Isaiah - 50:4

4 The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him who is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.

Verse In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of Isaiah 50:4.

Differing Translations

Compare verses for better understanding.
The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of them that are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught.
The Lord hath given me a learned tongue, that I should know how to uphold by word him that is weary: he wakeneth in the morning, in the morning he wakeneth my ear, that I may hear him as a master.
The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of the instructed, that I should know how to succour by a word him that is weary. He wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the instructed.
The Lord Jehovah hath given to me The tongue of taught ones, To know to aid the weary by a word, He waketh morning by morning, He waketh for me an ear to hear as taught ones.
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as the learned.
The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are experienced, so that I may be able to give the word a special sense for the feeble: every morning my ear is open to his teaching, like those who are experienced:
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord has given me a learned tongue, so that I would know how to uphold with a word, one who has weakened. He rises in the morning, he rises to my ear in the morning, so that I may heed him like a teacher.
Dominus Iehova aperuit mihi linguam eruditorum, ut sciam lasso verbum in tempore. Excitabit mane, mane excitabit mihi aurem, ut audiam, sicut docti.

*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

The Lord Jehovah. After having twice convicted them of guilt, he adds a consolation in his usual manner; for when the Lord covers us with shame, he intends immediately to free us from shame. Although, therefore, he shewed that the people had been rejected for the best possible reasons, and had perished by their own fault, because they proved themselves to be even unworthy of deliverance, yet he promises assistance to them. Again, because in a matter so difficult to be believed there needed more than ordinary proof, he begins by saying that God has sent and instructed him to execute his commands. This passage is commonly explained so as to relate to Christ, as if it had not been applicable to the Prophet, because he afterwards says, that he had been beaten with rods, which we nowhere read was done to Isaiah. But there is no great force in this argument; for David complains that his garments were divided, (Psalm 22:18,) which applies literally to Christ, (Matthew 27:35; John 19:24,) and yet it does not follow that this did not happen to David himself. For my own part, I have no doubt, that Isaiah comes forward as one who represents all the servants of God, not only those who were from the beginning, but those who should come afterwards. Hath given me the tongue of the learned. He says that the Lord hath given him a "tongue," that the promises by which he cheers the people may have greater weight. Our faith wavers, if we suspect that a man speaks from himself; and the condition of that people was so wretched that no human arguments could induce them to entertain the hope of deliverance. It amounts to this, that the message of approaching salvation is brought to them from heaven; and if any person do not receive it, he must prove himself to be rebellious and disobedient. Although these words are literally intended by the Prophet to secure the belief of his statements, yet we may infer from them generally, that no man is fit to teach who has not first been qualified by God. This reminds all godly teachers to ask from the Spirit of God what otherwise they could not at all possess. They must indeed study diligently, so as not to ascend the pulpit till they have been fully prepared; but they must hold by this principle, that all things necessary for discharging their office are gifts of the Holy Spirit. And, indeed, if they were not organs of the Holy Spirit, it would be extreme rashness to come forth publicly in the name of God. That I may know a word in season to the weary. Some verb must be supplied here, such as, "to administer" or "to utter." The word "know" includes wisdom and skill, which a pastor ought to possess, that the word of God may be faithfully and profitably administered by him; as if he had said that he has been well instructed in the school of God, and thus knows well what is suitable to those who are wretched and who groan under a burden. [1] The term "weary" is applied to those who are overwhelmed by many afflictions; as we have formerly seen, "who giveth strength to the weary." (Isaiah 40:29.) Thus also Christ speaks, "Come to me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden." (Matthew 11:28.) He therefore means that God has been his teacher and instructor, that he may be able to soothe wretched men by appropriate consolation, that by means of it their dejected hearts may be encouraged by feeling the mercy of God. Hence we infer that the most important duty of the ministers of the word is, to comfort wretched men, who are oppressed by afflictions, or who bend under their weight, and, in short, to point out what is true rest and serenity of mind, as we have formerly seen. (Isaiah 33:20.) We are likewise taught what each of us ought chiefly to seek in the Scriptures, namely, that we may be fumished with doctrine appropriate and suitable for relieving our distresses, He who, by seasonable consolation, in afflictive or even desperate affairs, can cheer and support his heart, ought to know that he has made good proficiency in the Gospel. I acknowledge that doctrine has indeed various uses; for not only is it useful for comforting the afflicted and feeble, but it likewise contains severe reproofs and threatenings against the obstinate. (2-Timothy 3:16.) But Isaiah shews that the chief duty incumbent on him is, to bring some consolation to the Jews who, in the present distress, are ready to faint. He will waken in the morning. The Prophet here testifies that the Lord is so careful about wretched and oppressed persons that he aids them "in the morning," that is, seasonably. I do acknowledge that we are often destitute of consolation; but, although God often permits us to languish, yet he knows every moment that is suitable for seasonably meeting the necessity by his aid. Besides, if his assistance be somewhat late, this happens through our own fault; for not only by our indolence, but likewise by rebellion, we withdraw ourselves from his grace. However that may be, he always watches carefully and runs to give aid; and even when we fly and resist, he calls us to him, that we may be refreshed by tasting his grace and kindness. He twice repeats the phrase, "in the morning," by which he expresses continuance and earnestness, that we may not think that he is liable to sudden impulses like men, to cast off or quickly forget those whom he has once undertaken to guard, whom he continues, on the contrary, to make the objects of his grace till the end, and never leaves destitute of consolation. That I may hear as the learned. He means that his ear has not only been pulled or twitched, as for sluggish and indolent persons, but has been formed and trained. Yet by his example he shews that God efficaciously teaches all whose ministry he intends to employ for the salvation of his Church; for it would have been a small matter to be instructed after the manner of men, if they had not within them the Spirit of God as their instructor. This makes still more evident the truth of what we have formerly said, that none are good teachers but those who have been good scholars. He calls them "learned'and "well-instructed;" for they who do not deign to learn, because they think that they are wise enough, are doubly fools; since they alone, in the judgment of God, are reckoned to be "well-instructed" and "learned," who permit themselves to be taught before discharging the office of teachers, that they may have clear knowledge of those things which they communicate to others, and may publicly bring forward nothing but what they can testify to have proceeded from God; and, in a word, they alone are "learned," [2] who, by continually learning, do not refuse to make constant progress. Some read the word in the accusative, meaning, "that I may hear as (hearing) the learned;" but that is harsh and at variance with the true meaning.


