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Isaiah 54.1-10

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ISAIAH 54:1-10  

Three motifs divide this poem: family [54:1-5, marriage [54:6-10], and city [54:11-17]. Chapter 50:1-3 pictured a broken marriage relationship in which the alienated husband came and “called” [50:2] his erring wife to be restored. Since she would not respond, it became part of the Servant’s work to “bring back” Jacob [49:5-6]. The Servant has now finished his work and restoration has been accomplished. This new situation is summed up as a “covenant of peace” [54:10], which refers back to the making of peace by the punishment which fell on the Servant: “he was wounded for our transgressions…the chastisement of our peace fell upon him” [53:5]. The fruits of that vicarious punishment have been conserved as the eternal and pledged possession of the Lord’s people.


1.        The Confidence

The call to confidence: “fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed…” [54:4].

§         אַל־תִּֽירְאִי֙ - “fear not” [54:4], ‘afraid, frightened’; ‘to be in a state of distress’;

a.        The Total Confidence

 “for thou shalt not be ashamed…” [54:4].

§         תֵב֔וֹשִׁי - “ashamed” [54:4], qal imperfect, ‘to be ashamed’; ‘painful feeling and emotional distress, by having dome something wrong, with the associated meaning of having the disapproval of those around them’;

§         תִּכָּלְמִ֖י - “confounded” [54:4], niphal imperfect, ‘to be disgraced’;

§         תַחְפִּ֑ירִי - “put to shame” [54:4], hiphil imperfect, ‘to be humiliated’; 

i.        The Condition of Childlessness

The condition of being childless: “Sing, O barren, thou that did not bear…” [54:1].

§         עֲקָרָ֖ה - “barren” [54:1], ‘infertile’; ‘sterile’;

§         יָלָ֑דָה - “bear” [54:1], ‘to have a child’; ‘to be pregnant’;

§         חָ֔לָה - “travail” [54:1], ‘wait for’; ‘extend a period of time in a place or state’; 

ii.      Shame of Childlessness

One of the results of childlessness in the ancient world was terrible shame: “she was in bitterness of soul…” [1Sam.1:10].

§         Child-bearing was an indication of the blessing if God: “be fruitful, and multiply…” [Gen.1:28].

§         To be child-less was taken to be an indication of God’s displeasure: “the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret…” [1Sam.1:6].

iii.    The Removal of Childlessness

The reversal of childlessness: “for more are the children of the desolate…” [54:1].

§         רַבִּ֧ים - “more” [54:1], ‘many, much, great’;

§         בְּֽנֵי - “children” [54:1], ‘child, offspring, either male of female’;

§         שׁוֹמֵמָ֛ה - “desolate” [54:1], ‘destitute, laid waste, ruined, deserted’;


The three words are synonymous and are heaped up to rule out every possibility of disappointment or shamefacedness in the future.

§         In a historical context, Israel had been humiliated by the apparent failure of her God to deliver her, so she went off to exile in shame: “my tears have been my meat…while they say to me continually, Where is thy God?” [Psa.42:3].  

2.        The Entire Past

a.        The Beginning > Egypt

The beginning of the relationship: “for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth…” [54:4].

§         תִּשְׁכָּ֔חִי - “forget” [54:4], ‘be unmindful of’; ‘not remember information of’;

§         בֹ֤שֶׁת - “shame” [54:4], ‘disgrace’; ‘low status’;

§         עֲלוּמַ֙יִךְ - “youth” [54:4], ‘period of time when one is adolescent’;

§         A reference to redemption from the Egypt slavery: “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness…” [Jer.2:2].

b.        The Recent Past > Babylonian Exile

The recent past in her relationship: “shalt not remember the reproach…” [54:4].

§         תִזְכְּרִי־עֽוֹד - “remember” [54:4], ‘to recall information or events’;

§         חֶרְפַּ֥ת - “reproach” [54:4], ‘contempt’; ‘state of dishonour’;

§         אַלְמְנוּתַ֖יִךְ - “widowhood” [54:4], ‘state of being without a spouse because of the death of that person’;

§         A reference to the Babylonian widowhood:


The essential point is that from the early spring of youth right through the sadnesses life holds in store all is subsumed under the category of things past and forgotten, out of sight and out of mind, the slate and the memory are both wiped clean.

§         The point is that ‘the woman has already been shamed by her barrenness but is now being released from it’.

§         From the earliest days of her marriage to her later years, this woman, like Sarah and Elisabeth, has lived with unremitting reproach and contempt.

