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Comfort My People

40 Your God says to you:

    “Comfort, comfort my people[a] with gentle, compassionate words.[b]
Speak tenderly from the heart[c] to revive those in Jerusalem,[d]
    and proclaim that their warfare is over.[e]
    Her debt of sin is paid for, and she will not be treated as guilty.[f]
    Prophesy to her that she has received from the hand of Yahweh
    twice as many blessings as all her sins.”[g]
A thunderous voice cries out in the wilderness:[h]
    “Prepare the way[i] for Yahweh’s arrival!
    Make a highway straight through the desert for our God!
Every valley will be raised up,[j] every mountain brought low.
    The rugged terrain will become level ground
    and the rough places a plain.
Then Yahweh’s radiant glory will be unveiled,
    and all humanity[k] will experience it together.[l]
    Believe it, for Yahweh has spoken his decree!”[m]
A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I ask, “What should I say?”
    “All people are as frail as grass,
    and their elegance is like a wilting wildflower.
The grass withers, the flower fades
    when the breath of Yahweh blows upon it;
    the people are just like grass!
But even though grass withers and the flower fades,
    the word of our God stands strong forever!”[n]

Proclaim Good News

Go up on a high mountain, you joyful messengers of Zion,
    and lift up your voices with power.
    You who proclaim joyous news to Jerusalem,
    shout it out and don’t be afraid.
    Say to the cities of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 Look! Here comes Lord Yahweh as a victorious warrior;
    he triumphs with his awesome power.[o]
    Watch as he brings with him his reward
    and the spoils of victory to give to his people.
11 He will care for you as a shepherd tends his flock,
    gathering the weak lambs and taking them in his arms.
    He carries them close to his heart
    and gently leads those that have young.[p]

The Infinite God

12 Who has measured the waters of the sea
    in the hollow of his hand
    and used his hand-width to mark off the heavens?
    Who knows the exact weight of all the dust of the earth[q]
    and has weighed all the mountains and hills on his scale?
13 Who fully understands the Spirit of Yahweh[r]
    or is wise enough to counsel him?[s]
14 Whom does he consult to be enlightened?
    Who teaches him the ways of justice?[t]
    Who imparts knowledge to him or shows him
    the true path of wisdom?[u]
15 Even the nations are to him like a drop[v] in a bucket,
    regarded as nothing more than dust on a scale.
    He picks up the islands like fine grains of sand.
16 All of Lebanon’s trees[w] are not enough firewood for him,
    nor are all its animals enough for a burnt offering.
17 The nations are nothing in his eyes;
    he regards them as absolutely nothing.[x]

Idols Cannot Be Compared to God

18 Who even comes close to being compared to God?[y]
    How could you ever compare God to an idol?
19 A craftsman forms[z] an idol-god,
    then a goldsmith overlays it with gold
    and forges its silver chains.[aa]
20 The one who is poor and cannot afford silver or gold[ab]
    chooses a tree[ac] that will not rot,
    then seeks a skilled workman
    to make an idol that will not topple.

Fear Not

21 Don’t you realize that God is the Creator?
    Don’t you hear the truth?[ad]
    Haven’t you been told this from the beginning?
    Haven’t you understood this
    since he laid a firm foundation for the earth?[ae]
22 He sits enthroned high above the circle of the earth;
    to him the people of earth are like grasshoppers!
    He stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    spreading it open like a tent to live in.[af]
23 He reduces rulers to nothing
    and makes the elite of the earth as nothing at all.
24 They barely get planted and barely take root in their position of power
    when the Lord blows on them and they wither away,
    carried off like straw in the stormy wind.

God Above All Others

25 The Holy One asks:
    “Can you find anyone or anything to compare to me?
    Where is the one equal to me?”
26 Lift up your eyes to the sky and see for yourself.
    Who do you think created the cosmos?[ag]
    He lit every shining star and formed every glowing galaxy,
    and stationed them all where they belong.
    He has numbered, counted, and given everyone a name.
    They shine because of God’s incredible power
    and awesome might; not one fails to appear!
27 Why, then, O Jacob’s tribes, would you ever complain?
    And my chosen Israel, why would you say,
    “Yahweh isn’t paying attention to my situation.[ah]
    He has lost all interest in what happens to me.”[ai]
28 Don’t you know? Haven’t you been listening?
    Yahweh is the one and only everlasting God,
    the Creator of all you can see and imagine!
    He never gets weary or worn out.
    His intelligence is unlimited;
    he is never puzzled over what to do!
29 He empowers the feeble
    and infuses the powerless with increasing strength.
30 Even young people faint and get exhausted;
    athletic ones[aj] may stumble and fall.
31 But those who wait for Yahweh’s grace
    will experience divine strength.[ak]
    They will rise up on soaring wings and fly like eagles,
    run their race without growing weary,
    and walk through life without giving up.[al]


