Running With A Vigor In Mind

Title: Running With A Vigor In Mind

Bible Book: Isaiah 40 : 31

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Enthusiasm; Commitment; Faith



We recently looked at the Old Testament book of Habakkuk where God told Habakkuk in chapter 2, verse 2, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” The message of the verse seems to be that whoever would read this vision and revelation (the written revelation of increasing wickedness and the revelation of the justice and power of the true and living God) should run to God for help. So we should be “Running With A Vision In Mind.”

Then last week, from Philippians 3, I spoke to you about “Running With A Viewpoint In Mind.” And we drew upon the viewpoint and perspective that Paul manifested in Philippians 3:12-14, a perspective that involved Fulfilling The Purpose, Forgetting The Past, and Following The Prize.

Today I want to go back to the Old Testament, to Isaiah 40:31 where we find the concept of “Running With A Vigor.”

The 40th chapter of Isaiah is a pivotal chapter in this book. Isaiah is like a Bible in miniature, and just as the there is a different tone and approach in the first 39 books of the Bible (called the Old Testament), there is a different tone in the first 39 chapters of Isaiah. But in Isaiah chapter 40, as Harold Wilmington said…

The grief ends, the glory begins. Having focused on God’s judgment of Israel and other nations (1-39), Isaiah shifted his emphasis to God’s desire to bring his people a new era of peace and comfort (40-66). While in 1-39 Isaiah looked ahead to Jerusalem’s fall, the viewpoint of 40-66 is after the fall, predicting the Israelites’ return from exile, and beyond that the coming of Messiah and the final great return of exiles in the Millennium.

Their “sad days” (or “warfare”) having ended, God was ready at last to “comfort” his people (40:1-2). A forerunner proclaimed God’s triumphant approach (40:3-5) and declared the trustworthiness of his word (40:8). Israel’s great and powerful God would care for them as tenderly as a shepherd (40:9-11).

(In 40:12-26), Isaiah expressed amazement at the God who is omnipotent (40:12, 15-17), omniscient (40:13-14), incomparable (40:15-20), and the eternal Creator of everything bound by time (40:21-26). It is ludicrous to compare him with false gods (40:18-20).

When we come to verses 27 thru 31 of Isaiah 40, as Warren Wiersbe wrote…

Instead of praising the Lord, the nation was complaining to Him that He acted as though He did not know their situation or have any concern for their problems (v. 27; 19:14). Instead of seeing the open door, the Jews saw only the long road before them, and they complained that they did not have strength for the journey. God was asking them to do the impossible.

But God knows how we feel and how we fear, and He is adequate to meet our every need. We can never obey God in our own strength, but we can always trust Him to provide the strength we need (Philippians 4:13). If we trust ourselves, we will faint and fall, but if we wait on the Lord by faith, we will receive strength for the journey. The word “wait” does not suggest that we sit around and do nothing. It means “to hope,” to look to God for all that we need (Isaiah 26:3; 30:15). This involves meditating on His character and His promises, praying, and seeking to glorify Him.

The word “renew” means “to exchange,” as taking off old clothing and putting on new. We exchange our weakness for His power (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). As we wait before Him, God enables us to soar when there is a crisis, to run when the challenges are many, and to walk faithfully in the day-by-day demands of life.

As we look particularly at verse 31 this morning, I want to point out that…

I. There Is A Definite Plan For Renewed Vigor In This Verse

(Isaiah 40:31)

A. Notice The Mention Of Weakness

(Isaiah 40:27-30) Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? {28} Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. {29} He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. {30} Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

In verse 27, they were weak because they felt like a FORGOTTEN people. But verse 28 indicates that they were the ones who had forgotten God’s strength and understanding. They were weak because they felt like a FAINTING people and a FALLING people. But the prophet is pointing them to God who does not faint, but rather, gives power and strength to those who are fainting.

Albert Barnes said of verse 30…

[Even the youths shall faint] The most vigorous young men, those in whom we expect manly strength, and who are best suited to endure hardy toil. They become weary by labor. Their powers are soon exhausted. The design here is, to contrast the most vigorous of the human race with God, and to show that while all their powers fail, the power of God is unexhausted and inexhaustible.

[And the young men] The word used here denotes properly “those who are chosen or selected,” ‎and may be applied to those who were selected or chosen for any hazardous enterprise, or dangerous achievement in war; those who would be selected for vigor or activity. The meaning is, that the most chosen or select of the human family – the most vigorous and manly, must be worn down by fatigue, or paralyzed by sickness.

