Wednesday 08 April 2020

Bible Book:

It is the Lord God who helps me. (v. 9)

Isaiah 50:4-9a Wednesday 8 April 2020

Psalm: Psalm 70


The third of Isaiah’s “servant songs” repeats previous themes of responding to God’s calling; a ministry that leads to personal suffering but despite this the servant maintains a steadfast faith in God’s help and support.

The servant’s ministry is again to those most in need, in this case specifically to those who are weary (verse 4). Unlike those who have turned away from following God’s will, the servant has responded to God’s call and has willingly accepted pain, abuse and mockery as a result of doing so. They do this confident that God will remain with them and help them.

It is possible that the description of being struck on the back and face and being spat at was influenced by a Babylonian ceremony during which the king would be ritually abused before being triumphantly restored. However, this experience of abuse and helplessness may have been very personal to the author of this passage as this appears much more autobiographical than the previous “servant songs”, but it would also not have been unfamiliar to those who first heard these words, particularly those who had to contend with the regular hostility from powerful rulers. We can see this clearly in the way the Roman soldiers treated Jesus before his crucifixion, beating him, spitting in his face and mocking him (Matthew 27:30).

When faced with hostility and abuse it can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. When others appear to stand by and watch, or ignore what is happening rather than intervening to stop it, the physical pain experienced can be made worse by the mental anguish caused by a sense of shame, disgrace and even guilt for what has happened. The servant here recognises that, but their faith in God’s presence gives them strength and helps them to overcome any sense of disgrace (verse 7). It means they are not alone and can stand together to resist anything their adversaries inflict on them.


To Ponder:

  • The servant is “given the tongue of a teacher” to “sustain the weary with a word”. What words of comfort would you like to hear and what words could you offer to help others at this present time?
  • The servant does not hide away from conflict, but, as Jesus suggests in the Sermon on the Mount, turns the other cheek to those who strike them (Matthew 5:39). How realistic is it to follow this example?
  • A growing number of people are impacted by abuse they receive through their engagement in social media. What can you do in response to the servant’s call to “stand up together”?
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