Isaiah 49 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Isaiah 49)
49:1 Listen, to me O isles; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called a me from b the womb; from the body of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

(a) This is spoken in the person of Christ, to assure the faithful that these promises should come to pass: for they were all made in him and in him would be performed.
(b) This is meant of the time that Christ would be manifested to the world, as in (Psalms 2:7).

49:2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp c sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he d hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;

(c) By the sword and shaft, he signifies the virtue and efficacy of Christ's doctrine.
(d) God has taken me to his protection and defence: this chiefly is meant of Christ, and may also be applied to the ministers of his word.

49:3 And said to me, Thou [art] my servant, O e Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

(e) By Israel is meant Christ, and all the body of the faithful, as the members and their head.

49:4 Then I said, I have f laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing, and in vain: [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God.

(f) Thus Christ in his members complains that his labour and preaching take no effect, yet he is contented that his doings are approved by God.

49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb [to be] his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, g yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

(g) Though the Jews refuse my doctrine, yet God will approve my ministry.

49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give h thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth.

(h) To declare my gospel to the Gentiles, as in (Isaiah 42:6; Acts 13:47; Luke 2:32).

49:7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, [and] his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a i servant of rulers, Kings shall see and k arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, [and] the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

(i) Meaning, the Jews whom tyrants kept in bondage.
(k) The benefit of their deliverance will be so great, that great and small will acknowledge it, and revere God for it.

49:8 Thus saith the LORD, l In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give m thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the n earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;

(l) Thus he speaks of his Church when he would show his mercy toward it, (2 Corinthians 6:2).
(m) Meaning, Christ alone.
(n) Signifying that before Christ renewed the earth by his word, there is nothing but confusion and disorder.

49:9 That thou mayest say to the o prisoners, Go forth; to them that [are] in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their p pastures [shall be] in all high places.

(o) To them who are in the prison of sin and death.
(p) Being in Christ's protection, they will be safe against all dangers, and free from fear of the enemies.

49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy q on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

(q) Meaning, that there would be nothing in their way from Babylon that would hinder or hurt them: but this is accomplished spiritually.

49:12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of r Sinim.

(r) Meaning, the south country, so that Christ will deliver his from all the parts of the world.

49:13 Sing, O s heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

(s) Read (Isaiah 44:23).

49:14 But Zion said, The LORD hath t forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

(t) He objects what the faithful might say in their long affliction and answers to comfort them with a most proper comparison and full of consolation.

49:16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of [my] u hands; thy x walls [are] continually before me.

(u) Because I would not forget you.
(x) Meaning, the good order of policy and discipline.

49:17 Thy children shall make y haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth from thee.

(y) I have continual care to build you up again and to destroy your enemies.

49:18 Lift up thy eyes around, and behold: all these gather themselves together, [and] come to thee. [As] I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely z clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them [on thee], as a bride [doeth].

(z) He shows what are the ornaments of the Church: to have many children, who are assembled by the word of God, and governed by his Spirit.

49:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up my hand to the a Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in [their] arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon [their] shoulders.

(a) He shows that Christ will not only gather this great number from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.

49:23 And kings b shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow to thee with [their] face toward the earth, and lick up the c dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I [am] the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

(b) Meaning, that kings will be converted to the gospel, and bestow their power and authority for the preservation of the Church.
(c) Being joined with the Church, they will humble themselves to Christ their head, and give him all honour.

49:24 Shall the prey be d taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?

(d) He makes this as an objection as though the Chaldeans were strong, and had them in just possession.

49:25 But thus saith the LORD, e Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

(e) This is the answer to their objection, that no one is stronger than the Lord, neither has a more just title to them.

49:26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with f their own flesh; and they shall be drunk with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD [am] thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

(f) I will cause them to destroy one another as in (Judges 7:22; 2 Chronicles 20:22; Isaiah 19:2).