Isaiah 41:1-29

Daybreak for Students

Isaiah 41:1-29

Isaiah 41
When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. — Isaiah 41:17-18

On a number of occasions when I have mentioned to those from out-of-state that I live in Oregon, they immediately started talking about rain. What a reputation my state has! Frequent rain is certainly associated with the Oregon coast, and to a lesser extent, the Willamette Valley. However, it comes as a surprise to most people to learn that more than half of the land in Oregon is semi-desert. This fact was forcibly illustrated to us as we returned from vacation via Highway 140 along the Nevada/Oregon border. The landscape was bone dry.

Then we approached the tiny farming community of Adel, Oregon, and what a difference we saw! Instead of dry sagebrush, we were surrounded by a rich growth of healthy hay fields. Everything was green and lush. Numerous cattle were grazing in the fields, while birds were evident around the ponds and marshy areas. The difference was the presence of water — and what a difference that made!

Our key verse references water in a spiritual sense. Many people have spent a lifetime in the desert wastelands of sin, looking for peace and satisfaction. Their souls are barren and unhappy. To them, God promises the waters of salvation if they will only turn to Him and seek Him with all their hearts. The joy, comfort, and blessings that He gives make a greater contrast in a life than water does in the desert.

These verses are a promise to sincere Christians as well. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, we find ourselves going through a spiritual “dry spell.” It may seem that our souls have only sagebrush in them. Take heart! These verses promise that when we, the poor and needy, diligently seek Him, He will be pleased to pour out His life-giving water upon us. By trusting in His promises during the dry times, our faith will be strengthened, and we will cherish His blessings even more than we did before.


Isaiah 41 begins by foretelling how God would one day raise up King Cyrus II (who would live some 150 years in the future) to punish various idolatrous nations. The “islands” spoken of in this chapter refer to lands remote from Judea, probably including the islands of the Mediterranean and possibly even the continent of Europe. Before Cyrus, these heathen lands would be as “dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.” God pointed out that He “the first, and with the last” would be the One responsible for this, and no one would be able to stand against Him.

Verses 6 and 7 refer to the heathen coalition, and their craftsmen who were working frantically to prepare their idols so that they might forestall the promised retribution of God. This, of course, would all be to no avail, for idols made by man’s hand are vanity.

Israel was not to fear Cyrus, however. As noted in verses 8 through 14, their nation had been expressly called by God to be His servant and to fulfill the promise, made so many years before to Abraham, of a coming Messiah. However, these verses were not for Israel alone. Anyone who has yielded his life to Christ can claim these promises on a personal basis. God’s spiritual children have nothing to fear, and should not be dismayed when difficulties come into their lives. God promised to “strengthen,” “help,” and “uphold.” In verses 15 and 16, God went a step further and promised that He would make His people effective in their spiritual battles.

Verses 21-29 complete God’s dialogue with those who trusted in idols. In effect, He was saying, “If your idols are so strong, then what have they accomplished in comparison to My mighty works?” The answer should have been obvious to these people — nothing!


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
      A.   The promise of deliverance (comfort)
            2.   The condemnation of idolatry (41:1-29)
                  a.   The disgust for idolatry (41:1-7)
                       (1)   The call to judgment (41:1)
                       (2)   The fact of God’s omnipotence (41:2-4)
                       (3)   The fear of idolaters (41:5-7)
                  b.   The encouragement of God’s chosen (41:8-20)
                       (1)   Israel’s choice by God (41:8-10)
                       (2)   Israel’s deliverance from her enemies (41:11-16)
                       (3)   Israel’s blessing by God (41:17-20)
                  c.   The challenge to the idolaters (41:21-29)
                       (1)   The idol’s inability to predict the future (41:21-24)
                       (2)   God’s ability to tell the future (41:25-29)


  1. What are four of the actions God promised to take in order to help these people?

  2. Much of this chapter warns people to fear the Lord, while other verses offer tender promises of mercy and deliverance. Explain how these diverse concepts fit together.

  3. In 21st century North America, literal “idols” are not common. Nevertheless, certain types of things have taken on the effect of idols to many people. Name some of these things.

  4. Recall a time when you were going through a spiritual hard place, and God sent you a mighty deliverance. How can remembering and sharing such incidents help you?


If your soul seems dry, God can give you springs of His living water today.