Summary: Isaiah prophesied that Yahweh would send a chosen Servant. This Servant would be empowered by God’s Spirit not only to fulfill His covenant promises, He will be the covenant between God and man Himself.
[Matthew 12: 17-21]
The prophet now adds another theme, the Servant of Yahweh. It is the first of four "Servant Songs" in Isaiah 40-55 (49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12). The character and function God’s Servant are revealed in this section. Israel as God’s servant was supposed to help bring the world to a knowledge of God, but she failed to live up to her privileges and responsibilities. But the Lord’s will would not be thwarted by Israel’s failure. The Messiah, the Lord’s Servant, will become God’s means to fulfill God’s will to bless His world.
I. THE SERVANT’S MANNER OF MINISTRY, 1-4.
II. THE SERVANT’S SOVEREIGN PURPOSE, 5-7.
III. THE SERVANT THAT SHARES GOD’S GLORY, 8-9.
Verse one describes the Servant’s relationship to God. "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
Behold calls attention to what is to be said and is a contrast with what went before. God has a special Servant He calls our attention to. He is God’s chosen one. God takes great delight in Him, and God upholds or supports Him. He will not serve in His own strength. He is supported by God and finds His deepest satisfaction in God.
The title Servant is one of honor, not belittlement. This One has the Spirit of God on Him (11:2), meaning the Servant is sent in the Spirit. This Servant is the One who is fully able to carry our His God given ministry of justice because God’s Spirit is upon Him. The servant will gain power for His mission from the divine Spirit as earlier rulers and prophets had.
[In 1832, a young German man and his wife arrived in Bristol, England, to pastor a small church. When two orphans were unexpectedly put into the church’s care, a new ministry began. Although God sent more than seven million dollars to George Mueller’s orphanage in the next sixty years, Mueller never lost sight of his role as God’s servant.
He once wrote, "A servant of God has but one Master. It ill becomes the servant to seek to be rich, and great, and honored in that world where his Lord was poor, and mean (common), and despised."
In the OT we see Holy Spirit’s work of breathing life into creation, leading God’s people, and filling God’s leaders with wisdom and power. We see Him directing the prophets and giving them God’s words. Here we see the essential link between God’s Spirit and service to God.]
The servant’s mission surprised Israel and it surprises us. His mission was not to deliver Israel from captivity and exile. The mission was for the nations. The servant’s task was to bring justice to the nations (9:7; 11:3-4; 16:5).
[Justice involves a much broader meaning than the English term. In verse 4 it stands parallel to Torah, law or teaching. It is the verdict handed down by a judge (2 Kgs. 25:6); the whole court process (Isa. 3:14); the gracious and merciful judgment of God (Isa. 30:18); or the natural right and order claimed by a person or group of persons (Exod. 23:6). The term for the servant’s mission apparently encompasses a broad meaning. It refers to the natural world order and the rights expected by the nations of the earth within that order. God restores that order with its natural rights through His gracious and merciful judgment on the basis of His law or teaching. Max Anders, OT Commentary, Isaiah, 232]
The language here can only describe one Servant of God. The Servant is the Messiah and He is tasked with activities that will bring justice to the nations.
Verse 2 and 3 begin the unique manner of the Servant’s ministry that will bring justice to the nations. "He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. (3) "A bruised reed He will not break, And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice
The way the servant was to accomplish His task is also surprising. Unlike the foreign conquerors of the day, God’s Servant wouldn’t come shouting His decrees in the streets, nor would He crush the oppressed or discourage the disheartened. He would not be a city street preacher or political rebel inciting the population, nor a royal messenger reading the king’s proclamations. The servant had been given royal power by the divine King. Yet He would exercise that power in such a way that He would not damage the hurting or the disenfranchised -not even a broken reed that appears useless or a wick so uncared for it could no longer produce clear light.
Conquers use their power to squash and rebuild. This one will be radically different. He will be gentle or meek. Most people, especially conquers, would break a weak, useless reed, but He will not do so. Rather He will support it and straighten it out. He will not even blow out a untrimmed dying light. He will trim it and give it His oil. He will strengthen and encourage people.