The - Part 4Servant Songs of Isaiah
This song begins as it ends, setting forth the ultimate exaltation of the Servant of Jehovah, the Seed of David. The second section of the song, beginning at Isaiah chapter 53 verse 1, starts with a question asked by Israel, ‘Who hath believed our report?’ (shemooh) that which was heard (as opposed to that which we spoke). Israel confesses that the report was actually for them, but who among them actually believed it?
To whom is the arm of the Lord: the Arm of the Lord is the eternal One, Isa. 51. 9; the Judge of the people, 51. 5, and the One that people will trust, v. 5. Some day God’s Arm will rule for Him over this earth, 40. 10. The Arm is the Servant of these songs.
Revealed: (galah) – made bare, uncovered. They now confess that the Arm was revealed to Israel. But they did not recognize Him! Isaiah chapter 52 verse 10 records, ‘The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God’. The Arm was uncovered to all the nations, because the people for whom the message was first sent rejected it.
He shall grow up before him (God) as a tender plant: (younaik) a tender shoot or green sprout, springing up from the roots. The royal house of David is likened to a high cedar tree, Ezek. 17. 22. However, the actual trunk of the house of David had been severed, and looked like it would die without any offspring, Jer. 22. 30. After centuries had passed, this tender, insignificant branch grew out of the stump, see Isa. 11. 1.
And as a root: (shouresh) Here are His humble beginnings. He did not grow out of the top of the cedar, but out of its roots. To the average person, these suckers are only a menace to be removed, so as not to deplete nourishment from the rest of the plant. This was the sentiment of the high priest, Caiaphas, who suggested that that ‘one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not’, John 11. 49-50. But this sprout will some day become a tall sheltering cedar, Ezek. 17. 22-24. The Lord, having ‘brought down the high tree, will exalt the low tree’.
The words out of a dry ground, show that the Servant will sprout in the midst of drought, barrenness, and deadness. This was God’s estimate of Israel. They were dead and barren, in no spiritual condition to produce anything pleasing to God. Yet, in such an atmosphere grew the only One who ever pleased God completely.1
The tender shoot went unrecognized and unappreciated. He was not attractive to Israel when He came. In their estimation.
He hath no form: (toar) outline, shape, beautiful form; nor comeliness, (hodor) splendour, something worthy of admiration, beauty. They saw in Him no splendour, attractiveness, or anything that would inspire their admiration.
And when we shall see him: (rooh with long tense, permanent importance intended) to behold with intention, purposely.
There is no beauty: (mareh) appearance that we should desire him. By all worldly standards, there was no reason for them to be impressed.
Israel continues to confess how they had viewed and treated Him.
He is despised: (booz) made little account of, slighted, treated contemptuously and proudly. They not only hated Him, but they made sure that He felt their dislike.
And rejected: (khodal) to forsake, leave in the lurch, refuse to give assistance to.
Of men: (ishim) men of high degree. There were no respectable men that would support Him with their authority. The great men of His nation withdrew their hands from helping Him. Yet, they now confess that HE Himself was
A man: (ish) a man of high degree, although humble in appearance. His high degree came from His character, and moral glory, rather than from His appearance, popularity, or outward wealth. His rank and power were divinely derived before He came, not due to His associating with poor, illiterate disciples after His coming.
Of sorrows: (makhoun) having pain, afflictions, sorrows, mental anguish.
The Lord Jesus had much sorrow of heart. This sorrow was not for Himself, but for Israel and humanity in general. He could see the end result of their rejection of Him, and it gave Him pain. He wept over Jerusalem as He thought of its destruction, Luke 19. 41-44. At His crucifixion, He said to the daughters of Jerusalem, ‘Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children’, Luke 23. 27-31.
And acquainted with (yoda) knowing grief: (kholee) sickness, disease, pain, suffering. They acknowledge that He had great concern, and fully understood the results of sin, as seen in ailments that sinful man experienced, Matt. 8. 16, 17.
And we hid as it were our faces from him: to their chagrin, they had been ashamed to be seen, or recognized as, associated with Him in any way.
He was despised (booz, as above) and we esteemed: (chashabh) reckoned, valued him not: Israel confesses that they placed absolutely no value upon Him at all!
begins the third section of this song as an admission that the Servant’s sufferings were vicarious for Israel.
They acknowledge, Surely he hath borne: (nasa – to lift up and carry away) our griefs and carried (sahval – to carry or bear away with pain and suffering) our sorrows (as verse 3). Israel now confesses that the sorrow, and mental anguish that they saw in Him was really anguish and sorrow for Israel. At His first coming, they had thought that His sorrow, and grief, was the result of self-pity. Now, they recognize that He was sorrowing on their account. It was His grief for them. Therefore, they use the personal pronoun ‘our’ griefs and ‘our’ sorrows.
Yet we did esteem him: They had considered Him to be one who was stricken: (noga – to strike or blow) with judgement or calamities brought on by God. They thought He was afflicted with a hateful, shocking disease, or plague.2 They also concluded that in His death, He was smitten (nah-chah - to strike, smite, strike home or deep so as to wound or kill) of God – realizing that His death was supernatural, they concluded that God had killed Him for His sinfulness. ‘The construction signifies one who has been defeated in conflict with His Lord’.3
And afflicted: (ganah) to oppress, humble, cause misery with intensity and repetitiveness
While He was bearing the sin that caused their grief and sorrows, they thought God was punishing Him more severely than others, because of some serious sin that He had committed. They were right about the punishment, but they were wrong about the reason for it.
But: In contrast to what they had thought, they now confess their error and state the true cause of the Servant’s sufferings.
He was wounded: (kholal) to pierce through, mortally wounding, to pierce through with many swords.
For our transgressions: (peh-shag) to revolt, rebel, refuse subjection, or allegiance to rightful authority. His wounding was for their own rebelliousness, not His.
He was bruised: (dachah) to break into small pieces, smite, crush. This word designates the most severe inward and outward sufferings. ‘There are no stronger expressions [kholal and dachah] in the Hebrew language to denote a violent and painful death’.4
The ‘pual’ verbal pattern indicates intensity and repetition. For at least three hours, the Servant experienced a piercing through as with multiple swords, and suffered repeated, intense blows that would crush, or break Him in pieces. These sufferings would have been inflicted by God during the darkness, Matt. 27. 45. ‘The pure passives denote a calamity inflicted by violence from without’.5
They confess that His crushing was for our iniquities: (`avon) to turn aside or go the wrong way; ‘iniquities’ are sins of ignorance, or actions resulting from being deceived. ‘Transgressions’ are direct, deliberate acts of rebellion against God. The combined punishment for these is expressed in the word ‘bruised’, or ‘crushed’.
The chastisement: (musar) primarily discipline or correction, secondarily punishment; ‘His suffering was a musar, which is an indirect affirmation that it was God who had inflicted it upon Him’.6 In scripture, the word is often used of God’s discipline or chastisement of others.7
Of: leading to our peace: (shalom) general well-being, blessedness.
Was upon him: or, was laid upon Him.
And with his stripes: (haboorah) wound, bruise, stroke – referring to those sufferings inflicted by God, v. 5.
we are healed: This refers to healing from the disease called sin.
is an acknowledgement of Israel’s sin and the substitutionary death of the Servant
All we like sheep have gone astray: This phrase answers to the word ‘iniquities’ in the previous verse. What a confession! ‘All we . . . have gone astray’. People stray when they are deceived, and lured away from the truth. The Jewish nation as a whole wandered out of the right ways of the Lord. Proud Israelite leaders refused to acknowledge their waywardness, and the perfection of their Messiah Jesus while He was on earth, but this sinfulness will be mourned when the Lord returns to earth the second time, Zech. 12. 10.
We have turned every one to his own way: An accurate description of the word ‘transgressions’ in verse 5. They deliberately and intentionally rebelled against Him, and refused to bow to His authority.
And the Lord: YHVH or Jehovah hath laid: (poga) caused to meet, caused to strike, caused to fall upon, on Him: that is, the Messiah Jesus.
The iniquity: (‘avon) of us all: This includes every individual Israelite, and may encompass the entire world. Any who can take the place of sinner and transgressor can look to the Lord Jesus as the One who bore his/her sins.
Here is the doctrine of substitution. Salvation is offered absolutely freely because another has taken my place and suffered for my sins. My sins were laid on the Lord Jesus as He died on my behalf. If the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, has been punished for my sins, how can God also punish me for them?
- To this day, Israel claims that the Messiah will come when they are spiritually mature, worthy, and ready to receive Him. By focusing on their own ‘worthiness’ they missed out on their Messiah when He came the first time, Rom. 10. 1-3.
- Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 7, pg. 317.
- Ibid, pg. 318
- Prov. 3. 11; Job 5. 17; Isa. 26. 16.