“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
This verse is much cherished by Christians who, nevertheless, fail to soar in the high places, preferring the safety of the solid ground and the company that they will find there; far from mounting up like the great solitary eagle, they flock together on the ground like turkeys. The traditional English translation from Hebrew texts dating, at the earliest, from the eighth century A.D., fails to give the true meaning of God’s words to Isaiah; the Septuagint, dated third century B.C., renders the full import of what God is saying.
The word translated as “waiting upon” is hupomeno and comes from hupo meaning “under” and meno meaning “remain”. It has the sense of sustaining or enduring under pressure, bearing up under adverse circumstances; it is used by Jesus when He tells the disciples that they will be hated by all, but that they should “endure” or “stand their ground” to the end if they are to be saved.
The word translated as “renew” is allazousin and comes from allos meaning “another”, as in “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4) or ”another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). It conveys the sense of exchanging one thing for another and in the context of this verse suggests that those standing their ground in God will have the strength of the natural man transformed into His strength.
The phrase “they shall mount up” is the translation of pterofueo which means “to grow feathers”. The verb for “they will run” is from the Greek trexo and is in the middle voice and is better translated as “they will make progress”; “become weary” is from koppio, which, in a physical sense, means to grow weary or tired but, spiritually, means to become discouraged or to give up. To “walk” is the translation of badizo wheras peripateo is the word that is commonly used; badizo means to proceed steadily or to march and signifies purpose and intention. The word translated as “faint” is the future indicative active of peinao and literally means “to hunger”, or figuratively “to strongly desire” or ”want”.
A better translation from the Septuagint would be;
“But those standing their ground for Jehovah will exchange strength; they will grow feathers like eagles; they will make good progress and not become discouraged or give up; they will go forward and will not want (Isaiah 40:31).