Isaiah 49:4
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
But I said, "I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD, And My reward with My God."

King James Bible
Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

Darby Bible Translation
And I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought and in vain; nevertheless my judgment is with Jehovah, and my work with my God.

World English Bible
But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice [due] to me is with Yahweh, and my reward with my God."

Young's Literal Translation
And I said, 'For a vain thing I laboured, For emptiness and vanity my power I consumed, But my judgment is with Jehovah, And my wage with my God.

Isaiah 49:4 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Then I said - I the Messiah. In the previous verses he speaks of his appointment to the office of Messiah, and of his dignity. The design here is to prepare the way for the announcement of the fact that he would make known his gospel to the pagan, and would be for a light to the Gentiles. For this purpose he speaks of his labors among his own countrymen; he laments the little success which attended his work at the commencement, but consoles himself with the reflection that his cause was with God, and that his labors would not go unrewarded.

I have labored in vain - This is to be regarded as the language of the Messiah when his ministry would be attended with comparatively little success; and when in view of that fact, he would commit himself to God, and resolve to extend his gospel to other nations. The expression used here is not to be taken absolutely, as if he had no success in his work, but it means that he had comparatively no success; he was not received and welcomed by the united people; he was rejected and despised by them as a whole. It is true that the Saviour had success in his work, and far more success than is commonly supposed (see the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:6). But it is also true that by the nation at large he was despised and and rejected. The idea here is, that there were not results in his ministry, at all commensurate with the severity of his labors, and the strength of his claims.

I have spent my strength for nought - Comparatively for nought. This does not mean that he would not be ultimately as successful as he desired to be (compare the notes at Isaiah 53:11); but it means, that in his personal ministry he had exhausted his strength, and seen comparatively little fruit of his toils.

Yet surely my judgment is with the Lord - My cause is committed to him, and he will regard it. This expresses the confidence of the speaker, that God approved of his work, and that he would ultimately give such effect to his labors as he had desired. The sense is, 'I know that Jehovah approves my work, and that he will grant me the reward of my toils, and my sufferings.'

And my work with my God - Margin, 'Reward' (see the notes at Isaiah 40:10). The idea is, that he knew that God would own and accept his work though it was rejected by mankind. It indicates perfect confidence in God, and a calm and un wavering assurance of his favor, though his work was comparatively unsuccessful - a spirit which, it is needless to say, was evinced throughout the whole life of the Redeemer. Never did he doubt that God approved his work; never did he become disheartened and desponding, as if God would not ultimately give success to his plans and to the labors of his life. He calmly committed himself to God. He did not attempt to avenge himself for being rejected, or for any of the injuries done him. But he left his name, his character, his reputation, his plans, his labors, all with God, believing that his cause was the cause of God, and that he would yet be abundantly rewarded for all his toils. This verse teaches:

1. That the most faithful labors, the most self-denying toil, and the efforts of the most holy life, may be for a time unsuccessful. If the Redeemer of the world had occasion to say that he had labored in vain, assuredly his ministers should not be surprised that they have occasion to use the same language. It maybe no fault of the ministry that they are unsuccessful. The world may be so sinful, and opposition may be got up so mighty, as to frustrate their plans, and prevent their success.

2. Yet, though at present unsuccessful, faithful labor will ultimately do good, and be blessed. In some way, and at some period, all honest effort in the cause of God may be expected to be crowned with success.

3. They who labor faithfully may commit their cause to God, with the assurance that they and their work will be accepted. The ground of their acceptance is not the success of their labors. They will be acceptable in proportion to the amount of their fidelity and self-denying zeal (see the notes at 2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

4. The ministers of religion, when their message is rejected, and the world turns away from their ministry, should imitate the example of the Redeemer, and say, 'my judgment is with Jehovah. My cause is his cause; and the result of my labors I commit to him.' To do this as he did, they should labor as he did; they should honestly devote all their strength and talent and time to his service; and then they can confidently commit all to him, and then and then only they will find peace, as he did, in the assurance that their work will be ultimately blessed, and that they will find acceptance with him.

Isaiah 49:4 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Writing on God's Hands
'Behold! I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.'--ISAIAH xlix. 16. In the preceding context we have the infinitely tender and beautiful words: 'Zion hath said, The Lord hath forsaken me. Can a woman forget her sucking child? ... yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.' There is more than a mother's love in the Father's heart. But wonderful in their revelation of God, and mighty to strengthen, calm, and comfort, as these transcendent words are,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Christ in the Covenant
First, we shall examine this property; secondly, we shall notice the purpose for which it was conveyed to us; and thirdly, we shall give one precept, which may well be affixed upon so great a blessing as this, and is indeed an inference from it. I. In the first place, then, here is a GREAT POSSESSION--Jesus Christ by the covenant is the property of every believer. By this we must understand Jesus Christ in many different senses; and we will begin, first of all, by declaring that Jesus Christ is ours,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856

How to Make Use of Christ as the Truth, when Error Prevaileth, and the Spirit of Error Carrieth Many Away.
There is a time when the spirit of error is going abroad, and truth is questioned, and many are led away with delusions. For Satan can change himself into an angel of light, and make many great and fairlike pretensions to holiness, and under that pretext usher in untruths, and gain the consent of many unto them; so that in such a time of temptation many are stolen off their feet, and made to depart from the right ways of God, and to embrace error and delusions instead of truth. Now the question is,
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

The First Thing Suggested at the Very Outset Is...
The first thing suggested at the very outset is, as we have already said (sec. 17-19), that all our prayers to God ought only to be presented in the name of Christ, as there is no other name which can recommend them. In calling God our Father, we certainly plead the name of Christ. For with what confidence could any man call God his Father? Who would have the presumption to arrogate to himself the honour of a son of God were we not gratuitously adopted as his sons in Christ? He being the true Son,
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith

Cross References
Philippians 2:16
holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

Leviticus 26:20
'Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.

Proverbs 29:26
Many seek the ruler's favor, But justice for man comes from the LORD.

Isaiah 25:1
O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

Isaiah 35:4
Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you."

Isaiah 40:27
Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God "?

Isaiah 57:21
"There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked."

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