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Isaiah 42:4

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He shall not fail - He shall not be weak, feeble, or disheartened. However much there may be that shall tend to discourage, yet his purpose is fixed, and he will pursue it with steadiness and ardor until the great work shall be fully accomplished. There may be an allusion in the Hebrew word here (יכהה yı̂kheh ) to that which is applied to the flax (כהה kēhâh ); and the idea may be that he shall not become in his purposes like the smoking, flickering, dying flame of a lamp. There shall never be any indication, even amidst all embarrassments, that it is his intention to abandon his plan of extending the true religion through all the world. Such also should be the fixed and determined purposes of his people. Their zeal should never fail; their ardor should never grow languid.

Nor be discouraged - Margin, ‹Broken.‘ The Hebrew word ירוּץ yârûts may be derived either from רצץ râtsats to break, to break in pieces; or from רוץ rûts to run, to move hastily, to rush upon any one. Our translators have adopted the former. Gesenius also supposes that this is the true interpretation of the word, and that it means, that he would not be broken, that is, checked in his zeal, or discouraged by any opposition. The latter interpretation is preferred by Vitringa, Rosenmuller, Hengstenberg, and others. The Chaldee renders it, ‹Shall not labor,‘ that is, shall not be fatigued, or discouraged. The Septuagint renders it, ‹He shall shine out, and not be broken.‘ The connection seems to require the sense which our translators have given to it, and according to this, the meaning is, ‹he shall not become broken in spirit, or discouraged; he shall persevere amidst all opposition and embarrassment, until he shall accomplish his purposes.‘ We have a similar phraseology when we speak of a man‘s being heart-broken.

Till he have set judgment - Until he has secured the prevalence of the true religion in all the world.

And the isles - Distant nations (see the note at Isaiah 41:1); the pagan nations. The expression is equivalent to saying that the Gentiles would be desirous of receiving the religion of the Messiah, and would wait for it (see the notes at Isaiah 2:3).

Shall wait - They shall be dissatisfied with their own religions, and see that their idol-gods are unable to aid them; and they shall be in a posture of waiting for some new religion that shall meet their needs. It cannot mean that they shall wait for it, in the sense of their already having a knowledge of it, but that their being sensible that their own religions cannot save them may be represented as a condition of waiting for some better system. It has been true, as in the Sandwich Islands, that the pagan have been so dissatisfied with their own religion as to east away their idols, and to be without any religion, and thus to be in a waiting posture for some new and better system. And it may be true yet that the pagan shall become extensively dissatisfied with their idolatry; that they shall be convinced that some better system is necessary, and that they may thus be prepared to welcome the gospel when it shall be proposed to them. It may be that in this manner God intends to remove the now apparently insuperable obstacles to the spread of the gospel in the pagan world. The Septuagint renders this, ‹And in his name shall the Gentiles trust,‘ which form has been retained by Matthew Matthew 12:21.

His law - His commands, the institutions of his religion. The word ‹law‘ is often used in the Scriptures to denote the whole of religion.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
This prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, Mt 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.
Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God's favour and good-will to his people speak abundant comfort to all believers. The new creature, wherever it is, is of God's forming. All who are redeemed with the blood of his Son, he has set apart for himself. Those that have God for them need not fear who or what can be against them. What are Egypt and Ethiopia, all their lives and treasures, compared with the blood of Christ? True believers are precious in God's sight, his delight is in them, above any people. Though they went as through fire and water, yet, while they had God with them, they need fear no evil; they should be born up, and brought out. The faithful are encouraged. They were to be assembled from every quarter. And with this pleasing object in view, the prophet again dissuades from anxious fears.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He shall not fail nor be discouraged "His force shall not be abated nor broken" - Rabbi Meir ita citat locum istum, ut post ירוץ yaruts, addat כוחו cocho, robur ejus, quod hodie Ilon comparet in textu Hebraeo, sed addendum videtur, ut sensus fiat planior.

"Rabbi Meir cites this passage so as to add after ירוץ yarats כוחו cocho, his force, which word is not found in the present Hebrew text, but seems necessary to be added to make the sense more distinct." Capell. Crit. Sac. p. 382. For which reason I had added it in the translation, before I observed this remark of Capellus. - L.

Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 134

How can a physician stand in the community as an example of purity and self-control, how can he be an effectual worker in the temperance cause, while he himself is indulging a vile habit? How can he minister acceptably at the bedside of the sick and the dying, when his very breath is offensive, laden with the odor of liquor or tobacco? MH 134.1

While disordering his nerves and clouding his brain by the use of narcotic poisons, how can one be true to the trust reposed in him as a skillful physician? How impossible for him to discern quickly or to execute with precision! MH 134.2

If he does not observe the laws that govern his own being, if he chooses selfish gratification above soundness of mind and body, does he not thereby declare himself unfit to be entrusted with the responsibility of human lives? MH 134.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 242

To those who are laboring in the South I would say: Be not discouraged by the present feebleness of the work. You have had to struggle against difficulties that have at times threatened to overcome you. But by God's help you have been enabled to move forward. If all in our ranks knew how difficult it was in years past to establish the work in places that have since become important centers, they would realize that it takes courage to face an unpromising situation and to declare, with hands uplifted to heaven: “We will not fail nor become discouraged.” Those who have not broken the ground in new and difficult fields do not realize the difficulties of pioneer work. If they could understand God's working they would not only rejoice because of what has been done, but they would see cause for rejoicing in the future of the work. 7T 242.1

My brethren, there is no reason for discouragement. The good seed is being sown. God will watch over it, causing it to spring up and bring forth an abundant harvest. Remember that many of the enterprises for soul saving have, at the beginning, been carried forward amidst great difficulty. 7T 242.2

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