Sing to the LORD a New Song,

His Praise from the Ends of the Earth

42: 10-17

   DIG: Who is encouraged to sing a new song to the Servant? What places does the prophet call upon here? Who are all these people singing to the LORD? How does this widespread call relate to the mission of the Servant in 42:6-7? How is God like a mighty man? Why does He first shout the battle cry, then gasp and pant? Why does Isaiah finish the good promises here with a warning?

   REFLECT: How do you acknowledge the blessings in your life that ADONAI provides? Is it hard for you to picture the LORD as a warrior (see Joshua 5:13-15 and Numbers 21:14)? How has God turned darkness into light for you?

    Victorious over His enemies, the LORD is praised at His Second Coming. The prophet gives the reason why even the idol-worshippers, the enemies of God, must now recognize His greatness and stop their foolish ways. This is the first of four Servant Songs (49:1-6, 50:4-9, 53:13 to 53:12). Here the prophet Isaiah calls the whole world to sing to the LORD a new song of praise (42:10a). The outburst of praise literally begs to be asked what triggered it in the first place.

    His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them (42:10b). It is especially noteworthy that the entire earth is called on to give this praise in the form of a new song. Surely it is prompted by the previously announced coming of the Servant of the LORD (see Hp – Here Is My Servant, Whom I Uphold).

    The entire earth should rejoice at that news. Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of the Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops (42:11). Kedar (21:16-17) is in the north (Syrian) Arabian desert, and Sela was a city in Edom. The earth (the islands and the desert) joins its people (all who live) in praise because the creation itself will be released from bondage of corruption. Rabbi Saul tells us so: The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed (First John 3:1-2). For the creation was subject to frustration, not by its own choice but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:19-20).

    The call to praise reaches its climax at this point. Exactly because the Servant will be coming, the Ruach HaKodesh encourages all those living in Isaiah’s day to give glory to the LORD and proclaim His praise in the islands, or the outermost reaches of the earth (42:12). Why? In light of the promise of new revelation to come, Isaiah calls the whole world to sing a new song. This repeated call to praise introduces the cause of all this bubbling joy. It is the triumph of the mighty man, the warrior LORD.

    Why? Because the LORD will march out like a mighty man (see my commentary on Genesis Ec – When Abram Heard Lot Had Been Taken Captive, He Went in Pursuit as far as Dan). He will not come meek and mild as the Servant came in 42:1-4. But when Jesus comes again at His Second Coming (63:1-6) like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies (42:13). The comparison of ADONAI to a warrior is one of the oldest in the Bible (Ex 15 and Judg 5). He battles on behalf of His people. So it should come as no surprise that Isaiah should identify Him in this way here and elsewhere in the book (28:21, 30:30-31, 31:4, 59:16-18, 63:3-4; also see Zech 9:14, 14:3). It will not be the Persian, Cyrus, who will ultimately deliver Isra'el, the Servant by His mighty arm (30:32, 48:14, 51:9, 52:10, 53:1, 59:1).

    Isaiah sings as God speaks again and promises new prophecies. Now God gives that new prophecy He promised to give back in 42:9, which is a far eschatological prophecy about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The rabbis teach that this section refers to the return of the exiles. For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. Isaiah had prophesied for many years and then there seemed to be a period of silence. There does appear that many years elapsed between Chapter 39 and Chapter 40 of Isaiah. The first 39 Chapters may have been written when Isaiah was a young man and then Chapters 40 to 66 were written when he was an older man. But to be sure, all of Isaiah was written by the same prophet.

    ADONAI, seemingly silent for a long time (the whole history of the Gentile world), will act in judgment though, humanly speaking, it will be painful for Him. With the change to the first person, God Himself speaks of His coming battle for His people. But now, like a woman in childbirth I cry out, I gasp and pant (42:14). The rabbis teach that the LORD was crying out against the injustice done to Judah. They teach that God will no longer tolerate the sufferings of His people and the continued ruin of their country.

    When Christ returns His silence will be broken and the earth will be judged. The old order of things will be brought to an end. He declares: I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation. The mountains and the hills will be devastated. I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools (42:15). We know that when the LORD returns the earth with bloom with abundance. The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the lily (35:1a CJB). Even the Negev will blossom. So this verse cannot be speaking of a literal drying up. Consequently, we must interpret it in a figurative way and assume that God will dry up the places where people do not revere Him.

    Just as the LORD will do unheard of things in the judgment of the wicked in order to set His people free, He will do unheard of things in their deliverance. He will guide those who have faith, trust, and belief in Him, giving them light and healing. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them and make the rough places smooth (42:16a). The word blind in this verse is in the plural, pointing to the unenlightened Gentile world out of which He will lead His Servant, and those whom He chose to illuminate. He will heal their spiritual blindness. He will lead them to spiritual truth. These are the things He will do; He will not forsake them in any way (42:16b). This is the way ADONAI leads His own. You and I are blind to the future, but He is not, and He will lead all who put their trust in Him.

    However, those who trust in idols will be judged. Although there will be unsaved people living during the Great Tribulation (see my commentary on Revelation Fc – The Sheep and the Goats), idol worship will not be tolerated. This final note was aimed at the idol worshippers during Isaiah’s own day. It was as if he was saying to them, “There will be a day, in the time to come (42:23), when you will regret worshipping idols of mere stone and wood.” Those who say to images, “You are our gods,” will be turned back in utter shame (42:17, 44:9 and 11, 45:16). Ultimately their trust was in themselves and what they could do. We see this today in the New Age notion that somehow mankind can discover the god within. That god is the way of works, not by grace. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds those who trust in Him (Psalm 32:10). When all else fails, trust God!

 

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