A Study of Isaiah 41:10
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
There is not anyone reading this study who does not deal with the emotion of fear. Fear is something that every one of us knows something about. Even a little baby; one of the first expressions that you see on his face is the fear of falling or the fear of loud noises. And even the oldest person knows something about fear.
Our Lord says in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee.”
What a promise! “Fear thou not; for I am with thee.”
Upon reading this Scripture the first question that comes to my mind is this; to whom are these gracious words spoken? That’s important. To whom are these gracious words spoken and to whom are these promises addressed?
We must not be caught reading somebody else’s mail. We must not be caught claiming somebody else’s promises; promises which are not ours. And so, we’ve got to find out to whom God is speaking when he says: “Fear thou not for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, I will help thee, and yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
The preceding verses and the verses that follow, our text, will tell us to whom the LORD speaks. If we look back at verse 8 we see He identifies these people to whom he is speaking, to whom these promises are addressed.
He says in verse 8, “Thou whom I have chosen.” These promises are addressed to those whom the LORD has chosen. So then, if we find anything here for us, if I find anything here for me, it will not be on the ground of my merit or my deserving, but on the ground of God’s sovereign grace to me.
He says, “I have chosen thee.” Look at verse 9, “I have chosen thee” (Isaiah 41:9). Christ said to his disciples one day, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” (John 15:16)
We who believe love Him. We can say with Peter: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” (John 21:17) But, “we love him, because he first loved us.” (1st John 4:19)
These promises, according to verse 8, are addressed to those whom the LORD has chosen. He said: “I have chosen thee”
Then in verse 9 God tells us that the people to whom these promises are addressed are to those whom He has called. He said in verse 9: “I have… called thee.” And Paul, writing about this call says: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” (Romans 8:29-30)
Now, we are not talking here about the general call which all men hear. Amos talked about the call of judgment, the call of providence, the call of the law, the call of tribulation, even the call of the law, and even the call of the Gospel.
This is a sweet, effectual, call of God’s Spirit that gets results. He said: “I called thee.” Paul said, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,” (Galatians 1:15)
Believers are referred to in the New Testament as “the called of God, the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). Those whom God hath called, and those whom the Spirit hath called.
So, we know this; these promises are addressed to those whom God hath chosen, and those whom God hath called.
Thirdly: Look at verse 9 again; and then He identifies these people to whom He’s speaking as, “thou art my servant.” The promises are to those who are servants of God.
One of the apostle Paul’s favourite terms, was this; “I’m a bond slave or a servant of Jesus Christ.” That’s what he called himself. That was one of his favourite names for himself.
He didn’t talk about “I’m a great religious leader, I’m a great missionary, I’m a great evangelist and I’m a great apostle.” He says: “I am the servant of Jesus Christ.”
Nearly every letter he wrote, he said, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” That word “servant” is bond slave. Do you know where that word comes from? It comes from the book of Exodus chapter 21.
If a Hebrew was taken into slavery, he could only serve so many years; it was six years. And on the seventh year the master had to let him go free. His time was served and he had to be free.
Now, Moses wrote in Exodus 21; if this particular slave loves his master and loves his master’s home and does not want to go free, he can say to his master; “the only freedom I want is to serve you; I desire to remain your servant and your slave.”
So, he says that the master is to take him down to the priest and down to the temple or down to the tabernacle and bore his ear with an awl. From that moment on he’s a bond slave.
Do you know what a bond slave is? It’s a willing slave. It’s not a man who is a servant against his will; it’s a willing, loving, bond slave. And that’s what Paul called himself, he said: “I’m the servant (a bond slave, a willing, loving servant) of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And that’s the person to whom this promise is made and given, those whom God hath chosen, those whom God hath called by His spirit, and those who know that they are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fourthly: If you will look at verse 14; now, I want you to see this if you will. Look at it, He says and He calls us something else that’s not very flattering and not very complimentary, He says: “Fear not, thou worm Jacob;” (Isaiah 41:14) that’s what the LORD says. He says, “We are chosen… we are called…we are servants.” But He says and He also addresses us as “worms.”
When you see His fullness, you will see your emptiness. You don’t see your real emptiness until you see God’s fullness. And when you see God’s holiness you will see your sinfulness.
When you see God’s glory you will see your unworthiness and you will take the term, “thou worm Jacob.” God uses that quite often, “thou worm Jacob.” The Hebrew meaning of that word is not very nice. Do you know what the Hebrew meaning is? Look it up in your concordance; it’s maggot. That’s what it says: “Thou worm Jacob.”
