Isaiah 42

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

Home Gospel Tracts Bible Studies Jim Melough Contact


A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough

42:1.  “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”


This description fits only One: the Lord Jesus Christ, for He alone is God’s perfect Servant, His elect, i.e., His chosen One. In Him alone has the Father found unalloyed pleasure, for never once has that Son offended in thought, word, or deed, see Matthew 3:17 for the record of the Divine approbation at the time of the Lord’s baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  See also the record of the Lord’s own words in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”


The perfection of Christ’s rule will be demonstrated in the Millennium.


42:2.  “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.”


Other renderings of this verse are, “He will not scream, nor urge with vehemence: nor will his voice be heard abroad in the streets,” Sept: “He will be gentle - He will not shout nor quarrel in the streets,” Taylor.  The Lord was never strident, nor should those who proclaim His word.


42:3.  “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”


The “bruised reed” represents the failing servant, of whom Peter is an outstanding example, see Matthew 26:75; and the “smoking (smouldering) flax” represents one whose witness has almost ceased.  Such ones God will not cut off, but will make every effort to renew the vigor of their former testimony.

This speaks of the Lord’s gentleness in dealing with his weak and failing servants; and relative to that gentleness, see David’s words recorded in 2 Samuel 22:36, and Psalm 18:35 “... thy gentleness hath made me great.”  Those who would render effective service must cultivate that same gentle spirit. 


“... he shall bring forth judgment unto truth,” is also translated, “He shall bring forth justice in truth,” ASV; “He will make the right go forth according to the truth,” JPS; “Faithfully he will bring forth justice,” RHM.


42:4.  “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”


The present state of the world might tempt some to think that this promise has failed, but spiritually instructed believers recognize that the present darkness is simply that which precedes the dawning of Christ’s millennial reign, during which He will rule the nations with a rod of iron, see Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15, His inflexible rule making that era the most blessed earth has ever known.


“... the isles” as noted already, represent all the countries of the earth.


42:5.  “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:”


Science (sic) would have us believe that everything that exists is the result of the multiplication of an original single cell, the origin of which however, it can’t explain!  The clear impress of Divine Authorship on every page of Scripture however, confirms the wisdom of accepting the reality of our eternally existing God Who has created all things out of nothing, “by the word of His power,” Hebrews 1:3, “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast,” Psalm 33:9.


Man, in common with the animal creation, possesses a body, with which he has world-consciousness; and a soul, with which he has self-consciousness; but only man has also a spirit: that with which he has God-consciousness.  Only man evinces the desire to worship, even if the object of his veneration be but a stone or a tree.


42:6.  “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and keep thee, and I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;”


The application is to Christ, for only He is perfectly righteous, i.e., inherently sinless; and He alone is the One through whom men can enjoy a covenant relationship with God, that is, live in the assurance of dwelling in heaven eternally through faith in His sin-atoning sacrifice, that covenant being made first with believing Israelites, and then embracing believing Gentiles also. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:6, “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” Romans 9:24.


The held hand speaks of Divine enablement.


42:7.  “To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”


Man in his natural state is spiritually blind, “... the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:14.  He is the prisoner of Satan, living in spiritual darkness; and unless saved through faith in Christ as Savior, will dwell in “the blackness of darkness for ever,” Jude 13.


42:8.  “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”


The definite article preceding “Lord” is exclusory.  He alone is Lord, a fact which automatically excludes any other, “For there is one God....” 1 Timothy 2:5.  He will not share that glory with any other, nor will He suffer anyone or any thing to receive the worship that belongs to Him alone.  The man who bows to an idol makes himself the object of God’s righteous wrath.


42:9.  “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.”


Taylor’s translation of this verse reads, “Everything I prophesied came true, and now I will prophesy again.  I will tell you the future before it happens.”


Fulfilled prophecy is an irrefutable confirmation of the Divine authorship of Scripture, leaving no doubt that the small fraction still to be realized will just as certainly come to pass.


42:10.  “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.”


The contemplation of God’s omnipotence ought to evoke praise and worship from every creature on the earth and in the sea, but we tend to focus almost exclusively on His work as Redeemer so that we neglect this other aspect of worship.


42:11.  “Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock (Sela) sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.”


Kedar, in Northern Arabia, means darkness, and in the present context may refer to those who have no knowledge of God; while Sela, a virtually impregnable mountain fortress in Edom, may represent those whose evaluation of worldly knowledge begets contempt for what is spiritual.  In the Millennium there will be neither ignorance of Scripture, nor contempt of spiritual knowledge, but rather universal knowledge of God, though the obedience of some will be compelled rather than voluntary.


42:12.  “Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.”


This continues to describe millennial conditions.  Many will glorify God by willing obedience and grateful worship, while the obedience of others will be yielded by compulsion, their worship being a mere outward form to avert the instant execution of His wrath.


42:13. “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar: he shall prevail against his enemies.”


In that coming era the Lord will rule the nations with a rod of iron, “jealousy” here meaning zeal, fury.  He will tolerate no disobedience.


42:14.  “I have long time hidden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.”       


God’s great patience is declared also in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 


His patience however, is not limitless, see Job 36:18, “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee,” the further warning being given in Genesis 6:3, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” hence the solemn additional admonition, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Proverbs 29:1, and again,

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold; now is the day of salvation,” 2 Corinthians 6:2.  Israel’s lament recorded in Jeremiah 8:20, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved,” will be the bitter wail echoed eternally by the multitudes in the terrible lake of fire, because they refused to heed God’s warning given them while on earth.


