Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Read Isaiah 40

Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion,
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord,
    or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
    and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
    or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
    nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
    they are regarded by him as worthless
    and less than nothing.

18 With whom, then, will you compare God?
    To what image will you liken him?
19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
    and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A person too poor to present such an offering
    selects wood that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
    to set up an idol that will not topple.

21 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
    and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
    and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
    no sooner are they sown,
    no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
    and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Go Deeper

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” The previous 39 chapters of Isaiah have largely consisted of judgment and warning for the rebellion of Israel. Now, however, the tone of this book pivots at chapter 40 to largely consist of hope, comfort, and blessing for Israel. David Guzik in his commentary on Isaiah says, “Isaiah is a book in three sections: Chapters 1-35 are prophetic, with the theme of condemnation. Chapters 36-39 are historic, and the theme is confiscation. Chapters 40-66 are messianic, and the theme is consolation.”

Isaiah 40 (and on) contains many sentences and phrases that relate and point to Jesus. What a gift it is to read this letter through the lens and understanding of Jesus and the gospel of His grace! We should be on the edge of the chair we are sitting in right now searching for Jesus in the shadows of the Old Testament throughout the rest of our study through Isaiah. Let’s look more closely at verses 10-11 today to see Jesus more clearly in Isaiah 40.

 Two themes are found in Isaiah 40:10-11. The first theme is that of arrival in power. Verse 10 describes the Lord coming to earth with great power, might, and authority, bringing both reward and judgment for man with Him. Revelation 19:11-21 is where this prophecy is fulfilled, and it is fulfilled by Jesus. He is the powerful, conquering King returning to this broken and sin-ridden world with His reward and recompense for all people that Isaiah wrote of!

The second theme is that of a shepherd. Verse 11 describes God tending to His people as a shepherd tends to his sheep. Jesus says in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” and in John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Jesus is essentially saying “I am that good shepherd that Isaiah prophesied about!”

Jesus is both the coming conquering King to judge man of his sin and rule the earth “with a mighty arm,” and the compassionate Shepherd who protects those who belong to Him and “carries them close to His heart.” Jesus both reigns the universe with might and power, and yet gently leads us, His sheep, with compassion and intentionality! How great is our God?


  1. How does seeing Jesus as “powerful and conquering King” make you feel? What could change in your life because of this reality that Jesus has victory in the end?
  2. How does seeing Jesus as “gentle and lowly Shepherd” make you feel? What could change in your life because of this reality that Jesus tends to you as His sheep here and now?
  3. Is it easier for you to see Jesus as “powerful and conquering King” or as “gentle and lowly Shepherd?” Why is a healthy view of both important for our faith?

Watch This

Watch this video from The Bible Project that captures the grand narrative of The Messiah that the Bible (and especially Isaiah) is flooded with!

Leave a Comment Below

Did you learn something today? Share it with our Bible Reading Plan community by commenting below.

Join the Team

Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email

4 thoughts on “Isaiah 40”

  1. Oh, what glorious hope and redemption are delivered through Isaiah 40! The suffering and persecution will come to end for the remnant, as God will destroy all evil powers in the world. What comfort that one day all will be fully restored and we will forever be in the presence of our Savior. None of us gets a pass on hardship, yet we can lean into the truth of scripture to navigate through it. God’s powerful word is unchanging; He remains our very present help in time of need. The Good Shepherd shows up for the marginalized and defenseless to tenderly care for them. Today, I’m using the words of Isaiah 40 as a prayer for many in my circle who are walking a tough road of suffering. May we allow him to renew & strengthen our weary hearts to rise above our present circumstances. Our God is coming!

  2. I read Warren Wiersbe”s commentary. He tells that Isaiah chapters40-66 was originally addressed to discouraged Jewish refugees going home and the difficult tasks ahead. He assures them of His pardon and His presence. “Fear not” is stated often and God says to all His people “Be comforted”. “Look at others and be distressed. Look at yourself and be depressed. Look at God and you’ll be blessed.” vs 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
    He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
    Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.
    God is greater than our circumstances. We can meditate on Him, His character and promises. We can pray without ceasing or at least every time we think about a circumstance. We can glorify Him, praise Him because WOW He is bigger, greater, with more strength than our (my) brain can fathom. HOW GREAT THOU ART!!!!

