Ludlow explains that there are two discourses and five parts in Isaiah 41 and 42. Here is how it is broken down:
Discourse 1 Part A: Isaiah 41:1
Discourse 2 Part A: Isaiah 41:21-24
Discourse 1 Part B: Isaiah 41:2-7
Discourse 2 Part B: Isaiah 41:25-29
Discourse 1 Part C: Isaiah 41:8-10
Discourse 2 Part C: Isaiah 42:1-9
Discourse 1 Part D: Isaiah 41:11-16
Discourse 2 Part D: Isaiah 42:10-13
Discourse 1 Part E: Isaiah 41:17-20
Discourse 2 Part E: Isaiah 42:14-17
Idols are Nothing
Part A of the two discourses deal with one theme: idols are less than nothing (read Isaiah 41:24). In the second discourse in part A, all the idols and false gods are called out to do something great. But that cannot because they are false. Only the true and living God can has power to renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31).
Part B discusses the coming of a prophesied leader. Ludlow does a fine job summarizing the qualities of this leader:
A. An important person comes from the east (or rising sun)
B. He has power over rulers and kings
C. He turns them unto dry powder and molds them as wet clay
D. His feet pursues them and treads them under
E. His coming is foretold
F. The Lord is the one who has announced it
G. People are powerless though they try to obtain counsel from each other
H. The people try to secure idols, but they cannot ward off the ensuing wind and confusion.
Servant of the Lord
The qualities of the servant of the Lord are worth emulating.
He does no coerce, but uses gentle persuasion (see Isaiah 42:2, D&C 121:41).
He does not get discouraged in the face of adversity (Isaiah 42:4).
He is righteous … he keeps the commandments and is pure, thus ensuring his calling from the Lord (Isaiah 42:6).
He teaches truth and light and delivers the prisoners and blind from spiritual darkness (Isaiah 42:7).
The Living God Provides
The next part demonstrates the kindness and charity the Living God has for those who follow Him. While on the other hand, false gods and idols can offer no such help to their worshipers.
Isaiah 41:17 - "I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them."
The hand of the Lord makes the wilderness a pool of water (read Isaiah 41:18, 20).
Isaiah 42:16 and 17 offer the stark contrast between the Living God and false gods.
"I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
To those who worship false gods, "they shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods."
Ever since I first read Spencer W. Kimball's talk "The False Gods We Worship", I've always come back to it again and again as I read and ponder the scriptures. I think our society thinks that we are not an idolatrous people, but in reality we are. As President Kimball defined it, we are idolatrous.
He said, "we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to material things. Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn't also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry." (Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, Jun 1976, 3)