Servant Song 3 – Isaiah 50:4-11

Servant Song 3 – Isaiah 50:4-11

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger | A Month in the Servant Songs


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. This is the third episode in our month in the Servant Song series. There are four Servant Songs in Isaiah, and last week we talked about the second Servant Song. This week, Jason and Tom talked about Servant Song number three, our text is found in Isaiah 50:4–11. We’ve created an album cover for this month in the Servant Song series. Be sure to go to our show notes and download the album cover. Tom and Jason refer to this album cover throughout this podcast. You’ll also find other Jason DeRouchie lecture notes on the Servant Songs.

Servant Song Three Album Cover

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. I’m Tom.

JD: And I’m Jason. Good to have you all back.

TK: All right, Jason, we are in week three of our Servant Songs. So what’s the Servant Song?

JD: The Servant Songs are four poems in the book of Isaiah, the second half of Isaiah, all of which are saturated with a picture of the gospel. These are—all of them include the term servant and apply it to Jesus as the Messiah. The first and last of these four Servant Songs are biographical with God talking about his Servant and the two inner poems are autobiographical, where we hear the actual voice of the Christ himself. So we thought it would be great to spend a month in these songs that celebrate the person and work of the Messiah Jesus.

TK: And we have an album cover which you can download from our show notes. I’m looking at it right now. Our creative director, Mark Yeager, did this. It’s yellow—we’ve chosen that color, it signifies the second part of the Old Testament in our gears. That’s why it’s called Gear Talk. The second part, the Prophets—we have this yellow album cover. It has four different pictures on it, and they’re arranged—if you were looking at the album cover with a man in prison in the lower left-hand corner, and then an archer shooting an arrow that’s lit up like it’s almost going counterclockwise, so that would be almost at 3:00. And if you get just next to it—but we’re kind of moving up towards the top—you have a man pulling another man’s beard and then at the very top you have someone leading a sheep and someone else with a knife in their hand. So, these are all representative of all four of the Servant Songs, so this one Jason that we’re in the third one today, we have a man pulling somebody’s beard. What’s going on here?

JD: Well that that image comes directly out of our third Servant Song here in Isaiah 50:4–11. And specifically, it comes out of verse 6, where the Servant declares, “I gave my back to those who strike, and I gave my cheeks to those who pull out the beard. I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” So, he’s testifying to the suffering that he endured, the intense persecution that he experienced as part of his mission to save. So, the image is just one image out of the entire song that helps represent the role the Servant was playing.

TK: And a stunning thing about it is his beard is being pulled and you see this person doing it, but that’s who he came to save.

JD: It is.

TK: So, it’s not just an enemy, it’s also the—if you want to say it—the target. It’s why he came to earth.

JD: Yeah, the very ones he came to save are the very ones who were rejecting him as their Messiah.

Reading and Interpreting in the Prophets

TK: So, Jason, before we look at verses 4 to 11, I have a question about reading the Prophets in general. And for those of us who preach or teach and reading our Bibles devotionally whatever, it seems like the prophets switch subjects a lot or it’s hard to track at times. Do you have a strategy that you use when you’re reading to know? Like what we’ve said is 4 through 11 are of a Servant Song, how would we know that if we were just reading along and we’re reading verses one to three in Isaiah 50—like how do we find these changes?

JD: Well, in many prophetic books you have introductory statements like, “Thus says the Lord,” and in fact in Isaiah 49 we get one of those in verse 22, so we know there’s an a fresh beginning happening. But the same thing happens in Isaiah 50:1, “Thus says the Lord.” We can still be reading in that section and all of a sudden it seems as though there’s even a different voice speaking. Yahweh is speaking at one instance, sometimes it’s the voice of his prophet. In this instance, it’s the voice of the Messiah himself and it just demands careful, slow reading to—even tracking key things like pronouns that are small words that are referring to nouns. And we’ve got to figure out to whom is this pronoun referring. And in this instance, when we open up our Servant Song (“The Lord has given me”), we have to ask ourselves who’s the me because it’s not the Lord himself. Either the prophet is talking or someone else is talking. And as we walk through the song itself and it’s in verse 10 that the individual is clarified, it is the Servant, Yahweh’s Servant who’s actually doing the talking here.

