Isaiah 42

The Word Made Fresh

1Here is my servant. He has my support.
I have chosen him, and I delight in him.
I have given him my guidance,
and he will bring justice to all the people.
2He will not cry out. He will not raise his voice
to be heard in the streets.
3He won’t so much as break a damaged reed,
or quench a dimly burning candle.
He will, however, be faithful in bringing justice.
4He will not grow weary or be defeated
until he has established justice on the earth.
The coastlands wait for his teaching.

5This is what the LORD God says,
the One who created the heavens and spread them out,
along with all that comes from it,
the One who gives breath to the people on the earth
and life to its inhabitants.
6“I am the LORD who has called you in honor and righteousness.
I have taken your hand and protected you.
I have taken you as a promise to the people
and a light to the nations.
7I have bid you to open the eyes that are blind,
and bring out prisoners from the dungeons
and those who sit in darkness in the prisons.
8I am the LORD. That is my name,
and I give my glory to no others
nor my praise to idols.
9Look – the former things have come and gone,
and I now declare new things.
I tell you of them before they spring forth.”

10Sing a new song to the LORD.
Sing the LORD’s praise from the ends of the earth.
Let the sea roar and all that is in it,
including the coastlands and all who live there.
11Let the desert and the people in its towns raise their voices.
Let the villages inhabited by Kedar
and the people of Sela sing joyfully.
Let them shout from the mountaintops.
12Let them glorify and praise the LORD in the coastlands.
13The LORD will go forth like a mighty leader,
and like a warrior God furiously stirs up the world,
cries out and shouts aloud,
and is mighty against all God’s enemies.

14I have kept silence for a long time.
I have restrained myself and remained quiet.
But now I will groan like a woman giving birth,
panting and gasping for breath.
15I will level the mountains and hills and shrivel all their vegetation.
Islands will appear in the rivers and pools of water will become dry.
16Then I will lead the blind by a way they won’t recognize
and on paths they are not familiar with, and I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness ahead of them into light,
and level the rough ground before them.
These are the things I will do; I will never turn my back on them.
17Those who trust in carved idols and call them their gods
shall be turned back and be completely ashamed.

18Listen, you who are deaf!
Look and see, you who are blind!
19Are any of you blind like my servant
or deaf like the messenger I will send?
Are any of you blind like the servant of the LORD
who is dedicated to me?
20You see many things but pay them no attention.
Your ears are open, but you don’t hear.

21The LORD is righteous, and was pleased
to expand God’s teaching and make it glorious.
22But these people were robbed and plundered.
They were trapped in caves and hidden in prisons.
They became targets, with no one to rescue them.
They were considered nothing but spoils
with no one to say, “Restore them!”
23Will any of you pay attention to this?
Will you listen for what will happen in the time to come?
24Who gave Jacob over to looters?
Who gave Israel to the thieves?
Was it not the LORD, against whom you have sinned,
and by whose command you refused to walk,
and whose law you refused to obey?
25That is why God’s anger was vented
and the fury of war came upon them.
They were set on fire from every side,
but did not understand it.
It burned them, but they did not realize it.


1-4: Now Isaiah imagines God introducing to the court the person summoned to bring justice “to the nations.” The text simply calls this person “my servant.” Isaiah likely meant the servant to be Israel, but early Christians saw in the description of the servant images of Christ, especially verse 2 (see, for example, Matthew 27:14). The servant is to bring justice to the earth.

5-7: Again, God challenges the idols. God created the earth, gives breath and spirit to its inhabitants, and claims Israel as his covenant people for the purpose of being “a light to the nations.” God, unlike those false gods, has revealed through the prophets the things that are yet to come “before they spring forth.”

8-13: We interrupt this trial to bring you a hymn of praise.

14-16: Now God goes into labor, so to speak, to give birth to things to come. Israel (“the blind”) will be led down a new path.

17: The coastland peoples who claim idols as their gods will be turned back (from their designs on Israel).

18-20: Israel has been the deaf and the blind; the charge has often been made that they have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear.

21-25: Now the prophet’s voice summarizes the proceedings so far. Israel has been conquered by a pagan nation, but only because the LORD gave them up.


We are all here because God rescued us from ourselves and our sins. Every day is an opportunity to explore and discover God’s will for us, and to give thanks to God for claiming us.