1 - "Qui gemissent sous le fardeau de leurs pechez;" "Who groan under the burden of their sins."

2 - "Ceux-la sont doctes."

The Lord God hath given me - This verse commences a new subject, and the deliverer is directly introduced as himself speaking. The reasons why this is supposed to refer to the Messiah, have been given in the analysis to the chapter. Those reasons will be strengthened by the examination of the particular expressions in the passage, and by showing, as we proceed in the exposition, in what way they are applicable to him. It will be assumed that the reference is to the Messiah; and we shall find that it is a most beautiful description of his character, and of some of the principal events of his life. This verse is designed to state how he was suited for the special work to which he was called. The whole endowment is traced to Yahweh. It was he who had called him; he who had given him the tongue of the learned, and he who had carefully and attentively qualified him for his work.
The tongue of the learned - Hebrew, 'The tongue of those who are instructed;' that is, of the eloquent; or the tongue of instruction (παιδείας paideias, Septuagint); that is, he has qualified me to instruct others. It does not mean human science or learning; nor does it mean that any other had been qualified as he was, or that there were any others who were learned like him. But it means that on the subject of religion he was eminently endowed with intelligence, and with eloquence. In regard to the Redeemer's power of instruction, the discourses which he delivered, as recorded in the New Testament, and especially his sermon on the mount, may be referred to. None on the subject of religion ever spake like him; none was ever so well qualified to instruct mankind (compare Matthew 13:54).
That I should know how to speak a word in season - The Hebrew here is, 'That I might know how to strengthen with a word the weary;' that is, that he might sustain, comfort, and refresh them by his promises and his counsels. How eminently he was suited to alleviate those who were heavy laden with sin and to comfort those who were burdened with calamities and trials, may be seen by the slightest reference to the New Testament, and the most partial acquaintance with his instructions and his life. The weary here are those who are burdened with a sense of guilt; who feel that they have no strength to bear up under the mighty load, and who therefore seek relief (see Matthew 11:28).
He wakeneth morning by morning - That is, he wakens me every morning early. The language is taken from an instructor who awakens his pupils early, in order that they may receive instruction. The idea is, that the Redeemer would be eminently endowed, under the divine instruction and guidance, for his work. He would be one who was, so to speak, in the school of God; and who would be qualified to impart instruction to others.
He wakeneth mine ear - To awaken the ear is to prepare one to receive instruction. The expressions, to open the ear, to uncover the ear, to awaken the ear, often occur in the Scriptures, in the sense of preparing to receive instruction, or of disposing to receive divine communications. The sense here is plain. The Messiah would be taught of God, and would be inclined to receive all that he imparted.
To hear as the learned - Many translate the phrase here 'as disciples,' that is, as those who are learning. So Lowth; 'With the attention of a learner.' So Noyes; 'In the manner of a disciple.' The Septuagint renders it, 'He has given me an ear to hear.' The idea is, probably, that he was attentive as they are who wish to learn; that is, as docile disciples. The figure is taken from a master who in the morning summons his pupils around him, and imparts instruction to them. And the doctrine which is taught is, that the Messiah would be eminently qualified, by divine teaching, to be the instructor of mankind. The Chaldee paraphrases this, 'Morning by morning, he anticipates (the dawn), that he may send his prophets, if perhaps they my open the ears of sinners, and receive instruction.'