We have to just keep reading and wrestling. And that’s why, boy, a preacher needs to be able to bathe himself.—it’s a blessing that we gather once per week because a preacher needs to take the time to wrestle hard with his Bible open. Spending time in the biblical text itself, even before you ever look at what a study Bible says, or what commentators say, to be able to have that level of conviction, I think I understand what’s going on here. But it often takes very careful reading and then seeking confirmation. Have I indeed gotten this? Am I discerning this rightly? A key confirmation often comes by looking at the cross references and considering how other biblical authors actually interpreted the very passage that we’re looking at. Did they consider who the reference was and clarify for us who the passage, whom the passage is speaking about?

TK: That’s really helpful. So 50:1 says, “Thus says the Lord.” So, these are Yahweh’s words. And we’re going to assume that stays the same until some signal says that’s changed. And that’s what we find in verse 4. “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught.” So right away, as a reader, I’m saying something changed here we have a new speaker.

JD: We have a new speaker. Intriguingly, within a book that often identifies this royal child—this is the first half of the book—with God himself. And so it could be that the thus says the Lord—I mean all of this is still God’s word, and God is speaking, whether through the Prophet whether on his own accord or through the voice of, in this instance, the Messiah himself. Yet, it’s very clear that now Yahweh is being talked about in third person (how we would word it grammatically), whereas there is another one, the me, that is in first person. So yes, the voice has shifted even though all of it is God’s word.

TK: That’s helpful. I think just that thought even of slowing down even if I’m trying to figure it out like OK, it seems like something has changed here, slow it down and see if I can piece it together. And you even said in in your mind you might be holding out a couple of options of who’s the me, “The Lord God has given me.” I might be thinking it might be Isaiah, it might be the Servant, I’m going to read a little further and hopefully figure out who it is.

JD: That’s exactly right. And often for me that’s exactly how it was. I took 2 1/2 years to walk through a number of these key passages in Isaiah in the context of my Sunday school class teaching for one hour, week after week after week over 2 1/2 years. And for me it was exactly that. I wasn’t—I didn’t regularly have commentaries open, it was just me and the text, wrestling, trying to understand the flow of thought, who was doing the talking. And then upon that slow reflection, I was able to shape material that I could then serve my people with.

TK: And you’ve said it before we talked about it on an earlier podcast, but for people who they don’t know Hebrew, for instance, they are able, they are fully able to do this, correct?

JD: God’s given us some great translations and it’s I think it’s always good if you’re an English Bible only teacher to have a few different translations open week after week as you’re wrestling just to ensure, are all the translations reading the Hebrew—or the Greek text before in the New Testament—reading the Hebrew text in a comparable way. And sometimes we’ll see, oh, the NIV and the ESV or the ESV and the New American Standard actually differ at this point. And then it lets us know, ok, there’s a question point here and it might move us to dive in and consider what a commentator has to say, or to reflect more deeply on that passage. But yes, we’ve got great translations that have been shaped by godly men and women who want us to hear rightly the very word of God, and so the careful eye can let us find diamonds and not just rake leaves.

The Servant is a Devoted, Learning, Listening Disciple

TK: That’s really helpful. All right. So what do you find in this third Servant Song? It says, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isa 50:4). What are we getting here, Jason?

JD: Well, it’s, I mean, it’s just amazing. Right off the bat, you have a disciple, a disciple of Yahweh, that is, he is one who has been taught God. He says, “He has given me a tongue of those who are taught,” so he is a teacher. And that right there is a reminder of chapter 49, the second Servant Song, where it said the Servant declared, “He made my mouth like a sharp sword” (Isa 49:2). He has a word-based ministry that’s direct and piercing. Now we learn God is the one who’s given me a tongue of those who are taught. So he’s a disciple who’s been taught, and now he’s able to instruct others. It says God’s given me this tongue “that I may know how to sustain with the word him who is weary” (Isa 50:4). And that all of a sudden makes me remember Isaiah 42, the first Servant Song where it mentioned that the Servant himself will not break a bruised reed and he will not quench a faintly burning wick (Isa 42:3). He’s come to help the broken to help the needy, and he’s gonna do it through his words of life.

