"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Isaiah of the Exile
Isaiah 40:1-11 Commentary
by Michael J. Chan
Isaiah 40:1-11 is one of the most important texts in all of Isaiah.
The narrative immediately preceding it (Isaiah 39:1-8) features King Hezekiah, who hosts an envoy from the faraway country of Babylon. This narrative, which functions as the conclusion to “First Isaiah” (Isaiah 1-39) points forward to what is arguably the book’s most formative historical moment: The Babylonian exile. Splitting the book into two major sections -- roughly pre-and post-exile -- the destruction of Jerusalem is never described as it is in, say, 2 Kings 24-25. The exile is anticipated in Chapter 39 and then only assumed in Isaiah 40. It’s as if the editors didn’t need to -- or perhaps couldn’t bear to -- talk about “that” time, when God handed over God’s beloved Daughter Zion into the hands of a vicious foreign army. Whatever the reasons are for the lack of a description, the reader necessarily fills in the literary gap with her own memory.
Isaiah 40:1-11 can be described in one word: “Comfort” (root: n-ch-m). ...
| Bible Text
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
2020-21 Worship Resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL199: Isaiah of the Exile
December 06, 2015
This podcast discusses Isaiah 40:1-11, the Narrative Lectionary reading for Dec. 6, 2015.