Isaiah 49-53 Servant Song: You are my servant Israel, in whom I will be glorified

From Isaiah 49-53

23 Isaiah kneeling thumbToday’s passage is often called the second servant song. The Servant himself is the speaker. The LORD has named him Israel and in him the LORD will be glorified. He describes his election and birth. Both of these are typical of the coming Christ. The passage anticipates the coming of the true Christ, representing Israel. The one who will be a light for the nations and bring salvation. Jesus, the Christ of God.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The passage begins with the Servants opening address to the peoples around him.

49 Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar.

23-baby-in-wombThe LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away.

3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.” (Isa 49.1-4)

The servant was called before he was born. From the womb he was named Israel.

Do you believe God chooses people to serve him? Has he chosen you? For what purpose?

The servant is both a person (Jacob renamed) and embodies the whole nation in himself (God’s people). Only a king could be like this.

The servant Israel describes himself as a weapon of war. Yet it is his tongue which is likened to a sharpened sword. His words are weapons. He will bring judgment.

The purpose of the servant Israel is to glorify the LORD. The servant will magnify his name. He will be the LORD’s instrument to bring this about.

But the servant is not confident in his own strength. It has been spent on worthless things.

Despite this he is confident the LORD will work through him. His strength is in the LORD. Through him the LORD will establish justice (‘my right’) and the servant will be rewarded for it (‘my recompense’).

23-sunrise-light-nations5 And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength—

6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isa 49.5-6)

The servants purpose is to restore Jacob / Israel back into relationship with the LORD. He recognises the LORD has honoured him with his name and calling. The LORD gives him strength, his own has failed him.

The LORD’s strength is more than enough to accomplish mighty things.

The LORD assures the servant it is within his power (‘is it to light a thing?’) to call him as his servant and through him raise up Israel.

Even more the LORD will go beyond Israel and be a light for all the nations. He will bring salvation to all the peoples of the earth. The statement is fairly expansive in its scope and reflects the awesome power and impartial character of the LORD. The LORD is one over all nations.

23-kings-prostrate-bow-down7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,

to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers:

“Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isa 49.7)

The LORD is named the ‘redeemer of Israel’ and ‘Holy One’. He speaks to the despised and humbled servant Israel. All the kings and prices will bow down before him and before the LORD. Because the LORD is faithful and Holy. Because he chose the servant from the womb.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

In the immediate context the servant is the nation of Israel. Israel has spent her strength on worthless things and her own vanity (Isa 49.4). They are weak and consequently deeply despised by the nation of Babylon that conquered them (Isa 49.7).

But the text is also prophetic. It anticipates the coming of another. A king of Israel who will embody the nation. This king will be strengthened by the LORD to work his will. Through him the LORD will be glorified (Isa 49.3), the nation of Israel reunited under one head (Isa 49.6). He and his people will be a light to the Gentiles (Isa 49.6). He too will be despised by some, but kings will bow down to him (Isa 49.7).

Story of Jesus

The servant song has ample fulfilment in Jesus Christ, who glorified the father through his work.

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (Jn 17.1-5)

How will you prostrate yourself before God’s servant Jesus today?

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.