3.        The Cause of the Confidence

a.        The Husband

i.        The Maker

The woman’s husband is the Creator: “for thy maker is thy husband…” [54:5].

§         עֹשַׂ֔יִךְ - “thy maker” [54:5], qal participle, ‘to do, perform an action’; ‘to create’;

§         This is the God of redeeming, transforming work, ‘making’ those who were not his people to become his people: “every that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” [43:7]; “God who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were” [Rom.4:17].

§         בֹעֲלַ֙יִךְ - “thy husband” [54:4], qal participle, ‘to be taken by a husband in matrimony’;

§         Denotes a deliberately formed relationship designed for perpetuity: “where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement…” [50:1].

ii.      The Power

The husband’s name: “the Lord of hosts is his name…” [54:5].

§         יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת - “Lord of hosts” [54:5], the exodus revelation of the God who saves his people and overthrows his and their enemies: “I AM that I AM has sent thee…” [Exo.3:15]; “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory…” [6:3].

§         שְׁמ֑וֹ - “name” [54:5], ‘personal name’; ‘reputation, character’;

§         This “name” expresses the absolute control of the earth that Jacob envisioned in his dream: “he dreamed a dream, and behold a ladder…” [Gen.28:12-15].

b.        The Redeemer

i.        The Kinsman Redeemer

The woman’s husband is also her Redeemer: “thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel…” [54:5].

§         גֹֽאֲלֵךְ - “thy Redeemer” [54:5], qal participle, ‘to deliver, save, redeem’; ‘purchase back an item or person, with money or goods, that had been sold at a prior time’ [Lev 25:25];

§         The participle גֹֽאֲלֵךְ is the technical term for the next-of-kin who has the right to take his helpless relative’s needs as his own: “If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold…” [Lev.25:25]; “if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, even to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him” [Num.5:8];

ii.      The Transcendent & Immanent God

The transcendent and immanent redeemer God: “the Holy One of Israel…” [54:5].

§         קְד֣וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל - “Holy One of Israel” [54:5], “For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place…” [57:15];

§         אֱלֹהֵ֥י כָל־הָאָ֖רֶץ - “God” [54:5],

§         יִקָּרֵֽא - “shall he be called” [54:5], niphal imperfect,

§         Emphasises the absolute transcendence of God: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts…” [6:3]; and also his unbelievable condescension: “his train filled the temple…the whole earth is full of his glory” [6:1-2].


The Lord has committed himself to us as “husband” in all his fullness and power; he is on our side as “redeemer” in all the fullness of the divine nature as “the Holy One”. Every circumstance that befalls us is within the divine sovereignty of the God “of all the earth”.


1.        The Broken Marriage 

The initial “for” [54:6] links verses 6-10 with verses 1-5, explaining the reference to the Lord as “husband” [54:5].

a.        The Forsaken / Grieving Wife

The picture of a narrow-eyed, strained, and embittered woman: “a woman forsaken and grieved…” [54:6].

§         כְאִשָּׁ֧ה - “woman” [54:6], ‘woman, wife’;

§         עֲזוּבָ֛ה - “forsaken” [54:6], qal passive participle, ‘to abandon’; ‘to break of previous relationship’;

§         עֲצ֥וּבַת - “grieved” [54:6], qal passive participle, ‘distressed’; ‘a condition of emotional distress and sorrow’;

§         ר֖וּחַ - “in spirit” [54:6],

b.        The Young Bride  

i.        Loving

The picture of a laughing bride with dancing eyes: “a wife of youth when you were…” [54:6].

§         אֵ֧שֶׁת - “wife” [54:6], ‘woman, wife’;

§         נְעוּרִ֛ים - “of youth” [54:6], ‘childhood’; ‘youth’;

§         A “wife of youth” [54:6] suggests all the passionate devotion of a young married couple with the bright hopes of their early married life: “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness…” [Jer.2:2ff].  

ii.      Spurning

The happy bride has made herself miserable: “when you were refused…” [54:6].

§         תִמָּאֵ֖ס - “refused” [54:6], niphal imperfect, ‘to reject’; ‘to be in a state of limiting or avoiding association’;

§         The English translation here puts the blame on the husband; it may be that the words should read “that she should be spurned”;

§         The background in Ch.50 points to a wife justly left but consequently sad at heart: “Behold, for your sins you have sold yourselves…” [50:1-3].

§         אֱלֹהָֽיִךְ - “thy God” [54:6], the call, the implication of an unchanged love, etc, are a word of revelation from “your God”, ‘the God who has made himself yours.

§         See also Hosea 3 where the prophet is commanded to “go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel…” [Hos.3:1].

