Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) They that wait upon the Lord.—The waiting implies, of course, the expectant attitude of faith.

Shall mount up with wings.—Better, shall lift up their wings, or, shall put forth wings’ feathers, the last, like Psalm 103:5, implying the belief that the eagle renewed its plumage in extreme old age. For the faithful there is no failure, and faith knows no weariness.

40:27-31 The people of God are reproved for their unbelief and distrust of God. Let them remember they took the names Jacob and Israel, from one who found God faithful to him in all his straits. And they bore these names as a people in covenant with Him. Many foolish frets, and foolish fears, would vanish before inquiry into the causes. It is bad to have evil thoughts rise in our minds, but worse to turn them into evil words. What they had known, and had heard, was sufficient to silence all these fears and distrusts. Where God had begun the work of grace, he will perfect it. He will help those who, in humble dependence on him, help themselves. As the day, so shall the strength be. In the strength of Divine grace their souls shall ascend above the world. They shall run the way of God's commandments cheerfully. Let us watch against unbelief, pride, and self-confidence. If we go forth in our own strength, we shall faint, and utterly fall; but having our hearts and our hopes in heaven, we shall be carried above all difficulties, and be enabled to lay hold of the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus.But they that wait upon the Lord - The word rendered 'wait upon' here (from קוה qâvâh), denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, 'to wait on Yahweh,' means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him. It is applicable to those who are in circumstances of danger or want, and who look to him for his merciful interposition. Here it properly refers to those who were suffering a long and grievous captivity in Babylon, and who had no prospect of deliverance but in him. The phrase is applicable also to all who feel that they are weak, feeble, guilty, and helpless, and who, in view of this, put their trust in Yahweh. The promise or assurance here is general in its nature, and is as applicable to his people now as it was in the times of the captivity in Babylon. Religion is often expressed in the Scriptures by 'waiting on Yahweh,' that is, by looking to him for help, expecting deliverance through his aid, putting trust in him (see Psalm 25:3, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 25:21; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 37:7, Psalm 37:9, Psalm 37:34; Psalm 69:3; compare Isaiah 8:17, note; Isaiah 30:18, note).

It does not imply inactivity, or want of personal exertion; it implies merely that our hope of aid and salvation is in him - a feeling that is as consistent with the most strenuous endeavors to secure the object, as it is with a state of inactivity and indolence. Indeed, no man can wait on God in a proper manner who does not use the means which he has appointed for conveying to us his blessing. To wait on him without using any means to obtain his aid, is to tempt him; to expect miraculous interposition is unauthorized, and must meet with disappointment. And they only wait on him in a proper manner who expect his blessing in the common modes in which he imparts it to men - in the use of those means and efforts which he has appointed, and which he is accustomed to bless. The farmer who should wait for God to plow and sow his fields, would not only be disappointed, but would be guilty of provoking Him. And so the man who waits for God to do what he ought to do; to save him without using any of the means of grace, will not only be disappointed, but will provoke his displeasure.

Shall renew their strength - Margin, 'Change.' The Hebrew word commonly means to change, to alter; and then to revive, to renew, to cause to flourish again, as, e. g., a tree that has decayed and fallen down (see the note at Isaiah 9:10; compare Job 14:7). Here it is evidently used in the sense of renewing, or causing to revive; to increase, and to restore that which is decayed. It means that the people of God who trust in him shall become strong in faith; able to contend with their spiritual foes, to gain the victory over their sins, and to discharge aright the duties, and to meet aright the trials of life. God gives them strength, if they seek him in the way of his appointment - a promise which has been verified in the experience of his people in every age.

They shall mount up with wings as eagles - Lowth translates this 'They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle;' and in his note on the passage remarks, that 'it has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigor to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth.' He supposes that the passage in Psalm 103:5, 'So that thy youth is renewed like the eagles,' refers to this fact. That this was a common and popular opinion among the ancients, is clearly proved by Bochart (Hieroz. ii. 2. 1. pp. 165-169). The opinion was, that at stated times the eagle plunged itself in the sea and cast off its old feathers, and that new feathers started forth, and that thus it lived often to the hundredth year, and then threw itself in the sea and died. In accordance with this opinion, the Septuagint renders this passage, 'They shall put forth fresh feathers (πτεροφυήσουσιν pterophuēsousin) like eagles.' Vulgate, Assument pennas sicut aquiloe.

The Chaldee renders it, 'They who trust in the Lord shall be gathered from the captivity, and shall increase their strength, and renew their youth as a germ which grows up; upon wings of eagles shall they run and not be fatigued.' But whatever may be the truth in regard to the eagle, there is no reason to believe that Isaiah here had any reference to the fact that it moults in its old age. The translation of Lowth was derived from file Septuagint, and not from the Hebrew text. The meaning of the Hebrew is simply, 'they shall ascend on wings as eagles,' or 'they shall lift up the wings as eagles;' and the image is derived from the fact that the eagle rises on the most vigorous wing of any bird, and ascends apparently further toward the sun. The figure, therefore, denotes strength and vigor of purpose; strong and manly piety; an elevation above the world; communion with God, and a nearness to his throne - as the eagle ascends toward the sun.

