Isaiah 44 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Isaiah 44)

Verse 2

[2] Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.

Formed thee — From the time that I first took thee to be my people, I have been forming and fashioning thee.

Jesurun — Another name of Jacob or Israel, given to him, Deuteronomy 32:15.

Verse 3

[3] For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

Water — Upon him that is destitute of it.

Verse 5

[5] One shall say, I am the LORD's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

Israel — The blessing of God upon the Jews shall be so remarkable, that the Gentiles shall join them, and accept the Lord for their God.

Verse 7

[7] And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.

Who — Which of all the Heathen gods.

Declare — Shall by his powerful word cause it to be, and by his fore-knowledge declare that it shall be.

Set in order — Orderly relate all future events in the same manner as they shall happen.

Since — Since I first made man upon earth.

The things — Such things as are near at hand, and such as are to come hereafter.

Verse 8

[8] Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

Ye — Thee, O Israel, whom he bids not to fear.

Told thee — Even from the first ages of the world.

Declared — Have published it to the world in my sacred records.

Witnesses — Both of my predictions, and of the exact agreeableness of events to them.

Verse 9

[9] They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.

Delectable things — Their idols, in which they take so much pleasure.

They — They that make them, are witnesses against themselves, and against their idols, because they know they are the work of their own hands. See not|-Have neither sense nor understanding, therefore they have just cause to be ashamed of their folly, in worshipping such senseless things.

Verse 11

[11] Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.

Men — They are of mankind, and therefore cannot possibly make a god.

Together — Tho' all combine together, they shall be filled with fear and confusion, when God shall plead his cause against them.

Verse 12

[12] The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.

Faint — This is mentioned as an evidence of great zeal and industry in carrying on this work; so that they forget or neglect to eat and drink.

Verse 13

[13] The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.

According to — In the same comely shape and proportions which are in a living man.

House — In the dwelling-house of him that made it.

Verse 14

[14] He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.

Oak — Which afford the best and most durable timber.

Strengtheneth — He plants, and with care and diligence improves those trees, that he or his posterity may thence have materials for their images, and those things which belong to them.

Verse 15

[15] Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

Fallen down — Having related the practices of idolaters, he now discovers the folly of them, that he makes his fire and his god of the same materials, distinguished only by the art of man.

Verse 17

[17] And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.

He eateth — He dresses flesh for his eating.

Seen — I have felt the warmth of it.

Verse 18

[18] They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

Not known — This shews that they have not the understanding of a man.

For he — God. Not as if God did make men wicked; he only permits them so to be, and orders, and over-rules their wickedness to his own glorious ends.

Verse 20

[20] He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

Ashes — An unprofitable and pernicious food, and no less unsatisfying and mischievous is the worship of idols.

Deceived heart — A mind corrupted and deceived by deep prejudice, gross error, and especially by his own lusts.

Turned — From the way of truth.

Deliver — From the snares and dangers of idolatry.

Is there not — What is this idol which I set at my right-hand, as the true God is said in scripture to be at the right-hand of his people; which I highly honour, for the most honourable place was on the right-hand; to which I look for relief and assistance, which God in scripture is said to afford to his people, by being at and holding their right-hand. What, I say, is this idol? Is it not a lie, which tho' it pretends to be a god, yet, in truth is nothing but vanity and falsehood?

Verse 21

[21] Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.

These — These things, the deep ignorance and stupidity of idolaters.

Forgotten — I will not forget nor forsake thee; therefore thou shalt have no need of idols.

Verse 22

[22] I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

As a cloud — So that there is no remnant of it left.

Verse 23

[23] Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

Sing — By such invitations to the senseless creatures, he signifies the transcendent greatness of this mercy, sufficient to make even the stones, if it were possible, to break forth into God's praises.

Verse 25

[25] That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

Liars — Of the magicians, and astrologers, who were numerous, and greatly esteemed in Babylon, and who had foretold the long continuance and prosperity of the Chaldean empire.

Mad — With grief for the disappointment of their predictions, and their disgrace which followed it.

Turneth — Stopping their way, and blasting their designs.

Verse 27

[27] That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:

That saith — That with a word can dry up the sea and rivers, and remove all impediments.

Verse 28

[28] That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Cyrus — Whom God here mentions by his proper name, two hundred years before he was born, that this might be an undeniable evidence of the exactness of God's fore-knowledge, and a convincing argument to conclude this dispute between God and idols.

Shepherd — Then will I set up to be the shepherd of my people, to rescue them from wolves or tyrants, to gather them together, to rule them gently, and to provide comfortably for them.