The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, and is a major part of the Fifth Servant Song of Isaiah. It is important to note that the speaker of this prophecy is none other than the Anointed One, the One who will rule over the LORD Yahweh’s Kingdom—the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The words He uses to describe His reign are very familiar ones: Preach to the afflicted, bind up the broken hearted, liberty for the captives, opening eyes, comfort and provide for those who mourn. Similar language used to identify the Coming One is found in many of the prophets and is used by Christ Himself as He gives answer to John the Baptist who sits in prison. One should also make note of the similarities to the Second Servant Song in Isaiah 49:7-13.

The language used here would also remind the faithful Hebrew of the Year of Jubilee as described and laid out in Leviticus 25. However, we need to be cautious not to assume this is a reference to the Year of Jubilee. Rather, it is understood the Year of Jubilee foreshadows and reflects the work of the coming Messiah. Also, make note of how the Prophet weaves the marriage and garment motifs into this Servant Song. The Messiah is coming to redeem and claim His bride and will clothe her in a garment of praise, the robe of righteousness, and a beautiful head-dress.

I am grateful for the insights gathered from Reed Lessing’s commentary on Isaiah 56-66 in the Concordia Commentary Series. Here I include a quote which I believe is very helpful in our study: “The Anointed Servant ushers in the eschatological sabbatical program and this reverses Zion’s desolation. She had walked in the dark, but now lives in the dawning light.”

The Messiah is coming to redeem and claim His bride and will clothe her in a garment of praise, the robe of righteousness, and a beautiful head-dress.

61:1 מָשַׁח (ma-Shach) Qal: “to anoint”

*In the Old Testament, you anoint priests and you anoint kings but only one prophet is mentioned as being anointed and that is Elisha.

לְבַשֵֹּר (le-vas-Ser) root: בשֹר (baw-sar) Piel, infinitive: “to bring news; to herald as good tidings; to preach”

*Note the Trinitarian phrase used here: “The Spirit (Holy Spirit) of the LORD God (Father) is upon Me (Son).

עֲנָוִים (a-na-Vim) from: עָנָו (aw-nawv) “poor; weak; afflicted”

לַחֲבֹשׁ (la-cha-Vosh) root: חבשׁ (khaw-bash) Qal, infinitive: “to bind up”

לִשְׁבוּיִם (lish-vu-Yim) root: שׁבה (shaw-baw) Qal: “to deport; to take captive”

דְּרוֹר (de-Ror) “release; liberty”

וְלַאֲסוּרִים (ve-la-a-su-Rim) root: אסר (aw-sar) Qal, participle: “the ones who are bound”

61:2 רָצוֹן (ra-tzOn) “pleasure; good will; favor”

נָקָם (na-Kam) “vengeance; retribution”

*The “Year of the LORD’s Favor” reminds one of the Year of Jubilee when the slaves were set free and the land was restored, etc. However, this was only for the Jewish people (believers). Other nations (unbelievers) were not included. Note as well that it is the “day” of the LORD’s vengeance, but the “year” of His favor. The LORD’s grace always far outweighs His vengeance.

61:3 לַאֲבֵלִי (la-a-ve-Lei) from: אָבֵל (aw-bale) “mourner; in mourning”

פְּאֵר (pe-Er) “turban; head wrap; head-dress” originally an ornament for a bridegroom

שָֹשֹוֹן (sa-sOn) “joy; jubilation; exultation”

תְהִלָּה (te-hil-Lah) “song of praise; praise”

לְהִתְפָּאֵר (le-hit-pa-Er) root: פאר (paw-ar) Hithpael: “to show one’s glory; to be glorified; to glorify oneself”

61:4 חָרְבוֹת (cha-re-Vot) “ruins; site of ruins”

שֹׁמְמוֹת (sho-me-Mot) root: שׁמם (shaw-mame) Qal: “to be uninhabited; to be deserted; to be desolate”

וְחִדְּשׁוּ (ve-chid-de-Shu) Piel: “to make anew; to restore; to renew”

61:8 אֹהֵב מִשְׁפָּט (o-Hev mish-Pat) “love justice” This phrase appears 42 times in Isaiah and constitutes one of the main themes of the Messianic Kingdom

גָזֵל (ga-Zel) “robbery”

בְּעוֹלָה (be-o-Lah) “badness; malice; injustice; whole burnt offering”

פְעֻלָּתָם (fe-ul-la-Tam) “reward”

61:9 וְצֶאֱצָאֵיהֶם (ve-tze-e-tza-ei-Hem) “offspring; descendant”

יַכִּירוּם (yak-ki-Rum) root: נכר (naw-kar) Hiphil: “to recognize; to acknowledge with honor”

61:10-11 Here the speaker changes—the orator is now the Prophet Isaiah.

61:10 שֹוֹשֹ (Sos) root: שֹושֹ/שֹישֹ () Qal: “to rejoice; to display great joy”

תּגֵל (ta-Gel) root: גִיל (gheel) Qal: “to shout in exultation; to rejoice; to shout in jubilation”

יְעָטָנִי (ye-a-Ta-ni) root: יעט (yaw-at) Qal: “to cover”

יְכַהֵן (ye-cha-Hen) root: כהן (kaw-han) Piel: “to act as priest; to play the priest”

תַּעְדֶּה (ta-Deh) root: עדה (aw-daw) Qal: “to adorn oneself; to put something on as an ornament; to pass on; to advance”

61:11 צִמְחָהּ (tzim-Chah) “sprouting; growth; the bud”

תַצְמִיחַ (tatz-Mi-ach) root: צמח (tsaw-makh) Hiphil: “to cause to sprout; to cause to grow”

*Note the use of the marriage and garment motifs woven together with the seed/growth motif.

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11.

Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11.

Lectionary Podcast-Prof. Ryan Tietz of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11.