The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 42:1-9 and is the first of the well-known Servant Songs in Isaiah. This does not mean there is not some disagreement concerning the identification of the “servant” in these verses. Many have made the mistake of following the identification provided by the Greek LXX which has added the word “Jacob” to the first verse: “Behold my servant Jacob…” This is not in-line with the various Hebrew texts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. It appears the LXX is trying to weave together the servant language of chapter 41 (vs. 8) with chapter 42. In chapter 41 the servant is identified as Israel, but chapter 42 is a different servant. In fact, Matthew 12:18-21 makes the ID clear—this Servant is Jesus! Interesting how this is the longest quote from the Old Testament in the Gospel of Matthew and goes against what the LXX translators wrote.

As we read the greater context, Israel is described as the servant in 41, but falls far short of the Covenant. Therefore, the LORD God will send a better Servant, Israel reduced to One—the Messiah/Jesus. Basically, Jesus replaces Israel as the Servant. To quote R. Lessing in his commentary on Isaiah 40-55 in the Concordia Commentary Series:

The traditional view is that this passage is a predictive prophecy fulfilled only by the advent of Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, this servant passage characterizes the ministry of Jesus, and the Father quotes from it at our Lord’s Baptism and transfiguration. This commentary’s view is that Isaiah 42:1-9 is a typological prophecy that initially pertained to Israel as a servant; however, Israel failed, and Christ fulfilled this song perfectly” (p. 254).

42:1 הֵן עַבְדִּי (hen av-Di) “Behold, my servant” Beginning this way the servant is placed front and center of what follows.

אֶתְמָךְ, (et-moch) root: תמך (taw-mak) Qal: “to grasp; to take; to support; to uphold”

בְּחִירִי (be-chi-Ri) “chosen; elect”

רָצְתָה (ra-tze-Tah) root: רצה (raw-tsaw) Qal: “to take pleasure in; to delight in; to be pleased with”

42:2 יִצְעַק (yitz-Ak) root: צעק (tsaw-ak) Qal: “to shout; to call out; to clamor; to make an outcry”

42:3 קָנֶה (ka-Neh) “reed; water plant”

רָצוּץ (ra-Tzutz) Qal, passive participle: “to crush; to break”

כֵהָהe (che-Hah) “dim; glowing faintly; smoldering”

יְכַבֶּנָּה> (ye-chab-Ben-nah) root: כבה (kaw-baw) Piel: “to extinguish; to quench; to snuff out”

42:4 יִכְהֶה (yich-Heh) root: כהה (kaw-haw) Qal: “to grow faint; to grow dim; to become inexpressive”

יָרוּץ (ya-Rutz) Qal, imperfect with a transitive meaning: “to oppress; to be crushed; to get crushed; to be mistreated”

אִיִּים (i-Yim) from: אִי (ee) “distant land; island; coastland”

יְיַחֵלוּ (ye-ya-Chei-lu) root: יחל (yaw-chal) Piel: “to wait; to hope” Expresses a hopeful waiting in faith.

42:5 בּוֹרֵא (bo-Re) Qal, participle: “the one waiting”

וְנוֹטֵיהֶם (ve-No-tei-Hem) Qal, participle: “the one stretching them out”

רֹקַע (ro-Ka) Qal, participle: “the one hammering out; the one spreading out”

וְצֶאֱצָאֶיהָ (ve-tze-e-tza-Ei-ha) “offspring; produce; what comes forth”

נֹתֵן (no-Ten) Qal, participle: “the one giving”

42:6 וְאַחְזֵק (ve-ach-Zek) root: חזק (khaw-zak) Hiphil: “to seize; to take hold of”

וְאֶצָּרְךָ> (ve-etz-tza-re-Cha) root: נצר (naw-tsar) Qal: “to keep watch; to watch over; to keep”

לְאוֹר גּוֹיִם (le-or go-Yim) “for a light to the nations/gentiles” See Simeon in Luke 2:32.

42:7 לִפְקֹחַ (lif-Ko-ach) Qal, infinitive construct: “to open”

לְהוֹצִיא. (le-ho-Tzi) Hiphil, infinitive construct: “to cause to go out: to lead out”

42:8 וּתְהִלָּתִי (u-te-hil-la-Ti) “song of praise; praise”

לַפְּסִילִים; (lap-pe-si-Lim) from: פּסִיל (pes-eel) “carved image; idol; divine image; carved idol”

42:9 תִּצְמַחְנָה (titz-Mach-nah) root: צמח (tsaw-makh) Qal: “to sprout; to spring up; to spring forth”

אַשְׁמִיעַ; (ash-Mi) root: שׁמע (shaw-mah) Hiphil: “to cause to hear”

Sermon outline which may or may not be used for the Baptism of Jesus:

TITLE: Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks

  1. The Struggle of Survival
    1. Bruised Reeds:
      1. People who have been hurt; the suffering.
      2. They have been weakened, but they have not broken, yet.
    2. Smoldering Wicks:
      1. People who are struggling in their faith.
      2. The flame has died and the wick is smoking, but it is not dead, yet.
  2. The Love of God in Christ
    1. Christ would come/has come not wreak destruction.
      1. He will not break the bruised reed.
      2. He will not snuff out the smoldering wick.
    2. He came to bring forth justice.
      1. Godly justice demand payment for sin—Christ paid it!
      2. Godly justice calls for perfection—Christ cleanses us with His blood.
  3. The Mending of the Hurt
    1. Christ binds up the brokenhearted.
      1. His love enables the bruised reed to be healed.
      2. His love enables the smoldering wick to be rekindled.
    2. Christ takes us by the hand and leads us.
      1. A Light through the struggles of our dark world.
      2. An eye-opener to His salvation in Word and Sacrament.
      3. A rescuer from the prison of our sin.

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 42:1-9.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 42:1-9.