The Lord GOD hath given (g) me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to [him that is] (h) weary: he awakeneth morning by morning, he awakeneth my ear to hear (i) as the learned.
(g) The prophet represents here the person and charge of them that are justly called to the ministry by God's word.
(h) To him that is oppressed by affliction and misery.
(i) As they who are taught, and made meet by him.

The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned,.... These are not the words of the prophet, as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and others think; though what is here said is applicable to ministers of the word, who have to do with weary souls, and it is their work to comfort and refresh them; and which work requires knowledge and experience of their case, a good degree of elocution to speak aptly and with propriety, even to have the tongue of the learned, especially in a spiritual sense; as such have who have learned of the Father, and have been taught by the Spirit of God, and are well versed in the Scriptures, and can speak in the taught words of the Holy Ghost, comparing spiritual things with spiritual; and they have need of great prudence to time things right, to speak fitly and opportunely, and give to each their portion in due season, to whom they minister; and also great diligence and assiduity in prayer, reading, and meditation; and such as are teachers of others must be the Lord's hearers, and should be very diligent and attentive ones; all which are gifts from the Lord, and to be ascribed to him. But the words are to be understood of Christ, the same person that is speaking in the preceding verses; who being anointed by the Spirit of the Lord God, as man, whose gifts and graces he received without measure, he was abundantly qualified for the discharge of his prophetic office; and was capable of speaking as never man did, and with such power and authority as the Scribes and Pharisees did not, and with so much wisdom and eloquence as were surprising to all that heard him; he had the Spirit of wisdom on him, and the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid in him:
that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary; not only saints, weary with sin, their own and others, and with troubles from the world, from Satan, and by afflictive providences; but sinners under first awakenings, distressed and uneasy in their minds at a sight of sin, in its exceeding sinfulness; pressed with the guilt of it, filled with a sense of divine wrath on account of it, and terrified with the thoughts of death, and a future judgment; and are weary with labouring for bread which satisfies not, for righteousness and life, and in seeking for resting places, being in want of spiritual rest, peace, and comfort; and who are hungry and thirsting after righteousness, after pardoning grace and mercy, after Christ and salvation by him, after his word and ordinances, after communion with him, and conformity to him; who are weak and without strength, and ready to faint for want of refreshment. The word for "weary" signifies "thirsty", according to Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech; who explain it of persons that thirst after hearing the word of the Lord: the Targum is,
"to know how to teach the righteous that weary themselves at the words of the law;''
or, as some render it, that pant after the words of the law: but not the law, but the Gospel, is "the word in season", to be spoken to weary souls; which proclaims pardon, preaches peace, is the word of righteousness and salvation; which directs hungry and thirsty souls to Christ, as the bread and water of life, and invites weary ones to him for rest. That word of his, Matthew 11:28 is a word in season to such persons: such a word Christ spoke when he was here on earth in his own person, and now speaks by his ministers in the preaching of the Gospel, and by his Spirit applying it to his people.
He wakeneth morning by morning; one after another continually, meaning himself; the allusion is to masters calling their scholars early to their studies; the morning being the fittest season for instruction and learning.
He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned; who hear attentively, and with great pleasure and profit. This and the preceding clause seem to denote both the earliness in which Christ entered on his prophetic office, and his attentiveness in hearkening to all that was said in the eternal council and covenant by his divine Father; which he, as the Prophet of his church, makes known unto his people, John 15:15.

