16 And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.
17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
You are our gods.
Verse 17 shows that there are really two options for all men: the true and living God, or an idol. The result for the second group is clear, here and elsewhere: shamed with shame (as the Hebrew literally reads). What brings this shame is the deliverance of the Lord from verse 16 most immediately, and in the greater context of this passage more generally. When the Lord leads the blind, miraculously creating paths and roads through the impossible terrain ahead, it shames those who worship wood and metal. Why? Because they are turned back. The darkness stays dark and the rough places stay rough, impassable. The mighty hand of Israel’s God shames the foolish worshippers of created things. These folks trust in logs chipped out with a hammer and chisel to blaze their trail. But their gods were the dregs of a previously blazed trail—a chopped down tree. They provide no hope, yet they are still trusted by men. When the need arises for deliverance, then the gods or God of one’s hope proves itself. And it is too late to change. Of course, these (as seen in 41:5-7) are so hardened in their idolatry that they would not change at any rate. They are shamed with shame, because the LORD is God alone, and he works powerfully for his own.
This verse points to the idolatry as rooted in the issue of trust. Trust is directly related to worship (either holy or damnable). To trust something is to call it “god”. Here the parallelism points to this. Trusting in carved idols stands synonymously parallel with saying to an image “You are my god.” And the fundamental issues is trust-worthiness. A carved-out log or a beaten-out piece of metal stands impotent, and so shame with shame must follow. This is a deathly choice, and we must be wary of our tendency toward trust in something that will not save, short-term or long-term. Only the LORD our God is worthy of trust and only he turns darkness into light and the rough places into level paths. Ultimately, in Jesus was the darkness dispelled and the smooth (though narrow) way blazed. He is the trail-blazer of our faith, and the only trust-worthy One in the universe. It all distills down into trust, because everyone trusts in something. Worshipping God as God means trusting God and what he has done in Jesus, realizing that that faithfulness will operate within the nooks and crannies of the tiny parts of our own lives.