Reading: Isaiah 50: 4-9a
Verse 7: Because the sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Israel has been in exile for almost seventy years. They have been away from the Promised Land and the place they knew and loved lies in ruins. There does not appear to be any hopes of returning as their time in exile does not have a foreseeable end. They live in a foreign land among people who worship other gods. It is easy to see why they might find comfort and assurance in these words from Isaiah.
In this section of Isaiah 50, we read of the presence of God in the servant’s life. This servant endures suffering, yes, but remains steadfast to God. This is a good reminder to the people in their situation. The passage opens with God giving words of hope to the servant. The word of God spoken to the people throughout their long history also offers hope and reminds the people of God’s love and care for them. This is a good and timely reminder. Just as the servant claims it for himself, so too can the people living in exile. The servant also declares that he has not been rebellious, yet is beaten. The generation that suffers in exile could relate well to this concept. It was their ancestors who rebelled and it is now they who suffer. To be reminded that they are not alone in their suffering brings them some comfort and peace.
The writing ends with a resolution to “set my face like flint”. The servant knows God is near and he trusts God to vindicate him. He knows that if God is on his side, in the end, he will not be put to shame. There is great confidence in God’s power. He knows that God is in control. These words would bring hope to the exiles. Even though they cannot see light or even the end of the tunnel, they are reminded that God has them too.
The people in exile were in need of this reminder of God’s love and care. After these long years they must have questioned God a bit. In the servant they are reminded by his example to remain faithful and obedient in spite of undeserved suffering. Ultimately, they are also reminded of God’s power too.
As Christians reading this passage, one can see Jesus in the words of Isaiah. Jesus embodied God’s love in human form. He spoke words from the Father that brought healing to those who were broken and weary. He was obedient and faithful, even to the point of death on the cross. Just as the Jews in exile found comfort and assurance in the suffering servant, so too do we find comfort and assurance in Christ. For His faithful witness that strengthens and encourages us each day, we say thanks be to God.