2.        The Re-union

The reunion: “for the Lord has called thee as a woman forsaken…” [54:6].

§         קְרָאָ֣ךְ - “called you” [54:6], qal perfect, ‘call, summon’; ‘to designate by name or title’;

§         The perfect tense points to the fact that by the saving acts of the Servant the former separation has been healed.



The verses [54:7-9] contain three distinct words of assurance drawn from the character of God.

1.        The Compassion

Here we see the brevity of the alienation contrasted with the greatness of the reconciliation.  

a.        The Brevity of the Alienation

The alienation: “for (in) a small moment have I forsaken thee…” [54:7].

§         בְּרֶ֥גַע – “small moment” [54:7], ‘instant, moment’; ‘flash’; “For his anger endures but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” [Psa.30:5];  

§         קָטֹ֖ן - “small” [54:7], ‘small, younger’;

§         עֲזַבְתִּ֑יךְ - “forsaken you” [54:7], qal perfect, ‘to abandon’; ‘to break of previous relationship’;

§         The “small moment” [54:7] probably refers to the Babylonian exile of “seventy years”; a long time for us but in the great scheme of things a “small moment”.

b.        The Greatness of the Reconciliation

The reconciliation: “but with great mercies…” [54:7].

§         בְרַחֲמִ֥ים - “with  mercy” [54:7], ‘compassion, mercy, pity, favour’; from the same word translated “womb”, raḥam, which speaks of the maternal love, care, protection’; “then spoke the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son…” [1Kgs.3:26];

§         אֲקַבְּצֵֽךְ - “gather you” [54:7], piel imperfect, ‘to assemble’; ‘to collect’;

§         The ground of the regathering is also found in him; love which overflows; love in its passionate reality – ‘because I am still in love with you I will gather you’.


Anger may describe His condition for a time, but hesed describes his unchanging essence.

2.        The Love

a.        Brief Anger

The “leaving” [54:7] is explained and described: “in a little wrath I hid my face from thee…” [54:8].

§         בְּשֶׁ֣צֶף - “in little” [54:8], ‘surge’; ‘flood’; ‘burst’;

§         קֶ֗צֶף – “wrath” [54:8], ‘wrath, anger, discord’;

§         הִסְתַּ֨רְתִּי - “hid” [54:8], hiphil perfect, ‘hide, conceal’; ‘not being able to be known’;

§         רֶ֙גַע - “moment” [54:8], ‘instant, moment’; ‘flash’; “For his anger endures but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” [Psa.30:5];

§         פָנַ֥י רֶ֙גַע֙ מִמֵּ֔ךְ - “my face from thee” [54:8], ‘separation’; ‘darkness’; ‘breakdown’:

§         The face of reconciliation: “therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God…” [Gen.33:10].

b.        Endless Love

The Lord’s endless love overcomes wrath: “but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee…” [54:8].

§         בְחֶ֥סֶד - “in kindness” [54:8], ‘loyal love’; ‘unfailing kindness and devotion’; ‘covenant love’; ‘unfailing love that is always loyal to its pledge’; ‘the unchanging heart of the fire of love as “compassion” is its flame;

§         עוֹלָ֖ם - “everlasting” [54:8], ‘unlimited duration of time’;

§         רִֽחַמְתִּ֑יךְ - “have mercy on thee” [54:8], piel perfect, ‘to love’; from the same word translated “womb”, raḥam, which speaks of the maternal love, care, protection’; ‘to have feeling or attitude of strong affection toward an object, based on an association or relationship, which can manifest an act of kindness toward the object of one’s love and affection’;

i.        The Ultimate Expression

The ultimate expression of God’s everlasting kindness: “thy Redeemer…” [54:8].

§         גֹּאֲלֵ֖ךְ - “thy Redeemer” [54:8], ‘to deliver, save, redeem’; ‘purchase back an item or person, with money or goods, that had been sold at a prior time’ [Lev 25:25];

§         The “Redeemer” is here specifically the God who has undertaken his people’s needs in relation to his own wrath and alienation, motivated by love.

§         Restoration to the land is not the principle issue; restoration to the loving glance of God is.

§         It is the sacrifice of Ch.53 that makes ‘restoration to the loving glance of God’ possible.


The exile and all the things associated with it were but the expression of something deeper and more important: the absence of the presence and favour of God.

§         The restored favour: “God has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [2Cor.4:6].

§         The eternity of God’s love is seen in his willingness to give his Son: “God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” [Rom.5:8].

