On Isaiah 40:31
“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength” (NIV)
“They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength” (KJV)
Isaiah wrote in Hebrew. We will look at the words translated “hope”, “wait” and “renew”.
The word translated “hope” and “wait” in Isaiah’s prophecy is from the root qavah.
Hebrew works in pictures rather than abstractions. Many Hebrew words contain a picture which illustrates the essence of what the word is saying. This word qavah is no exception. It derives from the word qav, which means line or cord or rope. The imagery is of something twisted together for strength.
The metaphor in the original is of people who are firmly entwined into the cords of God’s love. We are reminded of Ecclesiastes 4:12 which reads “a three-fold cord is not quickly broken”.
Hoping, or waiting on the Lord is not a passive affair like you wait for a bus. It is an active entwining into the three-fold God, to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. Waiting on the Lord is being firmly roped into his trinitarian embrace – it involves finding him, entwining into him, and resting in his firm grip.
The other word of interest in this verse is the word translated “renew”. The word Isaiah uses is from the root halaf, and the force of the word in this verse is “exchange”. The picture we get from this word is of an exchange, of our little strength for God’s great strength.
So interpreting in the light of the whole Bible, this little verse from Isaiah can be expanded like this:
“Those who are firmly entwined into God’s trinitarian embrace, to the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, will exchange their weakness for God’s mighty strength”.