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Isaiah 42:1-9 (ESV)
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
In previous chapters, God through the prophet Isaiah has been building a case; he says that though we pursue false idols, they continue to delude, enslave and ultimately fail us. In this passage, God’s chosen “servant” is called to bring about justice and free those bound in “the dungeons” (v. 7). This was the lesson for Israel and remains the lesson for us today.
The nature of idolatry is that we worship and serve that which does not deserve it. At the heart of the Christian message, however, is that Jesus Christ “the Chosen One,” who truly deserves worship, has served us first.
How can we know God’s pleasure in such a way that we begin to replace the idols in our lives with true worship? In verses 1-4, we are taught to “Behold” the one in whom God himself “delights.” To behold means to both see and consider. Isaiah calls Israel to see and consider the Lord through his servant; appointed by God, and supported by his Spirit. In beholding this servant we are able to clearly distinguish what is real from what is counterfeit, a “metal image” full of “empty wind” (Isaiah 41) to a Spirit-filled servant who has come in the flesh (John 1). This servant, who has from afar long beheld us, knows that we are wounded and always on the verge of losing hope and will complete his task with the gentleness of a friend (v. 3). Behold the pleasure the Son found in serving the Father even unto death, for you. Then, “delight” in Jesus and be free.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise you that the fullness of the Godhead is at work and in full view here in this passage to bring an end to idolatry and the suffering that comes from it. We thank you for your word that we may gaze into it and ponder how you covenant with your people. We delight in you for sending a servant-king, Jesus Christ, who truly has “set the captives free” (Luke 18:4). In Christ’s Name, Amen.
Redeemer Presbyterian Church