by John F. Klem
The book of Isaiah documents four songs that came to be known in the 1800s as the Servant Songs. They are found in Isaiah 42:1–9, 49:1–13, 50:4–11, and 52:13—53:12. Biblical scholars have debated the identity of the servant for hundreds of years. Some think “Servant” refers to a prophet like Moses, a king like Cyrus, or the nation of Israel.
It is true that the Biblical text does use the term “Servant” in reference to prophets, kings, and the nation. However, Isaiah introduces us to a Servant Whose character and work defy purely human capabilities. The Servant of Isaiah’s prophesies, according to the New Testament, is the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 8:31–35). Each Servant Song contributes to a beautiful tapestry of the person of Christ that can awaken our affections for Him.
Consider the first song in Isaiah 41:1–9. A definite call and commission theme ties this song together. The Lord, Who is speaking (42:1, 5) to the nation and then to the Servant (42:5–9), identifies Him as mine, my chosen, the one in whom my soul delights, and the one in whom my Spirit rests (42:1). He is called in keeping with all the righteous purposes of God (42:6). He is commissioned to bring forth justice (42:1, 3, 4) and redemption (42:6, 7). The song rings with divine authority and prophetic certainty (42:5, 6, 8).
Regarding His character, the Servant will go about His work in a persevering and successful manner (42:4). In addition, He will act with compassion and kindness (42:3). As you read through the next sections of Isaiah 42, you discover that the character and work of the Servant evoke genuine praise from His creation (42:10–17).
How does this first servant song encourage us to give glory to the Lord and proclaim His praise in this Advent season? I pray that the Lord will open our eyes to see our sovereign God at work to provide our redemption and to bring justice through the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah 42 strengthens our hope as we anticipate future epochs in the plan of God. We worship and adore Christ, the Servant, for His tenderness, compassion, resolve, and ultimate victory.
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.