B. Notice The Mention Of Waiting

(Isaiah 40:31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Again, Barnes said…

[But they that wait upon the Lord] The word rendered ‘wait upon’ here (from ‎qaawaah‎), denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‘to wait on Yahweh,’ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him. It is applicable to those who are in circumstances of danger or want, and who look to him for his merciful interposition. Here it properly refers to those who were suffering a long and grievous captivity in Babylon, and who had no prospect of deliverance but in him. The phrase is applicable also to all who feel that they are weak, feeble, guilty, and helpless, and who, in view of this, put their trust in Yahweh. The promise or assurance here is general in its nature, and is as applicable to his people now as it was in the times of the captivity in Babylon.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says that the Hebrew root word from which this word “wait” comes means…

To wait or to look for with eager expectation. … Waiting with steadfast endurance is a great expression of faith. It means enduring patiently in confident hope that God will decisively act for the salvation of his people. Waiting involves the very essence of a person's being, his soul. Those who wait in true faith are renewed in strength so that they can continue to serve the Lord while looking for His saving work (Isaiah 40:31). There will come a time when all that God has promised will be realized and fulfilled (Isaiah 49:23 – “thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me”).

Hannah Whitall Smith said…

The soul that waits upon the Lord is the soul that is entirely surrendered to Him, and that trusts Him perfectly. Therefore we might name our wings the wings of Surrender and of Trust. If we will only surrender ourselves utterly to the Lord, and will trust Him perfectly, we shall find our souls “mounting up with wings as eagles” to the “heavenly places” in Christ Jesus, where earthly annoyances or sorrows have no power to disturb us.

(From “Joy and Strength for the Pilgrim’s Day”)

G. Campbell Morgan said…

Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.

Listen to some other verses that speak to us about waiting…

(Psalms 62:1) Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation.

(Psalms 62:5) My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.

(Psalms 123:2) Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that He have mercy upon us.

(Lamentations 3:25-26) The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. {26} It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

(Hosea 12:6) Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.

(Micah 7:7) Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.

II. There Is A Divine Power In Renewed Vigor In This Verse

(Isaiah 40:31)

A. Let’s Consider The Source

(Isaiah 40:31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

LORD – Hebrew 3068. Yehovah, yeh-ho-vaw'; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:--Jehovah, the Lord.

The InterVarsity Press Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament said that…

In the ancient world the gods were viewed as having human weaknesses and often were inattentive or simply unaware of events that were taking place. … The gods (of pagan worship) were not indefatigable. They were in constant need of food, drink, and shelter. In fact, humans were created to do the hard labor the gods preferred not to do.

Perhaps the years in Babylon, exposed to the pagan concepts of deity, had made the people forgetful of the true and living God so that Isaiah asks in verse 28…

(Isaiah 40:28) Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

Barnes said of verse 28…

[Hast thou not known?] This is the language of the prophet reproving them for complaining of being forsaken and assuring them that God was faithful to his promises. This argument of the prophet, which continues to the close of the chapter, comprises the main scope of the chapter, which is to induce them to put confidence in God, and to believe that he was able and willing to deliver them. The phrase, ‘Hast thou not known? refers to the fact that the Jewish people had had an abundant opportunity of learning, in their history, and from their fathers, the true character of God, and his entire ability to save them. No people had had so much light on this subject, and now that they were in trial, they ought to recall their former knowledge of his character, and remember his dealings of faithfulness with them and their fathers. It is well for the people of God in times of calamity and trial to recall to their recollection his former dealings with his church. That history will furnish abundant sources of consolation, and abundant assurances that their interests are safe in his hands.

[Hast thou not heard?] From the traditions of the fathers; the instruction which you have received from ancient times. A large part of the knowledge of the Jews was traditionary; and these attributes of God, as a faithful God, had, no doubt, constituted an important part of the knowledge which had thus been communicated to them.

[The everlasting God] The God who has existed from eternity, unlike the idols of the pagan. If he was from eternity, he would be unchangeable, and his purposes could not fail.

[The Creator of the ends of the earth] … The argument here is, that he who has formed the earth could not be exhausted or weary in so small a work as that of protecting his people.

[Fainteth not] Is not fatigued or exhausted. That God, who has formed and sustained all things, is not exhausted in his powers, but is able still to defend and guard his people.

[There is no searching of his understanding] The God who made all things must be infinitely wise. There is proof of boundless skill in the works of his hands, and it is impossible for finite mind fully and adequately to search out all the proofs of his wisdom and skill. Man can see only a part-a small part, while the vast ocean, the boundless deep of his wisdom, lies still unexplored.

