The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday, the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 50:4-10 and forms a part of the third servant song of Isaiah—often called the “Faithful Servant” or the “Substitute Servant” (see Reed Lessing’s Isaiah 40-55 commentary). It is interesting that this Servant is described in words which show Him to be the exact opposite of the people of Israel, to whom Isaiah was sent (Isaiah 6). While the Israelites close their ears, the Faithful Servant’s ears are opened. In a sense, we have a reversal in this Servant. Often, we say Jesus is Israel reduced to One, but He is faithful where they are faithless. He hears the Word of the LORD while they shut their ears and close their eyes. Thus, we have a Servant who stands in/is a substitute for Israel. This is the One who will atone for the sin of Israel—even the sin of the whole world.
Obviously, the Servant described is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The deep disgrace described in verses 6-7 paints a picture fulfilled in Christ’s humiliation at the hands of Pilate and Herod. Yet, despite the shame, the Servant sets His face like flint and carries out the task, even to the point of His death, confident God will not abandon Him forever.
There is some discussion as to whether or not the speaker changes in verse 10. Regardless, it is still best to consider verses 10-11 as part of the third servant song.
Yet, despite the shame, the Servant sets His face like flint and carries out the task, even to the point of His death, confident God will not abandon Him forever.
50:4 אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוִה (a-do-Nai Yah-weh) “The Lord Yahweh” This title indicates both sovereignty over the universe (אֲדֹנָי) and covenantal faithfulness to Israel (יְהֹוִה). (Lessing, 512)
לִמּוּדִים (lim-mu-Dim) from: לִמּוּד (lim-mood) “pupil; disciple; student; taught one”
לָדַעַת (la-Da-at) root: ידע (yaw-dah) Qal, Infinitive construct: “to know”
לָעוּת (la-Ut) root: עות (ooth) Qal, Infinitive construct: “to help; sustain” Hapax legomenon
יָעֵף (ya-Ef) “weary; faint”
יָעִיר (ya-Ir) root: עור (oor) Hiphil: “to wake up; cause to wake up; rouse”
כַּלִּמּוּדִים (kal-lim-mu-Dim) from: לִמּוּד (lim-mood) “pupil; disciple; student” This comes from the verb למד (law-mad) “to teach”
50:5 מָרִית (ma-Ri-ti) root: מרה (maw-raw) Qal: “to be rebellious; be disobedient”
אָחוֹר (a-Chor) “backwards” This is an idiom when paired with נְסוּגֹתִי (ne-su-Go-ti) translates as “I did (not) turn back”
נְסוּגֹתִי (ne-su-Go-ti) root: סוג (soog) Nifal: “to turn back; withdraw; turn oneself away”
50:6 גֵּוִי (ge-Vi) “back”
לְמַכִּים (le-mak-Kim) root: נכה (naw-kaw) Hiphil, Participle: “to strike; smite; strikers; smiters; ones who strike”
וּלְחָיַי (u-le-cha-Yai) from: לְחִי (lekh-ee) “cheek”
לְמֹרְטִים (le-mo-re-Tim) root: מרט (maw-rat) Qal, Participle: “to pull out; make bare”
הִסְתַּרְתִּי (his-Tar-ti) root: סתר (saw-thar) Hiphil: “to hide”
מִכְּלִמּוֹת (mik-ke-lim-Mot) from: כְּלִמָּה (kel-im-maw) “insult; reproach; disgrace” This word has extreme meaning and perhaps is best translated as “deep disgrace.”
וָרֹק (va-Rok) “spit; spittle”
50:7 יַעֲזָר (ya-a-zor) root: עזר (aw-zar) Qal: “to help; come to help”
נִכְלָמְתִּי (nich-La-me-ti) root: כלם (kaw-lawm) Niphil: “to be put to shame; be disgraced; be humiliated”
כַּחַלָּמִישׁ (ka-chal-la-Mish) from: חַלָּמִישׁ (klal-law-meesh) “flint; hard stone”
50:8 קָרוֹב (ka-rOv) “near”
מַצְדִּיקִי (matz-di-Ki) root: צדק (tsaw-dak) Hiphil, participle: “to justify; obtain rights for; save; vindicate,” with the suffix: “My Vindicator; My Savior.” This verb contains a “forensic” sense.
יָרִיב (ya-Riv) root: ריב (reeb) Qal: “to conduct a legal case; contend; carry on”
נַעַמְדָה (Na-am-dah) root: עמד (aw-mad) Qal, Cohortative: “to stand; let us stand”
יָּחַד (Ya-chad) “together; altogether”
בַעַל מִשְׁפָּטִי (Va-al mish-pa-Ti) literally: “The owner of my justice” or “The possessor of my cause”
50:9 יַעֲזָר (ya-a-zor) “to come to help; help”
יַרְשִׁיעֵנִי (yar-shi-E-ni) root: רשׁע (raw-shah) Hiphil: “to declare guilty; pronounce guilty; condemn as guilty”
יִבְלוּ (yiv-Lu) root: בלה (baw-law) Qal: “to be used up; be worn out; wear out”
עָשׁ (ash) “moth; clothes moth”
50:10 יְרֵא (ye-Re) Qal, Participle: “to fear; honor; respect” May be used as an adjective here for “worship” or “in fear of.”
חֲשֵׁכִים (cha-she-Chim) “darkness”
נֹגַהּ (no-gah) “bright light; brightness; gleam”
וְיִשָּׁעֵן (ve-yish-sha-En) root: שׁען (shaw-an) Niphil: “to depend on; lean on; support oneself on”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 50:4-10.
Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 50:4-10.
Lectionary Podcast- Prof. Ryan Tietz of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Isaiah 50:4-10.