The Fourth Song is the most well-known of the Servant Songs comes to us from Isaiah 52:13-53:12. The most graphic and appalling of descriptions regarding who the servant is and what the purpose of his mission on the planet is. The fourth song is the most elaborate and poignant of them all. It is the zenith of Isaiah’s message and discussion about who God is and what he is about. It is as though we forgot the message and Isaiah needed to remind us with suddenness and intrusiveness. Almost as if he is screaming at us, “Don’t you get the picture. Let me draw it out for you one more time.” The irony of it all- the servant is exalted yet abused and quiet. Buried within the Song is kind of a macro view of birth to death.
Vv. 52:13- 53:1 God is speaking
Vv. 53:2-6 Israel is speaking
Vv. 53:7-12 God is speaking
Notice in this whole section who says nothing.
Servant Song #1 was a picture of a king, #2 had hints of a prophet, and in this one we have the qualifications of a priest (52:15).
In the Ancient Near East (ANE), one would cover their mouths with their hand as they approach another king. Here is 52:15, we see that the Servant is the King of kings, all, including kings, will shut their mouths because of who this servant is! What a picture.
I love the flow at the end of the song- The dead (9) is alive (11), the condemned (8) is righteous (11), and the helpless (7) is the victor (12)!! That is us friends. The whole reason for Jesus coming to the planet. The story of redemption and presence in our lives.
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.’
Posted in B90X
Tagged Assyrians, Babylonians, Cyrus, Elijah, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Israel, Judah, Moses, servant, Servant Song