In my last post, we completed our exploration of Comfort for Adonai’s People ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 40:27-31. In this post, we begin to explore The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 41:1-15.
1 “Keep silence before Me, O coastlands, and let the people renew their strength! Let them come near, then let them speak; Let us come near together for judgment.
Here in chapter 41, it is as if we are looking in on a courtroom scene as Adonai calls worshipers of other gods to state their case. The coastlands refer to far-off lands and thus represent all the nations of the world. The prophets often used the language of the courtroom. Here Adonai will try the nations and their idols. The nations were to keep silence as Adonai presented evidence in support of His case.
2 “Who raised up one from the east? Who in righteousness called him to His feet? Who gave the nations before Him, And made Him rule over kings? Who gave them as the dust to His sword, as driven stubble to His bow?
The one from the east who subdues kings is a reference to Cyrus, King of Persia (see Isaiah 45:1), whom Adonai used to defeat Bavel in 539 BCE. This brought the exile of Y’hudah to an end.
3 Who pursued them, and passed safely by the way that he had not gone with his feet?
The conquests of Cyrus were quick, and he remained safe until he had extended Bavel’s boundaries.
4 Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? ‘ I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.’ “
Though Cyrus was the human agent behind these predicted events, Adonai took credit because Cyrus succeeded because of His sovereign control. In verses 2-4, Jon Courson believes that the reference is not Cyrus but Yeshua as He is the only true Righteous One, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. 
Personally, I don’t have a problem thinking it could easily refer to both at the same time.
5 The coastlands saw it and feared, the ends of the earth were afraid; they drew near and came.
The nations are coming before the throne of Adonai.
6 Everyone helped his neighbor, And said to his brother, “Be of good courage!”
The heathen nations are saying to one another be of good courage as they stand in the presence of Adonai.
7 So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith; he who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil, saying, “It is ready for the soldering”; then he fastened it with pegs, that it might not totter.
In this verse, the craftsman is the one who prepares the mold and creates the cast figurine. The goldsmith attaches the plating and inlay. Then the hammer is used to smooth out and shine the overlay. The last step is difficult to translate because it is full of technical terms, but it appears to refer to the fitting of the peg into the hole in the wooden base. 
8 “But you, Isra’el, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham, My friend.
While the nations felt the wrath of Adonai at the hands of His agent Cyrus, Adonai again would make Isra’el His friend. By calling Isra’el the descendant of Avraham, Adonai called to mind the promise to the patriarch that his descendants would be a great nation (Genesis 12:2). Based on this ancient covenantal promise, Adonai acted to restore His people Isra’el.
9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
Adonai’s punishment of Y’hudah led to exile in 586 BCE when many of its leading citizens were taken to Bavel and from there scattered throughout the empire. The restoration involved bringing them back from the ends of the earth.
10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Adonai’s statement I am with you is a concise way of describing the covenant relationship between Him and His people. Adonai’s right hand is often associated with His military might, thus His ability to protect His people. The only courage the heathen could draw was from each other. Isra’el’s comfort, on the other hand, came from Adonai Himself.
11 “Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. 12 You shall seek them and not find them – those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.
All those who strive against Isra’el shall perish. In the End Times, countries who wage war against Isra’el are on the wrong team because, according to Matthew 25, treatment of the Jewish nation during the Tribulation will determine what nations move into the Millennium following the Tribulation period.
13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ 14 “Fear not, you worm Jacob, You men of Isra’el! I will help you,” says the LORD And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Isra’el.
Once again, the inability of the nations to contend with Isra’el was because of divine protection and intimacy (I…will hold your right hand). Isra’el did not have the strength or ability to protect itself, but Adonai would sustain them.
15 “Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff. ~ Isaiah 41:1-15 (NKJV)
The threshing sledge was a heavy wooden sledge with stone or iron teeth. It was used to separate the grain from the chaff before the winnowing process. The metaphor emphasizes how thoroughly and violently Isra’el would defeat the nations.
In my next post, we conclude our examination of The Helper of Isra’el ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 41:16-29.
Click here for the PDF version.
 Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.
 The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.