The ‘Servant Songs’ of Isaiah

J. Rodgers Jnr, Bellshill, Lanarkshire

In the Prophecy of Isaiah there are four recorded 'Servant Songs', viz.

In chapter 42.1-4
In chapter 49.1-6.
In chapter 50.4-9
In chapters 52.13-53.12, by far the most comprehensive.

Most writers would agree on the fact that these are four 'Songs', but there is much disagreement as to who the 'Servant' is. Some, apparently, try to relate them to Isaiah himself, or to the nation of Israel, while others, the writer included, hear in them a prophetic voice which speaks of Christ. It is true that the expression 'My Servant' is associated with Isaiah in 20.3; with Eliakim in 22.20; with David in 37.35; and with Israel in 44,21. But in the 'Songs' there are expressions which cannot be identified with anyone but with Christ Himself. In 'Songs' 1 and 4 the third person pronoun is predominant: 'Songs' 2 and 3 more frequently use the first person, for the 'Servant' Himself is speaking. Observe that in 'Songs' 1 and 2 suffering is not mentioned: it is referred to, however, in 'Song' 3 in the first person, "My back"; "My cheeks"; "My face"; and in 'Song' 4 in the third person, "His stripes"; "He shall bear". 'Song' 3 speaks of Christ's non-atoning sufferings, while 'Song' 4 eloquently tells of those by which atonement was made. 1 Peter 2.23, 24 beautifully combines both.