Holy Week: Monday Isaiah 42:1-9
For Holy Week I will be posting a reflection on the Servant Songs of Isaiah–Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1–7; 50:4–9; and 52:13–53:12 which are the Old Testament lectionary readings, along with Isaiah 61:1-4. I have always found rich treasure in Isaiah, but in this global season of deep emotions, I have glimpsed the inner joy of the man, the prophet, who has seen the Holy One and follows the call to listen, to speak, and to show us the way to return in rest, quietness, and trust.
42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.
Behold my servant. Behold. The King. This is the language of presentation for a King commissioned to establish justice. Look. See that God’s mission for his Servant will not be with the usual arrogant pomp and crushing power of worldly conquerors, but in and through Himself and his Word. “My Chosen in whom my soul delights.”
I have put my Spirit upon him. Anointed. The servant is anointed for his mission to bring justice to all the nations. There is repeating and increasing emphasis that the Servant will bring forth justice, bring forth justice in truth, and put justice in place. The anointed Servant speaks as God, brings deliverance for all peoples, and instructs them in the Way of the Lord. At his baptism Jesus is commissioned for the Messiah’s Mission with the Spirit’s visible anointing and God the Father’s audible blessing. The Servant, the Chosen One.
42:5-9 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
“I Am the Lord”. “It is I, the Lord,” this Hebrew phrase emphasizes the identity of the One calling, the Creator God. God addresses and assures the Servant, using the singular Hebrew for “you” for for times: I have called You, I will take You, I will keep You, I will give You. The Servant’s Lord, the Creator God, the Great I Am, is present and incomparable.
Light for the Nations. All people. The light comes by way of the covenant–first made with a particular people called to be his servants, and then expanded to the entire world. Jesus boldly identifies himself as this Servant as he picks up the Isaiah scroll and proclaims, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-21, Isaiah 61:1-3) Jesus declares in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” I AM LIGHT.
Reflection. Isaiah is caught up in the joy and praise that as God’s chosen one, the Servant will offer God’s salvation, grace, and glory to all people. He calls all people everywhere, from the sea, to the coastlands, to the deserts, and to the mountains to “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth.” (42:10-12) Make room in your meditation for joy and hope, centered on our incomparable Creator God and let your soul delight in the Chosen Servant, Jesus.
Praise. Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim’s song of praise to God: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory,” calls us into praise and worship today. (Isaiah 6:1-2)
Click here to sing Audrey Assad’s version of Holy, Holy, Holy with beautiful views of God’s creation.