Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
The Hebrew tendency to lean upon the most muscular arm accessible, to buy up horses from Egypt in imitation of the warriors of the plains, to form alliances with neighbouring peoples in a neighbourly, instead of acting in the true Israelite spirit — was a tendency not confined to Hebrew blood. It is in human nature to live by eyesight, and to go on doing so even although everything should go to wreck under our very eyes. The true Israelite spirit felt — wherever that spirit prevailed — that God's assuring word had more muscle in it than an army of Philistines; that Egyptian cavalry was an encumbrance; that Assyrian spears might be turned into withered blades of grass in a night's time; and that the only solid ground that never quaked was the Rock that faith stood upon. For the unseen is harder, stronger — has more vitality and power of renewal in it — than the youngest, freshest, fairest, and most select powers that are seen. Our desire is to show wherein lies the power of renewed life and force in a soul and in a Church, so that the vigour shall be real and elastic, being the very strength of God.
I. THE PROPHET EXPECTS THE NATURAL FAINTING AND FALLING OF THE SELECT MEN. "Young men" reads literally "the select men," — those picked out for an enterprise on account of their youthful vigour.
II. A SPIRITUAL EMPOWERING OF ALL MEN IS PROVIDED THROUGH WAITING ON GOD. Panic seized our Lord's disciples on the arrest of their Master, and their flight revealed their lack of power. They were converted men, but they fainted and failed. They were young and select, but they fled. When about to part from them, Jesus bade them remain where they were, and not attempt the discipling of the world until they should receive power. The word "renew" in this place signifies "change." The strength sufficient for one day, and its duty, may need to be exchanged for something larger, deeper, swifter for the next day and its severer trials. The same Spirit works, changing the force and form of His working. How is the Spirit of God working in the renewal of strength to-day? What are the best people feeling the need of, but a closer union among themselves through an intenser, completer fellowship with God?
III. ISAIAH DESCRIBES THE MANIFESTATIONS OF A NEW AND STRONG LIFE IN GOD. A cheering succession of Saxon sentences, precious powers, most desirable energies.
1. There is heavenly elevation. "They shall mount up with wings as eagles." Theodore Monod says: "If you want to do something, do not try to be somebody." Certainly, self-exaltation is not heavenly. It ensures your poor wings being clipped or broken very soon. We speak exclusively of the spiritual realm. Live looking unto Jesus, and He "will ere long set you with Him" upon His throne.
2. There is quickened activity. "They shall run and not be weary."
3. There is the unfainting every-day walk. "They shall walk and not faint." The unfainting walk, the steady march from hour to hour, is the sharpest, truest, final test of a strong life. It is in trifles that character is revealed. It is in small, monotonous duties that we oftenest break down.
(G. H. Dick.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: