Isaiah 40:26 Commentaries: Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:26
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things, that brings out their host by number: he calls them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one fails.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) Who hath created . . .—The verb may be noted as a characteristic of 2 Isaiah, in which it occurs twenty times.

That bringeth out their host . . .—The words expand the idea implied in Jehovah-Sabaoth (comp. Psalm 147:4). He marshals all that innumerable host of stars, as a supreme general who knows by sight and name every soldier in a vast army, or as a shepherd who knows his flock (John 10:3).

40:18-26 Whatever we esteem or love, fear or hope in, more than God, that creature we make equal with God, though we do not make images or worship them. He that is so poor, that he has scarcely a sacrifice to offer, yet will not be without a god of his own. They spared no cost upon their idols; we grudge what is spent in the service of our God. To prove the greatness of God, the prophet appeals to all ages and nations. Those who are ignorant of this, are willingly ignorant. God has the command of all creatures, and of all created things. The prophet directs us to use our reason as well as our senses; to consider who created the hosts of heaven, and to pay our homage to Him. Not one fails to fulfil his will. And let us not forget, that He spake all the promises, and engaged to perform them.Lift up your eyes on high - Direct your eyes toward heaven, and in the contemplation of the wonders of the starry world, and of God's power there, learn the evidence of his ability to destroy his foes and to save his friends. Lowth connects this verse with the former, and renders it:

'Saith the Holy One,

Lift up your eyes on high.'

The words 'on high' here are evidently synonymous with heaven, and refer to the starry worlds. The design of the passage is to convince them of the folly of idolatry, and of the power and majesty, of the true God. It is proof of man's elevated nature that he can thus look upward, and trace the evidences of the power and wisdom of God in the heavens; that he can raise his eyes and thoughts above the earth, and fix his attention on the works of God in distant worlds; and in the number, the order, the greatness, and the harmony of the heavenly bodies, trace the proofs of the infinite greatness and the wisdom of God. This thought was most beautifully expressed by one of the ancient poets.

Pronaque cum spectent animalia caetera terram;

Os homini sublime dedit: ccelumque tueri,

Jussit et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.

Ovid, Met. i.-84-86.

In the Scriptures, God not unfrequently appeals to the starry heavens in proof of his existence and perfections, and as the most sublime exhibition of his greatness and power (see Psalm 19:1-6). And it may be remarked, that this argument is one that increases in strength, in the view of people, from age to age, just in proportion to the advances which are made in the science of astronomy. It is now far more striking than it was in the times of Isaiah; and, indeed, the discoveries in astronomical science in modern times have given a beauty and power to this argument which could have been but imperfectly understood in the times of the prophets. The argument is one that accumulates with every new discovery in astronomy; but is one - such is the vastness and beauty of the system of the universe - which can be contemplated in its fall power only amidst the more sublime contemplations of eternity. Those who are disposed to contemplate this argument more fully, may find it presented with great eloquence and beauty in Dr. Chalmers' Astronomical Discourses, and in Dick's Christian Philosopher.

Who hath created these things - These heavens. This is the first evidence of the power of God in the contemplation of the heavens, that God is their Creator. The other demonstrations referred to are the fact, that he brings out their armies as if they were a marshalled host, and understands and calls all their names.

That bringeth out their hosts - Their armies, for so the word 'hosts' means (see the note at Isaiah 1:9). The word here alludes to the fact that the heavenly bodies seem to be marshalled, or regularly arrayed as an array; that they keep their place, preserve their order, and are apparently led on from the east to the west, like a vast army under a mighty leader:

Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?

Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

26. bringeth out … host—image from a general reviewing his army: He is Lord of Sabaoth, the heavenly hosts (Job 38:32).

calleth … by names—numerous as the stars are. God knows each in all its distinguishing characteristics—a sense which "name" often bears in Scripture; so in Ge 2:19, 20, Adam, as God's vicegerent, called the beasts by name, that is, characterized them by their several qualities, which, indeed, He has imparted.

by the greatness … faileth—rather, "by reason of abundance of (their inner essential) force and firmness of strength, not one of them is driven astray"; referring to the sufficiency of the physical forces with which He has endowed the heavenly bodies, to prevent all disorder in their motions [Horsley]. In English Version the sense is, "He has endowed them with their peculiar attributes ('names') by the greatness of His might," and the power of His strength (the better rendering, instead of, "for that He is strong").

Lift up your eyes on high; to the high and starry heaven as appears from the following words.

These things which you see on high, the host of heaven, as it follows.

That bringeth out; that at first brought them out of nothing, and from day to day brings them forth, making them to rise and set in their appointed and fixed times.

Their host by number, as a general brings forth his army into the field, and there musters them.

He calleth them all by names, as a master calleth all the members of his family.

For that he is strong in power; which work is a certain and evident proof of God’s infinite power.

