Isaiah 40:15 MEANING

Isaiah 40:15
(15) The nations are as a drop . . .--"Nations" and "isles" bring us into the region of human history, as distinct from that of the material world. "Isles" as elsewhere, stands vaguely for far-off lands, or sea-coasts. The word is that of one who looks on the Mediterranean, and thinks of the unexplored regions that lie in it and around. It is one of Isaiah's favourite words in this aspect of its meaning.

A drop of a bucket.--Better, on a bucket. Such a drop adds nothing to the weight which the bearer feels; as little do the nations and the isles to the burden which Jehovah bears. The "small dust in the balance" presents another illustration of the same idea.

Verse 15. - Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket. "From nature," as Mr. Cheyne says, "we pass to history." If God is so great, so apart and by himself in relation to the material universe, what is he in relation to man? What are nations, compared to him, but "as a drop from a bucket," which drips from it, and is of no account? What are they, but as the small dust of the balance, which lies on it but does not disturb its equilibrium? They are absolutely "as nothing" (ver. 17) - vanity and emptiness, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing; literally, he taketh up islands, or perhaps lands generally. As he weighs mountains and hills in his balance (ver. 15), so he can take up in his own hands "lands," or "countries" (Cheyne), with all their inhabitants, and do with them as seemeth him good. They are no burden to him.

40:12-17 All created beings shrink to nothing in comparison with the Creator. When the Lord, by his Spirit, made the world, none directed his Spirit, or gave advice what to do, or how to do it. The nations, in comparison of him, are as a drop which remains in the bucket, compared with the vast ocean; or as the small dust in the balance, which does not turn it, compared with all the earth. This magnifies God's love to the world, that, though it is of such small account and value with him, yet, for the redemption of it, he gave his only-begotten Son, Joh 3:16. The services of the church can make no addition to him. Our souls must have perished for ever, if the only Son of the Father had not given himself for us.Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket,.... Not only the Chaldeans and Babylonians, and other nations most known, and most troublesome to the Jews, but all the nations of the world; these, in comparison of God, of his infinite and immense Being, are but as a drop of water that hangs upon the bucket, or falls from it, when water is drawn by it, or is left in it, when poured out of it; which is nothing in comparison of the well out of which the water is drawn, or even of the water in the bucket drawn out of it:

and are accounted as the small dust of the balance; that is, they are accounted nothing of with God, comparatively speaking, any more than the small dust which hangs upon the balance, and gives it no weight, nor turn one way or another, and so is of no consideration. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "as the turn of the scale"; and so the Targum; but the other version more strongly expresses the sense:

behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing; by which are meant not merely islands, properly so called, which are encompassed by the sea, but all such countries which the Jews used to go to by sea, for all such they called isles; these the Lord can take up, or cast away (u), as some render the word; toss them about, overturn and destroy, as a man may take up the most minute thing and cast it from him. The Targum renders it,

"as chaff which flies away;''

or, as others translate it,

"as the ashes of a coal which fly away.''

The word may signify any light thing, as chaff, straw, stubble, feathers, down of thistles, which are easily carried away with the least force; and so Vitringa renders the words, "behold, the isles are as some little thing which flies away".

(u) "projiciet", Pagninus, Tigurine version; so R. Jonah in Ben Melech.

Courtesy of Open Bible