Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
Some years ago, I took an Old Testament History class I listened to online from Covenant Theological Seminary. I remember after each forty-five-minute class, the professor would end the lesson with this verse. And the more I looked at it, the more meaning I have derived.
Starting with verse six we read, “A voice says, Call out. Then he answered, What shall I call out? All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.” Isaiah 40:6. Isaiah here declares the frailty of man. He states regarding all flesh, not just a particular family or people or nation, but all flesh on the earth. He compares it to plant life in the field. All that men are or have, even their highest accomplishments, are simply like the grass of the field, weak and soon to vanish, soon to be brought to nothing. And our loveliness is like the flowers in the field. The theologian Albert Barnes puts it this way in his commentary on Isaiah, “The idea is, that the plans of man must be temporary; and all that appears great in him must be like the flower of the field.” Man’s ways look good for a season, just as the grass and the flowers look for a time. However, as the next verse says, it is not permanent.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.” Isaiah 40:7. This verse speaks of the frailty of man being like the grass and flowers in a heavy wind. The term ‘wind of Jehovah’ is a Hebraism, referring to nothing more than a strong wind, especially the well-known hot winds in the east that destroys every green thing in its path. This idea is also spoken of in in the psalms where we read, “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.” Psalm 103:15-16.
When we come to our focus verse, we see a comparison of man and the Word of the Lord. “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8. The beginning of verse seven is repeated, but now not focusing on the frailty of man, as with the previous verse, but this time focusing on the permanence of God’s Word. As men and his ways are temporary and eventually ended, God’s Word is permanent. As an example, a man builds a house for him and his family, but eventually that house may be destroyed, and another built at a later time. Or maybe someone comes up with a new idea which is well accepted, but in a short period of time, someone else comes up with a another idea which is deemed better than the first. Nothing man does is permanent; however, what God does and says is eternal, both past and future.
This verse shows the greatness of God in comparison to the frailty of man. What man says and does will fade away, for we are here for just a season. However, God’s Word is eternal, unchanging, and absolute truth. We should keep this in mind as we live our lives. God’s Word is true, and we should follow it and not ignore or forget it. His ways are forever, ours are not. However, His Word says, as Christians, we will live eternally with Him in a glorious life. And in that I totally believe and cannot wait.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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