Not one faileth, either to appear when he calleth them, or to do the work to which he sends them. Lift up your eyes on high,.... From the earth, and the inhabitants of it, even those of the greatest power and influence in it, to the heavens above, those that are visible to the eye:

and behold who hath created these things; that are seen in the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars; consider the Creator of them, what a glorious Being he must be; what power he must be possessed of; what dazzling light he must dwell in; what glory and majesty he must be clothed with; and how infinitely transcending all mortal creatures he must be:

that bringeth out their host by number; not only into being, at the first creation of them, but at every proper season; causing the sun to rise every morning, the stars to appear at night, and the moon in its revolution; as a general brings forth his army, marshals it in order, musters it, and takes the number of his soldiers:

he calleth them all by names; suitable to their position and influence; he knows the proper names of them all, which no astrologer can pretend unto; and this is such knowledge as no general of an army has; for though the stars are innumerable to men, the names of most unknown, they are all known to him that made them, Psalm 147:4,

by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power not one faileth; through the omnipotence of God, not only the sun and moon, the great luminaries, are continued in being, and constantly observe their order; but even every star keeps its place, or performs its course, and retains its influence, and in every instance obeys the commands of its Creator; never fails of appearing at his order, and of doing what he appoints it should. Kimchi gives the sense thus, that according to the virtue and efficacy that there is in every star, so is its name; and because of the strength and power that is in everyone of them, they remain unchangeably and unalterably the same as when they were first created; which not only holds true of the sun and moon, but of the stars lesser and greater. The Targum is,

"because of the multitude of strength, and the power of might, not one is hindered from its order;''

wherefore, as there is no likeness on earth, so none in heaven, with which the Lord is to be likened, or to which he can be equalled. This may respect not the might and power of the Lord, in supporting and maintaining these creatures in their being and usefulness; but the strength and power of the mightiest creatures, to hinder their influence and service: for the words may be rendered, "through the multitude of strength", or anyone being "strong in power, not one indeed fails (d)"; or is wanting, that is, through the strength or power of the mightiest creatures, angels or men, the hosts of heaven cannot be stopped in their course, or hindered in their work appointed to do, or be deprived of their being.

(d) "prae multitudine virium, et robore virtutis, ut ne unum quidem deesset", Tigurine version.

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth {b} out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

(b) Who has set in order the infinite number of the stars.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. and behold who hath created] Better as R.V. marg.: and see: who hath created these? The word “create” occurs fifteen times in ch. 40–55 and five times in the chapters which follow; perhaps not more than nine times in the whole of the earlier literature. No other language possesses a word so exclusively appropriated to the Divine activity. Although it may not express the metaphysical idea of creation ex nihilo, it certainly denotes the effortless production, by a bare volition, which is the manner of God’s working. Its frequent use in these chapters is significant not only of the writer’s theology, but of the great movement of religious thought in Israel about the time of the Captivity. See Introd. pp. 44, 48.

For these things render simply these, i.e. “these (stars) yonder” which you see when you lift your eyes on high. The stars are likened to a great army, a host of living, intelligent beings, which every night Jehovah marshals and leads across the sky.

that bringeth out] a participial clause like those of Isaiah 40:22 f.

he calleth … names] Better: calling them all by name, i.e. not “bestowing names on them,” but calling each forth by his name. Cf. Psalm 147:4-5.

by the greatness … faileth] Render as a single sentence: On account of Him who is great in might and strong in power not one is missing; none dares to leave its post vacant when it hears the summons of the Almighty. A slight change of pointing (mçrab for mçrôb) seems necessary to make the epithet “great in might” correspond with “strong in power.” For the latter cf. Job 9:4.Verse 26. - Lift up your eyes, etc. Once more an appeal is made to creation, as proving God's greatness. "Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these (heavens), bringing out their host (i.e. the stars) by number, or in their full number (Cheyne), and calling them all by names" (comp. Psalm 147:4, 5, "He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names," which, however, is probably later than Isaiah). Omnipotence alone could have created the starry host. Omniscience is required to know their number and their names. The Israelites are supposed to have "learned that the constellations had names, in Babylon" (Cheyne, ad loc.); but a special name for each star, which the Babylonians did not give, seems to be here intended. Not one faileth; i.e. "not one star neglects to attend the muster when God marshals the host." The stars are viewed as his army. This is the origin of a metal idol. The wooden idol is described in Isaiah 40:20 : "The man who is impoverished in oblations, he chooseth a block of wood that will not rot; he seeketh for himself a skilful smith, to prepare an idol that will not shake." He who has fallen into such poverty that he can only offer to his God a poor oblation (terūmâh, accusative, according to Ewald, 284, c), has an idol cut for himself out of a block of wood. That sâkhan (Arab. sakana or sakuna)

(Note: Both forms occur in this sense, according to the evidence of original sources, with the common imperative yaskunu, the infinitive sukūne passed over by Freytag, the verbal substantive maskane, and the adjective miskin or meskin, primarily to be forced to inactivity through weakness, destitution, or outward influences, not to be able to move and exert one's self; or, more particularly, not to be able to defend one's self (as it were to be obliged to sit still or keep still). Hence more especially opibus et facultatibus carens, being in distress, destitute, poor.)

is an ancient word, is evident from Deuteronomy 8:9. The verb yimmōt, like yittōl in Isaiah 40:15, is a fut. niphal, to be made to shake. A wooden image, which is planed at the bottom, and made heavier below than above, to prevent its falling over with every shock, is to be a god! The thing carries its own satire, even when described with the greatest seriousness.

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