The Word Made Fresh
1Thus says the LORD:
“Where is your mother’s bill of divorce by which I put her away?
Which of my creditors did I sell you to?
You were sold because of your sins,
and your mother was put away for your trespasses.
2Why was no one there when I came?
Why did no one answer when I called?
Is my hand weak and unable to redeem?
Have I no power to save?
I have the power to dry up the sea,
or to turn the rivers into a desert.
Their fish will stink and die of thirst for want of water.
3I swaddle the heavens with sackcloth,
and cover them with darkness.”
4The LORD God has given me the voice of a teacher
who knows how to lift up the weary with a word.
Every morning God awakens my ear
to listen as one being taught.
5The LORD God awakened my ear
and I didn’t rebel or turn back.
6Instead, I exposed my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard.
I didn’t hide my face from insult and spit.
7The LORD God is my help,
and that is why I haven’t been disgraced.
Instead, I have hardened my face like flint,
and I know I won’t be shamed.
8The One who upholds me is near.
Who will oppose me? Let us meet face to face.
Who are my enemies? Let them confront me.
9Since it is the LORD who supports me,
who would dare to declare that I am guilty?
No one; they will all wear out like old clothing eaten by moths.
10Do any of you fear the LORD?
Will you obey the words of God’s servant?
Do any of you live in darkness,
yet continue to trust in the LORD’s name
and rely upon your God?
11No. All of you light torches,
so walk in the flame of your fire.
Walk on the burning logs you yourselves have kindled.
This is what you will get from me –
you will lie down, tormented.
1-3: We return to God as the speaker. These are rhetorical questions; there is no bill of divorce and God has no creditors. They were punished because of their sin, but they were not utterly forsaken. Their “mother” in verse one is Jerusalem. God tried to warn them, but they wouldn’t listen. Now God is going to restore them; surely, they believe that God who controls the seas and the heavens has the power to do that!
4-6: The third “servant song” begins. We return to the enigmatic personage referred to simply as the servant, and he lists his credentials: a divinely given tongue to speak, an ear to listen, courage to suffer. It is easy to understand why the gospel writers saw in these verses so much that reminded them of the ministry and suffering of Jesus.
7-9: The servant declares that no matter what happens to him — even being whipped and having his beard pulled out — he is not disgraced because God is his helper and will vindicate him. Whoever stands against him is standing against God.
10-11: Those enemies are dismissed because they do not fear or obey the LORD. He depicts Israel’s enemies as “kindlers of fire,” a nuisance, nothing more. They will “lie down in torment” because of their opposition to God.
It is certain that we have all fallen short of perfection. No one can argue otherwise. But it is also certain that we have a Redeemer who can sweep our imperfections away and accomplish God’s will through us. In every situation of our lives, we should listen for the still, small voice through which God guides us.