The servant King


Isaiah 42v1-9



We have followed the history of the Kingdom of Israel from the time of their first earthly king, Saul, up until the fall of Jerusalem and the exile. It doesn’t make very glamourous reading. Even the successful rulers like David and Solomon and Josiah made grave errors. The majority of Israel’s kings were evil and unjust and corrupt.


Instead of helping the people they became a burden to them. Some started well but their power went to their heads. They became domineering and authoritarian – they ruled by fear and by force. They passed rules and decrees that favoured themselves and discriminated against the poor and the powerless.


ILLUS.: Power game – different badges and different value cards – could trade – after a few rounds divided into top, middle and lower groups – top group could make one rule. As game proceeded the top group could make more rules as it gained more power. Usually in favour of self. Lower groups either rebelled or tried to infiltrate top group to change it (often become like top group or forced out)


This was just a game of pretend power but even in reality those with power often only have pretend power – they play on the fears of the powerless. Their power is a perceived power rather than a real power. The more powerful they become very often the more corrupt they become – In the words of the famous cliché – “Power corrupts and Absolute power corrupts absolutely”


God is not, however, impressed by this strutting nor by the gods they worship.

In 41v21-24 we have a court scene in which God challenges the idols and the idolaters. He challenges them to predict the future [v.22] He challenges them to act – full of irony v23:

… tell us what the future holds so

that we may know that you are gods

Do something, whether good or bad,

so that we may be dismayed and

filled with fear.



If your idols are gods then they should be able to do something even if it is bad!!

Instead of being able to do something they can do nothing – in fact they are nothing.

But you are less than nothing and

your works are utterly worthless


Kings, rulers, people and gods may parade themselves as being in power but God laughs at them. Their power is a joke in comparison to his.


See they are all false!

Their deeds amount to nothing;

their images are but wind and confusion [v29]


What is God’s answer to this confusion and meaninglessness. The kings of Israel have failed – they have followed after other gods. [end ch.41 –  God says “LOOK” at these idol-gods! “LOOK” at these idolaters! NOW in 42v1 ” LOOK / BEHOLD MY SERVANT” ] (NIV “Here is …”)


This servant is God’s answer to the world’s problems and plight!! It is he who will bring justice to the nations. The confusion and injustice of the world will be put to right by him.


We are not told at this point who this servant will be. His identity unfolds in the next chapters but we are told what he will do and how God will establish him.


1. THE SERVANT’S MISSION FROM GOD. [God speaks about his servant] [42v1-4].


It is clear from the ch. 49 and 52/53 and then from the NT that this servant is Jesus Christ.


First thing about the servant’s mission is that:-

1.1 – it is by divine appointment.


Many people in OT were called the servants of God – Moses, David – even Neduchadnezzar. But here we do not have a name attached to the title – just “MY SERVANT”  The implication being that the others were also servants but this one is THE servant. This is the supreme one. The embodiment of true servanthood.


This is not just any servant – he is choosen by God. He is special to God and God upholds him [see v1]. BUT more than that God delights in Him. But isn’t that obvious – if you choose someone you delight in them. NO!!


ILLUS.: If you are the coach of a sports team you may choose someone for the team without necessarily liking them – you choose them to fulfill a particular task.


God chose many people to fulfill certain functions [Cyrus, Nebuchabnezzar, Balaam’s donkey, etc…..] that did not mean that he approved of them and the things they had done. BUT with this servant God’s heart is filled with delight and love.

Later in NT a voice from Heaven would say about this servant:-

This is my beloved son

in whom I am well pleased / delighted.


So this servnat is THE servant of God by divine appointment.


The second thing about the servant’s mission:-

1.2. – it is true and faithful

he will bring justice to the nations.

in faithfulness he will bring justice.


Justice is one of the main themes of this passage. We have had the courtroom scene at the end of the previous chapter. So there is carried along the idea of legal judgement. The verdict of the court scene between God and the idol-gods is that there is only one Lord. He is the true God. His authority is without question and his law is true.


There is also the aspect that he not only is just but will establish justice. He will right wrongs. He will expose and rectify miscarriages of justice.


ILLUS.: The British leagl system has been rocked by many alledged miscarriages of justice in recent years. The legal arguments are very involved and its difficult to know the truth.



There have always been miscarriages of justice in the world – there still are. Christians are not immune from that. Christians throughout history have been victims of injustice. We live in a society that is corrupt and sinful. Where people will lie and cheat and distort the truth for their own ends. Its hard to swallow and we don’t always get justice.


The servant will not try to find out the truth but will establish it – He knows what is just. If Jesus has come why do we still have all this injustice. Why does it happen to Christians. Isn’t God there to protect us???


We need to remember that this passage as many in the OT is taking a distant view of Christ’s comings – the first as saviour {Suffering servant} the second as judge {conquering King}.  In the mean time the Lord is not unaware. Justice will be established and those who think they can live dishonestly and abuse others will one day stand before this Servant as Judge and the record will be put straight.


Unlike the corrupt kings and rulers whom Israel had known, this Servant would be true and just and faithful.


The third thing about the servant’s mission:-

1.3. – it is directed toward people.


