The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 63:7-14 and is the beginning of what is often called the Lament(s) of Isaiah. This section continues from Isaiah 63:7-64:11 with our pericope today comprising the first major portion. In this segment Isaiah is remembering—reminiscing—and listing the mercies of the LORD He has shown to His people in the past, in the days of old. Portion two (Isaiah 63:15-64:6) is comprised of a group of petitions to the LORD and includes the powerful crying out, “Oh that Thou wouldst rend/tear the heavens and come down!” (63:19). The final portion is filled with pleading to the LORD and brings Isaiah’s lament to a close.
Returning to the first section of the Lament, it begins with Isaiah speaking in first person as he speaks of the LORD’s grace (7) and moves to speaking of the LORD’s gracious actions (8-10). Isaiah speaks of the character of God and of what He has done in the past—the question is, will He do it again? Certainly, Isaiah is hopeful as he recalls the steadfast love/covenantal kindnesses and lists His gracious acts. Isaiah reminds the LORD of who He, the LORD, is and has promised to continue to be. He also reminds the LORD of who the people of Judah are—people of His Covenant. Such a recounting and reminding is typical of the lament formula and sets up the petitions and pleading which follow. If the LORD is faithful to His Covenant—and He must be—then He will remember His people and take action.
Verse 9 is of particular note as it points out how Judah’s enemies are the Lord’s enemies, and, when the people of Yahweh suffer, Yahweh suffers with them. God does indeed suffer with His people, and in Christ He suffers for His people. Lessing rightly points out:
“Hence we dare not dismiss the statement, “in all their anguish He had anguish” (Isaiah 63:9), as merely anthropomorphic
or anthropopathic. Such a move discounts God’s suffering with and for His people… Following this OT trajectory, Jesus
takes divine suffering to the ultimate limit on Good Friday when He, God Incarnate, bleeds and dies for the sins of the
world” (p. 368).
This reality brings us face to face with our God and LORD who suffers with and for His people. It also reminds us how our suffering finds its meaning in the suffering of Christ.
Thanks goes out to Reed Lessing for his commentary on Isaiah 56-66 in the Concordia Commentary Series. He gives many helpful insights to aide in the preaching of this text.
63:7 חַסְדֵי יְהוָה; (chas-Dei Yah-weh) “the steadfast love of the LORD”, “the covenant kindnesses of the LORD” חסד (kheh-sed) is a very large, and all-encompassing word used to describe the LORD’s love, kindness, mercy faithfulness—all connected to His covenant with His people. Notice that this direct object precedes the verb which is not the usual order in Hebrew. This is to place emphasis on the, “steadfast love of the LORD.”
אַזְכִּיר; (az-Kir) root: זכר (zaw-kar) Hiphil: “to recount; invoke; recall” The basic root is “to remember” and is generally used in connection to the Covenant.
תְּהִלֹּת. (te-hil-Lot) “praiseworthy deeds; praiseworthy actions”
גְּמָלָנוּ (ge-ma-La-nu) Qal: “to show; to do to; to deal out; to grant to”
טוּב (tuv) “well-being; blessing; goodness”
כְּרַחֲמָיו (ke-ra-cha-Mav) “mercy; compassion; a feeling of love”
63:8 יְשַׁקֵּרוּ> (ye-shak-Ke-ru) root: שׁקר (shaw-kar) Piel: “to deal falsely; to break faith”
63:9 צָרָתָם (tza-ra-Tam) “anxiety; distress; need; affliction”
צָר (Tzar) “need; distress”
וּבְחֶמְלָתוֹ (u-ve-chem-la-To) from: חמלה, (Khem-law) “forgiveness; compassion; mercy”
וַיְנַטְּלֵם: (vay-nat-te-Lem) root: נטל (naw-tal) Piel: “to lift up; to bear”
63:10 מָרוּ (ma-Ru) root: מרה (maw-raw) Qal: “to be rebellious; to be disobedient”
וְעִצְּבוּ> (ve-itz-tze-Vu) root: עצב (aw-tsab) Piel: “to vex; to hurt someone’s feelings; to grieve; to pain”
וַיֵּהָפֵךְ (vai-ye-ha-Fech) Niphal: “to turn; to be changed; to be altered”
63:11 וַיִּזְכֹּר: (vai-yiz-Kor) root: זכר (zaw-kar) Qal: “to remember”
הַמַּעֲלֵם (ham-ma-a-Lem) root: עלה (aw-law) Hiphil, participle: “the one bringing them up”
63:12 זְרוֹעַ (ze-Ro-a) “arm”
תִּפְאַרְתּוֹ (tif-ar-To) “renown; glorious; beautiful; magnificence”
בּוֹקֵעַ (Bo-ke-a) Qal, participle: “to divide; to cleave; to split”
63:13 מוֹלִיכָם (mo-li-Cham) Hiphil, participle: “the one causing to go/walk”
בַּתְּהֹמוֹת (bat-te-ho-Mot) from: תהוֹמ. (teh-home) “depth; abyss”
יִכָּשֵׁלוּ (yik-ka-She-lu) root: כשׁל (kaw-shal) Niphal: “to stumble; to stagger”
63:14 בַּבִּקְעָה (bab-baik-Ah) “valley; plain”
תְּנִיחֶנּוּ. (te-ni-Chen-nu) root: נוח (noo-akh) Hiphil: “to give rest”
נִהַגְתָּ (ni-Hag-ta) root: נהג (naw-hag) Piel: “to lead; to lead on; to guide”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Isaiah 63:7-14.
Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Isaiah 63:7-14.