Here in Isaiah 41, we see God speaking through the prophet in a courtroom kind of scene where God himself is facing the heathen world with a test question. In verse 21 we read, “Submit your case,” says the Lord. “Present your arguments,” says Jacob’s King." He is inviting idols and idol worshippers to present their case and show how these idols are as powerful as the Lord. You can hear the scornful, mocking tone as the idols and their worshippers are asked to try and predict the future or to do something (anything at all!) either good or bad to amaze the court and judge. Apparently this will be a formidable battle against evil as He encourages his people to renew their strength. In verses 9 and following we get a real sense of how much God loves His people Israel and that love transfers to us through the blood of Christ. God assures His people in verse 10, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you." He will support us with His righteous hand, and we do not need to fear and look anxiously around, for God is here in the midst. What an incredible promise in these days!
The Lord versus the Nations’ Gods
41 “Be silent before me, coasts and islands!
And let peoples renew their strength.
Let them approach; let them testify;
let’s come together for the trial.
2 Who has stirred up someone from the east?
In righteousness he calls him to serve.[a][b]
The Lord hands nations over to him,
and he subdues kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
like wind-driven stubble with his bow.
3 He pursues them, going on safely,
hardly touching the path with his feet.
4 Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I am the Lord, the first
and with the last—I am he.”
5 The coasts and islands see and are afraid,
the whole earth trembles.
They approach and arrive.
6 Each one helps the other,
and says to another, “Take courage!”
7 The craftsman encourages the metalworker;
the one who flattens with the hammer
encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good.”
He fastens it with nails so that it will not fall over.
8 But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
descendant of Abraham, my friend—
9 I brought[c] you from the ends of the earth
and called you from its farthest corners.
I said to you: You are my servant;
I have chosen you; I haven’t rejected you.
10 Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
11 Be sure that all who are enraged against you
will be ashamed and disgraced;
those who contend with you
will become as nothing and will perish.
12 You will look for those who contend with you,
but you will not find them.
Those who war against you
will become absolutely nothing.
13 For I am the Lord your God,
who holds your right hand,
who says to you, ‘Do not fear,
I will help you.
14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob,
you men[d] of Israel.
I will help you’—
this is the Lord’s declaration.
Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15 See, I will make you into a sharp threshing board,
new, with many teeth.
You will thresh mountains and pulverize them
and make hills into chaff.
16 You will winnow them
and a wind will carry them away,
a whirlwind will scatter them.
But you will rejoice in the Lord;
you will boast in the Holy One of Israel.
17 The poor and the needy seek water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I will answer them.
I am the Lord, the God of Israel. I will not abandon them.
18 I will open rivers on the barren heights,
and springs in the middle of the plains.
I will turn the desert into a pool
and dry land into springs.
19 I will plant cedars,
acacias, myrtles, and olive trees in the wilderness.
I will put juniper trees,
elms, and cypress trees together in the desert,
20 so that all may see and know,
consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 “Submit your case,” says the Lord.
“Present your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
22 “Let them come and tell us
what will happen.
Tell us the past events,
so that we may reflect on them
and know the outcome,
or tell us the future.
23 Tell us the coming events,
then we will know that you are gods.
Indeed, do something good or bad,
then we will be in awe[e] when we see it.
24 Look, you are nothing
and your work is worthless.
Anyone who chooses you is detestable.
25 “I have stirred up one from the north, and he has come,
one from the east who invokes my[f] name.
He will march over rulers as if they were mud,
like a potter who treads the clay.
26 Who told about this from the beginning,
so that we might know,
and from times past,
so that we might say, ‘He is right’?
No one announced it,
no one told it,
no one heard your words.
27 I was the first to say to Zion,[g]
‘Look! Here they are!’
And I gave Jerusalem a herald with good news.
28 When I look, there is no one;
there is no counselor among them;
when I ask them, they have nothing to say.
29 Look, all of them are a delusion;[h]
their works are nonexistent;
their images are wind and emptiness.
The Servant’s Mission
42 “This is my servant; I strengthen him,
this is my chosen one; I delight in him.
I have put my Spirit on him;
he will bring justice[i] to the nations.
2 He will not cry out or shout
or make his voice heard in the streets.
3 He will not break a bruised reed,
and he will not put out a smoldering wick;
he will faithfully bring justice.
4 He will not grow weak or be discouraged
until he has established justice on earth.
The coasts and islands will wait for his instruction.”
5 This is what God, the Lord, says—
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk on it—
6 “I am the Lord. I have called you
for a righteous purpose,[j]
and I will hold you by your hand.
I will watch over you, and I will appoint you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light to the nations,
7 in order to open blind eyes,
to bring out prisoners from the dungeon,
and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.
8 I am the Lord. That is my name,
and I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
9 The past events have indeed happened.
Now I declare new events;
I announce them to you before they occur.”
A Song of Praise
10 Sing a new song to the Lord;
sing his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea with all that fills it,
you coasts and islands with your[k] inhabitants.
11 Let the desert and its cities shout,
the settlements where Kedar dwells cry aloud.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy;
let them cry out from the mountaintops.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord
and declare his praise in the coasts and islands.
13 The Lord advances like a warrior;
he stirs up his zeal like a soldier.
He shouts, he roars aloud,
he prevails over his enemies.
14 “I have kept silent from ages past;
I have been quiet and restrained myself.
But now, I will groan like a woman in labor,
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills
and dry up all their vegetation.
I will turn rivers into islands
and dry up marshes.
16 I will lead the blind by a way they did not know;
I will guide them on paths they have not known.
I will turn darkness to light in front of them
and rough places into level ground.
This is what I will do for them,
and I will not abandon them.
17 They will be turned back and utterly ashamed—
those who trust in an idol
and say to a cast image,
‘You are our gods!’
Israel’s Blindness and Deafness
18 “Listen, you deaf!
Look, you blind, so that you may see.
19 Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf like my messenger I am sending?
Who is blind like my dedicated one,[l]
or blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 Though seeing many things,[m] you pay no attention.
Though his ears are open, he does not listen.”
21 Because of his righteousness, the Lord was pleased
to magnify his instruction and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted,
all of them trapped in holes
or imprisoned in dungeons.
They have become plunder
with no one to rescue them
and loot, with no one saying, “Give it back!”
23 Who among you will hear this?
Let him listen and obey in the future.
24 Who gave Jacob to the robber,[n]
and Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the Lord?
Have we not sinned against him?
They were not willing to walk in his ways,
and they would not listen to his instruction.
25 So he poured out his furious anger
and the power of war on Jacob.
It surrounded him with fire, but he did not know it;
it burned him, but he didn’t take it to heart.
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.