Isaiah 41:12
You shall seek them, and shall not find them, even them that contended with you: they that war against you shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nothing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
41:10-20 God speaks with tenderness; Fear thou not, for I am with thee: not only within call, but present with thee. Art thou weak? I will strengthen thee. Art thou in want of friends? I will help thee in the time of need. Art thou ready to fall? I will uphold thee with that right hand which is full of righteousness, dealing forth rewards and punishments. There are those that strive with God's people, that seek their ruin. Let not God's people render evil for evil, but wait God's time. It is the worm Jacob; so little, so weak, so despised and trampled on by every body. God's people are as worms, in humble thoughts of themselves, and in their enemies' haughty thoughts of them; worms, but not vipers, not of the serpent's seed. Every part of God's word is calculated to humble man's pride, and to make him appear little in his own eyes. The Lord will help them, for he is their Redeemer. The Lord will make Jacob to become a threshing instrument. God will make him fit for use, new, and having sharp spikes. This has fulfilment in the triumphs of the gospel of Christ, and of all faithful followers of Christ, over the power of darkness. God has provided comforts to supply all their wants, and to answer all their prayers. Our way to heaven lies through the wilderness of this world. The soul of man is in want, and seeks for satisfaction; but becomes weary of seeking that in the world, which is not to be had in it. Yet they shall have a constant supply, where one would least expect it. I will open rivers of grace, rivers of living water, which Christ spake of the Spirit, Joh 7:38,39. When God sets up his church in the Gentile wilderness, there shall be a great change, as if thorns and briers were turned into cedars, and fir-trees, and myrtles. These blessings are kept for the poor in spirit, who long for Divine enlightening, pardon, and holiness. And God will render their barren souls fruitful in the grace of his Spirit, that all who behold may consider it.Thou shalt seek them - This denotes that it would be impossible to find them, for they should cease to exist. The whole verse, with the verse following, is emphatic, repeating in varied terms what was said before, and meaning that their foes should be entirely destroyed. 12. seek … and … not find—said of one so utterly put out of the way that not a trace of him can be found (Ps 37:36).

thing of naught—shall utterly perish.

Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them; they shall be so totally consumed, that although thou searchest for them, thou shalt not be able to find them any where in the world.

Shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought; shall be utterly brought to nought. The thing is twice repeated, to show the certainty and greatness of their destruction. They not existing, or being fled into holes and corners, to rocks and mountains, to hide themselves from the wrath of the Lamb, Revelation 6:15,

even them that contended with thee; or, "the men of thy contention" (p); who contended with them, not by words and arguments, but by severe persecutions, striving thereby to hinder the progress of the Gospel, and to root Christianity out of the world:

they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought: or, "the men of thy war" (q); that proclaimed and carried on war against the Christians, in order to destroy them utterly; yet they, and all their efforts, came to nothing, the Gospel prevailed, and Paganism was utterly abolished; which came to pass in Constantine's time, at the opening of the sixth seal, Revelation 6:12 which is a proper comment on this text.

(p) "viros jurgii tui", Montanus. (q) "viri belli tui", Vatablus; "pugnae tuae", Montanus.

Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not {l} find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of naught.

(l) Because they will be destroyed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
In the following v. we have not a description of the impression made upon the heathen by the argument of Jehovah, but the argument itself is continued. Isaiah 41:5 "Islands have seen it, and shuddered; the ends of the earth trembled; they have approached, and drawn near." We have here a description of the effects which the victorious course of Cyrus had begun to produce in the heathen world. The perfects denote the past, and the futures a simultaneous past; so that we have not to compare Isaiah 41:5 with Habakkuk 3:10 so much as with Psalm 77:17. The play upon the words וייראּוּ ... ראּוּ pairs together both seeing and fearing. The Cumaeans, when consulting the oracle, commenced thus: ἡμεῖς δὲ δειμαίνοντες τὴν Περσέων δύναμιν. The perfect with the aorist following in Isaiah 41:5 places the following picture upon the stage: They have approached and drawn near (from all directions) to meet the threatening danger; and how? Isaiah 41:6, Isaiah 41:7 "One helped his companion, and he said to his brother, Only firm! The caster put firmness into the melter, the hammer-smoother into the anvil-smiter, saying of the soldering, It is good; and made him firm with nails, that he should not shake." Him, viz., the idol. Everything is in confusion, from the terror that prevails; and the gods from which they expect deliverance are not made till now, the workmen stimulating one another to work. The chârâsh, who casts the image, encourages the tsōrēph, whose task it is to provide it with the plating of gold and silver chains (Isaiah 40:19), to work more bravely; and the man who smooths with the hammer (pattish, instrumentalis) does the same to the man who smites the anvil (הולם with seghol, whereas in other cases, e.g., Ezekiel 22:25, the tone generally gives way without any change in the vowel-pointing). The latter finds the soldering all right, by which the gold plates of the covering are fastened together, so as to give to the golden idol a massive appearance. He is the last into whose hands it comes; and nothing more is wanting, than that he should forge upon the anvil the nails with which it is fastened, to prevent it from falling. To such foolish, fruitless proceedings have the nations resorted when threatened with subjugation by Cyrus.
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