Imagine for a moment you are a citizen of Judah during the prophetic span of Isaiah’s ministry. The dates maybe somewhere around 740-700 BC. You saw your brothers in the North fall under siege to the Assyrians and there are strong, very strong warnings that the Babylonians are coming your way to do the same to you in the South. Mingled in Isaiah’s words are those of hope. A surprising mention of a servant. In obviously distinctive and fresh language, a vision and an application of a servant who will do things for the nation never before seen or heard. The ‘servant of God’ strand flowing through Isaiah marks a significant mysterious character whose qualities rival any prophet, priest, or king. Five ‘songs’ are featured in the latter portions of Isaiah.
Who is this servant? If you were hearing Isaiah’s words, you would truly be baffled. Is it Cyrus, Hezekiah, Eliakim, a missionary, Isaiah himself, a reincarnated Moses or Elijah, the nation of Israel, another king, God himself, is it the people of God corporately, are they individual ‘believers’, or is it an individual who is a messianic figure? The options abound for the hearers. He is a mystery man!
The servant is first introduced in Is. 42:1-9 “Here is my servant” the great solution.
Vv. 1-4 God addresses Israel. Justice is used three times in these verses (1, 3, and 4). He is not just for Israel, but for the nations (Gentiles) (1). Notice how gentile he is and full of humility (2, 3).
Vv. 5-7 God (Ha’ El- “He who is indeed the true transcendent God”) addresses the Servant. His purpose is delineated in (6,7) “a light for the Gentiles.” There is a future reference to Is. 61 in v. 7 “to free the captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Also this verse looks back at Isaiah 7.
Vv. 8-9 God address Israel again.
There is a hint of opposition; his task is not easy, but doable. The character and mission of the Servant: will bring salvation and a new world order. The Spirit and justice dominate this ‘song.’