3.        The Permanence

a.        The Flood

While the reference to the flood underlines the seriousness and universality of the divine wrath of [54:8], the main thrust of the illustration is on the permanence of the settlement that has been affected: “this is as the waters of Noah to me…” [54:9]. 

§         The Noahic settlement was formalised in a perpetual covenant: “Behold, I will establish my covenant with you and with your seed after you…” [Gen.9:9ff].

§         A perpetual covenant: “the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between god and every living creature…” [Gen.9:16].

§         The covenant oath promise: “neither shall all flesh be cut off anymore by the waters of the flood…” [Gen.9:11].

b.        The Promise

The divine oath terminates wrath: “so have I sworn that is should not be…” [54:9].

§         נִשְׁבַּ֛עְתִּי - “sworn” [54:9], ‘to swear an oath’; ‘to promise’; “By myself have I sworn, says the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing…” [Gen.22:16];

§         מִקְּצֹ֥ף - “not be wroth” [54:9], ‘to be angry’; ‘to be in a state of strong displeasure’;

§         מִגְּעָר־בָּֽךְ - “rebuke thee” [54:9], ‘reprimand, disapprove’; ‘to tell another that they have done wrong, with conviction or zeal, implying disapproval and a straining of relationship’;

§         “Anger” signifies the emotion of anger; “rebuke” is its expression.


Here we have the heart of the matter…with God himself and in God himself the change has already taken place…a change has come over God. He ceases from wrath and again shows mercy. There is a clear re-echoing of the words of the prologue [40:1-3].

§         Just as compassion prevented God from completely destroying the world then and led him to bind himself from that sort of destruction in the future, so here it is his compassion that leads him to bring the exile to an end and to swear not to pour out his anger on them again.

4.        The Eternal Covenant

The words of [54:10] offer a substantiation of the previous promise.

a.        The Insecurity of the Creation

for the mountains shall depart…” [54:10].

§         הֶֽהָרִים - “mountains” [54:10], in Noah’s flood the mountains disappeared: “the mountains were covered…” [Gen.7:20].

§         יָמ֔וּשׁוּ - “depart” [54:10], qal imperfect, ‘to move, move away’; ‘to cease’;

§         הַגְּבָע֖וֹת - “hills” [54:10], in Noah’s flood all the hills were under the waters of judgement: “all the high hills that were under heaven were covered…” [Gen.7:19];

§         תְּמוּטֶ֑נָה - “removed” [54:10], ‘totter, shake, slip’;

§         The fabric of the world is the most permanent thing we know: “if those ordinances depart from me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease…” [Jer.31:35-37].

§         Yet even the permanent things of creation will tremble and fall: “though the earth be removed, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea…” [Psa.46:2-3].

b.        The Security of the Marriage Relationship 

i.        The Perpetual Hesed

The covenant faithfulness of God: “but my kindness shall not depart from you…” [54:10].

§         חַסְדִּ֞י - “my kindness” [54:10], ‘loyal love’; ‘unfailing kindness and devotion’; ‘covenant love’;

§         מֵאִתֵּ֣ךְ - “from thee” [54:10], ‘from with you’;

§         לֹֽא־יָמ֗וּשׁ - “not depart” [54:10], ‘move away’; ‘go to another place out of sight’;

ii.      The Covenant

The unmovable covenant: “neither shall the covenant of my peace…” [54:10].

§         בְרִ֤ית - “covenant” [54:10], ‘an agreement between two parties’; ‘treaty, alliance, including pledges, promises, threats, conditions’;

§         תָמ֔וּט - “removed” [54:10], ‘to slip, shake, be toppled’;

§         מְרַחֲמֵ֖ךְ - “has mercy” [54:10], piel participle, from the same word translated “womb”, raḥam, which speaks of the maternal love, care, protection’; ‘to have feeling or attitude of strong affection toward an object, based on an association or relationship, which can manifest an act of kindness toward the object of one’s love and affection’;

iii.    The Covenant of Peace

The covenant is the: “covenant of peace…” [54:10].

§         שְׁלוֹמִי - “my peace” [54:10], ‘shalom’; more than the ‘absence of hostilities’; the condition of ‘wholeness’; ‘to be complete, sound, whole’;

§         1st common singular suffix: “my peace”; the peace of God; the peace established by God.

§         Throughout its history, the divine “covenant” has always been linked with sacrifice [Gen.9:8ff; Gen.15:9-18].

§         The link here between “covenant” and “peace” implies peace resting on sacrifice – the death of the Servant: “the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him…” [53:6]; “thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…” [53:10].


There is a resonance of [53:5], that the punishment the Servant bore really has brought peace with God.

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