Isaiah 52:13
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Behold, my servant . . .—There is absolutely no connection between Isaiah 52:12-13, absolutely no break between the close of Isa Iii. and the opening of Isaiah 53. The whole must be treated as an entirely distinct section (all the more striking, from its contrast to the triumphant tone of what precedes it), and finds its only adequate explanation in the thought of a new revelation made to the prophet’s mind. That may have had, like other revelations, a starting-point in the prophet’s own experience. He had seen partially good kings, like Uzziah and Jotham; one who almost realised his ideal of what a king should be, in Hezekiah. None of these had redeemed or regenerated the people. So far as that work had been done at all, it had been through prophets who spake the word of the Lord and were mocked and persecuted because they spake it. Something like a law was dawning upon his mind, and that law was the power of a vicarious suffering, the might of martyrdom in life and death. Did it not follow from this that that ideal must be wrought out on a yet wider scale in the great work of restoration to which he was looking forward? The Servant of the Lord, in all the concentric developments of the thought which the word implied, the nation, the prophetic kernel of the nation, the individual Servant identifying himself with both, must himself also be made perfect through suffering and conquer through apparent failure. Granting that such a law exists, it will be no wonder that we should find examples of its working both before and after the great fulfilment, in Isaiah himself, in Jeremiah, in the exiles of the captivity, in the heroes of the Maccabean struggle, in the saints and martyrs of the Church of Christ. It remains true that the Christ alone fulfils the idea of the perfect sufferer, as He alone fulfils that of the perfect King. Measuring Isaiah from a purely human stand-point, and by the standard of other poets, this manifold symbolism of “the Servant,” will hardly seem strange to the student of literature who remembers the many aspects presented by the Beatrice of Dante, the St. George and Gloriana of Spenser, the Piers Plowman of Langland.

Shall deal prudently.—The words imply, as in Joshua 1:8; Jeremiah 10:21, the idea of prospering. The same verb is used of the “righteous branch” in Jeremiah 23:5, and is there so translated.

Shall be exalted.—It is noteworthy that the phrase impressed itself, through the LXX., on the mind of the Christ in reference to His crucifixion (John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:32), on that of the Apostles in reference to His ascension (Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:9). (Comp. Isaiah 6:1; Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 89:27.)

Isaiah 52:13. Behold, my servant, &c. — This is the beginning of a new prophecy, continued from hence to the end of the next chapter, which, as has been justly observed by many, both ancient and modern interpreters, should have begun here. “The subject of Isaiah’s prophecy, from the fortieth chapter inclusive, has hitherto been, in general, the deliverance of the people of God. This includes in it three distinct parts: the deliverance of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon, the deliverance of the Gentiles from their miserable state of ignorance and idolatry, and the deliverance of mankind from the captivity of sin and death. These three subjects are subordinate to one another, and the two latter are shadowed out under the image of the former. Cyrus is expressly named as the immediate agent of God in effecting the first deliverance. A greater person is spoken of as the agent who is to effect the two latter deliverances, called the Servant, the Elect, of God, in whom his soul delighteth. Now these three subjects have a very near relation to one another; for, as the agent who was to effect the two latter deliverances, that is, the Messiah, was to be born a Jew, with particular limitations of time, family, and other circumstances, the first deliverance was necessary in the order of providence, and, according to the determinate counsel of God, to the accomplishment of the two latter deliverances; and the second deliverance was necessary to the third, or, rather, was involved in it, and made an essential part of it. This being the case, Isaiah has not treated the three subjects as quite distinct and separate, in a methodical and orderly manner, like a philosopher or a logician, but has taken them in their connective view; he has handled them as a prophet and a poet; he has allegorized the former, and, under the image of it, has shadowed out the two latter; he has thrown them all together, has mixed one with another, has passed from this to that with rapid transitions, and has painted the whole with the strongest and boldest imagery. The restoration of the Jews from captivity, the call of the Gentiles, the redemption by Messiah, have hitherto been handled interchangeably and alternately. Babylon has hitherto been kept pretty much in sight, at the same time that strong intimations of something much greater have been frequently thrown in. But here Babylon is at once dropped, and hardly ever comes in sight again. The prophet’s views are almost wholly engrossed by the superior part of his subject. He introduces the Messiah as appearing at first in the lowest state of humiliation, which he had just touched upon before, (Isaiah 50:5-6,) and obviates the offence which would be occasioned by it, by declaring the important and necessary cause of it, and foreshowing the glory which should follow it.” — Bishop Lowth. My servant — That it is Christ who is here spoken of, is so evident, that the Chaldee paraphrast, and other ancient, and some later Hebrew doctors, understand it directly of him, and that divers Jews have been convinced and converted to the Christian faith by the evidence of this prophecy. Shall deal prudently — Shall manage the affairs of his kingdom with admirable wisdom. Or, shall prosper, as it is in the margin; and as the word ישׂכיל, here used, is frequently rendered: which also agrees best with the following clause. And this intimation concerning the future prosperity and advancement of the Messiah, is fitly put, in the first place, to prevent those scandals which otherwise might arise from the succeeding passages, which describe his state of humiliation and deep affliction. Shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high — Here are three words signifying the same thing, to express the height and glory of his exaltation.52:13-15 Here begins that wonderful, minute, and faithful description of the office, character, and glory of the Messiah, which has struck conviction to many of the most hardened unbelievers. Christ is Wisdom itself; in the work of our redemption there appeared the wisdom of God in a mystery. Those that saw him, said, Surely never man looked so miserable: never was sorrow like unto his sorrow. But God highly exalted him. That shall be discovered by the gospel of Christ, which could never be told in any other way. And Christ having once shed his blood for sinners, its power still continues. May all opposers see the wisdom of ceasing from their opposition, and be made partakers of the blood of sprinkling, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost; obeying him, and praising his salvation.Notes on Isaiah 52:13-15 and Isaiah 53:1-12

