Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.(Isaiah 42:1-7)
The first of the Servant Songs of Isaiah, is presented in the context of a worldwide tribunal. The nations are summoned to “present their best arguments”, and to “bring forth their idols“to demonstrate the validity of following them. Can they save? Can they tell the future in detail, centuries in advance as God has done through His prophets?
But at the end, there can be only silence, for the idols are nothing, and those who worship them are left empty. The answer of the true God to the world, is “Behold my Servant whom I uphold…” .
This is God’s servant, the same term He used of Moses, and David, each a type of the Messiah to come. He is the ultimate and absolute Servant of God. When the LORD tells us that it is He “whom I uphold“, the word means to “grip fast”; the servant is in God’s hand. He has been selected and prepared by God for a special task.
I have put my spirit upon him…
Furthermore, God loves Him. By that I mean more than the love of Grace, mercy or covenant love. God actually ‘delights in Him”, the Servant pleases God in every way. The Lord will be with the Servant, by way of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This servant has been assigned a great task, that must be done in the power of the Spirit.
He will bring Judgment to the Gentiles…
The task of the Servant is to bring Judgment, “Misphat“, to the earth. This is a Hebrew word which has a broad definition. It can mean judgment in a legal sense, ie the rendering of a decision in a court. The Servant of the Lord is going to be the judge of men’s souls.
But Misphat can also mean those things which the LORD has firmly established, that is His revealed truth. The Messiah is going to bring Truth to the idolatrous world, as a result of his coming, the ends of the earth will come to see and worship the Jewish God.
Finally Misphat refers to setting things right, the establishment of a righteous order. The Messiah is coming to judge the earth, to set things right. A new day will dawn for man, a day of Righteousness and Holiness will be established in the earth, wars will cease, the curse will be removed, and all men will worship the only true God, all because of the work of the Servant.
He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
What will his manner with the people be? He will not be self promoting, nor will he angrily overpower his adversaries, shouting over their voices. He won’t “advertise” or market himself.
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench:
Tenderly he will receive the bent, broken, ruined, stained and spent ones who are drawn to him. None are counted as useless, or too far gone.The Servant binds up the broken ones, and gently fans to flame the spark that He has ignited in their hearts.
What good is a bruised reed? What does one do with it? How irritating is a smoky, spent flax wick ! It’s too far gone! Throw it away! But not so the Lord’s chosen servant, He throws no one away, He quenches none, but gently works with all who come to Him, no matter how ruined. He doesn’t give up on people. He keeps working with them.
…he shall bring forth judgment unto truth
The ministry of bringing forth God’s truth is a difficult one, but the Servant carries it out faithfully. Faithfulness to God and to God’s truth are the marks of the Servant’s works. He is the loyal witness of the Father even in the face of fierce opposition.
He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth:
People will resist, and virulently hate him; but he will not be a “bruised reed” or a “faltering wick” as the people whom He had healed were. Through all trial and difficulty, Isaiah predicts that He would stand firmly, and burn brightly all the way to completion. By the time He is done, the revelation of the “only true God” will be universally available.
All nations, for example, Indians, Russians, Arabs, Nigerians, Chinese and Finns, and some from every other nation or people group; will have forsaken their tribal gods, idols, and other vanities, and be united in worshipping the true God who has sent His Servant to “establish judgment in the earth”.
Matthew sums up this part of the song nicely in His gospel;
And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.(Matthew 12:9-20)