Isaiah can be confusing, the way it is written. For me, I get the most out of Isaiah when I focus on small phrases and don’t get bogged down by verses that don’t make sense. Overall, his writings point to Christ and His Messianic mission. Using that as my guide, I read and ponder His life and what He would have me do.
A righteous weapon
Verse 2 says “he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me.”
Assuming that “he” is Christ, Isaiah likened the Savior’s mouth to a sharp sword, cutting away the fluff and unnecessary fat the elders of Israel had added to the law. They hated Him for His plain, blunt speech, declaring who He was.
What about the polished shaft? It could mean Christ was perfect in every way, poised to shoot through false beliefs.
…My God shall be my strength.”1 Nephi 21:5
When we turn our wills over to God, it can seem like an act of subservience (almost like a slave), yet that act is empowering, not demeaning. Submitting to God gives us His power and strength to be a righteous weapon in defending truth, in cutting through the false philosophies of the world, and in protecting ourselves and families from the mists of darkness and traps Satan has set to destroy us. I don’t know about you, but I could use strength beyond my own.
Christ will have power to unite the earth. “Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship.” (7) He will preserve Israel and gather them together after they are scattered. He will release the “prisoners: Go forth; to them that sit in darkness:.” (9) His people will “not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them; for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.” (10) And His “highways shall be exalted.” (11)
What I love about Isaiah chapters is that sometimes I’m confused, but then a verse will stick out to me with glorious light, usually the ones teaching about Jesus Christ. Like this one:
He “hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.”1 Nephi 21:13
God never forgets us, as shown in this next verse:
For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.”1 Nephi 21:15
I find it beautiful that Christ compares His love to that of a mother. A nurturing mother is one of the best examples of love on this earth.
Having raised my own children, I look back and think that Motherhood has been the BEST Christlike learning course I’ve ever taken. Having to put the needs of my husband and children before my own has helped me realize how the Savior loves me. I only want the best for my family and have been willing to sacrifice my desires for their good. When they’ve suffered, I’ve suffered. When they have rejoiced, so have I. Being a mother requires a selfless type of love…a Christlike type of love He helps us to achieve.
We are the child in the relationship with Christ, and His love never ends. He suffers when we suffer, He rejoices when we succeed. He has sacrificed His very life to ransom ours.
Verse 16 has always invoked images in my head. “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.”
Christ was nailed to a cross to end His life. Even as a resurrected Savior, He still bears those wounds on His palms and wrists. Proof that He literally saved us from death and everlasting misery.
“Thy walls are continually before me.” (16)
This brings to mind the walls of Jerusalem in the old city. Christ was nailed upon a cross outside those walls. They were right in front of Him. They still are in His mind, reminding Him of our pains, our sufferings, our cruelties and sins that He suffered for in Gethsemane and on the cross.
I love when God tell His people that He will help them triumph over their enemies.
Lift up thine eyes round about and behold…”1 Nephi 21:18
This is great counsel. The world can bog us down and make us lose focus on God so that our sight is downward. Christ reminds us to lift up our eyes and behold everything about us. When we look up, we see blessings and opportunities.
What does BEHOLD mean?
Merriam-webster defines it as to perceive through sight or apprehension; to gaze upon. Synonyms include: appreciate, comprehend, discern, grasp, understand.
When we lift up our eyes and behold, we are seeking to perceive God’s blessings and His character. We are striving to appreciate who He really is, comprehend His love, and perceive more than we understood before.
One last thought from this chapter (although there is tons more I’m skipping over). The Lord gives us this promise:
…And thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.”1 Nephi 21:23
Waiting suggests a commitment or focus that draws us to serve someone else. If we wait on the Lord, He is our focus and we want to please Him, like a waiter or waitress in a fancy restaurant wants to please the people they are assigned to wait upon.
When we wait upon God and our fellowmen, we will not be ashamed and turn away from the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—the precious and pure fruit that brings joy into our life.
We will thoroughly embrace it.