Isaiah 40: The Lord's Power and Greatness

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 147–148


After recording historical events in chapters 36–39, Isaiah returned in chapter 40 to his prophetic and more poetic style of writing. Many of the verses in Isaiah 40 have become the words to wonderful musical works because this chapter richly describes the Lord’s power and how He will redeem His people. After Isaiah and other prophets often prophesied of destruction, Isaiah 40 is a great, hopeful message to those who will trust the Lord. The prophecies of chapter 40 foretell both the first and second comings of the Messiah. If we “liken” the teachings in chapter 40 to ourselves, they can be a beautiful and powerful testimony of the Lord and His power in our personal lives.

Understanding the Scriptures

Isaiah 40

Make straight (v. 3)Literally, to make a level pathway; symbolically, to prepare the way before (This “straightening” was usually done to prepare a path for an important individual, such as a king.) 
Withereth, fadeth (vv. 7–8)Dies 
Tidings (v. 9)News 
Meted out (v. 12)Measured 
Span (v. 12)Width of his hand 
Directed (v. 13)Measured 
Sufficient (v. 16)Enough 
Vanity (vv. 17, 23)Worthless 
Graven image (vv. 19–20)Idol made with man’s hands and tools 
Impoverished (v. 20)Poor 
Oblation (v. 20)Offering (In this verse the offering is to a false god.) 
Cunning (v. 20)Skillful 
Foundations (v. 21)Beginnings 
Stock (v. 24)Tree trunk 
Stubble (v. 24)Short pieces of a plant remaining after it has been cut down or burned 
Fainteth not (v. 28)Doesn’t get weak 
Faint (vv. 29–31)Becoming physically weak, tired, or weary 
Mount (v. 31)Go up 

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the three following activities (A–C) as you study Isaiah 40.

Activity A iconHelp from the New Testament

Read JST, Luke 3:4–11 in the appendix of the LDS edition of the King James Bible.

  1. 1.

    Describe what Luke said Isaiah 40:3–5 applied to.

  2. 2.

    What additional information is found in the Joseph Smith Translation.

You may want to write this reference next to Isaiah 40:3–5.

Activity B iconApply It to Yourself and Others

  1. 1.

    In what ways could you personally apply the message in Isaiah 40:3?

  2. 2.

    Describe a way you think the Lord will literally fulfill Isaiah 40:4. You may want to read verse 5 and consider how all flesh can “see it together.”

  3. 3.

    Describe a way you think verse 4 is or will be fulfilled in a spiritual and more personal way.

  4. 4.

    How could these verses apply to someone who is worried whether righteousness is worth the effort, if they personally can return to live with God, or what will happen in the future?

Activity C iconAnswer Scriptural Questions

Isaiah 40:12–31 contains many questions that neither the Lord nor Isaiah answered because the answers should be obvious. Read the following verses and answer the questions to yourself: 12, 13, 14, 18, 21, 25, 27, 28. Write about what you think Isaiah’s message is in these verses.