Argument with the Nations
Isaiah 41:1-7
Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak…

Jehovah calls the countries to "come silently" unto him. Let the people pluck up what strength they may have, and let the cause between them and Jehovah come to the tribunal of reason. Have the idols any spiritual power? or is Jehovah only the true God?

1. THE VICTORIOUS CAREER OF CYRUS. This great man has, in the prophet's thought, a vocation from God. He is the minister of the Divine righteousness (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 45:13). Cyrus is supported by the unseen might of Jehovah, who gives peoples into his hands, makes him tread on the necks of kings, whose swords turn to dust, whose warlike bow becomes as powerless as stubble driven before the blast. On the hero goes, in swift; pursuit, penetrating into trackless districts, or those inaccessible to the ordinary traveller, where he cannot be followed. Or the meaning may be, his passage is swift as that of eagle or vulture (Isaiah 46:11), and he leaves no trace of his feet behind. Now, "who hath produced and carried out this?" "In all religions men have found it necessary, in any great action, to engage some other agent and principle beside the man himself. The god becomes coadjutor in every noble or heroic achievement. Homer brings in Diomed and Ulysses, assisted by Mars and Pallas - one notable for acts of valour, and the other for those of counsel and wisdom; and the like is said of many others." And now which of the heathen gods has been the coadjutor of Cyrus? Why, he has come to overthrow the worshippers of the heathen gods. The deities are chiefly bound up with the futures of their peoples, and with them they fall. Who, then, can have raised up the great conqueror and destroyer, but he who alone abides - who called forth the generations from the beginning of "the vanished past and the vanishing present," who is Alpha and Omega, who preceded all, and will be self-existent in the ages to come. The expression, "I am he," briefly and suggestively conveys this idea of self-existence, of eternity (Isaiah 43:10, 13; Isaiah 46:4; Isaiah 48:12; Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 102:28): "Thou art he, and thy years will not come to an end." Also Psalm 44:5.

"The nameless, he whose nod is Nature's birth."

II. THE ANXIETY OF THE PEOPLES. The decision of the question is postponed; but a scene of alarm among the peoples is depicted. They have heard the news of Cyrus's conquests; the world is shuddering with apprehension. They huddle together like a frightened flock of sheep, trying to impart to one another a courage not really felt. The carpenter and the caster and the goldsmith are all busy among the Western nations, making "a particularly good and strong set of gods." A significant touch is the last - one is strengthening an idol with nails, for fear it should fall, which would be an omen full of dread, as the fall of Dagon of the Philistines may remind us. And so, even as Elijah with the worshippers of Baal, the prophet employs that irony and ridicule which is the test of truth, against the idolaters. And the scene may be regarded as a standing satire against all weak, anxious, fussy resort to human means and devices, and to idle superstitions, when the name of true religion has been paralyzed, when faith in the spiritual and eternal is extinct. - J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

WEB: "Keep silent before me, islands, and let the peoples renew their strength. Let them come near, then let them speak. Let's meet together for judgment.

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