  1. Isaiah 40:1 The Targum reads “You prophets, prophesy comfort, comfort to my people.” See Jer. 31:13, 20; Zeph. 3:14-17; 2 Cor. 1:3.
  2. Isaiah 40:1 The Hebrew nacham contains deep emotion, compassionate words that give relief and tender consolation to people. Beginning in Isaiah 40, the prophet’s tone and ministry changes from that of chs. 1–39, much like the New Testament brings us an even sweeter, more glorious message than the Old (2 Cor. 3:9). The New Testament begins with John the Baptizer quoting from Isaiah 40, demonstrating that the time has come for the removal of our sins. Compare Isa. 40:3 and Mark 1:3. Isaiah 1–39 speaks of a worldwide desolation; Isaiah 40–66 speaks of a worldwide restoration. The later chapters of this book are described by some scholars as the “New Testament of Isaiah.” The New Testament has twenty-seven books, corresponding to Isaiah’s last twenty-seven chapters. An outline of the remainder of the book could be: The Book of Comfort (40–43), The Book of Cyrus (44–48), The Book of Messiah, the Servant of the Lord (49–57), the Book of Judah, the Victory of the Bride (58–66).
  3. Isaiah 40:2 Or “Speak to the heart (to revive).”
  4. Isaiah 40:2 Scripture often contains multiple meanings and applications. Jerusalem here can also mean the church. The church does not replace Jerusalem (Israel), but can be viewed as a “new” Israel (Gal. 6:16). Believers today find their present reality in the New Jerusalem, where God and man have become one. See Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22.
  5. Isaiah 40:2 For the overcoming believer, the warfare of Romans 7 has ended as we become victorious overcomers who move into Christ’s victory found in Romans 8. Our race begins at the finish line (Rom. 6:5-7).
  6. Isaiah 40:2 See John 19:30; Rom. 8:1; Col. 2:13-4; 1 Peter 3:18.
  7. Isaiah 40:2 The Hebrew text is somewhat ambiguous. It could mean double punishment or double blessing. That is, they will receive from the hand of God twice what they have lost. Favor and mercy always triumph over judgment. God will excel in grace toward his people and give us back even more than what our sins took from us. See Ex. 22:4, 7, 9; Job 42:10; Isa. 61:7; Zech. 9:12; Rom. 5.
  8. Isaiah 40:3 Or “In the wilderness prepare the way for Yahweh’s arrival.” This was a prophecy of John the Baptizer and his ministry of calling people to repentance in preparation for the appearing of the Lord Jesus. Although John came in the spirit of Elijah, he worked no miracles. His prophecy was not to begin a road project but to prepare people’s hearts. Even now the voice of the Spirit is crying out in the wilderness of people’s souls, bringing them to repentance and faith in Christ.
  9. Isaiah 40:3 See John 14:6.
  10. Isaiah 40:4 See Isa. 54:17.
  11. Isaiah 40:5 Or “all flesh” (i.e., Jews and gentiles).
  12. Isaiah 40:5 Or “All flesh will see it as one.” See Rom. 8:19.
  13. Isaiah 40:5 See Luke 3:5-6.
  14. Isaiah 40:8 See Ps. 103:15-16; 119:8-90; James 1:9-11; 1 Peter 1:24-25.
  15. Isaiah 40:10 Or “His mighty arm rules for him.”
  16. Isaiah 40:11 These verses are somewhat parallel to Eph. 4:11, where we can see the apostle, “his mighty arm” (v. 10), the prophet’s “reward” (v. 10 and Matt. 10:41), the evangelist (salvation’s) “rewards he gives his people” (v. 10), the pastor or “shepherd tending his flock” (v. 11), and the teacher who “gently leads” (into truth, v. 11).
  17. Isaiah 40:12 Or “Who has weighed the dust of the earth in a basket (third of an ephah)?” The Creator could never be measured by his creation; he is infinitely greater.
  18. Isaiah 40:13 See Eph. 1:17.
  19. Isaiah 40:13 See Rom. 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16.
  20. Isaiah 40:14 Or “Who teaches him the right way to do things?” or “Who gives him insight to make right decisions?”
  21. Isaiah 40:14 That is, who is capable enough to show God how to skillfully design his plan or give him the wisdom needed to carry it out? He is too wise to make a mistake. These verses show us God’s heart of love (v. 11), God’s hand of power (v. 12), and God’s mind of wisdom (vv. 13–14).
  22. Isaiah 40:15 The Hebrew word used for “drop” is not a drop of water but a myrrh drop. Myrrh was harvested by piercing a tree and collecting drops of sap in a bucket. Nations are more than a drop of water but like myrrh dropping into a bucket.
  23. Isaiah 40:16 Lebanon was known for its lumber and forests.
  24. Isaiah 40:17 Or “from nothing but emptiness (as though they didn’t exist).”
  25. Isaiah 40:18 This is the Hebrew word ‘el, “the mighty God.”
  26. Isaiah 40:19 Or “melts (pours out).”
  27. Isaiah 40:19 The Hebrew clause is uncertain.
  28. Isaiah 40:20 The Hebrew clause is uncertain.
  29. Isaiah 40:20 Adam and Eve chose the Tree of Good and Evil. See also Jer. 10:3-4.
  30. Isaiah 40:21 Or “Do you not know? Do you not hear?” These two questions (imperfect tense) are best seen as invitations rather than a surprise over their ignorance. See Young, Book of Isaiah, vol. 3, 40–66.
  31. Isaiah 40:21 See Ps. 24:2.
  32. Isaiah 40:22 See Ex. 25:8.
  33. Isaiah 40:26 See Col. 1:15-16; Eph. 3:9.
  34. Isaiah 40:27 Or “my way is hidden from Yahweh.”
  35. Isaiah 40:27 Or “my decisions are passed over.”
  36. Isaiah 40:30 Or “young men.”
  37. Isaiah 40:31 Or “will grow new feathers like eagles” (LXX) or “renew their strength.” An eagle has the longest lifespan of any bird. See Ps. 103:5.
  38. Isaiah 40:31 Or “without fainting.” The outer court is where we walk, the Holy Place is where we run, and we soar like eagles (into the heavenly realm) in the Holy of Holies (Heb. 10:19).