As Jesus was God and man in one person, we find him sometimes speaking, or spoken of, as the Lord God; at other times, as man and the servant of Jehovah. He was to declare the truths which comfort the broken, contrite heart, those weary of sin, harassed with afflictions. And as the Holy Spirit was upon him, that he might speak as never man spake; so the same Divine influence daily wakened him to pray, to preach the gospel, and to receive and deliver the whole will of the Father. The Father justified the Son when he accepted the satisfaction he made for the sin of man. Christ speaks in the name of all believers. Who dares to be an enemy to those unto whom he is a Friend? or who will contend with those whom he is an Advocate? Thus St. Paul applies it, Romans 8:33.

Messiah, as "the servant of Jehovah" (Isaiah 42:1), declares that the office has been assigned to Him of encouraging the "weary" exiles of Israel by "words in season" suited to their case; and that, whatever suffering it is to cost Himself, He does not shrink from it (Isaiah 50:5-6), for that He knows His cause will triumph at last (Isaiah 50:7-8).
learned--not in mere human learning, but in divinely taught modes of instruction and eloquence (Isaiah 49:2; Exodus 4:11; Matthew 7:28-29; Matthew 13:54).
speak a word in season-- (Proverbs 15:23; Proverbs 25:11). Literally, "to succor by words," namely, in their season of need, the "weary" dispersed ones of Israel (Deuteronomy 28:65-67). Also, the spiritual "weary" (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 11:28).
wakeneth morning by morning, &c.--Compare "daily rising up early" (Jeremiah 7:25; Mark 1:35). The image is drawn from a master wakening his pupils early for instruction.
wakeneth . . . ear--prepares me for receiving His divine instructions.
as the learned--as one taught by Him. He "learned obedience," experimentally, "by the things which He suffered"; thus gaining that practical learning which adapted Him for "speaking a word in season" to suffering men (Hebrews 5:8).

He in whom Jehovah came to His nation, and proclaimed to it, in the midst of its self-induced misery, the way and work of salvation, is He who speaks in Isaiah 50:4 : "The Lord Jehovah hath given me a disciple's tongue, that I may know how to set up the wearied with words: He wakeneth every morning; wakeneth mine ear to attend in disciple's manner." The word limmūdı̄m, which is used in the middle of the verse, and which is the older word for the later talmidı̄m, μαθηταί, as in Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 54:13, is repeated at the close of the verse, according to the figure of palindromy, which is such a favourite figure in both parts of the book of Isaiah; and the train of thought, "He wakeneth morning by morning, wakeneth mine ear," recals to mind the parallelism with reservation which is very common in the Psalm, and more especially the custom of a "triolet-like" spinning out of the thoughts, from which the songs of "degrees" (or ascending steps, shı̄r hamma‛ălōth) have obtained their name. The servant of Jehovah affords us a deep insight here into His hidden life. The prophets received special revelations from God, for the most part in the night, either in dreams or else in visions, which were shown them in a waking condition, but yet in the more susceptible state of nocturnal quiet and rest. Here, however, the servant of Jehovah receives the divine revelations neither in dreams nor visions of the night; but every morning (babbōqer babbōqer as in Isaiah 28:19), i.e., when his sleep is over, Jehovah comes to him, awakens his ear, by making a sign to him to listen, and then takes him as it were into the school after the manner of a pupil, and teaches him what and how he is to preach. Nothing indicates a tongue befitting the disciples of God, so much as the gift of administering consolation; and such a gift is possessed by the speaker here. "To help with words him that is exhausted" (with suffering and self-torture): עוּת, Arab. gât̬, med. Vav, related to אוּשׁ, חוּשׁ, signifies to spring to a person with words to help, Aq. ὑποστηρίσαι, Jeremiah. sustentare. The Arabic gât̬, med. Je, to rain upon or water (Ewald, Umbreit, etc.), cannot possibly be thought of, since this has no support in the Hebrew; still less, however, can we take עוּת as a denom. from עת, upon which Luther has founded his rendering, "to speak to the weary in due season" (also Eng. ver.). דּבר is an accusative of more precise definition, like אשׁר in Isaiah 50:1 (cf., Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 43:23). Jerome has given the correct rendering: "that I may know how to sustain him that is weary with a word."

Given me - This and the following passages may be in some sort understood of the prophet Isaiah, but they are far more evidently and eminently verified in Christ, and indeed seem to be meant directly of him. The tongue - All ability of speaking plainly, and convincingly, and persuasively. Weary - Burdened with the sense of his, deplorable condition. Wakeneth - Me, from time to time, and continually. To hear - He by his Divine power assists me to the practice of all his commands and my duties, with all attention and diligence.

*More commentary available at chapter level.

Discussion on Isaiah 50:4

User discussion of the verse.

*By clicking Submit, you agree to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Use.