A Servant Like No Other

Isaiah 42 10/13/13 SCC


42:1: ĎBeholdí in 41:29 is now followed by a second Ďbeholdí here. These two "beholds" contrast the lifeless idols of the nations with the Lordís activity. The Lord called on the nations to give attention to His Servant, in contrast to the idols. (1) The Lord would uphold, or grip firmly, this Servant; (2) He would sustain Him with deep affection. He would be one in whom the Lord delighted wholeheartedly; (3) The Lord would place His Spirit on this Servant blessing Him with His presence and empowering Him for service; (4) This Servant would bring justice to the nations of the world. Jesus Christ will do this at His second coming.

42:2: Notice the things the servant will do in v 2-4: First, His ministry would be quiet, not aggressive, and unthreatening. It was forecast by Isaiah, exemplified perfectly in the Lord Jesus Christ, and is to be reproduced in all who would serve the Lord with true service. "He will not cry out or raise His voice" This is either: 1. Linked with 53:7, which refers to Jesus' trial; 2. Description of His quiet style of ministry; or 3. Reference to a prayer for help.

42:3: Second, the Lordís Servant would be gracious and patient. He would not discard (bruised reed) what seemed to others useless, and He would not extinguish (dim wick) what seemed to others too spent. His calling was to save, not destroy. Third, again He would be faithful to His calling to bring justice to the nations mentioned a second time emphasizing the character of his service.

42:4: Fourth, not only would He not break or extinguish others, but also the pressures and blows of others would not break or extinguish Him. Fifth, then He would complete His mission of establishing justice on the earth. The farthest reaches of the earth will, therefore, anticipate the coming of His law, as Israel did at the base of Mount Sinai. They would do so eager for justice to come to the earth.

So Jesus reign will be characterized by the execution of justice across the globe.


In case anyone doubted the validity of Godís servant ruling, God guarantees it:

42:5: The speaker identified Himself, for the comfort of the idol-worshipping nations. He was the transcendent God who created all things namely, The Lord, the covenant-keeping God of Israel. He described Himself further as He who established the earth and who alone cares for it and sustains its inhabitants. The Servantís ministry will fulfill the Creatorís original intention for the earth. Life, not just matter, is from The Lord. He is the ever-living, only-living God!

42:6-7: These verses describe what The Lord is doing for His covenant people: He chose them for a purpose, namely: (1) Called them in righteousness; (2) Held them by the hand; (3) Watched over them; (4) Appointed them as a covenant people; (a) as a light to the nations, (b) to open blind eyes, and

(c) To bring out prisoners. Three times this passage is quoted in the NT to refer to the ministry of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47; 26:23).

Notice what the Messiah/Servant will accomplish:

1. Government in righteousness (cf. 9:6-7; 11:3-4)

2. Worldwide reign (cf. 45:22; 49:6; 52:10; Micah 5:4)

3. Open blind eyes (cf. 29:18; 32:3; 35:5)

4. Release prisoners (cf. 61:1)

42:8-9: The Lord is His covenant nameóis a distinct person with His own name. He would keep His covenant with Israel. He is not an idol that someone made and received the glory for making. The praise for His great acts belongs to Him, not to some image fashioned by one of His creatures. ĎBeholdí in v 9 concludes this passage as it began it encasing the point. The former things that God had predicted through the prophets that had come to pass already provided assurance that the new things that The Lord just revealed would also happen. The Lord had revealed them before they happened thus proving His uniqueness and superiority over the gods of the nations.

So Jesus is destined to rule over the entire globe and that is where history is headed.


And why not? With Godís servant destined to rule with justice for all? We want this.

42:10-12: A new song arises in Scripture when someone has learned of something powerful and good that God has done or will. This parallels the new things God declares in v 9. Here it is salvation through the Servant that prompts this song of praise. Isaiah called on everyone to praise the Lord because the Servantís ministry would benefit the whole earth. People living on the farthest seacoasts and in the desert lands should praise Him. Kedar was the name of a town in the Arabian Desert (21:1-16; 60:7). Sela was near modern Petra and was the mountain fortress city of Edom (16:1). These people in various places represent diverse sources from which universal praise should come to the Lord. There are several commands in these verses; 1. "sing" v. 10; 2. "lift up their voices" v. 11; 3. "sing aloud" v. 11; 4. "shout for joy" v. 11; 5. "give glory" v. 12; 6. "declare" v. 12. NB: God is a God of newness. (Use newness material)

42:13: This verse gives the reason for the praise just called for. This verse describes in military terms the Lord's attack against the idolatrous nations that oppose His will and His people's return. Isaiah gloried in the fact that the Lord would one day arise as a mighty warrior to overcome His enemies:

(1) He did this when He moved Cyrus to allow the Israelites to return to their land in Ezra and Nehemiah.

