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Isaiah 12


Thanksgiving Expressed A Hymn of Praise Two Songs Hymn of Thanksgiving Psalm
12:1-6 12:1-2 12:1-2 12:1-3 12:1-2
(1-6) (1-2) (1-2) (1-3) (1-2)
  12:3 12:3-4   12:3-6
  (3) (3b-4)   (3-6)
  12:4-6   12:4-6  
  (4b-6)   (4b-6)  

READING CYCLE THREE (see introduction)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. This (or these) hymns of praise closes out "Immanuel's book" (i.e., chapters 7-12).


B. Because the opening phrase, "on that day" is repeated in v. 4, some (JB, NASB Study Bible) think there are two hymns.

1. vv. 1-3, cf. Exod. 15:1-17; Psalm 118

2. vv. 4-6, cf. Ps. 165:1; 148:13


C. It is similar to Exodus 15 (the song of Moses) and Psalm 118. Often at times of great victory or deliverance, Israel composed hymns of praise to their God.



1Then you will say on that day,
"I will give thanks to You, O Lord;
For although You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away,
And You comfort me.
2Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For the Lord God is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation."
3Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.
4And in that day you will say,
"Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name.
Make known His deeds among the peoples;
Make them remember that His name is exalted."
5Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things;
Let this be known throughout the earth.
6Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

12:1 "you will say" The verb (BDB 55, KB 65, Qal perfect) denotes a settled attitude of an individual Israelite (singular). It is much like the song of victory found in Exod. 15:1-17. This is also a song of praise for YHWH's deliverance . One person speaks on behalf of the covenant community.

This brief poem was placed here because it connects to the return from exile mentioned in 11:11-16. It also has a relation to the theological goal of the nations knowing and coming to YHWH (cf. 2:2-4; 11:10; 12:4-6).

▣ "on that day" This is an idiom for YHWH's action within history, either temporally or eschatologically. There is a time of reckoning coming. For some, a time of joy and victory, for others a time of judgment and rejection! Covenant disobedience affects time and eternity!

Because this phrase appears in both v.1 and v. 4 it is possible that this chapter is two hymns of praise (cf. JB).

▣ "I will give thanks" This verb (BDB 392, KB 389 II, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense) basically means "to throw" or "to cast." However, especially in the Psalms, in the Hiphil stem it denotes "to confess" or "to praise." It is found in Isaiah in 12:1,4; 25:1; 38:18,19.

▣ "O Lord" See Special Topic: Names for Deity at 1:1.

▣ "although You were angry with me" This reflects YHWH's reaction to His covenant love being violated repeatedly (cf. 40:1-2; 54:8; and many others). God's wrath is difficult for many Bible readers to understand. For me a comparison of Deut. 5:9 with 5:10 and 7:9 helps. God's anger is best understood as parental discipline (cf. Heb. 12:5-13).

▣ "Your anger is turned away" This verb (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal jussive) is often translated "repent," when used of humans. In a sense YHWH repents (i.e., changed His mind and actions) toward His covenant people (i.e., Hos. 11:8-9). In the OT it is often specifically connected to their repentance. However, in the NT (and new covenant, Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38) it is motivated by His grace and mercy, apart from fallen humanity's ability to perform/conform/reform!

▣ "And You comfort me" This verb (BDB 636, KB 688, Piel imperfect) means "comfort," or "console" (cf. 22:4; 40:1; 51:3,12,19; 61:2; 66:13). After judgment comes comfort; after discipline fellowship is restored! There is hope for rebels and sinners in the unchanging merciful character of YHWH (cf. Mal. 3:6).

12:2 "God is my salvation" There is no verb in this line of poetry, which intensifies the phrase.

For the term "salvation" (BDB 447) see Special Topic at 33:2.

▣ "I will trust" This verb (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal imperfect) denotes that which is firm (i.e., reliable) or "to fall prostrate before." This verb expresses a confident reliance on God (cf. 26:3,4; Ps. 78:22).

▣ "and not be afraid" This verb (BDB 808, KB 922, Qal imperfect) is the opposite of trust (cf. Deut. 28:66; Isa. 44:8,11). Because they trust YHWH, there is no reason to fear His wrath, but rely on His covenant love and promises (cf. I John 4:17-18)!

▣ "the Lord God" This is two related titles for Deity.

1. יה, BDB 219 contraction of YHWH (cf. Exod. 17:16; Ps. 118:14; Isa. 26:4; 38:11)

2. יהוה, BDB 217 (YHWH)

For a full discussion of the theories connected to the covenant name of God from the verb "to be," see Special Topic at 1:1.

