Reading through the Bible together
This chapter is the first of four so called Servant Songs of Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12. There are two things that stand out to me about this song: the nature of the Messiah, and what I call “God’s signature.” This last point will have to wait for comments on another chapter.
The first four verses of Isaiah 42 are quoted by Matthew (Matt 12:18-21), and he specifically applies them to Jesus Christ. With this chapter, Isaiah begins to give us a more complete picture of the Messiah and His mission to the world. The Messiah is God’s Servant in whom God delights with all His heart. As someone wrote, the Messiah is not only “the Lord’s man for the job, He is the Lord’s man for the Lord Himself.” So pleased would the Father be with the Son. We also see that the Messiah would receive the fullness of God’s Spirit on Him, something that was highlighted at Christ’s conception as well as His baptism (Luke 1:35; 3:16).
Christ would bring justice to the nations, that is, to the whole world (vv.2, 4), and not just to the Jews. The “coastlands” of verse 4 is a common expression in the Old Testament for all the countries bordering the Mediterranean—Asian, North African, European countries—all of which were pagan nations except Israel. But what responds the most with me about these verses is the description of the Messiah as a person. Instead of a strong war-like leader spewing fear and threats, Jesus would be meek, not raise His voice. Instead of a being a terrible figure on a journey of destruction, the Lord Jesus would be kind-hearted to the weak (“a bruised reed He will not break”), and interested in the downcast and depressed, “a smoking flax [a candle wick] He will not quench.” And He Himself will not give up on us! “He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth.” What a wonderful Savior!
And yet, when it comes to our enemies—His enemies—the Messiah will “go forth like a mighty man (a warrior),” and “shall cry out, yes, shout aloud” (v.13) against the devil and those who follow him. So, Jesus is tender with us while He is fearsome with those who would destroy us. Isaiah adds that Christ is not only the Mediator of God’s covenant with His people, but He Himself is the covenant! And what does the personification of the covenant do for us? He opens blind eyes, and sets prisoners free (vv.6, 7). Israel, the prophecy tells us, is deaf and blind (vv.18, 19), however, Christ identifies with such: “who are blind and dwell in darkness.
It is Jesus whom we must fasten our eyes upon every day. He is tender with our weakness, and He is caring in our distresses. He Himself is the Deliverer of all our troubles. He will do this for you and for the glory of His name (v.8).
Ron E M Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director
Professor of Ministry and Theology
Andrews University Seminary