2 Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.
3 He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.
4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he. (Isaiah 41:2-4)
Who is this righteous man that Isaiah is referring to in these verses?
There are a number of righteous men that Isaiah could be referring to. He might be referring to Abraham. Or Moses. Or David.
I suspect that it is Abraham, since Abraham originally came from the east, and that Isaiah means to show how the Lord helped Abraham through some tough times. Isaiah points out how the Lord called Abraham to leave his family and the land he knew (which was in the east) and travel through Canaan where he hadn’t been before. The Lord protected Abraham from a number of kings who would have killed him in order to take away his wife. The Lord helped Abraham in battle when he had to fight to save Lot when Lot was taken captive in an invasion. The Lord promised Abraham the land of Canaan and kept him safe from the people of the land.
After Isaiah describes these ways the Lord helped Abraham, he applies this case study to Israel.
8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.
10 ¶Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. (Isaiah 41:8-11)
The promise is that the Lord has called us as well and will help us just like He helped Abraham. He will strengthen us and lead us the same way. If you notice, verse 10 is probably what the hymn “How Firm A Foundation” was based on, (which is one of my favorites).
I especially like that it says “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” When I looked up “uphold” in the dictionary, one of its meanings was “to confirm or support (something that has been questioned)” such as when a court upholds a claim. This is precious, considering how much religion and traditional standards are questioned today. Even if courts don’t uphold us, the Lord will.
Another meaning I get from that statement is that of the Lord’s grace to keep us strong when we are about to wilt or give way. I feel like I need that a lot.