Summary: Security comes to the redeemed from the Creator. Instead of fearing that man will take your security away, trust in the power that sets free the captives & provides for His own. He is the One who establishes what cannot be broken.
ISAIAH 51: 9-16
THE LORD ESTABLISHES HIS PEOPLE
God is called upon to demonstrate His strength as in the days of old that His people’s sorrow might become joy. God then tells His people not to be afraid of what men could do, but remember the power of their Creator. He will restore His people no matter who or what stands in their way. He will do a new thing in His covenant people and bring about a new creation.
Security comes to the redeemed from the Creator. Instead of fearing that man will take your security away, trust in the power that sets free the captives and provides for His own. He is the One who establishes what cannot be broken.
I. ZION’S CRY, 9-11.
II. UNBELIEF’S FEAR, 12-14.
III. GOD’S ACTION, 15-16.
The arm or strength of the LORD is addressed directly in verse 9. Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord. Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not Thou who cut Rahab in pieces, Who pierced the dragon?
The revealing of the LORD’s arm is the revealing of His power. The verse is an appeal to God’s use of power in the past as a reason to exert it again in the present. The thought expresses faith in God along with an understanding that He is there but also it expresses a lament that He has not been seen as powerfully active. Thus Isaiah voices the cry of the remnant for the LORD to act now as He did in days long ago.
Rahab was a mythological seven headed female sea monster sometimes associated with Leviathan (27:1; 30:7; Job 9:13; 26:12). The name was used of the hippopotamuses that sat on the Nile and became associated with Egypt (30:7; Ps. 87:4-which paired Rahab and Babylon).
The dragon (tann n) or monster can be a term for pharaoh (Ezek. 29:3) or Satan (Rev. 12:7). The Lord has defeated mighty monsters in the past, hasn’t He?
God had just told them to look back and consider their past (51:1-2). He then promised them a forever future (vv. 6, 8), but what about the right now?
We can feel this way too. We know we have been saved from our sins. We know there is a future in heaven for us. But we wonder if God is aware of our present difficulties and if He is, why doesn’t He do something about them.
The remnant continues to voice questions to God in verse 10. Was it not Thou who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; Who made the depths of the sea a pathway for the redeemed to cross over?
God has referred frequently to Himself as Creator and to His display of power in the Exodus. So the remnant ask for Him to affirm that He is the same One who opened the Red Sea to deliver His people. They seem to ask, "If You are so powerful, why don’t You display Your power again in Babylonia captivity. Act again on behalf of Your people."
We too wonder why our God who has done such great things for others in the past, does not act in our trouble and difficulty. It is good to express in faith our questions concerning God’s promises to us. Yet we should also reaffirm our faith as Isaiah does in verse 11. Our God is the same God who made a way in the depth of the Sea and He will make a way for us also. The display of His power may change, but His love and care for His covenant people never changes.
Verse 11 declares God’s promise of joyful deliverance. So the ransomed of the Lord will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion; and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
As the prophet pours His cry, the lament of the people to God, there comes about a change. It is as if God changes His people’s attitude in the midst of their intercession. One of the great blessings of prayer is that as we talk to God we begin to get insight and a renewal of faith that God will see us through, that He will make a way when there seems to be no way. It is of great advantage to pour your heart out before the Lord because, as in this case, the answer is often found to the questions or the grace is given to handle the problems. [John Courson, Application Commentary OT, 442]
The strength of God will ransom and return His people to a new homeland, Zion. There they will obtain gladness and joy and sorrow and signing will flee away.