He’s speaking here to His chosen, His called, His servants, and unworthy sinners whom God hath loved, and whom God hath cleansed in the blood of His Son, in whom God hath lifted by His sovereign power, in whom God hath made new and regenerated by His Holy Spirit. To whom God hath granted repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and put our sins away by the sacrifice of His dear Son. Yes, it’s a blessed old Gospel. But men, “to whom much is forgiven; they will love much.”
And they know what it is to be a worm. Paul said: “I’m not one wit behind the chief apostle but I’m nothing, nothing.” God chooses the nothings to “bring to nought things that are.”
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” (1st Corinthians 1:27-29)
I will tell you, if God’s been pleased to whittle you down and like Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus to unhorse you and put your face in the dust, the dust of repentance, and the dust of grief over sin, and bring you to look up and see the light of life which is the Lord Jesus Christ, and trust in Him; you will call yourself a worm.
And then He says in verse 9: “I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away” Those people to whom this promise is written, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God” (Isaiah 41:10), are those whom He hath chosen, those whom He hath called, those who are His servants, those who are worms and know it, and those who continue faithful to the end, “I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”
These promises are made to those who continue in the faith, not those who claim faith or profess faith or brag about faith, but those who will not depart from the faith, and whom God will not let depart.
These are very real promises and these promises deal with a very natural problem that everybody knows something about…fear!
It comes in different flavours. It comes in different ways. Some have a fear of flying, and a fear of death, and a fear of sickness, and a fear of surgery, and a fear of not having enough to eat, and the fear of not being able to pay your bills, and the fear of darkness, and a fear of old age.
There are all kinds of fears. You see, man didn’t know fear until he fell. Fear was never known by Adam until he fell. And now, fear is known by every son of Adam, even from little children, to those of old age. Everybody knows something about fear.
Fear came into the heart when sin came into the heart. There were three things that Adam didn’t know anything about until he fell.
First of all: Adam didn’t know shame!
The Scripture says, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). After Adam sinned against God, he said: “I was naked.” He was ashamed. He tried to cover himself with fig leaves. He tried to hide.
Secondly: Then he didn’t know anything about shame before he fell and then he didn’t know anything about guilt before he fell.
He had nothing to feel guilty about. But after he sinned against God he ran and hid. He said, “I was naked and hid myself.” Well, why did you do that Adam? “I was afraid.” (Genesis 3:10)
Adam didn’t know anything about fear until he fell. And no son of Adam knew anything about fear, wouldn’t have known anything about fear, if it hadn’t been for sin.
But fear continues even in the heart of a believer. Some of God’s choicest servants have known what it is to be afraid. David, he feared Saul and fled from his face. David feared Achish the wicked king and made out like he was mad and insane.
Elijah who fought with the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and won a great victory by God’s power and grace was afraid of Jezebel.
Peter? Peter the great preacher of Pentecost turned the calendar back just a few hours and you will find him sitting around a fire trembling, afraid of the testimony of a little girl. And she said, “This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 26:71). He said, “I do not know the man.” (Matthew 26:72)
That’s fear. And fear continues in the hearts of believers because sin continues in us. If we could attain to perfect faith and perfect love we would have no fear.
We wouldn’t be afraid of tomorrow or next year. We wouldn’t be afraid of war. We wouldn’t be afraid of death. We wouldn’t be afraid of sickness if we believed God. “All things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)
And the reason that fear continues even in the hearts of believers is because sin continues. We have such little faith and such a poor excuse for love and that’s the reason.
Once we are stripped of this house of clay we will fear no more. The Lord Jesus said, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26)
The disciples said, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38) The boat was being tossed around about on the water and they came back and woke the Master, and said, “carest thou not that we perish?” What did He say, “O ye of little faith.”
Strong faith would have never awakened them. Strong faith would have never feared. But the reason we have fear, every believer, is because we have sin.
And then, fear has plenty of food on which to live. Every time I look within and see my imperfection it increases my fear. Look at sickness and old age; how many of you want to grow old, feeble, and infirmed? Will you fear it?
Fear looks at death, fear looks at judgment, fear looks at eternity, and fear looks at others who have fallen away. And oh how it troubles our soul. The best of men are men at best and the strongest man without divine help is a weak man; so fear is something that everybody knows a little bit about.
Well, what does our LORD say, what does He command us? He says to those whom He hath chosen, to those whom He hath called, to those who are truly His servants, to those who know that they are worms lifted from the dunghill and made to be princes; to sit on the throne, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, to those who are kept by His power and kept by His grace through faith, those He will not let go, those He will not cast away, He says: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God”
Our LORD doesn’t say, “Fear not so much,” He says, “Fear not.” He doesn’t say, “Fear not so often.” He says, “fear not.”
And David picked up this strain when he said: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” (and that’s not just talking about the day before he died. That’s talking about this whole life). This whole earth is “a shadow of death.”
