Isaiah 51:17-22

17 Rouse yourself, rouse yourself! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggering.
18 There is no one to guide her among all the children she has borne; there is no one to take her by the hand among all the children she has brought up.
19 These two things have befallen you —who will grieve with you?— devastation and destruction, famine and sword— who will comfort you?
20 Your children have fainted, they lie at the head of every street like an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.
21 Therefore hear this, you who are wounded, who are drunk, but not with wine:
22 Thus says your Sovereign, the Lord, your God who pleads the cause of his people: See, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; you shall drink no more from the bowl of my wrath.

Isaiah 51:17-22 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 51

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 51:17-22 In-Context

15 For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name.
16 I have put my words in your mouth, and hidden you in the shadow of my hand, stretching out the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, "You are my people."
17 Rouse yourself, rouse yourself! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggering.
18 There is no one to guide her among all the children she has borne; there is no one to take her by the hand among all the children she has brought up.
19 These two things have befallen you —who will grieve with you?— devastation and destruction, famine and sword— who will comfort you?
20 Your children have fainted, they lie at the head of every street like an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.
21 Therefore hear this, you who are wounded, who are drunk, but not with wine:
22 Thus says your Sovereign, the Lord, your God who pleads the cause of his people: See, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; you shall drink no more from the bowl of my wrath.
23 And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, "Bow down, that we may walk on you"; and you have made your back like the ground and like the street for them to walk on.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Q Ms Gk Syr Vg: MT [how may I comfort you?]
  • [b]. Or [humbled]
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.