The Lord's Servant

Opening Prayer

The Lord sets prisoners free and lifts up those who are bowed down… (Psa. 146:7–10). I praise You, God, for Your wonderful ways!

Read Isaiah 49:1–7

Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”

5 And now the Lord says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

7 This is what the Lord says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Reflect

What does it mean to you to know that God chose you?

This passage is one of the famous “servant songs” which portrays the person and mission of the Messiah (cf. 42:1–6; 50:4–11; 52:13—53:12). In poetic language it celebrates his call and preparation and the purpose for which he has been sent. Although Israel as a whole has failed to be effective as God’s servant due to her spiritual blindness and deafness (42:19), here is one
who fully represents Israel, in whom the Lord can display his splendor (3).

After such a build-up it is surprising that verse 4 should speak of the servant’s discouragement. But he is a real man like us. He needs encouragement, and this comes in the shape of a reaffirming and enlargement of his mission. He will not only lead Israel back to God, but will bring God’s salvation to the Gentile nations too (6)! In the book of Acts we see how the salvation won by God’s servant, Jesus, indeed began to reach to “the ends of the earth” (6; Acts 28:28).

Apply

“I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength” (5). Recognize your identity as one chosen in Christ.

Closing prayer

Heavenly Father, guide me in my role in Your mission.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider