Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.
41:1 Keep silence - Attend diligently to my plea. Islands - By islands he means countries remote from Judea, inhabited by the idolatrous Gentiles. Renew - Strengthen themselves to maintain their cause against me; let them unite all their strength together. Near - Unto me that we may stand together, and plead our cause, and I will give them free liberty to say what they can on their own behalf.
Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.
41:2 Who - Was it not my work alone? Raised - Into being and power, stirring up his spirit, and strengthening him to the work. The man - Cyrus. The east - Persia was directly eastward, both from Judea and from Babylon. He was raised up by God in an eminent manner. And although these things were yet to come; yet the prophet speaks of them as if they were already past. And by this instance he pleads his cause against the Gentiles; because this was an evident proof of God's almighty power, and of the vanity of idols, which eminently appeared in the destruction of the Babylonians, who were a people mad upon their idols. Called him - To march after him, and under God's banner against Babylon.
He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.
41:3 Pursued - Went on in the pursuit with ease and safety. Even - Through unknown paths.
Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
41:4 Calling - Them out of nothing, giving them breath and being: disposing and employing them as he sees fit. From the beginning - All persons and generations of mankind from the beginning of the world. I - Who was before all things even from eternity, and shall be unto eternity.
The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.
41:5 The isles - Even remote countries. Saw - Discerned the mighty work of God in delivering his people, and overthrowing their enemies. Feared - Lest they should be involved in the same calamity. Came - They gathered themselves together.
They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.
So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
41:7 Fastened it - To the wall or pillar.
But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.
41:9 Thou - Thou Israel, whom I took to myself, and brought hither in the loins of thy father Abraham, from a remote country. Called thee - From the midst of many great persons among whom he lived in Chaldea. Chosen - I have chosen thee and thy seed through all generations.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
41:11 Confounded - Because the mischief which they contrived against thee shall fall upon themselves.
Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
41:13 Will hold - Will enable thee to vanquish all thine enemies.
Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
41:14 Thou worm - Who art weak in thyself, and trodden under foot by thy proud enemies.
Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.
41:15 An instrument - Such as were usual in those times and places. The mountains - The great and lofty potentates of the world.
Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.
41:16 Fan - When thou hast beaten them as small as chaff. In the Holy One - For to him, thou shalt ascribe thy victory.
When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
41:18 In high places - Upon the mountains where by the course of nature there are no rivers. The dry land - Their people who are like a dry and barren wilderness. I will abundantly water with my blessings.
I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
41:19 The box tree - Trees which are both useful and pleasant to the eye, and giving a good shadow to the traveller. But what particular trees these Hebrew words signify, is not certainly known.
That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.
Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.
Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.
41:22 Them - The idols. Former things - Such things as should shortly come to pass. The latter end - Whether the events answer to their predictions.
Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.
41:23 Do good - Protect your worshippers whom I intend to destroy, and destroy my people whom I intend to save. That - That I and my people may be astonished, and forced to acknowledge your godhead.
Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.
41:24 Your work - Your operations are like your beings: there is no reality in your beings, nor efficacy in your actions.
I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter treadeth clay.
41:25 Raised - Cyrus, might be said to come from the north, because he was a Mede by his mother, as he was a Persian by his father; or because a great part of his army was gathered out of Media, which was northward, in reference to Judea, and because Darius the Mede was joined with him in this expedition. Proclaim - This Cyrus did in express, emphatical terms, Ezra 1:1,2. As on mortar - Treading them down, as easily as a man treads down mortar.
Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words.
41:26 Who - Which of your idols could foretel such things as these from the beginning of the world unto this day? Before - time - Before the things come to pass. Righteous - His cause is good: he is a God indeed. Heareth - Because you are dumb and cannot speak.
The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings.
41:27 The first - I who am the first, do and will foretel to my people things to come. Them - I also represent future things as if they were present. By them he means things which are to come. One - Messengers, who shall foretel the good tidings of their deliverance from captivity.
For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counseller, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word.
41:28 For - I looked to see if I could find any man that could foretel future events. No man - Not any, of the idols; for the word man is sometimes used by the Hebrews of brute creatures, and even of lifeless things. No counsellor - Though these idols were often consulted, yet none of them were able to give any solid and certain advice concerning future things.
Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.
41:29 Behold - This is the conclusion of the dispute, but under these he comprehends all images whatsoever. Wind - Empty and unsatisfying things. Confusion - Confused and useless things, like that rude heap in the beginning of God's creation, of which this very word is used, Gen 1:2.