This chapter prophesies Jesus' first coming as a servant king who brings light and healing to Gentile nations. And it prophesies his second coming when he comes as a warrior, to restore his people and to receive the praise and honour he deserves.
This chapter introduces the first and second comings of Jesus. At his first coming, Jesus comes as a meek and gentle servant king who brings light and healing to Gentile nations. At his second coming, he comes as a warrior, to restore his people and to receive the praise and honour he deserves. God's servant Jesus is then contrasted with his servant Israel who failed in her God-given mission.

In verses 1 to 7, the 'First Servant Song', Jesus is introduced as the model servant king, upon whom God has placed his Spirit. As a king, he will make just decrees for the nations (v1), and yet he will be meek and gentle (v2-3). The coastlands will wait in anticipation for this decrees (v4). Coastlands, or islands, represent distant lands across the sea. So he will not just be king of Israel, but of the whole world. Verses 1 to 4 are quoted in Matthew 12:18-21 as being fulfilled by Jesus. In verses 5 to 7, the God of creation commissions this servant king, making him a mediator and a light for the Gentile nations. His commission includes healing of the blind, and deliverance of prisoners. Jesus fulfilled this commission in his first coming, and he has become a mediator, a light, and a healer for people of all nationalities.

Verses 8 to 17 begin and end with emphatic statements that God will not share his glory with another, or the praise due him with idols. Instead, those who trust in idols will be utterly humiliated. Verse 9 says, "Look, my earlier predictive oracles have come to pass; now I announce new events. Before they begin to occur, I reveal them to you". This anticipates the fulfilment of the previous prophecy by the first coming of Jesus having already taken place. Now, from the perspective of this time in the future, Jesus' second coming is in view. This time round, Jesus will not come as a meek servant, but as a mighty warrior arriving for battle, with awesome displays of his power (v13). This is time for the whole earth to give him praise (v10) and for people everywhere to rejoice at his coming (v11). Surprisingly, this includes the people of Kedar (the Arabian tribes) and of Sela (Petra). These are people that won't fare so well according to some of Isaiah's other prophecies (e.g. Isaiah 21). In verse 14, God says he has been inactive for a long time, keeping quiet and holding back his judgment - this anticipates the period between the first and second comings. This is the present time, which scripture calls 'the year of the Lord's favour' (Isaiah 61:2), and which precedes 'the day of vengeance of our God'. Jesus will lay waste the mountains and hills (v15) - mountains and hills are symbolic of kingdoms, so this means he will overthrow earthly kingdoms. He will lead the blind along new ways and turn their darkness into light (v16) - this anticipates the next section in which we see that Israel has become a blind servant. But God will redeem her.

In verses 18 to 25, God reasons with his servant Israel, who contrasts greatly with Jesus his model servant. Israel has become deaf and blind (v18-19). They were supposed to be his covenant partners through whom God would demonstrate his laws and his justice to the world, but they failed to understand and could not hear the message he wanted them to convey (v19-21). Instead, they were looted and plundered by robbers, and ended up as prisoners rather than deliverers, because they sinned against God and refused to obey him (v22-24). God allowed them to be devastated by war, but they still did not understand (v25). Nevertheless, there is yet hope for blind Israel (v16). As God said through Isaiah in 41:13, "I am the Lord your God, the one who takes hold of your right hand, who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.’"
Places: Israel, Kedar, Mecca, Sela, Petra, Edom, Arabia, Coastlands
Symbols: Mountains
Tags: First and second comings, Jesus as the servant, Jesus as a mighty warrior, Jesus as king of the whole world, Jesus as the model servant, Israel as the blind servant, Jesus as Messiah, All nations called to worship, God uniquely predicts the future, Restoration of Israel, Jesus fights his enemies, Idol worshippers humiliated, First servant song
The Lord Commissions His Special Servant
1 “Here is my servant whom I support,
my chosen one in whom I take pleasure.
I have placed my Spirit on him;
he will make just decrees for the nations.
2 He will not cry out or shout;
he will not publicize himself in the streets.
3 A crushed reed he will not break,
a dim wick he will not extinguish;
he will faithfully make just decrees.
4 He will not grow dim or be crushed
before establishing justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait in anticipation for his decrees.”
5 This is what the true God, the Lord, says –
the one who created the sky and stretched it out,
the one who fashioned the earth and everything that lives on it,
the one who gives breath to the people on it,
and life to those who live on it:
6 “I, the Lord, officially commission you;
I take hold of your hand.
I protect you and make you a covenant mediator for people,
and a light to the nations,
7 to open blind eyes,
to release prisoners from dungeons,
those who live in darkness from prisons.

The Lord Intervenes
8 I am the Lord! That is my name!
I will not share my glory with anyone else,
or the praise due me with idols.
9 Look, my earlier predictive oracles have come to pass;
now I announce new events.
Before they begin to occur,
I reveal them to you.”
10 Sing to the Lord a brand new song!
Praise him from the horizon of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and everything that lives in it,
you coastlands and those who live there!
11 Let the wilderness and its cities shout out,
the towns where the nomads of Kedar live!
Let the residents of Sela shout joyfully;
let them shout loudly from the mountaintops.
12 Let them give the Lord the honor he deserves;
let them praise his deeds in the coastlands.
13 The Lord emerges like a hero,
like a warrior he inspires himself for battle;
he shouts, yes, he yells,
he shows his enemies his power.
14 “I have been inactive for a long time;
I kept quiet and held back.
Like a woman in labor I groan;
I pant and gasp.
15 I will make the trees on the mountains and hills wither up;
I will dry up all their vegetation.
I will turn streams into islands,
and dry up pools of water.
16 I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way;
I will guide them down paths they have never traveled.
I will turn the darkness in front of them into light,
and level out the rough ground.
This is what I will do for them.
I will not abandon them.
17 Those who trust in idols
will turn back and be utterly humiliated,
those who say to metal images, ‘You are our gods.’”

The Lord Reasons with His People
18 “Listen, you deaf ones!
Take notice, you blind ones!
19 My servant is truly blind,
my messenger is truly deaf.
My covenant partner, the servant of the Lord, is truly blind.
20 You see many things, but don’t comprehend;
their ears are open, but do not hear.”
21 The Lord wanted to exhibit his justice
by magnifying his law and displaying it.
22 But these people are looted and plundered;
all of them are trapped in pits
and held captive in prisons.
They were carried away as loot with no one to rescue them;
they were carried away as plunder, and no one says, “Bring that back!”
23 Who among you will pay attention to this?
Who will listen attentively in the future?
24 Who handed Jacob over to the robber?
Who handed Israel over to the looters?
Was it not the Lord, against whom we sinned?
They refused to follow his commands;
they disobeyed his law.
25 So he poured out his fierce anger on them,
along with the devastation of war.
Its flames encircled them, but they did not realize it;
it burned against them, but they did not take it to heart.