When I was a kid, I thought the song title “He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need,” written by Dottie Rambo in 1967, was “He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Knees.” Employing the logic of a child, I wondered why God would look at knees. Was it because they were weak? I knew that weak-kneed meant “afraid.” I later discovered that Dottie had written the song about God’s unconditional love in response to her brother Eddie’s belief that he was unlovable because of the wrong things he’d done. Dottie assured him that God saw his weakness but loved him anyway.
God’s unconditional love is apparent throughout the many weak-kneed moments of the people of Israel and Judah. He sent prophets like Isaiah with messages for His wayward people. In Isaiah 35, the prophet shares the hope of God’s restoration. The encouragement that would come as a result of embracing hope would “strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way” (v. 3). Through the encouragement they received, God’s people would in turn be able to encourage others. This is why Isaiah instructs in verse 4, “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear.’ ”
Feeling weak-kneed? Talk to your heavenly Father. He strengthens weak knees through the truth of the Scriptures and the power of His presence. You’ll then be able to encourage others.
Isaiah 35 follows six woes in chapters 28–33 that proclaim judgment on sinful nations, and chapter 34 that declares judgment on those oppressing God’s people. Chapter 35 stands in stark contrast because it talks of future blessings of a restored Zion; this chapter is peace in chaos as chapters 36–39 transition to focus on the threat of the Babylonian exile, which stood as judgment for Israel’s sin.
In contrast to the theme of God’s anger and coming judgment leading to destruction, chapter 35 promises that God’s people will be heirs of a new age and speaks of nature’s restoration and a salvation that includes freedom from their enemies. Even though the nations, including Israel, would be judged, ultimately God in His goodness would redeem the land.