No Weapon That Is Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper; And Every Tongue That Shall Rise Against Thee In Judgment Thou Shalt Condemn. This Is The Heritage Of The Servants Of The Lord, And Their Righteousness Is Of Me, Saith The Lord. – Isaiah 54:17
Meaning of Isaiah 54:17
The book of Isaiah is often read in churches for the list of warnings, promises, and assurance from God to his believers. The verse, “No Weapon That Is Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper; And Every Tongue That Shall Rise Against Thee In Judgment Thou Shalt Condemn,” means that whatever sinister devices are constructed, along with deceitful schemes are formed against God’s people, they will one day be punished or judged by the Lord. The following second phrase reconfirms that even gossip, insults, or conspiracies against God’s children will utterly fail, and their plans will fail. The next part of the verse, “This Is The Heritage Of The Servants Of The Lord, And Their Righteousness Is Of Me, Saith The Lord,” means God reminding his children of their privilege of being Christians.
Interpretations of Isaiah 54:17
The book of Isaiah is one of the most taught books from the Old Testament. The verse 54:17 is used with various interpretations and is also called a confession verse or one of the most powerful promises from God. A few interpretations are as follows.
Interpretation #1 God can destroy anyone who is against his followers/believers
The verse, ‘No Weapon That Is Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper’ can be interpreted as God’s promise to his believers or children. Here, He is consoling his reader or listener that He is listening to his or her request and even sees the attack that is directed towards them. Thus, He assures that whoever tried to cause harm to them will not flourish in their lives. Christians mostly claim this part of the promise even when they are mistaken and hurled a minor insult against them. Although it was meant for the people of Israel, it applies to Christians all over the world.
Interpretation #2 Humans hold the power to defeat their enemies
In this interpretation, the person who believes in God assumes that they have the same power as God and hold the same authority if they keep their faith in God. Here, in this part of the verse, “And Every Tongue That Shall Rise Against Thee In Judgment Thou Shalt Condemn,” can mean that they are capable of bringing their enemies to their knees. Also, the interpretation also means that humans can easily believe it is okay to harm their opponents. Thus, they may fail to respect their elders at home, higher authorities at school or work when they are corrected. The readers also believe that they are gods with this version of the verse.
Interpretation #3 It is okay to avenge anyone with who the person doesn’t agree with
The following part of the verse, ‘No Weapon That Is Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper; And Every Tongue That Shall Rise Against Thee In Judgment Thou Shalt Condemn’ indicates the justification of vengeance. In this interpretation, similar to the above version, these words assure the believers and readers that they have the right to condemn anyone they disagree with. While it is not unusual for people to think that they must avenge their enemies for any harm done to them or their loved ones. So, the readers might take harsh decisions against anyone he or she has a quarrel.
Interpretation #4 People are as righteous as God
In this version, it can be perceived that humans are true masters of their own universe. Righteousness is a concept and idea that possibly started in the Bible. The phrase, ‘This Is The Heritage Of The Servants Of The Lord, And Their Righteousness Is Of Me, Saith The Lord’ can mean that a person who believes in God is righteous despite their lifestyle and has all the power and abilities of God. In this interpretation, the reader thus believes that they have inherited not only the righteousness of God but also His Kingdom just by claiming the part of the verse even if they make wrong choices.
Interpretation #5 God is like a shield for his people and fiercely protects them
In verse Isaiah 54:7, God is assuring his followers that He will protect them from harm. In this interpretation, this promise is given to the church if they have been faithful and lived a righteous life. Here the promise does not imply that God will justify the reader’s or the believer’s mistake or defend them when they have quarrels with someone. It is meant as protection during battles, natural disasters, and situations where a person is desperate. This verse also gives the reader and believer the courage to face their adversary with courage and boldness. And finally, God assures that when a person believes in him and stays strong during hardships, they will have God’s inheritance or blessings, as promised in the last part of the verse.
Historical Background of Isaiah 54:17
The Book of Isaiah is among the first of the last Prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the first of the main Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. It is known by a superscription as the words of the 8th-century BC prophet Isaiah ben Amoz. However, there is wide-ranging evidence that much of it was written during the Babylonian captivity and later. Isaiah 54:11–17, the prophet Isaiah brings a message from God about the restoration of Jerusalem after its annihilation by the Babylonians.
Literary Devices in Isaiah 54:17
Most of the prophecies in the Old Testament, including the book of Isaiah, were written in the free-verse or instructional form. Here are some literary devices from Isaiah 54:17.
Ambiguity – The verse Isaiah 54:17 is not only interpreted in several ways, but each phrase has more than one meaning. Thus the literary device ambiguity is seen in each phrase. For example, the phrase ‘no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper’ could mean God’s protection, God’s revenge against his believer’s enemy, God’s warning to His children’s enemies, God’s promise of assurance during a battle, etc.
Ethos – The entire verse is a perfect example of ethos, used to represent authority and persuade the reader, and is one of the modes of persuasion in rhetoric. For example, ‘and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.’
Repetition – The phrase ‘the Lord’ is repeated in Isaiah 54:17 to remind the reader and reinforce the authority of God.
Consonance – Despite being a regular sentence or a dialogue, there is a good use of sound devices in this verse. For example, The sound of /th/ in This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me’ and the sound of /s/ in ‘and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn’.
Hyperbole – There is also an exaggeration used in Isaiah 54:17, even though for the good reason, where through the author, God declares that man has the capacity to destroy or defeat anyone who speaks against him/her. For example, ‘every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn’.