; S Job 38:10
  • 2. Proverbs 30:4
  • 3. S Job 38:5; Hebrews 1:10-12
  • 4. S Job 38:18; Proverbs 16:11
  • 5. Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1
  • 6. S Job 15:8; Romans 11:34*; 1 Corinthians 2:16*
  • 7. Job 21:22; Colossians 2:3
  • 8. S Job 12:13; S Job 34:13; Isaiah 55:9
  • 9. S Psalms 62:9
  • 10. S Deuteronomy 9:21; Isaiah 2:22
  • 11. Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 37:24
  • 12. Psalms 50:9-11; Micah 6:7; Hebrews 10:5-9
  • 13. Isaiah 30:28
  • 14. S Job 12:19; Isaiah 29:7
  • 15. S Isaiah 37:19; Daniel 4:35

Footnotes 1

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