A Meditation on Isaiah 50:4-5
“The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”
"The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue…"
Isaiah, who is speaking these words, was a prophet to the people of Judah in the 8th century BC. The book that bears his name contains writings that have been foundational to our faith for centuries. My first thought while reading this verse is the obvious: God was speaking to Isaiah and giving him the words to speak, so of course Isaiah had a “well-instructed tongue!” But let’s think this through a little further. The Old Testament prophets spoke the word of God through the means of His Spirit within them. Under the new covenant, those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior have also received the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Therefore, because we have the Holy Spirit within us, as Isaiah did, this verse applies to us too! The Spirit searches the deep things of God (I Corinthians 2:10) and teaches the wisdom of God to those who listen. How amazing to realize that each one of us, regardless of educational background or socioeconomic status, has the capacity to have a “well-instructed tongue”!
Oh Lord, give me always the tongue of one who listens daily and is taught by Your Spirit.
"The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary."
When I am taught by God’s Spirit, and have a tongue guided by God, I am able to comfort and encourage those around me with the words that I speak. Spirit-given, Spirit-driven words bring life. Romans 8:6 says, “The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.” I’ve said it before in this space, and I’ll say it again: Our words are powerful! Particularly if we are speaking as one with a “well-instructed tongue,” our words can be transformative to those who are weary.
Many years ago when I was struggling through a deep loss, I experienced just such a sustaining word of encouragement. It was a Saturday, I was home alone, and it was a very hard day. Suddenly I saw a car pull up outside, and minutes later dear friends were walking through my front door with smiles and warm hugs. I remember well the sense of stunned surprise and pleasure, as this couple lived several hours away and it had been a long time since we had seen them.
They didn’t pre-arrange the visit days in advance. They didn’t bring food or gifts or flowers. They simply followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and got in their car, coming to sit with me around the table to listen and pray and just be PRESENT. What a gift! That day, the words of our friends were words that “sustained the weary” and gave me the strength to go on.
Lord, help me to sensitively follow Your leading today by speaking words that will sustain those who are weary. And when I am the weary one, send sustaining words to me through Your people.
"He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed."
How many times has my ear been awakened in the morning by the enemy of my soul? The enemy would seek to waken us with words that lead to depression or fear, or that feed feelings of being exhausted and overwhelmed. But the words of the Lord strengthen and sustain. He longs to awaken His listeners with whispers of love and exhortation, inviting us to hear the nourishing and life-giving thoughts with which He desires to bless us.
Yet in my flesh, I am powerless to hear that voice of the Spirit. It is God who must awaken my ear morning by morning, and give me the ability to hear His still, small voice. My role is to ask Him to do it, and to practice being in the posture of listening.
O God, would You please waken my ear each morning to hear Your voice and Your instructions? Posture my heart to hear truth, and close my ear to the clamoring of the enemy and the flesh.
“Lord, today let me see You when You are moving and hear You when You are speaking. Heighten my spiritual sensitivities to notice Your activity around me, to me, and through me to others. May Your presence become so evident this day that I am steered clear of mistakes that I would most assuredly make if left to my own natural tendencies. Give me, dear Lord, a consciousness, an awareness of You everywhere and anywhere I may go.” —Priscilla Shirer