Isaiah 40:31 ESV
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31 ESV
Matthew Henry's Commentary
Here, I. The prophet reproves the people of God, who are now supposed to be captives in Babylon for their unbelief and distrust of God, and the dejections and despondencies of their spirit under their affliction (Isa. 40:27): “Why sayest thou, O Jacob! to thyself and to those about thee, My way is hidden from the Lord? Why dost thou make hard and melancholy conclusions concerning thyself and thy present case as if the latter were desperate?” 1. The titles he here gives them were enough to shame them out of their distrusts: O Jacob! O Israel! Let them remember whence they took these names—from one who had found God faithful to him and kind in all his straits; and why they bore these names—as God’s professing people, a people in covenant with him. 2. The way of reproving them is by reasoning with them: “Why? Consider whether thou hast any ground to say so.” Many of our foolish frets and foolish fears would vanish before a strict enquiry into the causes of them. 3. That which they are reproved for is an ill-natured, ill-favoured, word they spoke of God, as if he had cast them off. There seems to be an emphasis laid upon their saying it: Why sayest thou and speakest thou? It is bad to have evil thoughts rise in our mind, but it is worse to put an imprimatur—a sanction to them, and turn them into evil words. David reflects with regret upon what he said in his haste, when he was in distress. 4. The ill word they said was a word of despair concerning their present calamitous condition. They were ready to conclude, (1.) That God would not heed them: “My way is hidden from the Lord; he takes no notice of our straits, nor concerns himself any more in our concernments. There are such difficulties in our case that even divine wisdom and power will be nonplussed.” A man whose way is hidden is one whom God has hedged in, Job 3:23. (2.) That God could not help them: “My judgment is passed over from my God; my case is past relief, so far past it that God himself cannot redress the grievances of it. Our bones are dried.” Ezek. 37:11.
II. He reminds them of that which, if duly considered, was sufficient to silence all those fears and distrust. For their conviction, as before for the conviction of idolaters (Isa. 40:21), he appeals to what they had known and what they had heard. Jacob and Israel were a knowing people, or might have been, and their knowledge came by hearing; for Wisdom cried in their chief places of concourse. Now, among other things, they had heard that God had spoken once, twice, yea, many a time they had heard it, That power belongs unto God (Ps. 62:11), That is,
1. He is himself an almighty God. He must needs be so, for he is the everlasting God, even Jehovah. He was from eternity; he will be to eternity; and therefore with him there is no deficiency, no decay. He has his being of himself, and therefore all his perfections must needs be boundless. He is without beginning of days or end of life, and therefore with him there is no change. He is also the Creator of the ends of the earth, that is, of the whole earth and all that is in it from end to end. He therefore is the rightful owner and ruler of all, and must be concluded to have an absolute power over all and an all-sufficiency to help his people in their greatest straits. Doubtless he is still as able to save his church as he was at first to make the world. (1.) He has wisdom to contrive the salvation, and that wisdom is never at a loss: There is no searching of his understanding, so as to countermine the counsels of it and defeat its intentions; no, nor so as to determine what he will do, for he has ways by himself, ways in the sea. None can say, “Thus far God’s wisdom can go, and no further;” for, when we know not what to do, he knows. (2.) He has power to bring about the salvation, and that power is never exhausted: He faints not, nor is weary; he upholds the whole creation, and governs all the creatures, and is neither tired nor toiled; and therefore, no doubt, he has power to relieve his church, when it is brought ever so low, without weakness or weariness.
2. He gives strength and power to his people, and helps them by enabling them to help themselves. He that is the strong God is the strength of Israel. (1.) He can help the weak, Isa. 40:29. Many a time he gives power to the faint, to those that are ready to faint away; and to those that have no might he not only gives, but increases strength, as there is more and more occasion for it. Many out of bodily weakness are wonderfully recovered, and made strong, by the providence of God: and many that are feeble in spirit, timorous and faint-hearted, unfit for services and sufferings, are yet strengthened by the grace of God with all might in the inward man. To those who are sensible of their weakness, and ready to acknowledge they have no might, God does in a special manner increase strength; for, when we are weak in ourselves, then are we strong in the Lord. (2.) He will help the willing, will help those who, in a humble dependence upon him, help themselves, and will do well for those who do their best, Isa. 40:30, 31. Those who trust to their own sufficiency, and are so confident of it that they neither exert themselves to the utmost nor seek unto God for his grace, are the youth and the young men, who are strong, but are apt to think themselves stronger than they are. And they shall faint and be weary, yea, they shall utterly fail in their services, in their conflicts, and under their burdens; they shall soon be made to see the folly of trusting to themselves. But those that wait on the Lord, who make conscience of their duty to him, and by faith rely upon him and commit themselves to his guidance, shall find that God will not fail them. [1.] They shall have grace sufficient for them: They shall renew their strength as their work is renewed, as there is new occasion; they shall be anointed, and their lamps supplied, with fresh oil. God will be their arm every morning, Isa. 33:2. If at any time they have been foiled and weakened they shall recover themselves, and so renew their strength. Heb. They shall change their strength, as their work is changed—doing work, suffering work; they shall have strength to labour, strength to wrestle, strength to resist, strength to bear. As the day so shall the strength be. [2.] They shall use this grace for the best purposes. Being strengthened, First, They shall soar upward, upward towards God: They shall mount up with wings like eagles, so strongly, so swiftly, so high and heaven-ward. In the strength of divine grace, their souls shall ascend above the world, and even enter into the holiest. Pious and devout affections are the eagles’ wings on which gracious souls mount up, Ps. 25:1. Secondly, They shall press forward, forward towards heaven. They shall walk, they shall run, the way of God’s commandments, cheerfully and with alacrity (they shall not be weary), constantly and with perseverance (they shall not faint); and therefore in due season they shall reap. Let Jacob and Israel therefore, in their greatest distresses, continue waiting upon God, and not despair of timely and effectual relief and succour from him.