Isaiah’s Songs of the Servant Part 1: The Call of the Servant in Isaiah 42:1-9 -- By: F. Duane Lindsey

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 139:553 (Jan 1982)
Article: Isaiah’s Songs of the Servant Part 1: The Call of the Servant in Isaiah 42:1-9
Author: F. Duane Lindsey

Isaiah’s Songs of the Servant
Part 1:
The Call of the Servant in Isaiah 42:1-9

F. Duane Lindsey

[F. Duane Lindsey, Registrar and Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary]

Isaiah’s “servant songs”1 (42:1–9; 49:1–13; 50:4–11; 52:13–53:12) have been among the most controversial passages debated by Old Testament scholars. The theological significance of the servant songs is reflected in the traditional conservative view of Christian scholars that the servant of whom they speak is none other than Jesus the Messiah (cf. Acts 8:26–39). For example, Pieper has asserted, “For all Christian exegetes the Messianic interpretation is a priori the correct one because of the precedent set by the New Testament writers.”2 Critical scholarship of varying theological persuasions has proposed other solutions to the identity of the servant of the songs. Tracing the history of these diverse views is outside the scope of this article.3 Suffice it to say that the views fall into two major categories—the individualist (those which identify the servant with an individual, e.g., Isaiah, Cyrus, or the Messiah) and the collectivist (those which identify the servant with a group, e.g., national Israel, spiritual or ideal Israel, or the prophets).

This series of articles assumes the basic messianic view and will focus on more specific issues such as the exact position and role of the servant, the relationship of the servant in the songs to the prophecies of the Davidic Messiah, and the time of the fulfillment of the servant’s task. An attempt will be made to set forth an interpretation of the servant poems from the viewpoint of a premillennial interpretation of prophecy.

The four servant songs appear in Isaiah 40–55. (Critical scholars call this portion of the book “Deutero-Isaiah.”4 ) These chapters contain prophecies of comfort for Israel written by Isaiah from the perspective of the Exile and the return. Isaiah 40–66 emphasizes the deliverance (chaps. 40–48), the Deliverer (chaps. 49–55 [or You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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