    God my mind is blown at the moment with the words in this chapter. Over and over I fail You BUT GOD You still offer me more. Thank You for Jesus!! I am so blessed and most assuredly do not comprehend the greatness of ALL that You do. I can praise You! Endeavor to honor You! Give You the glory!! Fail but know without a doubt You are waiting to help me up. Thank You beyond adjectives imaginable for all You do!! in Jesus name amen.

  3. It’s so comforting to reread this chapter of the sovereignty of God!!! I agree, we should be on the edge of our seats with joy and comfort that we serve a mighty, powerful God! V8 is probably one of my favorite nature-related verse. To look up at the stars and think that God knows each one by name! Try studying astronomy without a phone app, and it will quickly humble you!
    You can kinda relate to Isaiah in this passage when he compares the meaningless worship of idols to God. Idols who cannot speak the planets into orbit, or perform miracles right before our eyes, or give you everlasting love, joy, or comfort, or sacrifice their only Son to save your soul.
    May we fall from our seats to our knees in reverence and forgiveness for our failures and sins!! May we look up into the universe with grateful hearts, and awe at His creation and power! May we hope in the Lord and renew our strength, and sore on wings like eagles today!
    Thanks you, sovereign Lord! 🙌🏻 🦅

  4. I drew a sharp intake of breath when I opened this chapter, recognizing it as the source of some of the greatest arias and choruses of Handel’s Messiah. Isaiah is referenced over 20 times in that magnificent work—more than any other book of the Bible—with much of the text coming directly from Isaiah 40. 

    Meanwhile, vs. 3-4 have long been a personal favorite to pray whenever life gets bumpy and bewildering: “Lord, please level our rough places and straighten our paths.”
    But I must confess, rarely (if at all) do I reflect on this passage in its entirety—and even our best-loved verses are best understood when considered in full context. 
    I’m so very glad I did! Otherwise I might have missed the full impact of Isaiah’s message as he highlights so many significant attributes of God:
    • God’s glory
    • God’s authority
    • God’s power
    • God’s provision
    • God’s protection 
    • God’s tenderness
    • God’s wisdom
    • God’s permanence
    • God’s supremacy
    What an amazing illustration of God’s majesty!
    Did you know? Each year, Wacoans enjoy a unique opportunity to hear these verses (and many others!) set to music in Handel’s Messiah:
    Messiah Sing-Along in Waco
    Sunday, December 11, 6:30 pm
    Seventh and James Baptist Church
    The Messiah Sing-Along begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The Messiah Sing-Along includes an orchestra, soloists, choirs, and guest conductors. Scores will be available. You’re invited to sing along or listen and enjoy the music!

    For a deeper understanding of Handel’s work and the biblical words that inspired it, check out these articles:

    Isaiah and Handel’s Messiah
    -By Search Isaiah

    “In each full performance of the Messiah, more than 20 verses from Isaiah are sung, making it the most common source for Handel‘s masterpiece. Handel had help in selecting the words for his famous libretto from Charles Jennens (1700–1773). Jennens was an English aristocrat who had worked with Handel (1685–1759) on several other oratorios. He shared his compilation of 81 verses from the Holy Bible. Taken from 14 different books including the 21 verses from Isaiah, Jennens organized the verses into three parts:

    1. The prophecy of the birth of a Messiah and the Incarnation
    2. The Passion and the Resurrection
    3. Christ’s glorification in Heaven.”

    Handel’s Messiah:
Biblical and Theological Perspectives

    -By Daniel I. Block,
Professor of Old Testament Interpretation

    “Part I [of Messiah] opens with one of the most heartwarming and hopeful texts of all Scripture, Isaiah 40:1-5. Whether or not Handel intended this pattern of gloom and despair giving way to light and hope to be a reflection of the biblical text, it is possible to interpret the overture as a musical commentary on Isaiah 1-39, whose message and tone is largely judgmental. In these chapters the prophet Isaiah declares over and over again that because of the hardness of Israel’s heart and the persistence of her rebellion against the divine sovereign and gracious redeemer, Yahweh was about to bring in his foreign agents of judgment. But in chapter 40 the tone and the tune change so dramatically that critical scholars have trouble imagining 40-66 to have come from the same prophet. 

    … It strikes me that Handel has caught the spirit of the book better than most contemporary scholars. The point of chapter 40 and the rest of 40-66 is that far in advance Yahweh has foreseen and predicted the end of the judgment. Here the prophet functions as a herald, preparing the way for Yahweh who will go before the people, leading them back to their homeland after their exile in Babylon.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.