Roy Millar - The servant songs

The servant songs

Who is the true servant?

Israel was called to be God’s servant, 41: 8–9 – to reveal his character and his ways to the nations, as they lived under his rule. They were to be an object lesson, witnesses to the fact that He alone is God and that the idols of the nations are vanity. He also revealed Himself in His saving acts towards Israel. The people of Israel were supposed to live in the same relationship to God that man originally had with Him as Creator. The land of Israel physically corresponded with Eden and linked obedience with blessing and freedom in the presence of their King. Sadly, they repeatedly chose to go their own way, refusing to serve their God and King. Their ambition was to be like the other nations. King Ahaz manifested this independent and worldly spirit.

Even when they were released from the physical consequences of their unfaithfulness, judgement and exile, the root cause remained. They could not solve their own spiritual problems, 48:1–4, and therefore could not bring blessings to the nations, as promised to Abraham, Gen. 12:1–3. God still refers to Israel as his servant, 41:8–9 (the call is not removed), although they are blind and deaf, 42:17–22. Even in that condition they cannot escape the role of witnesses, 43:8–13, because of the way God acts on their behalf, 43:1–7.

At this apparent impasse, God took the initiative and introduced His Servant. He did not bypass his covenant (cf Gen. 3:15). Nor did He discard Israel as his chosen instrument – the Servant of the Lord is still Israel, but now personalised and idealised in One who is everything that the nation failed to be. He is the heir to the throne of David – the shoot out of the stump of Jesse, even when that tree seemed to have died, 53:2.

There are four “Servant songs”.

Songs 1 and 4 open with “Behold, My Servant …”. They contain God’s word to and about His Servant.

Songs 2 and 3 are the Servant’s words about Himself and His tasks and experiences.

The task of the Servant is the first consideration, and this is gradually unveiled through the songs to its strange and wonderful climax in song 4.

The identity of the Servant is initially concealed and is then gradually revealed.

Each song takes us deeper in to the revelation of the mystery of the servant and the strange purposes of God through Him. They are filled with enigma and paradox. We are invited to see the Servant but as God reveals and interprets Him, and not through human eyes. Everything about him is unexpected and defies human categories.

61:1–3 is not designated specifically as a Servant song but it completes the cycle begun in chapter 42 and shows the blessings that flow from the faithfulness of the Servant of the Lord

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Roy Millar - The First Song of the Servant –  Isaiah 42:1–9

The First Song of the Servant – Isaiah 42:1–9

The Servant is introduced – “Behold, My Servant”. He is the Servant of the LORD. God has appointed Him as His personal agent to carry out His purposes within His creation. He comes to reveal God’s truth and justice. Strangely He is quiet and unostentatious. His focus is on the poor and oppressed. God, the Creator, the Covenant–keeper, and the Lord of history undergirds the success of the Servant’s mission in the world.

Roy Millar - The second song : The Servant is prepared Isaiah 49:1–13.

The second song : The Servant is prepared Isaiah 49:1–13.

The Servant will be prepared for his task from his mother’s womb. He will be vulnerable and will learn to trust in God for everything. He will appear to others to be simply a human being. His destiny and success will depend on God. His early life will pass in obscurity until the time comes for him to be publicly revealed – like an arrow hidden in a quiver until the archer launches it from his bow. He will be despised ...

Roy Millar - The third song : The Servant’s Passion for God’s Purposes – Isaiah 50: 4–11

The third song : The Servant’s Passion for God’s Purposes – Isaiah 50: 4–11

The servant has a passion to do the will of God. He is the perfect disciple. He is unmoved by human opinion because he values God’s opinion above all others. He has set his face like a flint to accomplish the purpose of God for his life. He cannot be disgraced because he walks before God alone. He is invincible because God is pleased with him. He calls his followers to follow his example and walk in the fear of ...

Roy Millar - Fourth Song : The Servant Suffers and Triumphs – Isaiah 52:13 – 53: 12

Fourth Song : The Servant Suffers and Triumphs – Isaiah 52:13 – 53: 12

Again we have the introduction “Behold My Servant”. The servant is about to complete his task. Only by his suffering can the purpose of redemption be accomplished. He willingly embraces that destiny, with all the pain and humiliation that it entails. His mission is on behalf of “the many” who cannot be reconciled to God by any other means. He takes the sin and brokenness and alienation of the world upon himself so that forgiveness and healing can be released to ...

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