(2) He did it more mightily when He sent Messiah to accomplish redemption.

(3) And He will do it most dramatically when Messiah comes back to the earth to defeat His enemies at Armageddon.

So our praise is not empty nor is it wasted on frivolous hope. Praise is powerful when based in truth.


42:14: This possibly refers to the exilic period. The Lord endured the exile of His covenant people with deep emotions. God Himself explained that He had remained quiet a long time, but in the future He would cry out, as a pregnant woman does just before she gives birth. God would bring forth a new thing.

42:15-16: The Lord describes His aid for the returning covenant people: (1) In 15 is metaphorical of preparing a smooth and level highway for the return. (2) In 16a describes His care for the returnees; (3) In 16b describes The Lordís sure commitment to act. Nothing in all creation would be able to resist and prevent the Lord from acting. However, He would lead His own people, those unable to find their way through the blinding storm of His judgment, to safety (Rev 12:14) and not leave them undone.

42:17: That deliverance would spell humiliation for idolaters because they and others would see the impotence of their gods compared to The Lord. The return from Exile provided a sign of what God would do for His people in the end times. Both acts of God seem to be in view here.

So God personally engages in this full and final deliverance.


So why is this deliverance needed in the first place?

42:18-19: Israel, above all others, needed to be able to see and hear what her Lord told her so she could tell it to the world. The nations were blind but Israel was both blind and deaf. The shock is that they too had become idolaters! Yet they were even more responsible for their spiritual condition because they had v 19: (1) the Patriarchs; (2) the covenants; (3) the promises. The Israelites had concluded that The Lord was blind and deaf to their situation, namely, impending destruction. Now He revealed that it was they who were blind and deaf to what He would do for them. He challenged them to comprehend what they had missed.

42:20-21: As the Lord had told Isaiah at the beginning of his ministry, the Israelites saw but did not comprehend and heard but did not perceive. Here is what the Israelites were blind and deaf to: the teaching of The Lord. The law in view here probably includes all of what God had revealed to His people enabling them to come into relationship with Him. The problem with Israel was not God's law but Israel's inability to do it, obey it and not rebel against it!

42:22-23: In contrast to Godís purpose for Israel, the nation was in a position, because of her own sin and Godís discipline of her, from which she could not deliver herself, much less lead the Gentiles into the light. Each description of Israel in this verse contrasts with what she should have been in the will of God. (plundered, despoiled, trapped, hidden, prey, spoilóGod never intended this for them). The prophet despaired that no one among the Israelites was learning from God v 23.

42:24-25: "Walk" is used in the Bible to show that biblical faith is a lifestyle commitment, not a theology alone. Godís people needed to observe that sin had led them into their present wretched condition and that whenever their ancestors had gotten into such condition only repentance brought restoration to usefulness. Their relationship to God was the key. The Law of course, explained what God promised to do if His people obeyed or disobeyed Him, but the Israelites had not paid attention to this teaching. Since they chose to go their own way, the judgment of God had burned them. Chapter 42 thus contains a strong contrast. It opens with one Servant who will discharge His ministry successfully, and it ends with another servant in servitude having failed miserably.


1. The presence of sin in the world necessitates Godís intervention. Sin cannot go unpunished. Sin must always be paid for. Justice is served either by someone else competent to pay for it on our behalf, thus Jesus sacrifice, or we will pay for it ourselves thus becoming our own sacrifice for sin in the Lake of fire.

2. Godís heart is geared toward deliverance. So God is motivated to provide a just and merciful way to escape that punishment. He even guarantees it in the end. People will become their own sacrifices for sin because they want to not because God did not plan and provide for everyone a way to be delivered.

3. Rebellion against God is a dead end street. Basically, rebellion says I know better than God what is good for me. God says okay you can have that if it is what you want even though I have something much better. Rebellion carries with it, itís own set of consequences. There is no such thing as free sin.