And so we have this individual who’s a disciple of God himself. He has been taught by the Lord, so that in turn, he may teach others. It reminds me of Jesus saying things, “I have much to say to you … but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him,” that’s John 8:26. Or John 15:15, “All that I have heard from my father, I have made known to you.” Earlier in John chapter 7, the Jews are marveling at Jesus and they actually say, “How is it that this man has learning when he has never studied,” right? And then Jesus says explicitly, “My teaching is not mine, but is his who sent me” (John 7:15–16). So here is Christ, who has been growing as a disciple at the feet of God himself and this is challenging to me, what I read next, “Morning by morning he awakens, he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isa 50:4). We have so many who think I don’t need to spend time with God, I’m good. I can start my day and just get started. Jesus himself, who is God in the flesh—what this verse testifies is morning by morning God awakened him in order to teach him. He spent time with God, listening to God’s word in the morning. It’s a challenge for all of us. The God man himself needed morning devotions. May we be those who seek to hear from God, following the Messiah himself.

TK: It reminds me—two different spots, but it reminds me of first of all, Psalm 5:5 where it says, “Give attention”—verse two—“Give attention to the sound of my cry, my king and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” And I don’t know if the—it’s the best idea of preparing a sacrifice, but that the idea there is I am sending my prayers to you as a sacrifice of incense, really. And I’m watching to see what you’re going to say and what you’re going to do. So, way back in the Psalms—but even the same thought, we have one story from Jesus’s childhood and the one story is him in the temple when he’s 12 years old. And he’s asking questions of the Jewish leaders, which is really an amazing thing because we could think he’s quizzing them like he already knows everything and he’s trying to catch them in something wrong. But that idea of no, he genuinely is being taught and hearing.

JD: That’s right. He is a man of the word of God, and it didn’t just come to him. He as the God man grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and with man. You already mentioned Psalm 5. I think of Psalm 119:47, “I rise before dawn and cry for help. I hope in your words.” Mark 1 we read, “And rising very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). What we’re seeing there is the working out of what Isaiah—what he said was true in Isaiah 50. These are his words. He’s just—we’re getting pulled in to the inner life of the Christ. And he’s telling us it came to me morning by morning. That’s when I was taught. He’s a disciple of his father, and he learned it morning by morning.

TK: And you’re right, that is something we saw earlier. Paul and Barnabas applying Servant Songs to themselves. I think the same thing here, saying, Lord, would you open my ears? And I pray that they would be awakened and I wouldn’t be dull to you. Jesus saying, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Clearly he was thinking there are people in the crowd who couldn’t hear because in a spiritual sense, they had no ears to hear their ears needed to be awakened. So what is He hearing Jason? Or you’re thinking something? No.

JD: No. Well, it was exactly that. What is he hearing? It’s really a comfort to me, Tom, and I hope it’s a comfort to our hearers. Why? I mean, there’s actually a motivation clause. “The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with the word him who is weary” (Isa 50:4). Jesus said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Matt 11:28–29). So, he becomes the teacher—frame, gentle and lowly in heart and you’ll find rest. That’s why—I mean it was God has taught me that I may know how to sustain with the word it. It’s so comforting. So, the Father is the initiator here and he’s calling Jesus as his ultimate disciple in order that we, as Jesus’s followers, might find sustaining grace in a very hard and difficult world.

I think about Jesus in John 17 when he prays to the Father, he says, “I don’t ask that you take them out of the world, but that you would guard them from the evil one…. Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth” (John 17:15, 17). So, Jesus wants us to be protected. He wants us to be helped, and he knows that it’ll come through the word of God. “Did you receive the spirit,” Paul says, “by the works of the law or by hearing with faith”—and it’s clear, that’s the answer. And so, “If you began with the Spirit, why would you continue on with the flesh?” (Gal 3:2–3). May we be a people who are serious about seeking the Lord to hear his voice and to be motivated, like Jesus was, to be able to sustain those who are weary. We need to be filled up so that we have something to give. When we meet others who need to be filled up and giving them our words will mean very little. What they need is the sustaining word of the living God, and Jesus is the ultimate model of this for us.

The Servant Suffers to Accomplish God’s Purposes

TK: That’s right. Here, he’s saying he opened my ear, and he opened it to something that was certainly not pleasant as you go further here, verse 5: “The Lord has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” (Isa 50:5–6). Why would the Lord call him to do this, Jason?

JD: It is the means by which he experienced the—by which we experience our great redemption. He lowers himself, humbling himself, experiencing the full weight of the curse, the full weight of darkness and brokenness, the full weight of rejection in order that God might fulfill his ultimate purposes of saving a broken world. He has to get to the cross. And he gets to the cross unjustly. So he enters in, under the purposes of God, God opens his ear with words of salvation. But what we remember is that “the word of the cross is folly to the world, but to us are who are being saved, it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). Here’s what his mission is. He comes with words of hope and life. He was not rebellious. He heard, and it overflowed in a life of obedience. He did not turn backward, it says, even unto the point of intense trial and suffering and persecution.

TK: Do you think, as you ponder this and you think about his ear being open to God’s words, when he knew that the Messiah was going to suffer, part of his ear being opened as he’s reading the, what we call, the Old Testament—for him it would have just been his Bible. His ears are open to the message he’s seeing there. Hey, this is about me. This is what I am facing here.

JD: He’s getting his marching orders from the word of God itself through prophets like Isaiah. God clarified for the Christ who he was and what he was supposed to do. And so it is that he enters in. And reflecting on passages like this and reflecting on what they witnessed, apostles like Matthew testify, they spit in his face. They struck him. Some slapped him. Or they released for themselves, Barrabas, having scourged Jesus, delivering him up to be crucified, they were striking his head with a reed, spitting on him, kneeling down in homage of him. Or Luke—the men were holding Jesus in custody. What were they doing? They were mocking him as they beat him. Jesus knew this was where he was headed.

And what’s amazing is that we are the body of Christ, and Jesus had to endure his own cross before he enjoyed his crown, and so we too, as the body of Christ, have to carry our cross. We must expect it. Suffering is expected for the saint in order that we might enjoy our resurrection. I’m thinking specifically of two texts. Here’s Paul in Philippians chapter 2, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not did not count equality with God a thing to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the very form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5–8). Or Peter in 1 Peter 2:22, he says, “To this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps.” It’s just amazing. Or again, Hebrews chapter 12 when it says, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). And then it says, don’t grow weary in well doing, but keep your eyes on Jesus, who for this joy endured the cross.

We keep our eyes on him and follow in his pattern. That’s not all that Jesus was. He was much more than a pattern. He was our substitute, who bore the penalty of God’s wrath upon himself in order that we might be declared righteous. But along with providing our pardon and being our perfection, he is also our pattern. What we’re seeing here worked out in his ministry here in this Servant Song, is a path of suffering that becomes a path for us again, “To this you have been called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example. You also should follow in his steps.” May God help us.

TK: I’m looking again at the album cover Mark created and the picture of the man pulling the Servant’s beard and, based on everything we’re talking about, you could look at that picture and say that’s the church right there. We are walking in the same footsteps and so as we read these things and meditate on it and say, wow, the Servant needed open ears if he was going to make it. In the same way if we’re following in the footsteps of the Lord, we need open ears. We need to come to him every day and say, Lord, I have to hear you very clearly for what you’ve called me to.

JD: That’s right.

