|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
41:1-9 Can any heathen god raise up one in righteousness, make what use of him he pleases, and make him victorious over the nations? The Lord did so with Abraham, or rather, he would do so with Cyrus. Sinners encourage one another in the ways of sin; shall not the servants of the living God stir up one another in his service? God's people are the seed of Abraham his friend. This is certainly the highest title ever given to a mortal. It means that Abraham, by Divine grace, was made like to God, and that he was admitted to communion with Him. Happy are the servants of the Lord, whom he has called to be his friends, and to walk with him in faith and holy obedience. Let not such as have thus been favoured yield to fear; for the contest may be sharp, but the victory shall be sure.
Verse 5. - The isles saw it, and feared. A general terror seized the nations on the conquest of the Medes by Cyrus. Croesus of Lydia, Nabonidus of Babylon, and Amasis of Egypt, were at once drawn together by the common danger, and made alliance offensive and defensive (Herod., 1:77). The weaker tribes and peoples gave themselves up for lost. Scarcely any resistance seems to have been offered to the Persian arms by the tribes between the Halys and Indus, the Jaxartes and the Indian Ocean. Lydia and Babylon alone made a stout fight; but even these were conquered without very much difficulty. The ends of the earth... drew near; i.e. distant nations held (will hold) consultation together on the danger which threatens them. The league of Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt is the only known instance of such "drawing near" (see the preceding note). Isaiah anticipates marked consultations and exhortations with respect to the idol-gods, in which trust should be put; but perhaps he is scarcely serious in vers. 6, 7. Rather he is indulging his sarcastic humour at the expense of the idols and of those who put their trust in them. (For instances, however, of actual trust in particular idols, see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 4. p. 58; Herod., 5:67; 8:64,)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The isles saw it, and feared,.... Not the victory which Abraham got over the kings; nor Cyrus's expedition against Babylon, and other nations, and his deliverance of the Jews; but the progress of the Gospel, through the ministry of the Apostle Paul: the idolatrous inhabitants of the Gentile nations saw great multitudes embracing and professing the Gospel; they saw their idols neglected, and their temples abandoned; they feared what would be the consequence of all this, that their old religion their fathers retained, and they were brought up in, would be abolished; and especially a panic seized the priests on this account, whose livelihood depended upon it:
the ends of the earth were afraid; for the sound of the Gospel by him, and other apostles, went into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world, Romans 10:18 meaning the inhabitants that dwelt in the furthest parts of the earth, where ignorance and idolatry wholly reigned: they drew near, and came: not to God, nor to Abraham, or Cyrus; rather to their gods, to exert themselves in the defence of their religion; or, which is best, they got together to consult what was proper to be done on such an emergency.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. feared—that they would be subdued.
drew near, and came—together, for mutual defense.
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