God’s Word of Hope
Isaiah 42:1-25: Verses 1-4 comprise the first of four “servant songs” in the book of Isaiah. (The other three “servant songs” are found in Isaiah 49:1-7; 50:4-9; 52:13—53:12.) In this passage, the servant is described as one whom God has chosen to bring justice to every nation (verse 1).
“I, the LORD, have called you and given you power to see that justice is done on earth.”
The Lord's Servant
1 The Lord says,
“Here is my servant, whom I strengthen—
the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased.
I have filled him with my Spirit,
and he will bring justice to every nation.
2He will not shout or raise his voice
or make loud speeches in the streets.
3He will not break off a bent reed
nor put out a flickering lamp.
He will bring lasting justice to all.
4He will not lose hope or courage;
he will establish justice on the earth.
Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching.”
5 God created the heavens and stretched them out;
he fashioned the earth and all that lives there;
he gave life and breath to all its people.
And now the Lord God says to his servant,
6 “I, the Lord, have called you and given you power
to see that justice is done on earth.
Through you I will make a covenant with all peoples;
through you I will bring light to the nations.
7You will open the eyes of the blind
and set free those who sit in dark prisons.
8“I alone am the Lord your God.
No other god may share my glory;
I will not let idols share my praise.
9The things I predicted have now come true.
Now I will tell you of new things
even before they begin to happen.”
A Song of Praise
10Sing a new song to the Lord;
sing his praise, all the world!
Praise him, you that sail the sea;
praise him, all creatures of the sea!
Sing, distant lands and all who live there!
11Let the desert and its towns praise God;
let the people of Kedar praise him!
Let those who live in the city of Sela
shout for joy from the tops of the mountains!
12Let those who live in distant lands
give praise and glory to the Lord!
13The Lord goes out to fight like a warrior;
he is ready and eager for battle.
He gives a war cry, a battle shout;
he shows his power against his enemies.
God Promises to Help His People
“For a long time I kept silent;
I did not answer my people.
But now the time to act has come;
I cry out like a woman in labor.
15I will destroy the hills and mountains
and dry up the grass and trees.
I will turn the river valleys into deserts
and dry up the pools of water.
16“I will lead my blind people
by roads they have never traveled.
I will turn their darkness into light
and make rough country smooth before them.
These are my promises,
and I will keep them without fail.
17All who trust in idols,
who call images their gods,
will be humiliated and disgraced.”
Israel's Failure to Learn
18The Lord says,
“Listen, you deaf people!
Look closely, you that are blind!
19Is anyone more blind than my servant,
more deaf than the messenger I send?
20Israel, you have seen so much,
but what has it meant to you?
You have ears to hear with,
but what have you really heard?”
21The Lord is a God who is eager to save,
so he exalted his laws and teachings,
and he wanted his people to honor them.
22But now his people have been plundered;
they are locked up in dungeons
and hidden away in prisons.
They were robbed and plundered,
with no one to come to their rescue.
23Will any of you listen to this?
From now on will you listen with care?
24Who gave Israel up to the looters?
It was the Lord himself, against whom we sinned!
We would not live as he wanted us to live
or obey the teachings he gave us.
25So he made us feel the force of his anger
and suffer the violence of war.
Like fire his anger burned throughout Israel,
but we never knew what was happening;
we learned nothing at all from it.
Some scholars think that the servant referenced in this passage must have been an important royal or religious figure in Israel’s history, like King Josiah, the prophet Jeremiah, or even Isaiah. Others think it could be a reference to the people of Israel. Still others understand this passage as describing the life of God’s promised messiah. What do you think?
Holy God, source of light and truth, light my path that I may see the way to be a servant in your work of redemption, truth, and justice. Guide me today. Amen.
Those working for social justice
Isaiah 49:1-26: Israel is to be a light to the nations.