Isaiah 45:15 in the NLT says:

Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.

However in more traditional translations there is no sense of "work" in the translation.

Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. (KJV)

Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel. (NIV)

I know the NLT is a more dynamic translation, but I can't see the relationship between the NLT rendering of this verse and the more traditional translations. "Work" implies action, whereas "hiding" is passive. Is there any sense of "work" in the original text?

  • work also means function, it is describing his mysterious functioning.
    – Michael16
    Aug 24 at 17:50
  • One notes that "The Lord works in mysterious ways" is an English proverb, deriving from Cowper's hymn "God moves in a mysterious way." There may have been influence.
    – Mary
    Aug 25 at 1:50
  • I'm sure there was an influence. The NLT is an excellent, dynamic modern translation but it goes off the rails at times. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that God would "hide" Himself from people, but the more traditional, literal translations clearly state that He does indeed hide Himself.
    – moron
    Aug 25 at 4:43

1 Answer 1


In Isa 45:15, the operative verb is סָתַר (sathar) = "to hide or conceal".

Thus, the translation of the NLT, "work in mysterious ways" is certainly interpretive. However, without making any attempt to defend or justify the choice of the NLT translators, this is simply saying that, to the heathen, the God who conceals Himself is thus precisely because His works are not obvious; that is, God is concealed because He works in mysterious ways.

Note the comments of the Pulpit commentary:

Verse 15. - Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself. Some commentators regard this as an exclamation made by Isaiah himself, who marvels at the unsearchable mystery of God's ways. But others, with better reason, take it for a continuation of the speech of the converted heathen, who marvel that God has so long hid himself from them and from the world at large, not manifesting his power, as he has now done in the person of Cyrus. In this recent manifestation he has shown himself especially the God of Israel, and their Saviour. Isaiah 45:15

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