Isaiah 42


The Servant Songs in Isaiah

a)      42:1-4 (42:5-9)

b)      49:1-6 (49:7-13)

c)      50:4-9 (50:10-11)

d)      52:13-53:12 (54-55)



“See, they are all false!” speaks of the idols.

The verse actually begins with the word “Behold!” and then describes the idols (philosophies and values of the world). 
Idols are said to be false, amount to nothing, images, wind and confusion.


Chapter 42: 1 begins also in the Hebrew with “Behold!” but this time “Behold the Servant of God” and his philosophy, values and justice. 


The nations are to make a comparison of the Servant of God and his ways with the idols of the world and their ways.


42:1-4 The Description of the Servant of Yahweh and of His Word

The servant of God is brought to the nations attention instead of the idols in ch. 41.

These descriptions of the servant of God can be applied to these classes of servants:

a)      They describe the perfect servant of the Lord whoever that would be ( Israel, angels, the church, etc)

b)      They obviously where fulfilled by Jesus Christ since he himself is the perfect man and perfect God.  Naturally, he would be the perfect servant.

c)      They are the goal of any person wanting to serve God.  These attitudes are a model of what we are to strive for today in our service to God

d)      In a more limited sense, Cyrus the Great and other national leaders that God uses to form history.


  1. The servant is upheld by Yahweh
    1. God empowers his servants.  He does not put us out there and see how we do.  Instead he gives us all the back up we need to accomplish his purpose.
  2. The servant is chosen
    1. God chooses our time, place, family, nation, talents, strengths, personality and our spiritual gifts and our spiritual calling.
  3. Yahweh delights in the servant
    1. God not only uses us but delights in our service to him
    2. Our service to God is more about a two-way relationship than it is about serving a master.  Similar to a husband and wife
      relationship more than a master and slave relationship.
  4. The servant has God’s Spirit
  5. The servant will bring justice to the nations
    1. “justice” is the Hebrew word “mishpat” and refers to social order and legal equality.  It means that the concerns of every one in society are met. 
      Quite different than the fourth generation of Proverbs 30:14.  This is having a society living in line with God’s judgments and standards. 
      It is a culture that has “true religion” spoken of in James 1:27 – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look
      after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
      (The mention of orphans and widows
      focuses on those who are in distress at no fault of their own and have no where to turn.  This is not supporting a welfare state for men
      that won’t work or have messed up their lives due to unrighteousness.  See 1 Thess.3:6-15)

                                                               i.      Malachi 2:17-3:5 – The people ask “Where is the God of justice?”  God replies he was sending a messenger and then himself. 
In verse 3:5 the Lord lists the social disorder he will correct when he returns: “sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, defraud laborers,
oppress widows and orphans, deprive aliens of justice.”

1.      (Remember God has a standard for citizenship in Israel and in his spiritual Kingdom of God.)

    1. God is just and his servants must help their societies operate with peace, order and equality.
    2. According to this verse, in order to be a servant of God you must be striving to bring social order and legal equality to your culture. 
      That is the character of God and the character of his servants.
    3. Christians today have to be concerned for their society on earth as well as the kingdom of God in eternity.  It is what a servant of God does. 
      This is true for several reasons:

                                                               i.      It cannot just be spiritual order or spiritual justice without affecting the physical.

                                                             ii.      A servant today can only manifest this in physical ways.

  1. The servant will not shout or cry out
  2. The servant will not raise his voice in the streets
    1. He would not advertise himself
    2. His ministry would be quiet, unthreatening, and not aggressive
  3. The servant will not break a bruised reed
    1. He would not discard what was considered useless by other standards
  4. The servant will not snuff out a smoldering wick
    1. What others would consider spent and empty the servant would consider it to be functioning and useful.
  5. The servant will bring forth justice in faithfulness
    1. The servants mission from God was to bring justice to the nations.  He will execute his purpose faithfully.
    2. We each have an assignment, a mission, and a purpose.  We should live each day faithful to this call.
  6. The servant will not falter
    1. The servant of the Lord will have obstacles, but he will continue to the end.
    2. In establishing the kingdom of God, bringing about social justice or living a righteous life there will be obstacles
      and oppression that could cause us to stumble, fall and give up.  With a mind set on God’s will and our eyes on Jesus
      (Heb. 12:2) the servant of God will continue.
  7. The servant will not be discouraged until he establishes justice on earth
    1. Discouragement can be overcome with:

                                                               i.      Understanding of God’s will

                                                             ii.      Trust in God’s ways

                                                            iii.      Gradual movement towards a goal

                                                           iv.      The presence of the Holy Spirit in a persons life


The Results of the Servant of The Lord:

  1. The islands will put their hope in his law (42:4):
    1. They will see the benefit of his law in their land, their society and their lives and will be looking for it.
    2. Notice the nations are waiting for The Servant’s Law.  Not Moses’ Law.  They are looking for the fulfillment of Isaiah 2:3-4. 
      These are the nations responding to God’s universal law of righteousness.



God now speaks directly to his servant.

God is described as:

a)      created the heavens

b)      created the earth

c)      created all that is in the earth

d)      gives people breath (refers to the beginning of our life)

e)      gives life to those who walk on the earth (refers to being given daily life)


42:6, 7  Promises to Servant and What God Will Do Through His Servant

God makes promises to his servant(s)

1.      Called you in righteousness

2.      Take hold of your hand

3.      Will keep you

4.      Make you:

                                                               i.      To be a covenant for the people

1.      Hebrew “berit ‘am” (literally “a covenant of a people”)

2.      The same word is translated “people” in verse 5 and in context refers to humanity

3.      It is a parallel with the next phrase “Gentiles” or “nations”

4.      Point: The servant of God will stand in the gap between God and the people who are in darkness. 
Through the servant of the Lord many people will be transferred out of the darkness of the pagan idolatry and worldly philosophies.

5.      The messenger of Malachi 3:1 for example is the servant telling people that God has made a way.

6.      John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

                                                             ii.      To be a light to the Gentiles

                                                            iii.      To open eyes that are blind

                                                           iv.      To free captives from prison

                                                             v.      To release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness




Only Yahweh can do these things.

None of the idols is worthy of his glory.



In context the old things are the old idols of Israel’s past, the Babylonian captivity.

The new things are Cyrus who God will use to work his plan in history.

The restoration of Israel (which is also to be a servant of the Lord for the Gentiles)

And, ultimately, the coming of the Messiah to shining a light for both Israel and Gentiles.


We now are the servants of God.  He has told us of our role, responsibility, promises, provision and the fruit we will produce. 
What we will do is the new things for today.

He told us ahead of time.  We can not forsake our potential or our responsibility. 
We stand in line with many who have been titled “the servants of Yahweh.”