They shall run and not be weary - This passage, also, is but another mode of expressing the same idea - that they who trust in God would be vigorous, elevated, unwearied; that he would sustain and uphold them; and that in his service they would never faint. This was at first designed to be applied to the Jews in captivity in Babylon to induce them to put their trust in God. But it is as true now as it was at that time. It has been found in the experience of thousands and tens of thousands, that by waiting on the Lord the heart has been invigorated; the faith has been confirmed; and the affections have been raised above the world. Strength has been given to bear trial without complaining, to engage in arduous duty without fainting, to pursue the perilous and toilsome journey of life without exhaustion, and to rise above the world in hope and peace on the bed of death.

31. mount up—(2Sa 1:23). Rather, "They shall put forth fresh feathers as eagles" are said to renovate themselves; the parallel clause, "renew their strength," confirms this. The eagle was thought to moult and renew his feathers, and with them his strength, in old age (so the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ps 103:5). However, English Version is favored by the descending climax, mount up—run—walk; in every attitude the praying, waiting child of God is "strong in the Lord" (Ps 84:7; Mic 4:5; Heb 12:1). That wait upon the Lord; that rely upon him for strength to bear their burdens, and for deliverance from them in due time.

Shall renew their strength; shall grow stronger and stronger in faith, and patience, and fortitude, whereby they shall be more than conquerors over all their enemies and adversities.

They shall mount up with wings as eagles; which fly most strongly, and swiftly, and high, out of the reach of all danger.

They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint; they shall be enabled to run or walk in their way as they please, without any weariness. But they that wait upon the Lord,.... As children on their parents, to do them honour, to obey their commands, and receive food and blessings from them; as servants on their masters, to know their pleasure, do their work, and have their wages; as clients on their patrons, to have advice of them, put their cause into their hands, and know how it goes; and as beggars at the door, who knock and wait, tell their case and wait, meet with repulses, yet keep their place, and continue waiting: such an act supposes a knowledge and reverence of God, confidence in him, attendance on him, not with the body only, in public and private, but with the soul also, and with some degree of constancy, and with patience and quietness: the Lord is to be waited upon for the manifestations of himself, who sometimes hides himself, but is to be waited for, since he has his set time to show himself again, and his presence is worth waiting for; also for the performance of his promises, which may be expected from his perfections, the nature of the promises, and their being in Christ; likewise for answers of prayer, and for the fresh discoveries of pardoning grace and mercy; and as Old Testament saints waited for the first coming of Christ, so New Testament saints for his second coming, and for eternal glory and happiness: and such "shall renew their strength"; which is to be understood of spiritual! strength in the heart, and of the graces of the Spirit there: it supposes strength received already, which natural men have not, but converted men have; and yet they want more, and more they shall have; to assist them in the performance of duty, to enable them to resist Satan and his temptations, and the corruptions of nature, and to cause them to endure afflictions and persecutions patiently, and to persevere unto the end:

they shall mount up with wings as eagles; swiftly and strongly; it is expressive of the motion of the affections heavenwards towards God and Christ, and things above; of the entrance of faith and hope within the veil, and of the exercise of these graces on Christ, who is now at the right hand of God; of the expectation of glory and happiness in heaven hereafter, and of present support under afflictions, the Lord bearing them as on eagles' wings; see Psalm 103:5 (g):

they shall run, and not be weary; in the way of God's commandments; which shows great affection for them, haste to obey them, delight and pleasure, cheerfulness and alacrity, therein, so as to be without weariness:

and they shall, walk, and not faint: in the ways of God, in the name of the Lord, or in Christ, as they have received him; leaning on him, trusting in him, continuing to do so, till they receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls; and so shall not sink under their burdens, nor give out till they enjoy it; different persons, though all of them believers, may be here intended; particularly Christians under the Gospel dispensation, tried and exercised by many enemies; some shall soar aloft, and dwell on high; others, though they cannot rise and "fly" so swiftly and strongly, yet shall "run" without weariness; and others, though they can neither fly nor run, yet shall "walk" without fainting.

(g) The Jews have a notion, that for ten years the eagle ascends very high in the firmament of heaven, and approaching near to the heat of the sun, it falls into the sea, through the vehemence of the heat; and then it casts its feathers, and is renewed again, and its feathers grow, and it returns to the days of its youth; and so every ten years to a hundred; and in the hundredth year it ascends according to its custom, and falls into the sea, and dies. So Ben Melech from Saadiab Gaon.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. they that wait upon the Lord (shall) renew (lit. “exchange” cf. ch. Isaiah 9:10) their strength.

mount up with wings] although an excellent sense, is doubtful grammatically. The authorities are divided between the Targ. on the one hand, and LXX. and Vulg. on the other. The former has “lift up (their) wings”; the latter “put forth (lit. “cause to grow”) pinions” (LXX. πτεροφυήσουσιν). The second is by far the best. An allusion to the popular notion that the eagle renews his feathers in his old age (Cheyne) is not probable; it is even doubtful if the idea of renewal is in the metaphor at all. It is rather a description (and a very fine one) of the new kind of life which comes to him who waits on the Lord; he is borne aloft on wings of faith and hope.Verse 31. - They shall mount up with wings as eagles (comp. Psalm 103:5: and, for the use of the eagle as a metaphor for strength, see Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11).



The thought of Isaiah 40:18 now recurs like a refrain, a conclusion being appended to the premises by means of ו, as was the case there. "And to whom will ye compare me, to whom I can be equal? saith the Holy One." Not haqqâdōsh, because a poetical or oratorical style omits the article wherever it can be dispensed with. The Holy One asks this, and can ask it, because as such He is also exalted above the whole world (Job 15:15; Job 25:5).
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