The Meaning of Isaiah 42:3 Explained

Isaiah 42:3

KJV: A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

YLT: A bruised reed he breaketh not, And dim flax he quencheth not, To truth he bringeth forth judgment.

Darby: A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment according to truth.

ASV: A bruised reed will he not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench: he will bring forth justice in truth.

KJV Reverse Interlinear

A bruised  reed  shall he not break,  and the smoking  flax  shall he not quench:  he shall bring forth  judgment  unto truth. 

What does Isaiah 42:3 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The Lord"s Servant would be gracious and patient. He would not discard what seemed to others useless, and He would not extinguish what seemed to others too spent. His calling was to save, not destroy. He would be faithful to His calling to bring forth justice to the nations ( Isaiah 42:1; cf. Isaiah 11:3-4).

Context Summary

Isaiah 42:1-13 - The Work Of The Lord's Servant
We cannot doubt the application of this passage to our Lord, Matthew 12:18-20. The unobtrusiveness of His life and work was clearly demonstrated in every hour of His sojourn among men. He silenced those whom He healed. He stole away from the multitudes for prayer. He stayed in Galilee till His brethren were angry at His reluctance to show Himself to the people. He did not "strive, nor cry."
How meek and lowly was our Lord! A "reed" is typical of a heart broken by unkindness or a sense of sin. There is no beauty in the russet plume. It will not even serve for the shepherd's pipe. The "smoking flax" cannot ignite, because hardly able to remain aglow. This is the symbol of one whose love is tardy and cold. But such our Lord does not ignore. He can use the commonest and most unlikely materials.
He is never discouraged and cannot fail; and since He cannot, neither shall the Church, nor shall we. His love and power are pledged to us. Let us sing to Him and of Him. [source]

Chapter Summary: Isaiah 42

1  The office of Christ, graced with meekness and constancy
5  God's promise unto him
10  An exhortation to praise God for his Gospel
13  God will manifest himself, and check idolatry
18  He reproves the people of incredulity

What do the individual words in Isaiah 42:3 mean?

A reed bruised not He will break and flax smoking He will quench for truth He will bring forth justice
קָנֶ֤ה רָצוּץ֙ לֹ֣א יִשְׁבּ֔וֹר וּפִשְׁתָּ֥ה כֵהָ֖ה יְכַבֶּ֑נָּה לֶאֱמֶ֖ת יוֹצִ֥יא מִשְׁפָּֽט

קָנֶ֤ה  A  reed 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: קָנֶה  
Sense: reed, stalk, bone, balances.
רָצוּץ֙  bruised 
Parse: Verb, Qal, QalPassParticiple, masculine singular
Root: רָצַץ  
Sense: to crush, oppress.
יִשְׁבּ֔וֹר  He  will  break 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: שָׁבוּר 
Sense: to break, break in pieces.
וּפִשְׁתָּ֥ה  and  flax 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, feminine singular
Root: פִּשְׁתָּה  
Sense: flax.
כֵהָ֖ה  smoking 
Parse: Adjective, feminine singular
Root: כֵּהֶה  
Sense: dim, dull, colourless, be dark, faint.
יְכַבֶּ֑נָּה  He  will  quench 
Parse: Verb, Piel, Imperfect, third person masculine singular, third person feminine singular
Root: כָּבָה  
Sense: to quench, put out, be put out, be quenched, be extinguished.
לֶאֱמֶ֖ת  for  truth 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, feminine singular
Root: אֱמֶת  
Sense: firmness, faithfulness, truth.
יוֹצִ֥יא  He  will  bring  forth 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: יׄוצֵאת 
Sense: to go out, come out, exit, go forth.
מִשְׁפָּֽט  justice 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: מִשְׁפָּט  
Sense: judgment, justice, ordinance.