The most important portion of Isaiah, and of the Old Testament, commences here, and here should have been the beginning of a new chapter. It is the description of the suffering Messiah, and is continued to the close of the next chapter. As the closing verses of this chapter are connected with the following chapter, and as it is of great importance to have just views of the design of this portion of Isaiah, it is proper in this place to give an analysis of this part of the prophecy. And as no other part of the Bible has excited so much the attention of the friends and foes of Christianity; as so various and conflicting views have prevailed in regard to its meaning: and as the proper interpretation of the passage must have an important bearing on the controversy with Jews and infidels, and on the practical views of Christians, I shall be justified in going into an examination of its meaning at considerably greater length than has been deemed necessary in other portions of the prophecy. It may be remarked in general:

(1) That if the common interpretation of the passage, as describing a suffering Saviour, be correct, then it settles the controversy with the Jews, and demonstrates that their notions of the Messiah are false.

(2) If this was written at the time when it is claimed by Christians to have been written, then it settles the controversy with infidels. The description is so particular and minute; the correspondence with the life, the character, and the death of the Lord Jesus, is so complete, that it could not have been the result of conjecture or accident. At the same time, it is a correspondence which could not have been brought about by an impostor who meant to avail himself of this ancient prophecy to promote his designs, for a large portion of the circumstances are such as did not depend on himself, but grew out of the feelings and purposes of others. On the supposition that this had been found as an ancient prophecy, it would have been impossible for any impostor so to have shaped the course of events as to have made his character and life appear to be a fulfillment of it. And unless the infidel could either make it out that this prophecy was not in existence, or that, being in existence, it was possible for a deceiver to create an exact coincidence between it and his life and character and death, then, in all honesty, he should admit that it was given by inspiration, and that the Bible is true.

(3) A correct exposition of this will be of inestimable value in giving to the Christian just views of the atonement, and of the whole doctrine of redemption. Probably in no portion of the Bible of the same length, not even in the New Testament, is there to be found so clear an exhibition of the purpose for which the Saviour died. I shall endeavor, therefore, to prepare the way for an exposition of the passage, by a consideration of several points that are necessary to a correct understanding of it.

Section 1. Evidence that It was Written Before

The Birth of Jesus of Nazareth

On this point there will be, and can be, no dispute among Jews and Christians. The general argument to prove this, is the same as that which demonstrates that Isaiah wrote at all before that time. For a view of this, the reader is referred to the Introduction. But this general argument may be presented in a more specific form, and includes the following particulars:

(1) It is quoted in the New Testament as part of the prophetic writings then well known (see Matthew 8:17; John 12:38; Acts 8:28-35; Romans 10:16; 1 Peter 2:21-25). That the passage was in existence at the time when the New Testament was written, is manifest from these quotations. So far as the argument with the infidel is concerned, it is immaterial whether it was written 700 years before the events took place, or only fifty, or ten. It would still be prophecy, and it would still be incumbent on him to show how it came to be so accurately accomplished.

