Isaiah 50 Commentary

Isaiah 50 Commentary

Verses 1 to 3: The LORD God is speaking. The ‘I” in these verses refers to the LORD God. This is simple: the LORD introduces Himself in verse 1 as the speaker. He is the one whose call Israel has ignored. If only Israel had listened!

Verse 4 and downwards: The ‘I’ may refer to the servant. He is the one who has received instructions from the LORD and is obedient. The LORD God helps him.

Clearly, this servant isn’t Israel. Could it be the prophet? Probably yes. But there is more. Clearly, this Servant is different from Israel.

Israel is scattered because of her many sins. The servant has learned from the word of the LORD. Israel didn’t listen when the LORD called but the Servant is enabled to listen and obey. The LORD has given Him understanding; He hasn’t rebelled.

Interestingly, Israel suffered exile because of her wickedness. And here, the obedient servant also suffers. He offered his back to those who beat him; his cheeks to those who pulled out his beard; he didn’t hide his face from mocking and spitting. And all of this is in the past!

But now the tense changes in verse 7. The servant claims he will not be disgraced because the LORD helps him.

Verse 10 downwards: The speaker changes and it seems the prophet is now speaking. He asks: “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of His servant?” It looks like we have a tag team here. But who is this servant whose word must be obeyed just like the word of the LORD? Probably the word is ‘Servant’ and not ‘servant’.

Isaiah’s message is written in plain language but coded. Check for changes in tense and speakers. At times, we have the past, the present, and the future all combined without any loss in meaning. The past can be the prophet’s past as well as today’s past. His future can be our future but importantly, it can actually be our past. In between Isaiah’s present and today is Calvary.

The LORD Jesus Christ is still calling: When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer?

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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