42:15.  “I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.”


There is no reason to reject the literal meaning of this warning, but neither is there any reason to dismiss the spiritual application of it.  As has been discussed already, mountains and hills are frequently-used metaphors for rulers great and small, so that the reference may be to God’s disruption of stable government in the Great Tribulation; while the withering of all the herbs, and the drying up of rivers and pools seem to speak of drought and its dreadful concomitant, famine.


42:16.  “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”


Unconverted men are spiritually blind, and they travel on the broad way “that leads to destruction,” Matthew 7:13; but “God is longsuffering ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9, hence the truth declared here in the verse being studied.


This should not be construed however, as the assurance that everyone will ultimately be saved.  Scripture teaches otherwise, see e.g., Lukw 13:24, “Strive to enter in at the strait (narrow) gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able,” and again Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait (narrow) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”


The blind being brought “by a way that they knew not,” are those who believe the gospel (their blindness is healed), and who are willing to follow Christ along “the narrow way that leads to life, i.e., to heaven.”  Their spiritual darkness is dispelled by the light of the knowledge of Christ, as declared in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “for God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Matthew 7:14.


42:17.  “They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.”


This declares the terrible end of the unconverted.  Only when they find the door of heaven closed against them, and the abyss of hell yawning open at their feet, will they learn the enormity of the folly that led them to ignore God, and worship instead the things of earth: its worthless wealth, its fleeting fame, its passing pleasure.  Well might Matthew propound the question, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Matthew 16:26.


Fanny Crosby declared the proper evaluation of the world’s wealth, fame, and pleasure, when she wrote, “Take the world, but give me Jesus, All its joys are but a name; But His love abideth ever, Through’ eternal years the same.”


42:18.  “Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see.”


Taylor has translated this verse, “Oh, how blind and deaf you are toward God!  Why won’t you listen?  Why won’t you see?” 


42:19.  “Who is blind, but my servant? Or deaf as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant?”


Commentators are generally agreed that the censured servant here is disobedient Israel.


42:20.  “Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.”


“You see and understand what is right but won’t heed nor do it; you hear but you won’t listen,” is Taylor’s rendering of this verse.  It is sadly true that the same charge can be leveled against all too many of us who are part of His body, the Church, for wilful disobedience is more heinous than that which results from ignorance of what God requires of us.


42:21.  “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake, he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.”


Other translations are, “It pleased the Lord, for the furtherance of his justice, to make his law a law of surpassing majesty,” NEB; “The Lord has magnified His law and made it truly glorious. Through it He had planned to show the world that He is righteous,” TAYLOR.


The only One who has ever met this perfect standard is the Lord Jesus Christ Who could say, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” John 17:4-5. 


That God has granted that petition is affirmed by what is written in Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man,” and again, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all,” Ephesians 1:21-23.


42:22.  “But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.”


Israel, by her disobedience, had forfeited God’s protection, and had thus become fair game for all who choose to despoil her, so that for almost 2,000 years she has experienced the evils mentioned here, being hounded from one country to another by foes seeking her destruction.  The restoration of her land by British mandate in 1938, and the continuous flow of Jews back to Palestine since then from virtually every country on earth, confirm that the end of this present age will climax with the terrible judgments of the fast approaching Great Tribulation that will precede the inauguration of the Millennium.


A professing, but equally recalcitrant Christianity, exhibits the same rebellious spirit, and will be left on earth to suffer the terrible Tribulation judgments after the true Church has been raptured to heaven.


The evils described in this verse will overtake the harlot church at the hand of the Beast in the Great Tribulation.


42:23.  “Who among you will give ear to this?  Who will hearken and hear for the time to come?”


The small believing remnant within the apostate nation would understand and obey; and so is it today: only a similar small believing remnant within the professing mass of the apostate church understand God’s Word by the enlightenment which the Holy Spirit gives to obedient believers.  Instructed out of the Scriptures they look for the Rapture: the coming of the Lord “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” 1 Corinthians 15:52, to translate them to heaven without dying, before the Great Tribulation judgments devastate the earth.


42:24.  “Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? 


As has been discussed already, Jacob speaks of what pertains to the flesh: Israel, of what is spiritual.  The godliness of the small believing remnant within the apostate nation didn’t exempt them from the judgments with which God visited the nation’s rebellion; nor are believers of this present age exempt from having to suffer the judgment with which God visits the disobedience of the world at large; but there is a difference: He will not permit those judgments to destroy those who belong to Him.  They too may die of famine, disease, the ravages of war, etc., but death transports them into His presence in heaven, while it consigns unbelievers first to hell, and eternally to the lake of fire.


42:25.  “Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.”


No matter what strategy God used to arrest Israel’s attention, they remained blind and deaf, and continued in their self-destructive rebellion, as does also today’s rebel world.  Whether He employs the language of war, or of peace, that world will neither see nor hear, but plunges on to perdition, as it is written, “God speaks once, yea twice, yet man perceives it not,” Job 33:14, heedless of the warning, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” Genesis 6:3,  “He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Proverbs 29:1, and again, “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee,” Job 36:18, “Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation,” 2 Corinthians 6:2.

[Isaiah 43]

Home Gospel Tracts Bible Studies Jim Melough Contact

     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
Portions of this website are copyrighted by the authors, and
all permissions and title to copyrights have been granted to Boundless Partners, Inc.

© 2000-2007 James Melough, ©2008 Boundless Partners