The Meaning of Isaiah 42:6 Explained

Isaiah 42:6

KJV: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

YLT: I, Jehovah, did call thee in righteousness, And I lay hold on thy hand, and keep thee, And I give thee for a covenant of a people, And a light of nations.

Darby: I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will take hold of thy hand; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations,

ASV: I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

What does Isaiah 42:6 Mean?

Study Notes

for a light of the Gentiles
The prophets connect the Gentiles with Christ in a threefold way"
(1) as the Light He brings salvation to the Gentiles Luke 2:32 ; Acts 13:47 ; Acts 13:48
(2) as the "Root of Jesse" He is to reign over the Gentiles in His kingdom. Isaiah 11:10 ; Romans 15:12 . He saves the Gentiles, which is the distinctive feature of this present age.; Romans 11:17-24 ; Ephesians 2:11 ; Ephesians 2:12 He reigns over the Gentiles in the kingdom-age, to follow this. See "Kingdom (O.T.),"; Genesis 1:26-28 ; Zechariah 12:8 .
(3) Believing Gentiles in the present age, together with believing Jews, constitute "the church which is His body."
That the Gentiles
That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery Romans 9:24-33 ; Romans 10:19-21 . The mystery "hid in God" was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing--"the church, which is his Christ's body," formed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 12:12 ; 1 Corinthians 12:13 and in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears; Ephesians 2:14 ; Ephesians 2:15 ; Colossians 3:10 ; Colossians 3:11 . The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold, but not explained by Christ Matthew 16:18 was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.

Verse Meaning

Yahweh not only called an invader in harmony with His righteous purposes for humankind ( Isaiah 41:2), but He alone also called this Servant at the right time, in the right place, and for the right purpose.
"The righteousness of God is the stringency with which He Acts , in accordance with the will of His holiness." [1]
Cyrus would destroy, but Messiah would build. The Lord promised again to uphold His Servant (cf. Isaiah 42:1). The Servant would fulfill the covenant requirements and promises that God had given His people, becoming a covenant to them in that sense, and so bring them into intimate fellowship with Himself (cf. Isaiah 49:6-8). Thus this Servant cannot be all of Israel or even saved Israel or the prophets. Some commentators view this covenant as the New Covenant ( Jeremiah 31:31-34), which Christ would ratify with His blood. [2] Still others view it as the "covenant of grace" that Christ made available to people by dying on the Cross. [3] The coming conqueror would drive the nations further into idolatry ( Isaiah 41:5-7), but the Servant would lead them to God by serving as a light to the nations who sit in darkness (cf. Luke 2:32; John 14:6). The Lord Himself would do all this through His Servant (cf. Exodus 3:15; Exodus 6:3).

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 42:6 mean?

I Yahweh have called You in righteousness and will hold Your hand and I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people as a light to the Gentiles
אֲנִ֧י יְהוָ֛ה קְרָאתִ֥יךָֽ בְצֶ֖דֶק וְאַחְזֵ֣ק בְּיָדֶ֑ךָ וְאֶצָּרְךָ֗ וְאֶתֶּנְךָ֛ לִבְרִ֥ית עָ֖ם לְא֥וֹר גּוֹיִֽם

יְהוָ֛ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
קְרָאתִ֥יךָֽ  have  called  You 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
Root: קָרָא  
Sense: to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim.
בְצֶ֖דֶק  in  righteousness 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, masculine singular
Root: צֶדֶק  
Sense: justice, rightness, righteousness.
וְאַחְזֵ֣ק  and  will  hold 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hifil, Conjunctive imperfect Jussive, first person common singular
Root: חָזַק  
Sense: to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore.
בְּיָדֶ֑ךָ  Your  hand 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, feminine singular construct, second person masculine singular
Root: יָד  
Sense: hand.
וְאֶצָּרְךָ֗  and  I  will  keep  You 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Conjunctive imperfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
Root: נְצוּרִים 
Sense: to guard, watch, watch over, keep.
וְאֶתֶּנְךָ֛  and  give  You 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Conjunctive imperfect, first person common singular, second person masculine singular
Root: יָתַן 
Sense: to give, put, set.
לִבְרִ֥ית  as  a  covenant  to 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, feminine singular construct
Root: בְּרִית  
Sense: covenant, alliance, pledge.
עָ֖ם  the  people 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: עַם 
Sense: nation, people.
לְא֥וֹר  as  a  light  to 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, common singular construct
Root: אֹור  
Sense: light.
גּוֹיִֽם  the  Gentiles 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: גֹּוי 
Sense: nation, people.