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Servant Song II

Servant Song II

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Published by Antonio Ari Israel

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Published by: Antonio Ari Israel on Oct 26, 2011
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BIBLIOTHECA SACRA 139 (555) (July 1982): 216-229.[Copyright © 1982 Dallas Theological Seminary; cited with permission;digitally prepared for use at Gordon College]
 Isaiah’s Songs of the Servant Part 3:
The Commitment of the Servantin Isaiah 50:4-11
F. Duane LindseyThe first two of Isaiah’s songs of the Servant placed empha-sis on the ultimate success of Yahweh’s Servant-Messiah. InIsaiah 42:1-9 Yahweh introduced His Servant and predicted theServant’s faithfulness in accomplishing His divinely appointedmission of bringing salvation and establishing a proper order onthe whole earth.
In the second song (Isa. 49:1-13), although anew feature of apparent initial failure by the Servant was intro-duced, His ultimate success was predicted not only in fulfillingan expanded mission to bring salvation to the Gentiles; but alsoin restoring Israel both to the land (physically and politically) andto Yahweh (spiritually).
 The third Servant song (Isa. 50:4-11)
amplifies the suffer-ings and patient endurance of the Servant, which were onlyhinted at in the previous songs. All of this is in preparation forthe magnum opus of the fourth song (Isa. 52:13-53:12), inwhich the Servant-Messiah’s suffering and His consequent ex-altation are revealed with equal emphasis. “Common to both [thethird and fourth songs] is the new conception of the Servant as
, here [50:4-9] at the hands of men, there [Isa. 53] at thehands of men and God alike.”
As in the previous songs, theServant can be neither Isaiah himself (who nowhere else in thebook is described as suffering) nor the nation Israel (whosehumiliation and sufferings were neither voluntary nor [to antici-pate Isa. 53] vicarious or substitutionary).
The Commitment of the Servant in Isaiah 50:4-11 217
Like the preceding Servant song, the third song (50:4-11)begins a cycle that culminates in a powerful message of salvation(51:1-52:12).
The short trial speech in Isaiah 50:1-3 formssomewhat of a transition from the preceding Servant-song/salva-tion-oracle cycle (49:1-26) to the current cycle in 50:4—52:12. Inthis trial speech Yahweh proves the unreasonableness of Hisrejection by Israel. The speaker in these verses is Yahweh, not theServant.
Thus they are not part of the Servant song, althoughsome good reasons have been given for regarding all of chapter 50as a literary unit.
The oracle of Yahweh in 50:10-11 is closelyconnected in thought to the preceding verses, and so they shouldbe included in the third Servant song.The message of 50:4-11 is fairly clear: The righteous butrejected Servant of Yahweh indicates that Yahweh who discipledHim will also vindicate Him. This is the basis for Yahweh’s ex-hortation for the faithful to walk by faith even in darkness, andHis threat to the self-righteous wicked regarding eventual judg-ment. Except for the wicked who are addressed by Yahweh inverse 11 (and possibly the potential adversaries in v. 8), theprimary audience throughout seems to be the faithful disciplesof Yahweh’s Servant, as identified in verse 10. As will be indi-cated below, the Servant is the speaker inverses 4-9 and Yahwehis the speaker in verses 10-11.
 The third Servant song is thus composed of two units: (1) theServant declares that Yahweh who discipled Him will also vindi-cate Him (50:4-9), and (2) Yahweh contrasts the obedient walk of the Servant’s disciples with the judgment to come on the wicked(50:10-11).
The Servant Declares That Yahweh Who Discipled HimWill Also Vindicate Him (50:4-9)
The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,to know the word that sustains the weary.He wakens me morning by morning,wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears,and I have not been rebellious;I have not drawn back.
I offered my back to those who beat me,my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;I did not hide my facefrom mocking and spitting.
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
218 Bibliotheca Sacra -July-September 1982
I will not be disgraced.Therefore have I set my face like flint,and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.Who then will bring charges against me?Let us face each other!Who is my accuser?Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me.Who is he that will condemn me?They will all wear out like a garment;the moths will eat them up.
 In this section the righteous but rejected Servant indicatesthat Yahweh who has discipled Him will also vindicate Him, andimplies that by His rejection He has learned to comfort the weary.Some writers have incorrectly identified this literary unit asa lament psalm of the individual. Verses 4-6 do have some re-semblance to the lament motif (including the protestation of innocence) and verse 7 is certainly an expression of confidence(another lament motif). But the absence of the vital motif of petition rules this out as a lament psalm. It could more properlybe called a psalm of confidence.
 The Servant is the speaker, who, as in 49:1-6, appears with-out any introduction.
The addressees are not identified exceptin verse 8 which is a challenge to potential adversaries. Theremaining verses (vv. 4-7, 9) appear to be addressed primarily tothe obedient disciples of the Servant (cf. v. 10).This “autobiographical confession”
of the Servant includestwo parts: (1) the committed Servant reports His past obedienceand sufferings as the “Disciple” of Yahweh (vv. 4-6) and (2) therejected Servant expresses confidence that Yahweh will vindicateHim (vv. 7-9).THE SERVANT REPORTS HIS COMMITMENT TO YAHWEHWHO DISCIPLED HIM (50:4-6)
The Servant asserts His role as the Disciple-Prophet of Yahweh (50:4).
Before amplifying the daily discipling processwhereby Yahweh taught Him, the Servant states the results of thatprocess: “The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,to know the word that sustains the weary” (v. 4a). It is AdonaiYahweh (“the Sovereign LORD”) who has given His servant theability to speak eloquently and encouragingly. This longer title of Yahweh (occurring four times in this song, always at the begin-

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