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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Isaiah 53

Verses 1-12

The servant’s suffering and glory (52:13-53:12)

Just as people were startled at the sight of the servant’s great sufferings, so will they be startled at the sight of his great glory. They will be struck dumb, as it were, as they witness a sight more glorious than they or anyone else could ever have imagined (13-15).
Many people find it hard to believe that God will give his servant such power and magnificence, because when they look at the servant they see just an ordinary person of insignificant beginnings. They liken him to a small plant growing in dry and infertile ground - so different from the magnificent trees that stand majestically in the tall forests. They see nothing in his appearance that is impressive or attractive. On the contrary, when they see the extent of his sufferings they turn away from him in disgust, like people repelled by the sight of a diseased person (53:1-3).
At first those who see the servant’s intense suffering think that he is being punished by God for some wrong he has done. However, as they think further they realize that he is suffering not for his own sins, but for the sins of others; in fact, their sins. They are the ones who have turned away from God and they are the ones for whom the servant dies. It is for them that he bears God’s punishment (4-6).
The servant is treated cruelly, but he bears it silently. Those who judge him show neither mercy nor justice; they just send him off to be killed. His fellow citizens are just as heartless, and show no concern that he suffers death unjustly. Yet he bears all this for the sake of those who are sinners (7-8). Those who hate him leave him to die in disgrace like a criminal, but those who love him give him an honourable burial. They know he has done no wrong (9).
Despite the inhumanity of people, the servant’s death is according to God’s will. It is a sacrifice for the removal of sin. But beyond the sorrow of death is the joy of the resurrection. The servant is satisfied when he sees the fruits of his suffering, namely, a multitude of spiritual children who are forgiven their sins and accounted righteous before God because of his death (10-11). The sufferer becomes the conqueror and receives a conqueror’s reward. Because he willingly took the place of sinners and prayed for their forgiveness, he is now exalted to the highest place (12).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 53". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.