TK: The picture is harder to look at. It’s hard enough to look at, but it’s harder to look at when you say wait a minute, that’s a picture of also us. That’s the church.

JD: Many throughout the world have endured, been enduring the sufferings parallel to those of the Christ for centuries. But here in the US for so long, we’ve had government in place that sets forth principles and laws that are just, that are upright, that are good. But increasingly, that’s not the case. And the church in the West is increasingly going to be feeling what it means to be maligned, what it means to identify with the sufferings of Christ and follow him in his example. May God help the church. And it will only happen, we will only be helped by being grounded in the book, by being the kind of disciple that Jesus was, filling ourselves so that we in turn can be poured out.

The Servant Endures for Joy

TK: Amen. Moving forward, Jason. He’s going through these things. And just reading it, you wonder how much can he take? Is he going to make it? And we read in verse 7, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I’ve set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame” (Isa 50:7).

JD: Yes, that reminds us of the first Servant Song where God just declared, “He will not grow faint or be discouraged until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law” (Isa 42:4). But it also reminds you of the second Servant Song and Isaiah 49:4, where he says, “I’ve labored in vain. I’ve spent my strength for nothing and in vanity.” Yet he declares, “My right is with Yahweh, my recompense is with God.” And here he declares again, “I have not been disgraced, I have set my face like flint” (Isa 50:7). It reminds me of Luke chapter 9, where Jesus—actually where where we learn of Jesus, “Although the people did not receive him.” It well, sorry, it says, “The people did not receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:53). That sense of mission he had come to die that many might live.

TK: Those who walked before were afraid, and those who were behind were astonished or something, something like that. Everyone is afraid as he marches to his death. The picture we’re looking at the the man pulling the beard. This whole thing you’d say, who is the stronger one? And you just assume, well, it’s the people who are pulling the beard or it’s the one spitting or whatever. But what we’re realizing is, no, actually, it’s the one whose beard is being pulled. He is the strong one because of God.

JD: Well, it’s just amazing. I was meditating recently on how is it that Jesus—how the writer of Hebrews could say he was tempted in every way that we are yet without sin. The one who really knows temptation, the one who really feels its power is the one who doesn’t give in, but who maintains, even amidst all the pressure—he doesn’t break. Jesus, more than any other person on the planet, knew temptation. He knew the challenge in a way that you and I haven’t even experienced because we’re too weak; we’re too prone to wander; we too easily give in when the pressure comes. Yet Jesus never gave in. He trusted his father completely. Yes, because he was tapped in to the source of greatest power, he indeed was the stronger one, and he willingly gave up himself. He willingly gave up his back to striking, his cheeks, to having the beard pulled out, his face to disgrace and spitting willingly. And at any moment the temptation was there. Give in, give up. And yet, as he said at Gethsemane, “Not my will but yours be done.” What a savior, Tom, what a savior.

TK: I could call legions of angels, but I am not doing that because I see something ahead of me, “For the joy set before me” (Heb 12:2). That’s why I’m doing this.

JD: That’s right.

The Servant is Made Righteous and Makes Offspring Righteous

TK: So we get to, he says, “He who vindicates me is near, who will contend with me?” (Isa 50:8). He’s saying God is the one who’s raising me up.; who could be contending with me then? “Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.” So now we’re almost getting a face off, if you will. And he’s saying I want my adversary to come up and see if he will stand and what’s going to happen to this one who comes against me.

JD: It is awesome, very literally. In the Hebrew where it says, “He who vindicates me is near,” it’s very literally “He who declares me righteous.” And this is—as we’re going to see in the fourth Servant Song—this is the righteous one. God has declared him righteous. It makes me think of 1 Timothy chapter 3, where in that summary thesis statement of the entire book it says, “[Jesus] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated”—that is declared to be right—”by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up into glory” (1 Tim 3:16). That vindication by the Spirit happens at his resurrection. And the point is death couldn’t hold him. No accusations could be made. He indeed was blameless.

It’s texts like, “He became sin who knew no sin”—no sin whatsoever,—”so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus himself in John, 8 says, “Which one of you convicts me of sin if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:46). Or Pilot’s wife right before the crucifixion, Matthew 27:19, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today.” Or how about the thief on the cross? “We indeed are being condemned justly,” he says, “for we are receiving the due rewards of our deeds. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). Or, amazingly, even Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, Matthew 27:3–4, “When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind. He brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”

TK: Right.

JD: Jesus was the righteous one, and it’s only because he was the righteous one that we, in turn, can be counted righteous. Now let—within the whole flow of Isaiah, there’s four texts that really bring this together, and it it helps us understand the significance of the fact that no one could accuse him. First off, in Isaiah 45:24–25, God promises—this is what we read—he promises to justify all the offspring of Israel. And we have to ask ourselves, who’s Israel, in light of our study of Isaiah 49. God Promises to justify all the offspring of Israel, “Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, our righteousness and strength”—God is the one who is righteous—”to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the Lord, all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.” Now, because all the offspring of Israel shall be justified, this suggests to me we’re not talking about the nation of Israel who are the offspring of Jacob.

TK: Yeah, they’re not painted that way.

JD: They’re not painted that way. So then we read in Isaiah 49, the Servant himself declares, “God said to me. You are my servant, Israel,” and then God gives him the mission to save Israel and the nations. Isaiah 49:3, 6. So the Servant person is Israel, and God has promised to justify all the offspring of Israel. Now what we read is God will justify Israel the person. The Servant was already called Israel in Isaiah 49, so now we’re reading about the Servant and he declares, “The one who declares me right is near, who will contend with me. Let us stand together. Who’s my adversary? … Behold the Lord. God helps me. Who will declare me guilty?” (Isa 50:8–9). No one is the answer.

TK: It’s a courtroom scene right there, and he’s been declared innocent.

JD: That’s right. And then, as we’re going to see in the very final Servant Song in Isaiah 53, what we read is, “He will see”—upon his death he will rise from the dead—”he will see his offspring” (Isa 53:10). And then it says, “Out of the anguish of his soul … and by his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, will make many to be accounted righteous” (Isa 53:11). So there it is. We’ve come full circle. Now we understand God’s promise to justify, to declare right all the offspring of Israel. Israel is indeed Israel the person, and his offspring are not biological offspring, but Jews and Gentiles who identify with him by faith.

Jesus was innocent and because of his innocence, there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in him. As God says, the very one “who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” Just like no charge could be brought against Jesus, now no charge can be brought against us if we are in him. “It is God who justifies. Who is it to condemn? Christ Jesus died for us”—he’s the one who died—”More than that, he was the one who was raised and is now at the right hand of the of God interceding for us” (Rom 8:32–34). So this is this is the beautiful structure of Isaiah and the significance of the fact that this Jesus—who’s enduring the suffering, who’s meeting with God morning by morning, so that he has something to give to the weary—this very Jesus is perfect. And that’s how we know—I mean, when I got up to this point in the Psalm, I knew, oh, this isn’t the prophet, right? The prophet couldn’t say, “I was not rebellious. I did not turn backward.”

TK: Right. In fact, he said that, and in Isaiah 6, he says, “I come from a people of unclean lips.”

JD: “I am a man of unclean lips and I come from a people of unclean lips; yeah, but my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts” (Isa 6:5). That’s right. So this is not the prophet. And so we have to say, I think we’ve read about this one before. There’s a number of connections that we’ve seen with Isaiah 49 and Isaiah 42. This is none other than the Servant. And now here at the end, the last two verses, this is exactly what we’re told: he is indeed the Servant.

Make a Choice: Listen or Be Condemned

TK: And we have a we have a choice to make, really, here as we’re hearing this message. So we have. God fearers in verse 10 and then those who would say I reject the light the Servant brings, I will walk by my own light in verse 11. Is that fair?

