Unfailing Stars and Fainting Men
Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.

(with ver. 26): —

I. A SAD CONTRAST. The prophet in the former of these verses seems to be expanding the thoughts that lie in the name, "the Lord of hosts," in so far as that name expresses the Divine relation to the starry universe. The image that underlies both it and the words of my text is that of a commander who summons his soldiers, and they come. Discipline and plan array them in their ranks. The plain prose of which is that night by night, above the horizon, rise the bright orbs, and roll on their path obedient to the Sovereign will; "because He is strong in might, not one" is lacking. Scripture bids us think of God, not as a creative energy that set the universe in motion, and leaves it to roll or spin, but as of a Divine Presence. But in our second text we drop from the illumination of the heavens to the shadowed plain of this low earth. It is as if a man looking up into the violet sky, with all its shining orbs, should then turn to some reeking alley, with its tumult and its squalor. Just because man is greater than the stars, man "fails," whilst they shine on unwearied. For what the prophet has in view as the clinging curse that cleaves to our greatness is not merely the bodily fatigue which is necessarily involved in the very fact of bodily existence, since energy cannot be put forth without waste and weariness, but it is far more the weary heart, the heart that is weary of itself, weary of toil, weary of the momentary crises that demand effort, and wearier still of the effortless monotony of our daily lives. It is ever to be remembered that the faintness and the ebbing away of might, which is the truly tragic thing in humanity, does not depend upon physical constitution, but upon separation from the Source of all strength.

II. ANOTHER SAD CONTRAST, MELTING INTO A BLESSED LIKENESS. "He fainteth not, neither is weary." "He giveth power to the faint." Is that not a higher exercise of power than to "preserve the stars from wrong"? What are the consequences that the prophet traces to this restoring power? "They shall mount up with wings as eagles," etc.

III. THE WAY BY WHICH THESE CONTRASTS CAN BE RECONCILED, AND THIS LIKENESS SECURED. "They that wait upon the Lord" — that is the whole secret. What does waiting on the Lord include? Keep near Him; keep still: expect.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

WEB: He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might.

Two Operations of God's Power
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