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The Ideal Servant
1-9. The characteristics and functions of Israel as the ideal Servant of Jehovah.
10-17 A song of praise to Jehovah.
18-25. The deficiencies of the actual Israel, considered as Jehovah’s Servant.
1. My servant] On the conception of these chapters see Intro. Judgment] or ’right.’ The Servant’s office is to teach the world true religion.
2, 3. He will not be ostentatious nor unduly severe. How Christ corresponded to the ideal is noted in Matthew 12:17-21;
3. Smoking flax] RM ’dimly-burning wick.’ Unto truth] RV ’in truth.’
4. The v. implies that the Servant’s work will be attended with difficulty, which he will face and overcome. Set judgment] established true religion.
6. Two purposes of the Servant’s call indidicated, (a) to be the embodiment of a new covenant with Israel (the people), (b) to be the instrument of a revelation to the Gentiles.
In righteousness] i.e. in faithfulness to My purpose as declared in My promises (Isaiah 41:2, Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 45:13).
7. The thought of enlightenment continued, the imagery being suggested by the condition of the Jews in exile.
8, 9. A return to the thought of Jehovah’s superiority to heathen gods. He shows His control of events by foretelling them.
11. Kedar] the tribes of Arabia. The rock] RV ’Sela,’ the rock-city of Edom.
13-17. The vv. refer to the coming deliverance: in Isaiah 42:14. the speaker is Jehovah.
13. Jealousy] on behalf of His people: cp. Isaiah 9:7.
14. Holden my peace] leaving prayers unanswered (Psalms 28:1; Habakkuk 1:13). Refrained myself] not interposing by miracles or mighty acts. During the period of the exile there had been no divine interposition on behalf of Israel. Destroy and devour] RV ’gasp and pant.’
15, 16. The difficulties in the way of the returning exiles will disappear.
18-20. Israel, though called to be Jehovah’s Servant, cannot comprehend Has message given through the prophet. Note the contrast to the ideal Servant (Isaiah 42:1-4), which suggests that, in the end, the Servant will be an Israel within Israel.
19. Perfect] RV ’at peace with me.’
20. Opening the ears] RV ’his ears are open.’
21. RV ’It pleased the Lord, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify,’ etc. In accordance with His purpose, Jehovah had sent prophetic teachers: their teaching had been great and glorious, both in itself and in its fulfilment. The law] RM ’the teaching,’ given through His prophets. Jehovah, on His part, graciously taught His people, but their insensibility (Isaiah 42:18-20) has brought them to their present condition of misery and exile (Isaiah 42:22-25).
23. Who among you, etc.] i.e. who will learn the lesson of the past?
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 42". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent