Isaiah 42 includes the first of the Servant Songs (1-9). The Servant enjoys the sustaining power of God in His person and mission. He embodies all that Israel should be but never was; consequently, He finds the “delight” of the Lord. To “put the Spirit upon” someone is to enable that person to accomplish a specific divine task. Through God’s Spirit the Servant is thus enabled to restore God’s justice (42:1-3). He will be faithful to this mission. He will not be diverted or discouraged. His appeal will be universal (42:4).
God will make Him to be “covenant” and “light” to the nations (42:5-6). As the perfect embodiment of God’s Servant, He is assigned to open the eyes of Judah to the Holy One and to free exiles from the captivity caused by their sin (42:7). Fulfillment of His mission is due to none other than God Himself (42:8). Yahweh has proven faithful to His promises, so Jerusalem can trust Him to perform what He now predicts (42:8-9).
All of nature is enjoined to praise Him, as well as people everywhere (42:10). Kedar refers to Arabian nomads who dwell in the eastern desert. They were under God’s judgment (21:16-17), but there is hope for their return to Yahweh. Inhabitants of Sela lived in the heights of Edom. A window of opportunity for repentance is theirs for the taking (42:11). Together they will glorify God and declare His praise (42:12), for “He will prevail” (42:13).
Yahweh’s judgment upon idolatry is likened to great natural disasters (42:14-15). Those who trust Him, who recognize their blindness without Him, will receive the blessings of light to live a good life (42:16). Those who still trust in idols will be put to shame (42:17).
God had given a great blessing to Israel in the revelation of His law (42:21). Yet, taking on qualities of their idols, Israel had deliberately made themselves blind and deaf to its teachings (42:19). They are commanded to hear and see what He requires (42:18), yet “none hears” (42:20). The remnant will honor God (42:21), but exile for the unrepentant will be well deserved (42:22).
The exile to come (in 586 B.C.) is designed entirely by the Lord. Judah’s exile will be like the judgment that fell on the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. The same Lord is still at work (42:23-24). The Northern Kingdom “paid no attention” (42:25). Will Jerusalem?
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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