(2) It is quoted and translated by writers who undoubtedly lived before the Christian era. Thus, it is found in the Septuagint, and in the Chaldee - both of which can be demonstrated to have been made before Christ was born.

(3) There is not the slightest evidence that it has been interpolated or corrupted, or changed so as to adapt it to the Lord Jesus. It is the same in all copies, and in all versions.

(4) It has never even been pretended that it has been introduced for the purpose of furnishing an argument for the truth of Christianity. No infidel has ever pretended that it does not stand on the same footing as any other portion of Isaiah.

(5) It is such a passage as Jews would not have forged. It is opposed to all their prevailing notions of the Messiah. They have anticipated a magnificent temporal prince and a conqueror: and one of the main reasons why they have rejected the Lord Jesus has been, that he was obscure in his origin, poor, despised, and put to death; in other words, because be has corresponded so entirely with the description here. No passage of the Old Testament has ever given them greater perplexity than this, and it is morally certain that if the Jews had ever forged a pretended prophecy of the Messiah, it would not have been in the language of this portion of Isaiah. They would have described him as the magnificent successor of David and Solomon; as a mighty prince and a warrior; as the head of universal empire, and would have said that by his victorious arms he would subdue the earth to himself, and would make Jerusalem the capital of the world. They never would have described him as despised and rejected by people, and as making his grave with the wicked in his death.

(6) Christians could not have forged and interpolated this. The Jews have always jealously guarded their own Scriptures; and nothing would have so certainly excited their attention as an attempt to interpolate a passage like this, furnishing at once an irrefragable argument against their opinions of the Messiah, and so obviously applicable to Jesus of Nazareth. It is, moreover, true, that no Jewish writer has ever pretended that the passage has either been forged, or changed in any way, so as to accommodate it to the opinions of Christians respecting the Messiah. These remarks may seem to be unnecessary, and this argument useless, to those who have examined the authenticity of the sacred writings. They are of use only in the argument with the enemies of Christianity. For, if this passage was written at the time when it is supposed to have been, and if it had reference to the Lord Jesus, then it demonstrates that Isaiah was inspired, and furnishes an argument for the truth of revelation which is irrefragable. It is incumbent on the unbeliever to destroy all the alleged proofs that it was written by Isaiah, or, as an honest man, he should admit the truth of inspiration and of prophecy, and yield his heart to the influence of the truth of the Bible. In general, it may be observed, that an attempt to destroy the credibility of this portion of Isaiah as having been written several hundred years before the Christian era, would destroy the credibility of all the ancient writings; and that we have as much evidence that this is the production of Isaiah, as we have of the credibility or the authenticity of the writings of Homer or Herodotus.

continued...

