Isaiah 42

1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
5 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
10 Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
11 Let the desert and its towns lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the tops of the mountains.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands.
13 The Lord goes forth like a soldier, like a warrior he stirs up his fury; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.
14 For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbage; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools.
16 I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.
17 They shall be turned back and utterly put to shame— those who trust in carved images, who say to cast images, "You are our gods."
18 Listen, you that are deaf; and you that are blind, look up and see!
19 Who is blind but my servant, or deaf like my messenger whom I send? Who is blind like my dedicated one, or blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear.
21 The Lord was pleased, for the sake of his righteousness, to magnify his teaching and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people robbed and plundered, all of them are trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become a prey with no one to rescue, a spoil with no one to say, "Restore!"
23 Who among you will give heed to this, who will attend and listen for the time to come?
24 Who gave up Jacob to the spoiler, and Israel to the robbers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned, in whose ways they would not walk, and whose law they would not obey?
25 So he poured upon him the heat of his anger and the fury of war; it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand; it burned him, but he did not take it to heart.

Isaiah 42 Commentary

Chapter 42

The character and coming of Christ. (1-4) The blessings of his kingdom. (5-12) The prevalence of true religion. (13-17) Unbelief and blindness reproved. (18-25)

Verses 1-4 This prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, ( Matthew 12:17 ) . Let our souls rely on him, and rejoice in him; then, for his sake, the Father will be well-pleased with us. The Holy Spirit not only came, but rested upon him, and without measure. He patiently bore the contradiction of sinners. His kingdom is spiritual; he was not to appear with earthly honours. He is tender of those oppressed with doubts and fears, as a bruised reed; those who are as smoking flax, as the wick of a lamp newly lighted, which is ready to go out again. He will not despise them, nor lay upon them more work or more suffering than they can bear. By a long course of miracles and his resurrection, he fully showed the truth of his holy religion. By the power of his gospel and grace he fixes principles in the minds of men, which tend to make them wise and just. The most distant nations wait for his law, wait for his gospel, and shall welcome it. If we would make our calling and election sure, and have the Father delight over us for good, we must behold, hear, believe in, and obey Christ.

Verses 5-12 The work of redemption brings back man to the obedience he owes to God as his Maker. Christ is the light of the world. And by his grace he opens the understandings Satan has blinded, and sets at liberty from the bondage of sin. The Lord has supported his church. And now he makes new promises, which shall as certainly be fulfilled as the old ones were. When the Gentiles are brought into the church, he is glorified in them and by them. Let us give to God those things which are his, taking heed that we do not serve the creature more than the Creator.

Verses 13-17 The Lord will appear in his power and glory. He shall cry, in the preaching of his word. He shall cry aloud in the gospel woes, which must be preached with gospel blessings, to awaken a sleeping world. He shall conquer by the power of his Spirit. And those that contradict and blaspheme his gospel, he shall put to silence and shame; and that which hinders its progress shall be taken out of the way. To those who by nature were blind, God will show the way to life and happiness by Jesus Christ. They are weak in knowledge, but He will make darkness light. They are weak in duty, but their way shall be plain. Those whom God brings into the right way, he will guide in it. This passage is a prophecy, and is also applicable to every believer; for the Lord will never leave nor forsake them.

Verses 18-25 Observe the call given to this people, and the character given of them. Multitudes are ruined for want of observing that which they cannot but see; they perish, not through ignorance, but carelessness. The Lord is well-pleased in the making known his own righteousness. For their sins they were spoiled of all their possessions. This fully came to pass in the destruction of the Jewish nation. There is no resisting, nor escaping God's anger. See the mischief sin makes; it provokes God to anger. And those not humbled by lesser judgments, must expect greater. Alas! how many professed Christians are blind as the benighted heathen! While the Lord is well-pleased in saving sinners through the righteousness of Christ he will also glorify his justice, by punishing all proud despisers. Seeing God has poured out his wrath on his once-favoured people, because of their sins, let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should be found to come short of it.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Meaning of Heb uncertain
  • [b]. Cn Compare Ps 96.11; 98.7: Heb [Those who go down to the sea]
  • [c]. Heb [You see many things but do]

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 42

This chapter begins with a prophecy concerning the Messiah, under the character of the servant of the Lord, and his elect, whom he supported, and was well pleased with; whose work is pointed at, and for which he was well qualified with the Spirit without measure, Isa 42:1 and is described by his humility and meekness, Isa 42:2, by his tenderness to weak and ignorant persons, Isa 42:3 and by his courage and resolution, Isa 42:4 then follow his call to his work, and the several parts of it, introduced with setting forth the greatness of God that called him, as the Creator of the heavens and of the earth, and of men upon it, Isa 42:5-7, whose name is Jehovah, and whose glory is incommunicable to a creature, and whose knowledge reaches to future things, which are predicted by him, Isa 42:8,9, and then Gentiles are called upon to praise the Lord, and give glory to him, partly for the above promises concerning the Messiah, Isa 42:10-12, and partly for the destruction of his enemies, Isa 42:13-15, and also for his gracious regard to such who had been blind and ignorant, Isa 42:16, the confusion of idolaters is prophesied of, and an exhortation is given them to make use of the means of light and knowledge, Isa 42:17,18, and the blindness, ignorance, and stupidity of the Jews, are exposed, though there was a remnant among them with whom the Lord was well pleased, for the sake of the righteousness of his Son, Isa 42:19-21, but as for the body of the people, they were to be given up to the spoilers and robbers for their sins and disobedience, and be the butt of the divine wrath and vengeance, Isa 42:22-24.

Isaiah 42 Commentaries

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.