The prophet Isaiah describes YHWH’s anticipated conduct in bringing his exiled children back home in a way that manages to combine tenderness and infinity.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:11–14 ESV)
Isaiah’s poetry ornaments the deeply rooted biblical conviction that YHWH is uncontainable. He answers to no man, his arm is not too short for any purpose that befits his regnal character.
The emphasized words argue that YHWH is also and finally inconceivable to mere human minds. This hardly means that he is unknowable or that he evades relationship. To the contrary, he discloses himself and delighted in being known. Yet the prophet, for all his originality, is close to heel with the biblical witness in affirming that YHWH cannot be exhaustively known. YHWH is free to act as he will, and his judgments in this respect are beyond measure.
The contrast between YHWH and rough-hewn idols carved out a man’s hatchet in Isaiah’s anti-idolatry polemic makes throws this feature of Isaiah’s persona into still starker relief.
There is freedom, the prophet might well insist, in worshiping a God of this kind. He is alive to his own purpose, free to create a future that aligns with his good intentions, unrestrained by the mud that sucks at our heels.
YHWH is beyond measure and beyond measuring. Little captives, daring to begin to hope, might well find an anchor in this infinity, this Lover both uncaptured and uncapturable.