Servant Songs of Isaiah

This week’s text at LPC is Mark 10:32-34. As I began studying today I was planning on going all the way through Mark 10:45, but there is just far too much content in vv. 32-34, so we’re going to stop there this week. One of the major themes that comes out in this text is the clarity of the plan of God through the ages, and how Jesus is the center-piece of that plan. There are significant Old Testament parallels with the words of Jesus in this text, in verses 33-34 specifically. Though there are tie-ins with Exodus, Deuteronomy, and other places, we’re going to focus on the connections this text has with Isaiah on Sunday. Specifically, the “Servant Songs” (or “poems”) contained in Isaiah chapters 42-53.

Traditionally, scholars have identified 4 distinct “Servant Songs” that (upon the revelation in the New Testament) clearly point forward to Jesus the Messiah. It is texts like these that Jesus is referring to in places like John 5:39 where he tells the Jews:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…”

I won’t be able to get extremely comprehensive with this content on Sunday morning, so I thought I’d post it here for those of you who (like me) enjoy the geeky stuff.

There are 4 texts referred to as “Servant Songs” in Isaiah. Here are the references and the themes of each one. On Sunday we’ll focus in on #3 and #4, as they are the two (#3 especially) that are more directly tied in with the Mark 10 text.

Servant Song #1: Isaiah 42:1-4 [Introduction of the Servant]

Isaiah 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.  2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;  3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.  4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

Servant Song #2: Isaiah 49:1-6 [Mission of the Servant]

Isaiah 49:1-6
Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.  2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away.  3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”  4 But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.”  5 And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him- for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength-  6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Servant Song #3: 50:4-9 [Obedience of the Servant]

Isaiah 50:4-9 
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.  5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.  6 I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.  7 But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.  8 He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.  9 Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Servant Song #4: 52:13—53:12 [Suffering of the Servant]

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.  14 As many were astonished at you- his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind-  15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?  2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?  9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.  10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.  11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.  12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

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About Pastor Andrew

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Carissa, Daddy to four daughters, Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA.
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