This servant is not a hard unfeeling judge. He is kind, compassionate and caring.


A bruised reed he will not break,

a smouldering wick he will not snuff out [v3a]


His gentleness and compassion is shown in his concern for those whom the world would cast aside. No one’s life is too damaged so that Jesus can not restore it. No one life has gone so far towards extinction that he cannot revive the flame. He is in the business of mending people’s lives. It does not matter what you have done or what has been done to you, Jesus can renewed your life.


He comes alongside in a quiet, unagressive and unthreatening way.

He will not shout or cry out,

or raise his voice in the streets. [v2]

His ministry is not ostentatious or self-advertising. It is not done on the stage or in front of TV cameras. How often did Jesus go away from the crowds. He gets on with the job of restoring peoples lives.


He is the example that we are to follow – for all who would serve the Lord must serve him this way by serving others this way. Caring, helping, supporting – doing for others.

The Son of Man cam not to be served but to serve

and to give his life as a ransom for mant.

If you want to be great on God’s kingdom

learn to be the servant of all {SONG}

Yes in the process you too might get bruised and burn low but that is what Jesus went through.

He was despised and reject

a man of sorrows and familiar

with suffering [Isa. 53v ]


BUT even in the midst of being bruised and broken he did not lose sight of his task.

v4 He will not falter or be discouraged.


Many pressures will be brought to bear on the servant to dissuade him from his task BUT he will not be detered. His task was to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.


The fourth thing about the servant’s mission:-

1.4 – it is world wide in scope.

justice to the nations [v1]

justice on earth.

In his law the islands will put their hope.[v4]


This servant of the Lord was not going to be for Israel alone. If God was the only God and all the idol-gods were not gods at all then it makes sense that this God was not only God of Israel but also God of the whole world.


“ISLANDS”  is significant because it indicates that the remotest parts of the world are included. There is a global significance to the servant’s ministry.


As a result of this servant’s ministry that the remotest islands can have hope. They will stake their future on what he reveals to them, when he has won their allegiance.


Does he have your alliegiance? Is your hope in him? Has his concern for people and the nations of the world become your concern?  Do you believe that Jesus is the only Hope for this world? How is that affecting your life – your prayer life and your pocket and your time?   “BUT I don’t have time?” If we don’t have time for God’s priorities then there is something wrong?


I know it is not easy. It never will be. It is no good saying “Oh. tomorrow when I have more time!


ILLUS.: Often we make the mistake of thinking that it will be easier if life was different. When I finish school. When I finish university. When I am married. When I am a little better off. When I retire.


We as God’s servants are to reflect the character of HIS chosen servant>


2. THE SERVANT’S CONFIRMATION BY GOD. [God speaks to his servant] [v5-9]


Israel had often made the mistake of thinking that Yahweh was their God as if they possessed him like the other nations possessed their gods. As if Yahweh was simply a tribal deity.

NO!  Listen to the discrption in verse 5:- Who is this God who confirms his servant?


He creates the world and he holds it all together. He gives it life and breath.


Productivity was not the work of the Canaanite fertility gods but of the God of Israel. Productivity is not the invention of scientific agriculture it is the blessing of GOD. Agricultural science simply discovers the secrets that God has built into his creation.


Life {Breath} is not the result of evolutionary processes but something we enjoy courtesy of God’s sustaining grace.


God now addresses his servant:

READ v6-7


God doesn’t simply call his servant and then leave him alone. NO! “… I will take hold of your hand…”


ILLUS.: When you take hold o someone’s hand it means that you go with them wherever they go.


God’s promise of his presence. If he has called us then he is with us – he is holding our hand!


“And I will keep you” – I will safeguard you – He will not allow you to be broken or stuffed out. You might get bruised or burn low BUT you have eternal life which can never be taken away.

in Christ we have ..”an inheritance

that can never perish, spoil or fade –

kept in heaven for you…[1 Peter 1v4]


How can we be sure of this??

Because of what God did through his servant.v6:-

I will make you a covenant for the people,

and a light for the Gentiles.


What does it mean “The servant will be a covenant??

He will be the means through whom people will come into a covenant relationship with the Lord. It is in and through Jesus Christ that God can and does save people. This is the new covenant – And again notice the world-wide scope of the covenant.


This servant is in the process of transforming people spiritually, physically and emotionally. And he will continue to do that until he has for himself a perfect people in a perfect society in a perfect enviroment. That he will finally accomplish when he returns NOT as the suffering servant but as the conquering KING.



When Isaiah prophesied, Israel and the nations were in turmoil – nothing has changed!

A world system where God is not acknowledge will always be in one mess after another. And there will be corruption, and injustice and life will not always treat us fairly BUT that is what Jesus came to change.


He was appointed by God to be true and faithful – his ministry was to be directed towards people and it was to be world-wide in its scope.


He was a King but he came as a servant. He came to establish his kingdom and that is what he is doing. He is establishing his kingship in the hearts of men and women and boys and girls.


He wants us to be out there,in the midst of a hostile world, as his servants passing on the message that he is KING.


This is our God- the servant King

he calls us now to follow him,

to bring our lives as a daily offering

of worship to the servant King.


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