Servant Song #1 - Isaiah 42:1-4

Isaiah wrote his prophetic book in the 8th century BC while Israel was in exile, around 700 years before Jesus was born. Isaiah’s writings center on proclaiming judgment on those who have turned from God while also proclaiming hope of redemption that comes through God’s compassion. This hope of redemption includes not just the promise to restore those who return to God, but to restore them through a promised coming King.

There are four passages in Isaiah that are called “servant songs.” They describe the future King. Since we live after Christ’s death and resurrection, we read these songs knowing the future King Isaiah described has already come. These prophecies are about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

This first song, Isaiah 42:1-4, is short but it packs a powerful punch. God the Father declares that this coming King would be a lowly servant. Yet, this lowly servant would have a special connection with the Father; “I have placed my spirit on him” (42:1). Today, we understand that Jesus and the Father are two of the three persons of the Trinity. There is one God who exists in three persons. Each person of the Trinity is distinct but equally God.

Pay particular attention to verse 2. This coming servant, a King, would not draw attention to himself. This is contrary to what is expected of a king. A king is surrounded by pomp and circumstance. Not so here. Verses 3 and 4 picture him as compassionate and merciful. In the Ancient Near East, kings were commonly described as warriors who established and protected their kingdoms. However, kings were also charged to provide justice for those in their kingdoms. In Isaiah, the description goes beyond what was expected of kings. Not only does this coming Servant King bring justice and establish justice in his land, but He also takes the time to provide healing and compassion Himself.

Thoughts to Ponder
Take some time to meditate on the importance of the way in which Christ came and lived among His creation. God could have chosen to send His son in battle gear but instead sent him as a lowly servant. He lived among the poor, the weak, and the sick. Instead of spending His time with the religious and political leaders, He came to those who needed him most. He came as a servant among His people and for His people – not just to rule over the people. Jesus came to serve and to heal. This is our God.