The Servant Songs of Isaiah (HOW TO BE A SERVANT OF THE LORD).
When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we are born-again. We become a beloved SON of God. Now our desire should be to be a SERVANT of God, to do His will. That is why we stay here on earth, rather than go straight to heaven. Do you want the Lord to say to you: “Well done, good and faithful SERVANT”? We need to learn what it means to SERVE God. We need training to be a DISCIPLE, to
be under obedience to the Lord, serving Him in humility.
We must learn from Jesus, who is also our example: "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your SERVANT. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be SERVANT of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to SERVE, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:42-45, also Philippians 2). People desire position and authority but Jesus tells us to become a servant - that is true greatness as far as God is concerned. “Those who exalt themselves shall be humbled but those who humble themselves shall be exalted.”
What are the characteristics of a Servant of the Lord? We will turn to the 5 Servant Songs of Isaiah (42:1-7, 49:1-9, 50:4-11, 52:13-53:12, 61:1-4). These are prophecies of the Messiah (Jesus), depicting Him as the (perfect) Servant of God. From them we learn the keys to be a faithful Servant of God.
SONG 1 - The Servant Introduced (Isaiah 42:1-7). "Behold! (pay attention and look at someone special) My SERVANT (we are told to look as a portrait is painted of the Servant that we may recognise Him and learn from Him) My SERVANT whom I uphold, My Elect One - in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him.” Do you want this to be true of you? Rather than living unto Himself, in His own power, He lives by faith in God, depending on God to uphold and empower.
“He will bring forth justice (truth) to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.” He is not self-promoting, not a show-man or a show-off. He trusts God to promote and vindicate Him. He is not pushy or argumentative. “A SERVANT of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil (in rebellion, pride and strife), having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2Timothy 2:24-26).
“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax (smouldering wick) He will not quench.” This shows His gentleness and sensitivity toward the weak, poor and needy. The world says these are not useful, so you might as well ignore them and focus on the strong, but Jesus rebuilds the weak and refires the light that’s about to go out. That is what servants of the Lord do.
Although He is gentle with the weak He is not weak Himself, but burns as a powerful light that will not go out: “He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law." A true Servant of God must have perserverance (inward power and determination) to complete His task, mission and destiny.
Isaiah is speaking of Jesus: “Yet He (Jesus) warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory; and in His name Gentiles will trust" (Matthew 12:16-21).
A true Servant of God is concerned to bring Salvation to all: “Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it: "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a Covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles,to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”
See also SONG 5 (Isaiah 61:1-4).
As Jesus was trained, so we must be trained to be true disciples (servants).
SONG 3 describes the Servant’s Training (Isaiah 50:4-11).
The Songs emphasise five characteristics of the true Servant.
To be God’s Servant like Jesus,we must develop:
1. A heart of gentleness, sensitivity and compassion.
2. A trained tongue
3. A hearing ear
4. A sacrificial love
5. A face like flint.
1. A Heart of gentleness, sensitivity and compassion. If we represent and serve God we must have His heart of compassion for people, especially the lost.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
2. A Trained Tongue:“The Lord GOD has given Me the (trained) tongue of the learned (disciple), that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary” (Isa 50:4). God wants to train our tongue to speak His words to people, to uplift the down, but not to encourage them in their sin. If our tongue is loose we cannot serve God well, for we will often misrepresent God.
3. A Hearing Ear (this is the key to the whole training). “He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away” (v4,5).
Jesus spent time first thing in the morning to hear God’s voice - to listen for God’s guidance and instruction. Like us, He had to learn who He was and what His mission was - from the Word and the Spirit. A servant must learn to LISTEN to His Master or
he ends up busy about his own business not the Master’s. A waiter must listen for the order or he is useless, even if he is bright and has a great personality. Take time in the Word, and be quiet before Him and listen. Say: “Speak Lord, Your servant listens.” Get into NEUTRAL. You can’t listen if your head is full of your own ideas. You have to set them aside and keep praying: “Your will be done, not my will.” When He speaks, test it and then if it checks out, obey it.
People get stuck when they get fixated on a certain idea, person or way they imagine things have to be (whether a job, a certain husband, a wife, a ministry) and miss God because that vision becomes an idol. We have to always lay it down (even if it has something of God in it) and give it back to God. Then He can develop, purify and increase it. Thus we stay open to hear Him more. We can be like a waiter who
only hears the first few words and then rushes off. Take time, and remove all your pre-conceived ideas and listen.
Ask God questions and expect to receive God’s answers: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” - James 1:5-8.
God revealed to Jesus His Mission and His suffering and He did not turn away but embraced it:
4. A Sacrificial Love: “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (v6). Being a servant means going the extra mile, self-denial, being willing to lay your life down if God requires.
See SONG 4 (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and
dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my Servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me” (John 12:24-26).
5. A Face like Flint. He must perservere against opposition, knowing that God will vindicate. “For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me; who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near me. Surely the Lord GOD will help me; who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; the moth will eat them up” (v7-9).
God will exalt and back up His true servants, while those who oppose them will diminish. When you truly represent God, when they resist you, they resist God because you are submitted and identified with God and He identifies with you. We see this is absolutely true with Jesus- you can’t know God apart from trusting and obeying His Servant Jesus: “Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His SERVANT?
He says to you: “Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon his God. Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: (If you) walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled (your own ideas, philosophies, opinions, religions that suit you rather than trusting in Christ and His teachings) - this you shall have from My hand: you shall lie down in torment (the Servant has been given authority to judge)” (v10,11).