Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 41:1Keep silence - Attend diligently to my plea. Islands - By islands he means countries remote from Judea, inhabited by the idolatrous Gentiles. Renew - Strengthen themselves to maintain their cause against me; let them unite all their strength together. Near - Unto me that we may stand together, and plead our cause, and I will give them free liberty to say what they can on their own behalf.
isa 41:2Who - Was it not my work alone? Raised - Into being and power, stirring up his spirit, and strengthening him to the work. The man - Cyrus. The east - Persia was directly eastward, both from Judea and from Babylon. He was raised up by God in an eminent manner. And although these things were yet to come; yet the prophet speaks of them as if they were already past. And by this instance he pleads his cause against the Gentiles; because this was an evident proof of God's almighty power, and of the vanity of idols, which eminently appeared in the destruction of the Babylonians, who were a people mad upon their idols. Called him - To march after him, and under God's banner against Babylon.
isa 41:3Pursued - Went on in the pursuit with ease and safety. Even - Through unknown paths.
isa 41:4Calling - Them out of nothing, giving them breath and being: disposing and employing them as he sees fit. From the beginning - All persons and generations of mankind from the beginning of the world. I - Who was before all things even from eternity, and shall be unto eternity.
isa 41:5The isles - Even remote countries. Saw - Discerned the mighty work of God in delivering his people, and overthrowing their enemies. Feared - Lest they should be involved in the same calamity. Came - They gathered themselves together.
isa 41:7Fastened it - To the wall or pillar.
isa 41:9Thou - Thou Israel, whom I took to myself, and brought hither in the loins of thy father Abraham, from a remote country. Called thee - From the midst of many great persons among whom he lived in Chaldea. Chosen - I have chosen thee and thy seed through all generations.
isa 41:11Confounded - Because the mischief which they contrived against thee shall fall upon themselves.
isa 41:13Will hold - Will enable thee to vanquish all thine enemies.
isa 41:14Thou worm - Who art weak in thyself, and trodden under foot by thy proud enemies.
isa 41:15An instrument - Such as were usual in those times and places. The mountains - The great and lofty potentates of the world.
isa 41:16Fan - When thou hast beaten them as small as chaff. In the Holy One - For to him, thou shalt ascribe thy victory.
isa 41:18In high places - Upon the mountains where by the course of nature there are no rivers. The dry land - Their people who are like a dry and barren wilderness. I will abundantly water with my blessings.
isa 41:19The box tree - Trees which are both useful and pleasant to the eye, and giving a good shadow to the traveller. But what particular trees these Hebrew words signify, is not certainly known.
isa 41:22Them - The idols. Former things - Such things as should shortly come to pass. The latter end - Whether the events answer to their predictions.
isa 41:23Do good - Protect your worshippers whom I intend to destroy, and destroy my people whom I intend to save. That - That I and my people may be astonished, and forced to acknowledge your godhead.
isa 41:24Your work - Your operations are like your beings: there is no reality in your beings, nor efficacy in your actions.
isa 41:25Raised - Cyrus, might be said to come from the north, because he was a Mede by his mother, as he was a Persian by his father; or because a great part of his army was gathered out of Media, which was northward, in reference to Judea, and because Darius the Mede was joined with him in this expedition. Proclaim - This Cyrus did in express, emphatical terms, Ezr 1:1-2. As on mortar - Treading them down, as easily as a man treads down mortar.
isa 41:26Who - Which of your idols could foretel such things as these from the beginning of the world unto this day? Before - time - Before the things come to pass. Righteous - His cause is good: he is a God indeed. Heareth - Because you are dumb and cannot speak.
isa 41:27The first - I who am the first, do and will foretel to my people things to come. Them - I also represent future things as if they were present. By them he means things which are to come. One - Messengers, who shall foretel the good tidings of their deliverance from captivity.
isa 41:28For - I looked to see if I could find any man that could foretel future events. No man - Not any, of the idols; for the word man is sometimes used by the Hebrews of brute creatures, and even of lifeless things. No counsellor - Though these idols were often consulted, yet none of them were able to give any solid and certain advice concerning future things.
isa 41:29Behold - This is the conclusion of the dispute, but under these he comprehends all images whatsoever. Wind - Empty and unsatisfying things. Confusion - Confused and useless things, like that rude heap in the beginning of God's creation, of which this very word is used, Gen 1:2.