Isaiah 43:1-7 – I Will Be with You
SummaryIsrael need not fear, even when they pass through fire and water, for God promises to be with them.
This is another oracle of salvation that announces God's personal relationship with Israel. Because God promises to be with the people, they need not fear. God knows God's people by name, just as God knows the names of all the stars (40:26)--a sign of the intimacy of the divine-human relationship and of the relationship between God and creation described in this part of Isaiah.
Like others in Second Isaiah, this text has a careful poetic structure. It begins and ends with the reference to God's "creating" and "forming" the hearers (vv. 1, 7). Near the top of the passage, four dangers are named: waters, rivers, fire, and flame (v. 2); near the end, the four directions are named from which God will bring the people home: east, west, north, and south (vv. 5-6). Twice, people are urged not to fear (vv. 1 and 5); twice, God calls Israel by name (vv. 1 and 7). In the middle of this careful structure, we learn why God will take such pains: "Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you" (v. 4). God's love is announced throughout the Bible, of course, but this is the only passage with the simple "valentine" direct from God: "I love you."
As Israel's "redeemer" (see Theological Themes), God will do whatever it takes to get Israel home. In the metaphorical language of the text, Cyrus can have other nations in exchange, but God will have Israel. The language is poetic and does not mean that God does not care about other nations. As we have seen, precisely in these chapters God is concerned to save all the nations (see 45:22).