Isaiah 49:1-2

The Servant of the LORD

1 Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.

Isaiah 49:1-2 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 49

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 49:1-2 In-Context

1 Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”
5 And now the LORD says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORDand my God has been my strength—
6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Cross References 9

  • 1. S Isaiah 33:13
  • 2. S Isaiah 11:11
  • 3. Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 46:3; Matthew 1:20
  • 4. Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 44:2; Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15
  • 5. S Exodus 33:12; S Isaiah 43:1
  • 6. S Job 40:18
  • 7. S Psalms 64:3; Isaiah 11:4; Ephesians 6:17; S Revelation 1:16
  • 8. S Exodus 33:22; S Psalms 91:1
  • 9. S Deuteronomy 32:23; Zechariah 9:13