The First Song about the Servant
1 ‘Look at my servant, whom I will give a lot of help to. I chose him and he gives pleasure to my Spirit. I will put my Spirit on him and he will be a fair judge for every country.
2 He will not talk loudly, nor scream. And he will not shout with a loud voice in the streets.
3 He will not break a reed that somebody has bent. And he will not put out a fire that has almost stopped burning. He will always be kind (to his people) and he will be a fair judge.
4 Nothing will cause him to make a mistake. Also, he will always be brave, until there is justice everywhere on the earth. The islands will hope for the events that he has promised.’
42:4In verses 5-9, God speaks to his servant
5 God is the Lord. This is what he says. He is the God who created the skies. He hung them up like a curtain. He made the shape of the whole earth. He made everything that grows in it. He gives air to its people so that they can breathe. And he has given a spirit to everyone who walks on the earth.
6 He says, ‘I am the Lord. I have asked you to work for Righteousness. I will hold your hand. I will keep you safe. And I will cause you to be a Covenant for the people. You will be like a light for the countries that are not Jewish.
7 You will cause blind eyes to see. You will make the prisoners free from their prison. And you will make free those people who sit in a dark prison, deep in the ground.
8 I am the Lord. That is my name. I will not give my glory to anybody else. I will not let people praise idols. They should praise me.
9 Everything that I promised in past years has happened. Now I will tell you about new things. Before they happen, I will talk to you about them.’
42:9Verses 10-13 are words from Isaiah
10 Sing a new song to the Lord, you people who go down to the sea. And everything that is in the sea, sing a new song. Praise him from the far places of the earth, you islands and everybody who lives in them.
11 The people in the sandy places and in the towns near them should use their voices to praise God. The places where Kedar's people live should be very happy. The people in Sela should sing because they are so happy. They should shout from the tops of their mountains.
12 They should honour the Lord and they should praise him in the islands.
13 The Lord will march out like a strong man. He will wake like a soldier who is ready for the fight. He will shout the war-song loudly. And then he will beat his enemies.
42:13In verses 14-20, God speaks again
14 ‘I have been quiet for a long time. I have held myself back and I have not done anything. I am like a woman who is having a baby. I cry. I try to breathe. And I breathe out with difficulty, all at the same time.
15 I will make the mountains and the hills into empty places. And I will make all the plants that grow there dry. I will make rivers into islands and I will make all the pools dry.
16 I will lead blind people by ways that they did not know. I will be their guide along paths that are new to them. I will make the dark places in front of them into light places. And I will make the rough places flat. Those are the things that I will do. I will not leave my people by themselves.
17 I will turn back people who believe in idols. And people who say to idols, “You are our gods” will be ashamed.
18 Listen to me, you people who are not able to hear! You blind people, look and see!
19 Who is blind? Only my servant (Israel) is blind. Who is not able to hear? The man with the message that I send. He is not able to hear. Among all people, the person who believes me is really blind! Among all people, the servant of the Lord is really blind!
20 You have seen many things, but you have not thought about them. You have opened your ears to listen. But nobody hears anything.’
42:20Verses 21-25 are more words from Isaiah
21 The Lord decided to make his law very important. And he decided that people must honour his law. He did that because he is righteous.
22 But an enemy has robbed these people and he has taken things from them. The enemy has caught them all in holes in the ground or he has hidden them in prisons. The enemy took these people and nobody has saved them. They themselves are what the robber took. And nobody said, ‘Send them back.’
23 Not many among you will listen to this! Not many among you will think about it in the future!
24 Who gave Jacob for the enemy to rob? Who gave Israel's people to those who robbed them? The answer is that it was the Lord. We have sinned against him. They would not do things in the way that he wanted. Also, they did not obey his rules.
42:24Verse 24 Jacob here means God's people, who were descendants of Jacob.
25 So the Lord was very, very angry with them. He caused a very, very bad war. He was so angry that it was like a fire round them. But they did not understand what he was doing. The war killed their people. But they did not know what it meant.
42:25About the Servant of the Lord
42:25Many Bible students have written about ‘the servant of the Lord’. The words come in other places in the Old-Testament, but they come several times in Isaiah chapters 41-55. The word Lord, with 4 capital letters, translates the Hebrew word YHWH. It may mean the same as God's name in Exodus 3:14: ‘I AM THAT WHICH I AM’ or ‘I AM BECAUSE I AM’. It tells us that God is always alive!
42:25There are 4 parts of Isaiah that Bible students call ‘Songs about the Servant’. They are Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9 and 52:13-53:12. In Acts 8:26-35, we can read about a man from Ethiopia. Philip heard him read from the 4th Song about the Servant. Philip asked him, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ The man did not understand, so Philip explained it to him. The question the man asked was this. ‘Is the prophet (Isaiah) speaking about himself, or about somebody else?’ Philip's answer was, ‘He is speaking about somebody else and that person is Jesus’. Also, Matthew tells us that Isaiah wrote about Jesus in the first Song about the Servant, (Matthew 12:14-21).
42:25But the servant in Isaiah chapters 41-55 (not only the 4 Songs) about the Servant is not always Jesus. Also, Jewish students of the Bible do not have the same answers as Christians. Lastly, the servant in some places in Isaiah chapters 41-55 is one person or group of people. But in other places it is somebody else. Here are some of the answers that Bible students have given.
42:251. In some places, like Isaiah 41:18-20, Israel is called the servant of the Lord. Even in Babylon, after God has punished Israel, Israel continues to be God's servant, as in Isaiah 43:21.
42:252. In Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1 the servant is King Cyrus of Persia. Isaiah 44:28 calls him the Lord's ‘sheep-farmer’. He is a like a picture of somebody who is careful for his people. Also Isaiah 45:1 says that the Lord had anointed Cyrus. ‘Anointed’ means ‘someone poured oil on him’. Oil in the Bible is often like a picture of God's Holy Spirit. It gives to the anointed person something to do. And it gives to him the authority and power to do it. The kings who lived after Cyrus are also God's servants. Those kings were Darius and Artaxerxes.
42:253. But Jesus is also a shepherd (John 10:11) and God has anointed him with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16).
42:25And Christians believe that Isaiah 53 can only be about Jesus. Also, it is true that Isaiah 42:1 may be about both Israel and the kings of Persia. But it is mostly about Jesus.
42:25So, when we read the words ‘the servant of the Lord’, they can mean several things:
42:25· the country called Israel
42:25· the prophet Isaiah
42:25· the rulers of Persia
42:25· Jesus Christ.
42:25‘Christ’ is the Greek word for ‘anointed’. Greek is a language. For Christians, the servant of YHWH (the servant of the Lord) is JESUS THE ANOINTED! He is doing what Israel, Isaiah and Cyrus did 2,700 years ago.