Isaiah’s Songs of the Servant Part 2: The Commission of the Servant in Isaiah 49:1-13 -- By: F. Duane Lindsey

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 139:554 (Apr 1982)
Article: Isaiah’s Songs of the Servant Part 2: The Commission of the Servant in Isaiah 49:1-13
Author: F. Duane Lindsey


Isaiah’s Songs of the Servant
Part 2:
The Commission of the Servant in Isaiah 49:1-13

F. Duane Lindsey

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

In the first Servant song (Isa 42:1–9) Yahweh conveyed a distant prophecy of His Servant who will bring salvation and establish a proper order on the entire earth.1 I The passage introduced the Servant and predicted His faithfulness in accomplishing the mission to which He was divinely called. Scarcely a hint was given of the pathway of suffering to be trodden by the Servant on the way to His completed mission. The task itself involved mediating a New Covenant with Israel and causing a just order to prevail on the whole Gentile world.

The second Servant song (Isa 49:1–13) brings out the same basic concepts as the first poem, though the establishment of a worldwide righteous order is not stressed. Instead greater emphasis is placed on the physical and spiritual restoration of the nation Israel. The primary new feature in the second song is the apparent initial failure of the Servant in His mission to Israel which brings about an expanded commission from Yahweh to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

The second Servant song begins a new division (49:1–57:21) in Isaiah’s Book of Comfort (chaps. 40–66). It is noteworthy that this division also contains the remaining Servant songs (50:4–11; 52:13–53:12). Contrary to much critical opinion,2 the Servant songs seem to form the backbone of the structure of this division. Each song begins a cycle that culminates in a powerful message of salvation.3 For example, the

second song culminates in the proclamation of salvation to Israel regarding future restoration (49:14–26).

The message of the second song is that the rejected Servant will bring salvation to the Gentiles and ultimately will restore Israel to the land and to Yahweh. The passage emphasizes not only the Servant’s expanded commission to the Gentiles but also His ultimate success in fulfilling His initial mission to Israel. Whereas Yahweh was the speaker throughout the first song (42:1...

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