Home » Posts tagged 'Isaiah 42:1-4'

Tag Archives: Isaiah 42:1-4

Characteristics of the Servant: Isaiah Journal 2.10

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/characteristics-of-the-servant-isaiah-devotional-2-10/.

Characteristics of the Servant: 42:1-4

The Masoretic text (Hebrew) of Isaiah 42 does not name the servant. The Septuagint text (Greek) names him, “Jacob” and “Israel” (vs 1). What are the characteristics of the servant?

  • verse 1 (Septuagint)
    • helped by God
    • chosen by God
    • accepted by God
    • the Spirit of God placed by God upon him (the three persons of the Trinity in one verse)
    • he will bring “judgment” to the Gentiles; i.e., he will fulfill the purpose of God’s Law among the Gentiles
  • verse 2
    • he will not cry out, nor raise his voice, nor cause his voice to be heard outside; i.e., he will not be a “rabble rouser”, nor an instigator, nor a politician, nor a mighty speech maker
  • verse 3
    • a bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench; i.e., he will be gentle towards the weak and lowly (cf., Isaiah 40:11)
    • but (the Septuagint includes a strong contrastive conjunction (ἀλλὰ)  in Isaiah 42:3, LXX; the Masoretic contains no connector (Isaiah 42:3, ESV). The contrastive connector “but” joins the foregoing (bruised reeds, smoking flax) as the context for that which follows, “he will bring forth judgment to (or in) truth.” In other words, he will treat justly (or fairly) and truthfully those people who have been bruised and beaten down, unlike the established norm (“but” = contrary to the norm). An example of this verse in Christ’s ministry is the woman caught in adultery. The ruling righteous (the falsely righteous scribes and Pharisees) wanted him to declare that she should be stoned to death. But (ἀλλὰ)  Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn (“judge against”) you; go, and from now on sin no more.”  (See John 8:3-12.) Jesus brought “justice to truth.” That is, he brought a full understanding of the intent of God’s law to truthfully bear upon this situation. Strongly implied in this passage is Jesus’s awareness that the woman’s sin was not of her doing alone. He applied the Law equally to everyone, regardless of their station. And, he acted with great compassion toward the woman, who was a “bruised reed” and a “smoking flax,” or in other words, a “dimly burning wick.”
  • verse 4
    • he will “shine forth” (SAAS), or “shine out” (Brenton), or “blaze up” (NETS, Silva). This is the exact opposite of the prior “smoking wick” (NETS) of the previous verse.
    • “and not be overwhelmed until” (NETS) See John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
    • “until he has established judgment (righteousness) on the earth”; in other words, the scope of his activities and influence will be worldwide. Even for Cyrus, this would be a grandiose prophecy.
    • “and in his name shall the Gentiles trust” (Brenton), or, “will hope” (SAAS); Isaiah 42:4, LXX. Here is a direct, explicit statement in the Old Testament that the Christ’s ministry (the Servant whom God will anoint with his Spirit, see verse 1) will extend to and intentionally include Gentiles. (Clearly, the Church is not a “parenthesis,” as some Christians claim.)

The Singular Servant: Isaiah Journal 2.9

By Christina M Wilson. Previously posted at https://justonesmallvoice.com/the-singular-servant-isaiah-devotional-2-9/.

Servant Song–Isaiah 42:1-4

Isaiah 42:1, ESV Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Israel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2 He shall not cry, nor lift up his voice, nor shall his voice be heard without. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench; but he shall bring forth judgment to truth. 4 He shall shine out, and shall not be discouraged, until he have set judgment on the earth: and in his name shall the Gentiles trust. (LXE, Brenton)

Servant (A Group-Collective) 

Scripture clearly states that Old Testament Israel, as a collective whole, is the servant of God. 

Isaiah 41:8 But thou, Israel, art my servant Jacob, and he whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraam, whom I have loved: 9 whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and from the high places of it I have called thee, and said to thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and I have not forsaken thee. (LXE, Brenton)

But, by this point in the book of Isaiah, is there any doubt that Israel has failed to fulfill God’s commission to Abraham, “In you all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed,” (Genesis 12:3)? Those who read straight through the chapters in this portion of the book will realize that Israel appears to sabotage God’s plan for them again and again. Their failure stems from their lack of belief and trust in, and loyalty to their one true God. They worship idols. God’s desire was to bless Israel and through them the whole world, but they would not. 

42:21 It pleased the LORD for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious… 24 Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned? For they would not follow his ways; they did not obey his law. 25 So he poured out on them his burning anger, the violence of war. It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand; it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart. (NIV)

Servant (Singular)

Scripture also clearly states that God will not abandon forever his servant, Israel. God must stand by his promise to Abraham, yet the people Israel make this impossible. Therefore, because of their repeated failures, God creates a “new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). This “new thing” is his Servant, a very singular Servant, one person, one man, unique, one of a kind, God’s Son. God calls his Son “Israel.”

Chapter 42 of Isaiah does not state that “my servant” is God’s Son. Matthew, the Gospel author, does so state.

Matthew 12:17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (ESV)

Without the Servant, Isaiah a Bleak Book

If the reader were to read Isaiah 41 followed immediately by Isaiah 43, the picture would be bleak, barren, depressing, and static. Isaiah 42:1-17 introduces the contrasts of joy, happiness, excitement, hope, and a flowing river that carries the depressed human soul forward. The book of Isaiah without the Servant would be utter darkness–just like the book of a human life without the Lord, Christ, God’s Servant Son. Believers and non-believers alike, let us all make room for Christ in our lives. As the chapters of our lives unfold, let us never leave out God’s solution to our existential problem of sin and hopelessness. God gave his Servant to Israel the people and to all the Gentile peoples of the world as a gift. Let us come to his light and partake freely of the abundantly flowing waters of life.

%d bloggers like this: