The Coming Servant (3): Isaiah 49, 50 (1)
Pray Psalm 149.1.
Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
AndHis praise in the assembly of saints.
Read Isaiah 49.1-6.
1. Who is the Servant speaking in these verses? What does God promise to do through Him?
2. Verse 4 is Isaiah speaking about himself. How was he feeling about his work?
Suddenly, the Servant of the Lord (vv. 3, 5) breaks out in glorious proclamation and promise! This passage is so startling, that we have to wonder why God decided to insert it here.
Look at verse 4. Isaiah was not feeling very hopeful about his ministry. He was worn out, and evidently few people were listening. But he knew not to trust in these outward indicators of success. His reward was with the Lord; and I find it so precious that, at this nadir of his ministry, God enveloped His faithful servant in these glorious words about the coming Servant, Who will restore Israel and bring the light and salvation of God to the Gentiles (v. 6).
This passage would have lifted Isaiah, as I’m sure he would have recalled previous promises of the Lord that he could not have fully understood at first, but would now start becoming more clear. God begins to enlarge on those previous words, and He will continue to do so throughout the rest of the book of Isaiah.
Who has a mouth like a sharp sword (cf. Ps. 45.3; Rev. 1.12-16)? The Speaker in these verses is the Servant of the Lord Who is to come afterCyrus, He Who will bring salvation to Israel and the world. He will be born of a woman (v. 1) – a virgin, as Isaiah would have recalled (Is. 7.14). And He will come to rule over all Israel and all the nations, the wonderful Counselor, mighty God, and everlasting Father Whose Kingdom of righteousness will increase without end (Is. 9.6, 7). Those earlier, mysterious words which God spoke through the prophet would now have come to Isaiah’s mind – just as they do to ours – in the context of the coming Servant of the Lord. Through Him the people of God will glorify Him (v. 3). He will gather the people of God from Israel and all nations (vv. 5, 6). In the strength of the Lord, He will bring the light and salvation of God to the ends of the earth (v. 6).
And the power by which He will accomplish all this is the sharp sword that goes out of His Word (v. 2).
So do you think Isaiah was lifted by hearing these words? I’m sure he was, because he trusted in God (v. 4) and held fast to His promises.
1. How can you see that this Servant is both God and man?
2. Prior to these words, the people who had heard Isaiah would have considered all Gentile nations to be their enemies. How were they to begin thinking about them now?
3. Note the words used to refer to the Lord’s salvation: “gathered” (v. 5), “raise up” (v. 6), “restore” (v. 6), “light” (v. 6), “salvation” (v. 6). How does each of these lead us to think about what God is going to do through this Servant and the Sword of His mouth? According to Psalm 149.5 and 6, who wields that Sword now?
So he reveals the ministry of his incarnation, that he was formed as a slave by the Father from the womb so as to gather Israel and Jacob. If anyone says that these are the Jewish people that are meant, he has not strayed from the intention of the text. For Christ said, “I have come to save the lost sheep of Israel.” But if anyone decides it is all those saved by faith who are called Israel and Jacob, he is right to do so. Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD), Commentary on Isaiah 188.8.131.52-6
Raise me up, Lord, and gather me to Yourself! Restore my joy and hope! Make me the light of salvation today! Use me to…
Pray Psalm 149.
Praise and rejoice in the greatness and salvation of the Lord! Go forth wielding the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of truth, and commit your day to the Lord for His Kingdom and glory.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 149 (Toulon: I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art)
Sing to the Lord a glorious song and new!
Praise Him you people, to Whom praise is due!
Let us rejoice, let us be glad in Him
Who has created us and cleansed our sin.
Praise Him with dance, with tambourine and lyre!
To be so praised is God’s one great desire.
Lord, beautify Your holy ones with grace;
Show us the mercy of Your saving face.
Sing to the Lord, exult with great delight!
Sing on your beds with joy to God by night!
Sing praise and take His Word into your hand;
Publish His grace and wrath in every land!
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).