JD: That’s right. Yeah, it is fair. We’ve got these two different groups, those who are going to see their neediness and follow someone greater than them, or those who are going to, by their own cunning, their own efforts try to give them what they need to make it through the dark. So this is what we read in the ESV, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord, and rely on his God” (Isa 50:10). So that’s the one option you can trust, you can look beyond yourself and trust in God and obey the teaching, the voice of the Servant even as he follows the instruction of his Father. That’s one option. And then verse 11 says, “Behold, all you who kindle a fire who equip yourself with burning torches, who walk by the light of your own fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.”

TK: So I say I don’t need your light. I will make my own light. And we get this warning right here.

JD: That’s right. You can either accept the light that has entered into the world—thinking all the way back to Isaiah chapter 9, where it said, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness on them, a light has shined” (Isa 9:2). And then it says, “To us a child is born to us, a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). He is the light that has entered into the world, and Matthew opens his gospel in Matthew chapter 4:15–16, quoting those very verses, declaring Jesus as this light. So you can either recognize, I’m in darkness and accept the light that God supplies, or you can try to make your own way through the darkness by producing your own light. But Jesus says, the Servant says, if you choose to do this, it’s my judgment on you.

TK: This you have from my hand you shall lie down and torment.

JD: That’s right. It somewhat reminds me of Jonathan Edwards sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of the Angry God,” where he says hell is not something outside, hell is something that is inside. The fires of hell are already burning in the unbelieving world. And what happens over time the the extension—the extendedness of one’s callousness, one’s refusal to surrender one’s hardness of heart, that fire within, begins to blaze more and more and more, until ultimately it will consume us forever in the final judgment. And those who try to build their own torches to make it through the darkness of this world, Jesus says it’s not only that your sin is worthy of judgment, your sin is judgment. This you have from my hand, you shall lie down in torment.

TK: That thought of I have my own light, thinking no, actually that’s the—like the example you used from the Jonathan Edwards sermon—that’s actually the light of hell right there that you are relishing in yourself. This is my light. I reject what the Servant did. I will walk by myself. I think that that thought of Lord help me read these things like the Servant. Would you give me an open ear?

JD: And would you would you let me identify myself as one who is weary rather than self strong.

TK: Right, with my own torches.

JD: It it reminds me of Paul—as we wrap up this this particular podcast—it reminds me of Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 1 where he says, “I don’t want you to be unaware (ignorant) of the affliction we experienced in Asia, we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we had the sentence of death upon ourselves. But that was to make us not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:8–9). That purpose statement that was—so that we would—that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God. Satan is not one who wants us to rely on God. So that wasn’t his purpose. The enemies that were persecuting Paul, that wasn’t their intention, that he would rely on God. This is a purpose statement from God, and Paul is wanting the Corinthians to recognize it.

Paul has been saved for twenty years at this point, when he’s written 2 Corinthians. Since he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and yet he says in all of these years of sanctification, God still almost had to kill me to weed out my self-reliance so that I would trust not in myself but on the God who raises the dead. And it says that—raises the dead—because Paul was expecting the very real reality that he could be martyred right in this instance. We have a God who comes for weak people, not for strong people. It’s the not the healthy who need a physician but the sick.

TK: The bruised reeds and the smoldering wicks.

JD: That’s right. May God help us look to him for light and not keep trying to make our own fires. It’s not going to help us. It’s not going to help us live in and through the darkness. We’ll either be tormented or we will experience full joy for the longest amount of time—on the other side of this season of cross bearing.

TK: Amen. Well, we look forward to moving to the last Servant Song in Isaiah 52—I think it starts in verse 13 through 53—because it it really does round round out the messages. We’ve needed all of them, because they’ve all contributed, but this last stage that we’re coming up to explains how this righteousness that he has is is granted to God’s people—the weary. All right, Jason, we’ll see you next time.

JD: All right.

JY: Thank you for joining us for Gear Talk. If you haven’t done so already, go to our show notes and download the album cover and the lecture notes for our month in the Servant Song series. Next week, Jason and Tom focus on the fourth Servant Song. Hope you can join us.