Isaiah 41:17-20, “The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
God is talking to the nation of Israel throughout Isaiah 41. He is assuring them that He, the God of Israel, Jehovah, is their God. He is promising to help and fight for them in their day of trouble. Verse 13, “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” God is promising that once again there will be favor in Zion, and He will establish a New Covenant with them. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
These verses guarantee physical blessings. Recall similar promises in Isaiah 35, “…the wilderness and the desert will be glad and blossom as the rose.” This is literally happening in the land of Israel. They have turned their desert places into beautiful growing fields, lush and full, with the aid of water. The very fact that they are in their land, which was promised to them since Abraham (Genesis 13:14-16), is a manifestation that Jehovah is with them. God’s favor is returning to them. Once the prophecies in Ezekiel 37 & 38 are fulfilled, the New Covenant, noted in the previous paragraph, will be established.
There is also a spiritual application to these verses. Symbolically, their “tongues” are “parched with thirst” which shows that they are thirsty for the “water of truth.” Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (See also John 4:14.) The prophecy in Zechariah 12:10-14 foretells that one day Israel will accept Jesus as their Savior.
Soon, the Jewish people will look back and see all that has been done for them. Israel will say “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation,” Isaiah 25:9.