Isaiah 42:1–9 – Here is 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. 2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. 5 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 upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. 9 See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
Summary – This section of Isaiah addresses the theme of the “Servant.” Who is the Servant of the Lord? Beginning in Isaiah 41, Israel is the Servant: “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off’” (41:8ff). Isaiah moves from servants (Israel) to Servant (Israel’s anointed) to servants (those in union with Israel’s anointed).
- But you, Israel, My servant, Isaiah 41:8
- He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel, Isaiah 49:3
- 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. Isaiah 42:1
- As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53:11
- So I will act on behalf of My servants In order not to destroy all of them. Isaiah 65:8
- My servants will dwell there. Isaiah 65:9
- Behold, My servants will eat, but you will be hungry. Behold, My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. Behold, My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. Isaiah 65:13
Insight – One writer wisely observes, “the servant is either Israel idealized or Israel represented by the ideal Israelite. . . (Geoffrey W. Grogan, EBC, 1986). This Sunday is the first week after Epiphany. The theme is the “Baptism of the Lord” and so Matthew 3 is the Gospel reading. In this passage Isaiah 42 is echoed in these familiar words: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). God is pleased with His Servant, Jesus, who is The Light to the nations and makes His Spirit-filled servants light in the world. We are to be like Jesus, receiving the Spirit (v1), showing compassion (v3), seeking justice (v4), bringing about liberty and justice (v8), and in whom He brings about new creation (v9).
Child’s Catechism – Why are the people who love Jesus a light? The people who love Jesus act like Him.
Discussion – What are some ways in this new year you could act more like Jesus?
Prayer – Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP Holy Name Collect)