The Old Testament Lesson this Sunday, Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday, is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 50:4-9a, the beginning of the Third Servant Song of Isaiah. The timing is perfect as we head into Holy Week and focus on the travails of the Servant and then turn to the Fourth Servant Song on Good Friday. It is interesting to see how Isaiah has set up this “Servant” in contrast to the servant, who is supposed to be the people of Israel. The people of Israel fail miserably as they fall short of the LORD’s expectations for His servant. Therefore, the LORD sends another Servant, His only begotten Son who is faithful in carrying out the task Israel failed in.

The language of verse 6 is quite explicit and reflects the suffering and disgrace this Servant will suffer as He faithfully does the will of God. However, it is important to note the turn around. Suffering and shame, then vindication, disgrace, then help and rescue. As Christ was obedient unto death, even death on a tree, so the LORD raised Him up, and exalted Him to His right hand.

Also important is the language of Vindicator/Justifier. This is forensic type of language that brings to mind a courtroom setting. It is also a unique title for the LORD. Finally, much of what this Servant suffers brings to mind the life of the prophet Jeremiah. This may be why the disciples in Matthew 16:13, when asked, “Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?” answer with, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

A thank you to Reed Lessing and his commentary on Isaiah 40-55 in the Concordia Commentary Series. It proves to be helpful once again.

50:4 אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה (a-do-Nai Yah-weh) “The Lord, Yahweh”

*This is title for God indicating both His power and might as well as His personal, gracious, covenantal relationship to His people Israel. ESV translates this as “The Lord GOD,” but it misses some of the important aspects of this title.

לִמּוּדִים (lim-mu-Dim) “pupil; taught ones” “Those being taught” (disciples)

לָדַעַת (la-De-at) root: ידע (yaw-dah) Qal, infinitive construct: “to know”

לָעוּת (la-Ut) root: עות (ooth) Qal, infinitive construct; hapax legomenon: “to help; to sustain; to aid”

יָעֵף (ya-Ef) “faint; weary”

יָעִיר (ya-Ir) root: עור (oor) Hiphil: “to arouse; to awaken; to wake up”

בַּבֹּקֶר בַּבֹּקֶר; (bab-Bo-ker bab-Bo-ker) “morning by morning; every morning”

כַּלִּמּוּדִים; (kal-lim-mu-Dim) “as those being taught”

50:5 פָּתַח (pa-tach) Qal: “to open”

מָרִיתִי (ma-Ri-ti) root: מרה (maw-raw) Qal: “to rebel; to be disobedient; to be rebellious”

אָחוֹר (a-Chor) “backwards”

נְסוּגֹתִי (ne-su-Go-ti) root: סוג (soog) Niphal: “to turn back; to withdraw; to flee”

50:6 גֵּוִיE (ge-Vi) from: גו (gave) “back”

לְמַכִּים. (le-mak-Kim) root: נכה (naw-kaw) Hiphil, participle: “to smite; to strike” “smiters; strikers”

וּלְחָיַי (u-le-cha-Yai) “cheek”

לְמֹרְטִים. (le-mo-re-Tim) root: מרט (maw-rat) Qal, participle: “to be pluckers; to make smooth; to pull out; to make bare” This action brings shame upon the individual.

הִסְתַּרְתִּי (his-Tar-ti) root: סתר (saw-thar) Hiphil: “to hide (something)”

מִכְּלִמּוֹת (mik-ke-lim-Mot) from: כּלמּה. (kel-im-maw) “insult; reproach”

וָרֹק (va-Rok) “spittle”

50:7 יַעֲזָר (ya-a-zor) root: עזר (aw-zar) Qal: “to help; to come to help”

נִכְלָמְתִּי (nich-La-me-ti) root: כלם (kaw-lawm) Niphal: “to be ashamed; to be put to shame; to be humiliated”

כַּחַלָּמִישׁ; (ka-chal-la-Mish) from: חלּמִישׁ; (klal-law-meesh) “flint; hard stone” The hardest type of rock.

וָאֵדַע (va-e-Da) Qal: “to know”

אֵבוֹשׁe (e-Voosh) root: בוֹשׁ (boosh) Qal: “to be ashamed”

50:8 קָרוֹב (ka-rOv) “near”

מַצְדִּיקִי; (matz-di-Ki) root: צדק (tsaw-dak) Hiphil, participle: “to vindicate; to justify; to obtain rights for,” “Vindicator; Justifier” A descriptive title for the LORD unique in Scripture. The Qal form has a forensic sense.

יָרִיב (ya-Riv) “to contest a lawsuit; to contend; to conduct a legal case”

נַעַמְדָה: (Na-am-dah) root: dm[ (aw-mad) Qal, cohortative: “to stand”

יָּחַד (Ya-chad) “together; altogether”

בַעַל; (Va-al) “owner; possessor” with מִשְׁפָּטִי (mish-pa-Ti) “the owner/possessor of my justice/cause.

יִגַּשׁ (yig-Gash) Qal, jussive: “to draw near; to come near” “let him draw near (to me)”

50:9 יַעֲזָר: (ya-a-zor) root: עזר (aw-zar) Qal: “to help; to come to help”

יַרְשִׁיעֵנִי: (yar-shi-E-ni) root: רשׁע (raw-shah) Hiphil: “to pronounce guilty; to declare guilty; to condemn as guilty” Once again, this verb has a forensic sense.

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 50:4-9a

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 50:4-9a.