The Nations in Isaiah 40-55

Author: Revd Dr David Spriggs is Bible and Church Consultant at Bible Society.


We are grateful to Gordon for opening up an understanding of the various ways in which ‘the nations’ function in the Psalms, particularly read through the lens of Psalms 1 and especially 2, from the assumed perspective of the post exilic editors. He highlights 5 themes which he finds it Psalm 2 and then traces how these recur throughout the Psalter. These five themes are
1. The divine choice of David as king. See v. 7
2. The choice of Jerusalem or Zion as God’s dwelling place. v. 6
3. The attack of the nations on the Davidic king in Jerusalem. vv. 1-3
4. The defeat of the nations. vv.8-9
5. The invitation to the nations to serve the LORD. vv.11-12
This paper looks (very briefly!) at the treatment of ‘The Nations’ in Isaiah 40-55. The reason for doing this [1] is to compare and contrast this with the views reflected in the psalms, not least because the context for these chapters is usually considered to be that of Israel before the return from Babylon. So they give us an insight as to how these themes were being utilised prior to the psalms editors’ work. Equally important, however, these chapters, embedded in the Isaiah manuscript, indicate both an awareness of the ‘Jerusalem’ theology as outlined in the five points above and also a keen awareness of psalm-like materials more generally. So both with respect to theological motifs and also liturgical resources there is much similarity between Isaiah 40-55 and the psalms. Yet there is a key historical contextual difference from within the exile or beyond exile.

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