A Commentary on Isaiah 51 – God’s Unfailing Comfort in Times of Trial


The powerful words of Isaiah 51 contain a timely message of comfort and hope that resonates strongly today. Though written thousands of years ago to the people of Israel facing exile in Babylon, the truths in this chapter speak to all believers going through seasons of difficulty and uncertainty. Isaiah calls us to fix our eyes on the sovereign Lord who delivers, restores, and redeems His people.

When we feel weighed down by trials, these promises of God’s salvation infuse our hearts with confidence. By looking back at the Almighty’s proven track record of faithfulness towards His children, we gain courage to stand firm today. Isaiah invites us to wake up to the reality of God’s mighty power and comforting presence in the storms of life.

Key themes in Isaiah 51:

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  • God’s unfailing love and compassion
  • The call to trust in the Lord’s deliverance
  • Fixing our eyes on God’s sovereignty and power
  • Standing firm in faith despite trials
  • Hope in God’s future salvation and restoration

As we study this profound chapter, may our souls be anchored in the everlasting hope of the Gospel. In a world full of turbulence, Isaiah reminds us of the Rock we can stand upon – our Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s explore the magnificent truths contained in this chapter.

A Commentary on Isaiah 51 - God's Unfailing Comfort in Times of Trial

A Call to Trust Our Faithful God (v. 1-8)

Isaiah begins the chapter by calling God’s people to “listen” and “look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.” This rock and quarry refer back to Abraham and Sarah, with whom God established his covenant. Though they faced the scorn of barrenness for many years, God miraculously gave them offspring and made them into a vast nation. This required a remarkable step of faith in God’s promises despite their bleak circumstances.

As believers today, we can relate to experiencing seasons of barrenness – times when our dreams, hopes, and prayers seem fruitless. Like Abraham and Sarah, we desperately need to cling to God’s sovereignty and power in the waiting seasons. As Isaiah says, we must listen to the Lord who promises to comfort and redeem us in His perfect timing.

Looking to examples of faithful saints who have gone before us brings encouragement. Hebrews 11 recounts the stories of believers who trusted God “even though they did not receive the things promised” during their earthly lives (Hebrews 11:39). They courageously looked ahead to the heavenly country God was preparing for them. Similarly, fixing our gaze on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith, gives us strength to persevere (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Isaiah declares that though the heavens and earth wear out, God’s salvation and righteousness last forever. No matter what happens here on earth, believers have an imperishable inheritance awaiting us (1 Peter 1:3-4). This heavenly perspective helps us endure fleeting earthly troubles.

Our Powerful Redeemer (v. 9-16)

After calling the people to remember God’s proven faithfulness, Isaiah recounts His mighty power displayed during the exodus from Egypt. God dramatically rescued His people from Pharaoh’s hand through miraculous signs like turning the Nile to blood and parting the Red Sea. The image of God as redeemer looms large throughout Scripture and provides deep comfort today. As Psalm 107 proclaims:

He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle. (Psalm 107:33-36)

God specializes in bringing life out of barren places, even when all hope seems lost. The Israelites saw God gloriously deliver them from Pharaoh’s pursuing army by fighting for them. And He brought them safely to the Promised Land, sustaining them with manna from heaven.

We can trust this same Almighty God to be our defender and provider today. As believers, we have the privilege of knowing Jesus as our personal Redeemer. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He willingly took our place to rescue us from sin and death. Our Savior is mighty to save all who call on Him.

Standing Firm in Faith (v. 17-23)

After recounting God’s sovereign power, Isaiah calls the people to stand firm in faith despite their current troubles. He acknowledges the difficult season of judgment they are enduring because of their sin. They feel feeble and broken, staggering because of God’s wrath against them. Yet Isaiah declares this season of punishment is coming to an end. The same God who allowed this adversity will bring restoration.

As believers today, we can take comfort that seasons of hardship do not last forever. Our souls may grow faint, but the promise of God’s salvation infuses us with strength from on high. Paul reminds us:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Keeping an eternal perspective helps us stand firm when everything around us feels shaky. Our inner self can be renewed daily by the Holy Spirit despite what our eyes see. What’s visible is just a snapshot in time – God is doing eternal work within our souls.

Our Glorious Future (v. 24-52)

Isaiah concludes the chapter with rousing imagery of God’s future restoration of His people. Using vivid language, He describes how the Lord will rescue them from exile in Babylon just as He delivered them from slavery in Egypt long ago. God proclaims:

“I will put my words in her mouth
and cover her with the shadow of my hand—
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.'” (Isaiah 51:16)

What beautiful promises! God will strengthen His people, shelter them, and claim them as His own. By highlighting His supremacy as Creator, He assures that He will bring renewal. Isaiah foretells a time when God’s people will flourish again in their land, rejoicing under His comfort and redemption. The chapter closes with a crescendo of hope-filled promises of God’s eternal salvation.

As New Testament believers, we can confidently claim these promises. God has given us His living Word, Jesus Christ, to dwell in our hearts. And He has sealed us with the promised Holy Spirit who comforts and counsels us daily (Ephesians 1:13-14). Someday we will receive the full riches of our inheritance in glory. With this assurance, we can wake up each day with joy and strength in our Redeemer.


The message of Isaiah 51 contains gold worth mining for all who desire to grow in hope. When we feel weary and unsure of the future, Isaiah points us to the Rock of our salvation. Fixing our gaze on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, enables us to stand firm. We can trust in the One who parted the seas and defeated death itself through the resurrection. No matter what trials we face, we rest knowing God holds the final victory. His righteousness and comfort will endure forever. What good news! May our souls be anchored in the hope of our Redeemer who makes all things new.

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