B. Let’s Consider The Strength

(Isaiah 40:29) He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

power – Hebrew 3581. koach, ko'-akh; from an unused root mean. to be firm; vigor, lit. (force, in a good or a bad sense) or fig. (capacity, means, produce):--ability, able, force, fruits, might, power (-ful), strength.

faint – Hebrew 3287. ya'eph, yaw-afe'; from H3286; fatigued; fig. exhausted:--faint, weary.

might – Hebrew 202. 'own, one; prob. from the same as H205 (in the sense of effort, but successful); ability, power, (fig.) wealth:--force, goods, might, strength, substance.

strength – Hebrew 6109. 'otsmah, ots-maw'; fem. of H6108; powerfulness; by extens. numerousness:--abundance, strength.

(Isaiah 40:31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says that the word “strength” (koach – OT:3581) in verse 31 is also translated as “power; force; ability.” Vine says, “The basic meaning of koach is an ability to do something.”

The Pulpit Commentary says…

We are thus “changed men,” for the Hebrew word here, “to renew,” means “to change.”

And Warren Wiersbe also said…

The word “renew” means “to exchange,” as taking off old clothing and putting on new. We exchange our weakness for His power.

Barnes said of the word “renew” that…

The Hebrew word commonly means to change, to alter; and then to revive, to renew, to cause to flourish again, as, e.g., a tree that has decayed and fallen down (compare Job 14:7). Here it is evidently used in the sense of renewing, or causing to revive; to increase, and to restore that which is decayed. It means that the people of God who trust in him shall become strong in faith; able to contend with their spiritual foes, to gain the victory over their sins, and to discharge aright the duties, and to meet aright the trials of life. God gives them strength.

Consider these channels of strength that cause us to run again…

Notice The Rejoicing That Gives Us Strength To Run

(Psalms 19:5) Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

Notice The Relationship That Gives Us Strength To Run

(2 Samuel 22:30) For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.

Notice The Resurrection That Gives Us Strength To Run

(Matthew 28:8) And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

When we wait for the Lord to give us strength, we can, as the psalmist said, “go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7). And “Blessed is the man whose strength is in” God (Psalm 84:5).

III. There Is A Descriptive Picture Of Renewed Vigor In This Verse

(Isaiah 40:31)

A. Think About The Significance Of These Word Pictures

(Isaiah 40:31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The Pulpit Commentary says that this is…

A TRIPLE EXPERIENCE. “They shall mount up with wings as eagles.” True, there is a higher realm into which as we rise we are surprised that the cares and worries of this lower world should have such power to harass and overcome us. We do see light in God’s light. The nearer we get to Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, the more we feel this light and heat. “They shall run, and not be weary.” Progress is made. Elasticity of heart is felt. We renew the youth of our souls. “They shall walk, and not faint” For we cannot always be in the enjoyment of swift progress. We have hills to climb and waters to ford, and what we call the commonplaces of life to attend to. Still, there is room for heroism here, and for gracious communion with God and contentment with his will. To walk and not faint is sometimes more difficult than to run and not be weary. (W.M.S.)

Adam Clarke said…

[They shall mount up with wings as eagles] “They shall put forth fresh feathers like the molting eagle.” It has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his rigor to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he molts in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth.

Wiersbe said…

As we wait before Him, God enables us to soar when there is a crisis, to run when the challenges are many, and to walk faithfully in the day-by-day demands of life.

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says of mounting “up with wings as eagles”…

The proper rendering therefore is, "they cause their wings to rise, or lift their wings high, like the eagles.” Their course of life, which has Jehovah for its object, is as it were possessed of wings. They draw from Him strength upon strength; running does not tire them, nor do they become faint from going ever further and further.

Barnes said…

[They shall run and not be weary] This passage, also, is but another mode of expressing the same idea – that they who trust in God would be vigorous, elevated, unwearied; that he would sustain and uphold them; and that in his service they would never faint. This was at first designed to be applied to the Jews in captivity in Babylon to induce them to put their trust in God. But it is as true now as it was at that time. It has been found in the experience of thousands and tens of thousands, that by waiting on the Lord the heart has been invigorated.

B. Think About The Sequence Of These Word Pictures

(Isaiah 40:31) … they shall mount up with wings as eagles

they shall run, and not be weary

and they shall walk, and not faint.

In his book, “Figures of Speech Used in the Bible,” E. W. Bullinger says that this ordering of phrases reveals something called…


The Opposite of Anabasis.

Cat-ab’-a-sis, a going down: from κατά (kata), down, and βάσις (basis), a going. This is the opposite of Anabasis, and is used to emphasize humiliation, degradation, sorrow, etc.

The Latins called it DECREMENTUM, i.e., decrease — an increase in the opposite direction, an increase of depreciation.

Isaiah 40:31 — “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings as eagles,

they shall run, and not be weary,

they shall walk, and not faint.”

The figure Catabasis here illustrates the effect of growth in grace. At first the believer flies; but as his experience increases, he runs, and at the end of his course he walks.

One writer said that the word pictures here indicate a…

Strength for the returning exiles: -- There was a real climax in the prophet’s statement. And its application, in his thought, was to the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. God’s helpfulness would be adequate to their needs in all the stages of their return. In the first flush of joy, and in the first flights of eager anticipation, “on which we see them rising in the psalms of redemption as on the wings of an eagle”; again, in the rush and excitement of their hurried departure, the running to and fro in hasty and exhausting preparation; but finally, when they wanted it most, in the long tramp, tramp, tramp of those seven hundred weary miles, day after day, week after week, when their pace must be adapted to those of the heavily-laden beasts of burden, and of the little ones whose strength would often fail and who would need to be lifted up and carried in the father’s arms. How often on that tiresome journey would the sweet music of the prophet’s words return to their memory, “they shall walk and not faint.” Then it was that their trust in Jehovah would be put fully to the proof. It was in the walking and not in the flying that their faith would triumph. (J. Halsey in The Biblical Illustrator)

If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. And if you can walk, then walk on; walk on for Jesus!


In Vance Havner’s book “In Tune with Heaven” (in an entry dated November 20, 1927), Havner said…

One of the problems of this little experience called living is, What shall we do with the tedious and tasteless hours?

Did you ever have a day when everything went wrong; when your blood ran lazily and your mind went on a vacation and your whole disposition was so sluggish and dull and dead that nothing looked good to you, and you didn’t even care whether you lived or died? You simply couldn’t stir up the least enthusiasm for anything; nothing excited your interest; no challenge could wake your lethargic soul? We have all known such days, and most of us don’t master them, they master us.

Many causes produce these stupid days. Sometimes it’s the weather. Or a sluggish liver. Sometimes the devil and sometimes dyspepsia. Maybe overworked nerves and we need a vacation. Or just plain cussedness. Bad habits of thinking. Sometimes it’s because we need salvation and sometimes because we need Sal Hepatica (a laxative). Anyway, they come.

Not long ago I had such an afternoon. I tried a walk in the woods, but Nature held no charms. I tried to read, but the printed page could not attract me. I played the piano, but it was tinny and soulless.

And then there flashed into my mind that dear old Bible verse: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

That certainly suited my case. I had lost my strength. I had become weary and faint. I needed to wait on the Lord. But what does “waiting on the Lord” mean in this twentieth century of radios and psychoanalysis? Is it just a sweet phrase to roll under your tongue like a Lifesaver, or is it something we workaday folks who don’t understand Bible phrases can really do?

It is as practical as brushing your teeth. The divine power is all around us, above, below us, just waiting to pour into the stagnant pond of a sour, selfish life and transform it into a clear, sparkling stream. But sometimes the channels into our lives are clogged up. That’s where our job comes in—to open up the channels. Maybe our bodies are out of tune. The greatest musician can’t play on an untuned instrument. Maybe we have a habit that interferes. We need to look over all the avenues into our lives, check up on them, see that they are not dammed up. How long has it been since you made an inspection? No wonder some of our lives are foul and impure swamps, when our neglect has closed all the inlets. If you are a victim of these blue and insipid days, it is likely because the pipes into your room are out of order. You need to do a good job of plumbing before asking the Eternal to send the warmth of the Spirit and the Water of Life to your quarters.

Then, if you have fixed the connections, wait and the blessing will come. Maybe it won’t come in a minute. Sometimes a drab spell is necessary to make the sunny days brighter. “All sunshine makes the desert.” We enjoy things only by contrast anyway. If there were no darkness, eternal daylight would grow unbearable. It takes night to bring out the stars.

But the blessing will come to him who waits after he has opened the channels. After the plumbing comes the patience. And the “wait” of patience will remove the “weight” of our dull and tasteless hours.

Let me close and encapsulate all of this by mentioning Psalm 27:14 which says…

(Psalms 27:14) Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.



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