13. Here the fifty-third chapter ought to begin, and the fifty-second chapter end with Isa 52:12. This section, from here to end of the fifty-third chapter settles the controversy with the Jews, if Messiah be the person meant; and with infidels, if written by Isaiah, or at any time before Christ. The correspondence with the life and death of Jesus Christ is so minute, that it could not have resulted from conjecture or accident. An impostor could not have shaped the course of events so as to have made his character and life appear to be a fulfilment of it. The writing is, moreover, declaredly prophetic. The quotations of it in the New Testament show: (1) that it was, before the time of Jesus, a recognized part of the Old Testament; (2) that it refers to Messiah (Mt 8:17; Mr 15:28; Lu 22:37; Joh 12:38; Ac 8:28-35; Ro 10:16; 1Pe 2:21-25). The indirect allusions to it still more clearly prove the Messianic interpretation; so universal was that interpretation, that it is simply referred to in connection with the atoning virtue of His death, without being formally quoted (Mr 9:12; Ro 4:25; 1Co 15:3; 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 1:19; 2:21-25; 1Jo 3:5). The genuineness of the passage is certain; for the Jews would not have forged it, since it is opposed to their notion of Messiah, as a triumphant temporal prince. The Christians could not have forged it; for the Jews, the enemies of Christianity, are "our librarians" [Paley]. The Jews try to evade its force by the figment of two Messiahs, one a suffering Messiah (Ben Joseph), the other a triumphant Messiah (Ben David). Hillel maintained that Messiah has already come in the person of Hezekiah. Buxtorf states that many of the modern Rabbins believe that He has been come a good while, but will not manifest Himself because of the sins of the Jews. But the ancient Jews, as the Chaldee paraphrast, Jonathan, refer it to Messiah; so the Medrasch Tauchuma (a commentary on the Pentateuch); also Rabbi Moses Haddarschan (see Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament). Some explain it of the Jewish people, either in the Babylonish exile, or in their present sufferings and dispersion. Others, the pious portion of the nation taken collectively, whose sufferings made a vicarious satisfaction for the ungodly. Others, Isaiah, or Jeremiah [Gesenius], the prophets collectively. But an individual is plainly described: he suffers voluntarily, innocently, patiently, and as the efficient cause of the righteousness of His people, which holds good of none other but Messiah (Isa 53:4-6, 9, 11; contrast Jer 20:7; 15:10-21; Ps 137:8, 9). Isa 53:9 can hold good of none other. The objection that the sufferings (Isa 53:1-10) referred to are represented as past, the glorification alone as future (Isa 52:13-15; 53:11, 12) arises from not seeing that the prophet takes his stand in the midst of the scenes which he describes as future. The greater nearness of the first advent, and the interval between it and the second, are implied by the use of the past tense as to the first, the future as to the second.

Behold—awakening attention to the striking picture of Messiah that follows (compare Joh 19:5, 14).

my servant—Messiah (Isa 42:1).

deal prudently—rather, "prosper" [Gesenius] as the parallel clause favors (Isa 53:10). Or, uniting both meanings, "shall reign well" [Hengstenberg]. This verse sets forth in the beginning the ultimate issue of His sufferings, the description of which follows: the conclusion (Isa 53:12) corresponds; the section (Isa 52:13; 53:12) begins as it ends with His final glory.

extolled—elevated (Mr 16:19; Eph 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22).

This is the beginning of a new prophecy, which is continued from hence to the end of the next chapter; and therefore it is well observed by divers, both ancient and modern interpreters, that the fifty-third chapter should have begun here.

My servant.

Quest. Of whom doth the prophet here speak? It is apparent that these three last verses of this chapter, and all the following chapter, speak of one and the same person. And that that person is Christ is so evident, that the Chaldee paraphrast, and other ancient, and some later Hebrew doctors, understand it directly of him, and that divers Jews have been convinced and converted to the Christian faith by the evidence of this prophecy. And there is not a verse in this whole context which doth not afford a clear and convincing proof of this truth, as we shall see. And there needs no other argument to confirm it, than the variety and vanity of the pretended expositions of the Jews, who use all possible wit and art to wrest all these passages to other persons. Those who would seem wiser than the rest, and confute the other expositions of their brethren, understand it either of the Jewish people in general, or of the prophet Jeremiah in particular. But both these conceits are so groundless and absurd, that there is scarce a verse but confutes them, as we shall clearly discern in the exposition of them. And therefore other Jews reject them both, and understand it of Abraham, or Moses, or Josiah, or Ezra, or Zorobabel; and they might as well have named twenty persons more, to whom this place might be applied upon as good grounds as to any of these. But there is not one clause in all this context which is not most truly and fitly applied to Christ, as I shall make apparent, step by step. And first this title of God’s servant is in an eminent and peculiar manner given to Christ in this very prophecy, as Isaiah 42:1 49:6 53:11 Ezekiel 34:23 Zechariah 3:8. Shall deal prudently; shall manage his kingdom with admirable wisdom. Or, shall prosper, as it is in the margin, and as this word is frequently rendered, and particularly in this very case, and of this same person, Jeremiah 23:5; which also seems best to agree with the following clause, and with Isaiah 53:10,11: And this intimation concerning the future prosperity and advancement of the Messiah is fitly put in the first place to prevent those scandals which otherwise might arise from the succeeding passages, which largely describe his state of humiliation and deep affliction.

He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high: here are three words signifying the same thing, to express the height and glory of his exaltation; which agrees most fitly to Christ, but cannot without great force be applied to Jeremiah, who had no greater honour or favour done him by the Chaldeans at the taking of Jerusalem, than to be left at liberty to go where he pleased, Jeremiah 40:4, and who after that time met with great contempt and hardship from his own countrymen, Jeremiah 42 Jer 43 Jer 44. Behold, my servant shall deal prudently,.... Here properly a new chapter should begin, these three last verses treating of the same person and subject as the following chapter; even of Christ, his person, offices, humiliation, and exaltation, and the effects and fruits thereof; for of him undoubtedly the whole is to be understood. The Jews say it is a difficult prophecy; and so it is to them, being contrary to their notions and schemes, or otherwise it is plain and easy, respecting the Messiah; but rather than he should be thought to be meant, the modern ones have invented a variety of interpretations. Some apply this prophecy to Abraham; others to Moses; others to Ezra; others to Zerubbabel; and others to any righteous person: the more principal and prevailing opinions among them are, that it is to be understood either of the whole body of the people of Israel in captivity, as Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi; or of King Josiah, slain by Pharaohnecho, as Abarbinel; or of Jeremiah, as Saadiah Gaon; all which are weak and impertinent, and, as they disagree with each other, show the perplexity they are under (r). The Targum interprets it of the Messiah; and so did the ancient Rabbins, as Aben Ezra and Alshech confess; and several parts of the prophecy are applied to him, both by ancient and modern ones, as will be seen in the exposition of it. Christ, as man and Mediator, is the servant of God, of his choosing and calling, sending, bringing forth, and supporting; see Isaiah 42:1, from whom he had both his work and his wages: the principal part of his service lay in working out the redemption and salvation of his people, in which he willingly and cheerfully engaged, and which he diligently and faithfully performed; in which he showed a regard to his Father's will, love to his people, and great condescension, as well as wisdom; for, as it is here promised he would, so he did deal "prudently": as in his infancy, when he disputed with the doctors in the temple, so throughout the whole of his public life, in preaching the Gospel, in answering the questions of his enemies, and in his behaviour at his apprehension, arraignment, condemnation, and crucifixion: or "he shall cause to understand (s)"; make others wise and prudent; he caused them to understand his Father's mind and will, the Scriptures, and the Gospel in them; he made men wise unto salvation, and instructed in those things which belong to their peace; and he still does by his spirit, through the ministry of the word: or "he shall prosper" (t); the pleasure of the Lord prospered in his hands; he rode forth prosperously, destroying his and our enemies was very successful in working out salvation, as he is in his advocacy and intercession for his people, and in the ministration of his Gospel; and is the author of all prosperity in his churches, and to particular believers. The Targum is,

"behold, my servant the Messiah shall prosper;''

and so another Jewish writer says (u), that the section which begins with these words is concerning the Messiah:

he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high; as he has been exalted by his Father, by raising him from the dead, and giving him glory; by placing him at his own right hand, and giving him all power in heaven and in earth; by committing all judgment into his hands, that all men may honour him as they do the Father: and he is "extolled" by his people, in his person and offices, by giving him the glory of their salvation, in their hearts, thoughts, and affections, with their mouths and lips; and so he is in his house and ordinances, by his ministers and churches: and is made "very high"; higher than the kings of the earth; higher than the angels of heaven; higher than the heavens themselves. The Jews (w) say of the Messiah, in reference to these words, that he is exalted above Abraham, extolled above Moses, and made higher than the ministering angels; and in another ancient book (x) of theirs it is said, the kingdom of Israel shall be exalted in the days of the Messiah, as it is written,

he shall be exalted and extolled, &c.

(r) See my book of the Prophecies of the Old Testament, &c. fulfilled in Jesus, p. 160, &c. (s) "erudict, sive intelligere faciet", Morus. (t) "Prosperabitur", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Calvin. So Ben Melech interprets it by "he shall prosper." "Feliciter agit", Cocceius; "prospere aget", Vitringa. (u) Baal Hatturim in Leviticus 16.14. (w) Tanchuma apud Yalkut in loc. (x) Pesikta apud Kettoreth Hassammim in Targum in Numb. fol. 27. 2.

Behold, my {n} servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

(n) Meaning Christ, by whom our spiritual deliverance would be wrought of which this was a sign.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. my servant shall deal prudently] A more appropriate rendering is that of R.V. marg. my servant shall prosper, i.e. his career shall be crowned with complete success. The primary idea of the verb used is no doubt “wisdom” (not mere shrewdness, however, rather “insight,” see Genesis 3:6; Isaiah 44:18), but it also includes the success which is the normal result of wise action, and sometimes this secondary idea almost supplants the original meaning (Joshua 1:7 f.; 1 Samuel 18:5; 1 Samuel 18:14 f. etc.). This sense seems to be required here by the parallelism with the next line, for there is nothing in the whole prophecy to justify us in regarding the Servant’s elevation as the effect of his wisdom. The verse is “a simple prediction of the exaltation awaiting the Servant, in contrast with his past sorrows and abasement” (Davidson).

he shall be exalted and extolled] or “high and lifted up.” The same combination used of Jehovah in ch. Isaiah 57:15; of His throne in Isaiah 6:1.

14, 15 must be read as a single compound sentence. The protasis is the first line of Isaiah 52:14 (“According as many were astonied at thee”); the corresponding apodosis follows in Isaiah 52:15 (“so shall he sprinkle &c.”), the intervening clauses being a parenthesis suggested by the word “astonied.”

as many were astonied at thee] The word “astonied” expresses the blank amazement, mingled with horror, excited in the minds of beholders by the spectacle of the Servant’s unparalleled sufferings (cf. 1 Kings 9:8; Jeremiah 2:12; Jeremiah 18:16). It is natural to suppose that the “many” here referred to are the same as the “many nations” who witness the Servant’s subsequent exaltation (Isaiah 52:15), but the point is not to be pressed, and on the hypothesis that the Servant is an individual Israelite, the spectators of the Servant’s abasement could hardly be the nations of the world. Instead of “thee” the Targ. and Pesh. seem to have read “him,” thus avoiding an embarrassing change of person. The LXX., on the other hand, preserve the 2nd pers. throughout Isaiah 52:14. The change of person may no doubt be explained as caused by the parenthesis, but it is awkward nevertheless, and almost misleading, and many commentators prefer to alter the text in accordance with the Targ.

his visage was so marred, &c.] Render:

so marred from that of man was his aspect,

and his form from that of the sons of men

The sentence is inserted parenthetically to explain the repugnance felt by all who beheld the Servant in his former abject condition. The meaning is that he was so disfigured by disease (see ch. Isaiah 53:3) as to be no longer human in appearance. The word for “marred” is pointed as a noun (not found elsewhere): “a marred object.” A participle (moshḥâth) would read more naturally after the adverb “so,” although the punctuators must have had some reason for avoiding the more obvious form.

13–15. Jehovah utters a brief but pregnant announcement of the brilliant destiny in store for His Servant. Known to many in his misfortunes as an object of aversion and contempt, he shall suddenly be revealed in his true dignity; and the unexpected transformation will startle the whole world into astonishment and reverence. The verses form a prelude to ch. 53, being a summary of what is there described in detail; and they indicate what is the main idea of the whole passage, viz. the unexampled contrast between the present (and past) degradation and the future glory of Jehovah’s Servant.

Ch. Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12. The Servant’s Sacrifice and His Reward

This is the last and greatest, as well as the most difficult, of the four delineations of the Servant of Jehovah, and in several respects occupies a place apart. In the previous passages the Servant has been described as the ideal prophet or teacher, conscious of a world-wide mission in the service of God, which he prosecutes amid discouragement and persecution with inflexible purpose and the unfaltering assurance of ultimate success. There has been no hint that his activity was interrupted by death. Here the presentation is quite different. The conception of the Prophet is all but displaced by that of the Man of Sorrows, the meek and patient martyr, the sin-bearer. The passage is partly retrospective and partly prophetic. In so far as it is a retrospect there is no allusion to the prophetic activity of the servant; it is only after he has been raised from the dead that he is to assume the function of the great religious guide and authority of the world. But the most striking feature of the passage is the unparalleled sufferings of the Servant, and the effect they produce on the minds of his contemporaries. The tragedy of which they have been spectators makes an impression far more profound and convincing than any direct teaching could have done, compelling them to recognise the mission of the Servant, and at the same time producing penitence and confession of their own sin. The whole conception here given of the Servant of the Lord makes the prophecy the most remarkable anticipation in the Old Testament of the “sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

The passage may be divided into three parts:—

(1) An introduction, briefly stating the import of all that follows,—the coming exaltation of the Servant in contrast to his past abasement (Isaiah 52:13-15).

