Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. “Isaiah 38-55: The Book of the Servant” “B. The Consolation of the World (40:1-42:17)” Loc. 8598-9388.
Motyer notes that after the messages of devastation in chapters 38-39, Isaiah either needs to apologize for giving false hopes or he needs to give a sure hope of restoration. He gives that sure hope in this passage (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8601). God is shown here as the creator and ruler of all. On this basis he is able to console his people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8606). Even in a time of turmoil, the prophet speaks God’s comfort to his people. The way for God’s presence as the king of all is to be prepared. Thus he can usher in his glory (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8649).
Isaiah presents God as the creator of all in 40:12-31. He uses a disputation format to demonstrate God’s character and status (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8723). God’s standing as the creator gives Israel comfort. He will care for his creation. God’s greatness exceeds all others and all human means of expression (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8781). Unlike the idols, he is able to guard his people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8793). It is all easy for God. He is too great to fail to care for the least of his people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8868).
Chapter 40 verses 1-7 make a logical argument that God is the ruler of the whole world (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8908). Isaiah presents God as the one who directs all - a matter of great comfort (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8942). When confronted with this truth, however, Isaiah points out that the world runs to idolatry (41:5-7) (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8973).
Chapter 41:8-21 illustrates God’s consolation of his people (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8984). There are three different illustrations of hope based on God’s care to restore his people. Motyer finds these passages to be very carefully organized in a balanced structure which he has observed elsewhere (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8988). In the content of the passage, the weak becomes strong. This is all of God’s grace.
The text continues in 41:21-42:15 as God cares not only for Jews but also for Gentiles (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9079). God’s work of reconciliation extends to the whole world. Those who depend on idols have a futile hope (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9106). When they try to prove they have hope, they fail. The idols are unable to answer our questions (41:24) (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9122). As the idols are not capable of bringing help, Isaiah calls people to look to God’s “servant” (42:1-9) (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9193). Is the servant Israel? Motyer observes that the servant does not appear to be Israel. The reference seems much more individual (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9224). This gentle servant cares for those in trouble (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9240). God attests to the work of the Servant. He will not fail in his care (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9277). Because of God’s care, Isaiah calls the world to respond to God in praise (42:10-17) (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9317). God will not share his praise or glory. The whole world is to praise God in a new song (Motyer 1993, Loc. 9345).