Summary: Isaiah’s Servant Song 1: (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

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Reading: Isaiah chapter 42 verses 1-7.

• This is the first of four servant songs, four poetic prophecies.

• The other three are in chapters 49-53.

Note: In the book of Isaiah the word ‘Servant’ appears 20 times:

• But it does not always refer to the same person or object.

• Amazingly there at least 6 different possibilities regarding Isaiah’s servants!

Sometimes the word refers to:

• (1). Isaiah himself;

• Coded way of saying: “I am God’s servant, so you had better listen to me.”

• (2). At certain times it refers to King Cyrus (who lived 150-200 years after this prophecy)

• Through him God would accomplish the deliverance of his people.

• (3). At certain times it clearly is a reference to Jesus Christ.

• (4). At certain times it is referring to the nation Israel;

• (5). At certain times it refers to the remnant of Israel.

• (6). Some people even say it is a prophetic reference to the Church and its work.


• Let’s take a modern example of how one word; can be used in different ways.

• Take the word video,

• Imagine somebody 3,000 years in the future;

• Looking back in time and understand what we meant by the word video?


• Suppose I say to Kathy, this afternoon we are going to watch a video;

• She knows that we are not going to sit and stare at a video cassette recorder,

• Instead we are going to insert a cassette into the VCR and watch a film.


• Someone over hearing our conversation might say;

• We have a video at home, could we watch the film after you.

• Now they are using the same word video;

• But this time it does not mean the cassette but the video cassette recorder


• Someone else might say I’m glad you have a machine,

• There is a programme on later on tonight, could you video it for me?

• This time the word is being used as a verb; to video something.

• It’s being used to describe the process of recording information.

So we use the word video to mean at least three things:

• The cassette, the machine & the process of recording & watching information.

• On each occasion you understand the word by the context that surrounds it.

• The same is true when Isaiah uses this word ‘servant’.

• The key is to note the context that the word is used in!

The context for chapter 42:

• While facing military threats from Assyria and eventually Babylon:

• Isaiah comforted the people of God by saying God will send his servant to help.

• In chapter 41 Isaiah actually pointed them 200 years into the future when he said;

• God’s servant King Cyrus will defeat the Babylonians and restore the people to the land.

Now in this chapter (42) he points them 700 years into the future and encourages them to see another far greater servant:

• This servant is the Messiah, the Christ.

• God’s Son!

• We know that these verses apply to Jesus;

• Because Matthew in his gospel chapter 12 verses 18-21 quotes them & applies them.

Now In today’s society we are not comfortable with the idea of being a servant,

• Quote: “We all like to be called servants until somebody treats us like one!”

• Jesus was both called and treated as a servant, God’s perfect servant.

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