The Testing of Discipleship…(Servant Songs pt 9)

“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.

 The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
 I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

 “For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
 He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.

 Surely the Lord God will help Me;
Who is he who will condemn Me?
Indeed they will all grow old like a garment;
The moth will eat them up.

“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.
11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:4-11)

This third Servant Song of Isaiah, is divided into four stanzas, each beginning with the expression ‘ the LORD God’. The Servant is the disciple of ‘the LORD God’, ‘morning by morning’, opening his ear to listen to Him.

A life of utter dependence upon God, and of daily  hearkening to His voice, is the Servant’s education. His calling is to bring the Word to the weary ones, burdened by sin, and left hungry and thirsty of soul, by the emptiness of life without God. These are the “bruised reeds” and “dimly burning flax” of the first Servant Song. To them He will bring a Word from the infinite, personal, covenant keeping Creator/Redeemer.

But the prophet predicts that the Servant’s task will be personally costly, in this world which is so hostile to ‘the LORD God’. His love of God, and faithfulness to the appointed task will expose him to humiliating and deadly abuse. The world which rejects God, but is unable to lash out at Him directly, will be given the opportunity to express its hatred and contempt of God in the person of the Servant.

 I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

Notice however, that the Servant is not passive in this suffering, he speaks as though he is allowing these outrages to occur to His person. He “gives” his back to the smiter, his “cheek” to the painful and degrading plucking out of his beard. He doesn’t hide his face from the reproach, but faces it resolutely.

But the Servant doesn’t answer back, nor does he run away, or seek to avoid the bitter cost of discipleship to ‘the LORD God’. Centuries later, Peter the Apostle would recall, as an eyewitness to these things, the response of Jesus,

Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:(I Peter 2:21-23)

When the Saviour was mistreated and abused in the service of God,  He looked to his God , the one who knows all, takes everything into account and who “judges righteously”. In all of his trials,the Servant throws himself entirely on his God.

Confident in the Divine help given in his trials, the Servant knows that He will not ultimately be disgraced. He can “set his face like flint”, fixing his heart of the eventual vindication given to him by the LORD God. His justifier is with Him. The phrase begins with an emphatic word, “Near is the one who justifies me!”.

In fact the Servant goes further, He challenges his legal detractors to find fault with Him. The song takes the perspective of one who has been wrongly condemned, but who is confident of Divine vindication. Man condemns him, but God himself overturns the verdict.

He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.

The Word “Adversary” is a legal term, which is literally “Master of Judgment”.  The Servant cries out, Who is my prosecutor?

The Servant’s enemies are real, they seek to harm him, and bring a charge against him. They seek to destroy him physically, legally, reputationally, they would obliterate Him they would have him in infamy. But God over turns their verdict, vindicating his own servant.

But what becomes of his enemies? Eventual disintegration and decay is their lot. Like a worn out ,moth-eaten piece of clothing, the enemies of the Servant will fade away, their arguments against him also, will be shown to be full of holes, their importance and credibility will collapse like a rotted structure.

The Servant sets himself as an example to all who would follow Him.Like Him, the servant’s followers also fear the LORD, they listen to the Servant’s voice, as He listened to the LORD God’s voice, morning by morning.

For his sake, they also will suffer the same false accusation, degrading treatment, abuse and hatred that he endured. In their own passage through the darkness of this world’s hostility to God, and the Servant, they will have to imitate His trust in God.

“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.

But there are others who refuse the Light brought by the Servant. To them the Servant warns,

11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment

The whole world lies in darkness. The Servant shows his followers a path through the darkness of this world, but to those who disregard the Servant, they are forced to light their own fires. “Walk in your own light and see where it leaves you in the end!”, but as a dreadful consequence, the end is decreed as a direct punishment from His own hand, “You shall lie down in torment!”. 

 

 

 

 


 

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One Response to The Testing of Discipleship…(Servant Songs pt 9)

  1. Sue Ackerman says:

    What an example! Jesus is so totally, awesomely beautiful in His submission to the will of the Father. We surely don’t deserve such a wonderful Savior, but PTL that He loves us that much!

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