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Isaiah 11:4

ESV but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
NIV but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
NASB But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the humble of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
CSB but he will judge the poor righteously and execute justice for the oppressed of the land. He will strike the land with a scepter from his mouth, and he will kill the wicked with a command from his lips.
NLT He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
KJV But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

What does Isaiah 11:4 mean?

In this chapter, Isaiah tells about the great future leader who will rise from the line of David to rule Israel and the world (Isaiah 11:1). This leader will be empowered by the Holy Spirit with all the qualities essential for a king (Isaiah 11:2). The prophet has written that this Messiah will delight in knowledge and honor of God and will not be taken in by mere appearances (Isaiah 11:3).

Now, Isaiah adds that, unlike the kings and people of his own time, the Messiah will care about the poor and about justice. He will do what is right for those in need. This king will judge with fairness for the meek and the powerless of the earth. This is Isaiah's first hint that the Messiah's rule will extend to the entire world. This ruler will not merely do what is right for the poor, powerless, and innocent. The Messiah will bring perfect justice against the wicked. He will strike the earth with the power and authority of His words. He will give the command and those deserving of death for their wickedness will be killed.

No mere human king would have the wisdom, power, or authority to do what Isaiah is describing in this passage. It is becoming clear that this future leader will be both human and more than human.

This Messiah is Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 4:17–21). He came once to serve and to die for the sins of humanity (John 3:16–18). Isaiah is describing the kingdom Jesus Christ will establish when He returns to rule and reign over the earth (Revelation 19:11–15). Paul, too, describes Jesus' ability to kill with the "breath of His mouth" (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
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