Shadows can’t hurt you. The shadow of a gun never killed anybody. The shadow of a knife never shed blood. The shadow of a rope never hanged a man. That’s right!
“Yea though I walk through the valley of shadows of death, I will fear no evil, because thou art with me.” (Psalm 23:4)
We are not to fear Satan. We are not to fear men. “Fear not what men can do.” We are not to fear condemnation and we are not to fear the law. We are not to fear death and we are not to fear judgment.
Here are the reasons why we are not to fear any of these things, this is the key to this whole Scripture: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God.”
“I will strengthen thee, I will help thee, and I will not cast thee out.”
Five times you have the word “thou” or some form of it. And each time that our God uses that personal pronoun thou, thee, or thy; He uses the personal pronoun I, speaking of Himself.
Every time you are mentioned, you who are called and chosen servants of God; every time you are mentioned God is mentioned. You are never alone!
Where there is you, there is God. Where there is your weakness, there’s His strength. Where there’s your sin, there’s His holiness. Where there’s your failure, there’s His grace.
So, that’s the reason I’m not to fear. That’s the reason I’m not to fear because where I am, He is.
First of all: He says: “Fear thou not, I am with thee!”
Most fear is caused by being alone; that’s right, most fear is caused by being alone. And the reason we are not to fear is that we are never alone.
He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). “Lo, I’m with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). So He says, “Fear thou not, I am with thee.”
Where are you now? Christ is there. What are you facing? You don’t face it alone. Christ is there. Where you are, He is and where your weakness is mentioned His strength is mentioned, where your sin is, His grace, “Fear thou not; I am with thee.”
How many times parents said that to a little child or maybe you are walking through a dark field or down a dark street or thunder is outside and lightening is flashing, the rains falling, and the storm is covering the house and the little child begins to cry.
You say, “Don’t be afraid, now Daddy’s here.” That ought to make everything all right and most of the time it does. And that’s what our LORD is saying, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:”
You don’t have to be afraid of poverty. David said: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). Why do you take thought for what you eat, drink, and wear when God feeds the sparrow and clothes the lily?
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:26-30)
Don’t be depressed, don’t be despairing, and don’t be dismayed, “I am your God.” Do you fear trials, temptations, and tribulations? He says: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God.” We are not resting in human strength; we are resting in divine mercy, “I am your God.”
Now notice the next thing: He said, “I will strengthen thee,” (the weak one). He is our strength. You may be called to preach. Necessity is upon you, you must preach the gospel. Well, what poor preaching it is; you will soon realize that but God said, “I’ll strengthen you. My grace is sufficient for thee.” I’ll anoint your words. I’ll make the message a blessing. It doesn’t depend on you. If it did we would all fail.
Perhaps you must bury your dear loved ones. And you say, “I don’t know whether I can bear it.” You can’t but by His grace you can. He says: “My grace is sufficient.” “I will strengthen thee.”
You may say, “I’ve got to go to the cemetery and bury my loved one. I don’t know whether I can take it” no you can’t; I promise you that, you can’t, not by yourself. But He said: “I will strengthen you, you who are weak, I will strengthen you.”
You might face a serious illness or surgery. You might say: “I’ll falter.” He said, “I will strengthen you.” I must face old age; I’m weak, I’m tired, and I can’t bear to be feeble. “I will strengthen you.”
I must die. How will I fair in that day of death? Will I have dying grace? “I will strengthen you.” Do you see that promise? Those blessed, chosen, called, servants of the living God, those sinners lifted by his grace; “I will strengthen thee.”
Watch the next line, “I will help thee.” David doesn’t face the giant alone for the giant would dash him to pieces in his own power. God says; “I will help you.”
Moses does not go to Egypt alone. What folly, what foolishness to think that one man could face Pharaoh’s might. God said: “I will help you.” Joshua does not go to Jericho alone. God says, “I will help you.”
That’s what our LORD does; He carries me and the burden. God’s not my “co-pilot;” He’s the pilot. He’s not in business with me; He is the Master and the LORD. He says: “I will uphold thee.”
We…“who are kept by the power of God, (not apart from faith, not in spite of faith, not without faith), through faith.” (1st Peter 1:5) But the keeping is not done by us; it’s done by God. “I will uphold thee, with the right hand of my righteousness.”
That’s Christ, that’s Christ because Christ is on God’s right hand. Where is Jesus Christ? Well, He’s not on the cross; that work is complete. He’s not in the tomb as the scapegoat; He’s risen to justify.
He’s not on Mount Olivet; He’s at the right hand of the majesty on high. He’s seated, enthroned, and He makes intercession for us. And He is our righteousness and God is saying: “I will uphold thee by the right hand of my righteousness,” in Christ!