(2) A historical review of the Servant’s career, as he had appeared to his contemporaries in the days of his humiliation (Isaiah 53:1-9).

(3) An announcement of the glorious future and the astonishing success in store for him as the reward of his obedience unto death (Isaiah 52:10-12).

The middle section may be further subdivided into three strophes, yielding an arrangement (recognised by most commentators) of the whole in five strophes of three verses each.Verses 13-15. - PRELUDE TO THE "GREAT PASSIONAL." It is generally allowed by modern commentators that this passage is more closely connected with what follows it than with what precedes. Some would detach it altogether from ch. 52. and attach it to ch. 53. But this is not necessary. The passage has a completeness in itself. It is a connecting link. The exaltation of Israel, the collective "Servant of the Lord" (Isaiah 44:1, 21), brings to the prophet's mind the exaltation of the individual "Servant" (Isaiah 42:1-7; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 49:1-12), through which alone the full exaltation of Israel is possible. He is bound to complete his account of the individual "Servant" by telling of his exaltation, and of the road which led to it. This is done in ch. 53, in what has been called the "Great Passional." But the "Great Pas-signal" needs a "prelude," an "introduction," if only as indicative' of its greatness. And this prelude we have here, in these three verses, which briefly note

(1) the fact of the exaltation;

(2) the depth of the humiliation preceding it; and

(3) the far-extending blessedness which shall result to the world from both. Verse 13. - My Servant shall deal prudently; rather, shall deal wisely; i.e. shall so act throughout his mission as to secure it the most complete success. "Wisdom is justified of her children," and of none so entirely justified as of him "in whom were all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid away" (Colossians 2:3). Exalted and extolled; or, high and lifted up - the same expressions as are used of the Almighty in Isaiah 6:1 and Isaiah 57:15. Even there, however, seems to the prophet rot enough; so he adds, "and exalted exceedingly" (comp. Isaiah 53:10-12 and Philippians 2:6-9). The first two turns in the prophecy (Isaiah 52:1-2, Isaiah 52:3-6) close here. The third turn (Isaiah 52:7-10) exults at the salvation which is being carried into effect. The prophet sees in spirit, how the tidings of the redemption, to which the fall of Babylon, which is equivalent to the dismission of the prisoners, gives the finishing stroke, are carried over the mountains of Judah to Jerusalem. "How lovely upon the mountains are the feet of them that bring good tidings, that publish peace, that bring tidings of good, that publish salvation, that say unto Zion, Thy God reigneth royally!" The words are addressed to Jerusalem, consequently the mountains are those of the Holy Land, and especially those to the north of Jerusalem: mebhassēr is collective (as in the primary passage, Nahum 2:1; cf., Isaiah 41:27; Psalm 68:12), "whoever brings the glad tidings to Jerusalem." The exclamation "how lovely" does not refer to the lovely sound of their footsteps, but to the lovely appearance presented by their feet, which spring over the mountains with all the swiftness of gazelles (Sol 2:17; Sol 8:14). Their feet look as if they had wings, because they are the messengers of good tidings of joy. The joyful tidings that are left indefinite in mebhassēr, are afterwards more particularly described as a proclamation of peace, good, salvation, and also as containing the announcement "thy God reigneth," i.e., has risen to a right royal sway, or seized upon the government (מלך in an inchoative historical sense, as in the theocratic psalms which commence with the same watchword, or like ἐβασίλευσε in Revelation 19:6, cf., Revelation 11:17). Up to this time, when His people were in bondage, He appeared to have lost His dominion (Isaiah 63:19); but now He has ascended the throne as a Redeemer with greater glory than ever before (Isaiah 24:23). The gospel of the swift-footed messengers, therefore, is the gospel of the kingdom of God that is at hand; and the application which the apostle makes of this passage of Isaiah in Romans 10:15, is justified by the fact that the prophet saw the final and universal redemption as though in combination with the close of the captivity.
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