▣ "my strength and song" Like 12:2a, there is no verb with these two nouns, which are pointed by the Masoretic scholars.

1. strength, BDB 738, describes the "Servant" in 49:5 and Israel's praise in Ps. 81:1

2. song, BDB 274 I; these same two nouns are found in Moses' song of victory in Exod. 15:2, also in Ps. 118:14

The meaning of the second noun, הרמז is uncertain (BDB 275 II).

1. song, NASB, NKJV, NJB, Peshitta (BDB 274 I, KB 274 I)

2. might, NRSV, TEV, JPSOA (KB 274 II)

3. LXX has "my glory and my praise"

4. REB has "my refuge and defense"

5. the same form (זמרת) as here appears in Gen. 43:11, where it is translated "the best products of the land")


It is surprising that line 1 seems to affirm something that line 4 sees as progressive. Hebrew poetry is ambiguous. See opening articles on Hebrew Poetry.

12:3 The verb has two metaphors.

1. God's gift of life-giving water, so important to those who depend on agriculture and livestock. Good water was seen as a blessing from God (cf. Deuteronomy 27-29).

2. Salvation/deliverance is described as an abundant source of God's gift (cf. 48:18; Ps. 36:9; Jer. 2:13; 17:13).


▣ "you" The singular of vv. 1-2 changes to the plural of collective joy (cf. vv. 4-6).

12:4-6 These verses list the things God's joyful, grateful people (cf. v. 6b) should do and why (v. 5b; 6b)

1. give thanks, BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperative, cf. v. 1 (i.e., worship setting)

2. call on His name, BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal imperative (i.e., worship setting)

3. make known His deeds among the peoples, BDB 393, KB 390, HIphil imperative

4. make them remember that His name is exalted, BDB 269, KB 269, Hiphil imperative

5. praise the Lord in song, BDB 274 I, KB 273, Piel imperative (i.e., worship setting)

6. let this be known through the earth, Kethiv (it is written) BDB 393, KB 390, Pual participle; Qere (it is read) BDB 393, KB 390, Hophal participle (Owens, Analytical Key has Hiphil participle)

7. cry aloud, BDB 843, KB 1007, Qal imperative, cf. 54:1

8. shout for joy, BDB 943, KB 1247, Qal imperative, cf. 54:1

Again notice the missionary mandate (cf. 2:2-4; 51:4-5).

12:4 "call on His name" This phrase implies participation in a worship setting (cf. Gen. 4:26; 12:8; 21:33; 26:25; Exod. 34:5-7; Rom. 10:9-13). The name would represent His person, His character! By calling on Him we acknowledge our need for Him and our desire to be like Him and pleasing to Him. This phrase denotes a desire for fellowship (cf. Isa. 43:1; 45:3,4)!

The NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 150, has a good list related to YHWH's name.


1. it can be praised, Joel 2:26

2. it can be loved, Ps. 5:11

3. it can be declared, Ps. 22:22

4. it can be feared, Mal. 4:2

5. it can be waited on, Ps. 52:9

6. it can be proclaimed, Isa. 12:4

7. it can be walked on, Mic. 4:5

8. it can be blasphemed, Isa. 52:5

9. it can be polluted, Jer. 34:6

10. it can be profaned, Ezek. 36:21-23

God's people can reflect Him positively or negatively, but we do reflect Him (cf. Matt. 5:13-16)!

12:5 "Let this be known throughout the earth" YHWH's goal is that all humans made in His image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26, 27); created with fellowship with Himself (cf. Gen 3:8),` return to intimate, daily faith relationship with their Creator! This is the goal of revelation (cf. Isa. 2:2-4; 25:6-9; 42:6-12; 45:22-23; 49:5-6; 51:4-5; 56:6-8; 60:1-3; 66:23; Ps. 22:27; 66:24; 86:8-10; Mic. 4:1-4; Mal. 1:11; John 3:16; 4:42; I Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11; II Pet. 3:9; I John 2:1; 4:14).

12:6 This verse is set in the Temple in Jerusalem. The space between the wings of the two Cherubim over the Ark of the Covenant was seen as YHWH's footstool, the place where heaven and earth met. This description parallels the child's name, "Immanuel," which means "God is with us." There is no greater blessing than the presence of YHWH and a personal relationship with Him!

▣ "the Holy One of Israel" See notes at 1:11,24.


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