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Isaiah 50:7 meaning

Isaiah continues his third Servant Song prophesying about the Messiah. It is in the voice of the Servant, who declares that the LORD God helps Him, therefore He will not be disgraced. Because of this, the Servant is resolved like flint to obey the LORD's will.

The third Servant Song of Isaiah 50:4-11 continues in the voice of the Servant.

This Servant Song was prefaced in Isaiah 50:1-3, where the LORD speaks to a sinful generation of Israel who is following in the same adulterous and idolatrous ways of her "mother" (previous generations of Israelites). Even though they are desperately lost in the depths of their sins, the LORD assures them by a pair a rhetorical questions, (with an expected answer of: "No") "Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?" (Isaiah 50:2b), showing that He can still ransom and deliver them. But if they do not accept His deliverance, then they will suffer both the present consequences of their sin and will be harshly judged by GOD in the future.

The third Servant Song began in Isaiah 50:4-6, with the Servant describing Himself as a disciple and follower of the Lord GOD (Isaiah 50:4). He only speaks what the Lord teaches Him to speak, and the Lord opens His ears to understand His will (Isaiah 50:5). The Servant seeks the Lord's will each morning (Isaiah 50:4b). The Servant does not turn back or disobey GOD, even to the point of suffering torture and humiliation at the hands of His enemies (Isaiah 50:6).

The Servant continues by explaining why He is able to be so faithful in the midst of painful humiliation,

For the Lord GOD helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced (v 7)

The reason the Servant was able to sustain immense social and physical abuse was because His trust was in the Lord GOD who helps Him. Like King David, the Servant's source of strength was in the LORD. It is likely this psalm of David was also prophetic of the Messiah (which means "the anointed one"),

"The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped…
The Lord is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed."
(Psalm 28:7a-8)

The first of the three things we can control is who we trust. The Servant trusted the Lord to help Him, despite the cruel physical and emotional treatment He endured. And it was His unwavering confidence that the Lord would vindicate and help Him in GOD's perfect timing that gave Him the courage to withstand the temptation to strike back or win the victory in His own strength or according to His own terms (Matthew 4:7).

Jesus, the Messiah entrusted Himself to the Lord GOD unto death (Luke 23:46).

  • "Therefore, [the Lord GOD] will allot Him a portion with the great…because [Jesus] poured out Himself to death." (Isaiah 53:12)
  • "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow." (Philippians 2:9-10a)
  • Therefore, I [the Servant] am not disgraced.

In the same way, this is how we are to overcome our own temptations and struggles—by faith and reliance upon the Lord GOD and not our own strength (Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:33, John 15:5, 2 Corinthians 5:7).

Like Jesus, who entrusted Himself to the Lord GOD, we too can share in the sufferings of Christ and become a partaker of glory with Him (1 Peter 5:13, Revelation 3:21). We too can entrust our souls to a faithful Creator during our fiery trials (2 Peter 5:19)

The Servant then shifts from describing the scorn and abuse that will happen to Him, and how the Lord GOD will help Him, to what He will do as He faces these trials,

Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed (v 7).

These are the second and third things a person can control. The three available choices to a person, or the three things they can control, are:

  1. Who They Trust
  2. Their Perspective
  3. Their Actions

The second and third things a person can control flows downstream from the first thing.

Earlier we saw how the Servant chose to put His trust in the Lord GOD when He said: For the Lord GOD helps Me. Now we see the Servant choosing His actions: I have set My face like flint, and His perspective: I will not be ashamed.

Flint is very hard. It is inflexible. When striking a rock, flint can be used to create sparks to ignite a fire.

The expression: I have set My face like flint is a metaphor of the Servant's resolve and determination to do the hard things, like:

  • give His "back to those who strike me" (Isaiah 50:6a)
  • give His "cheeks to those who pluck out the beard" (Isaiah 50:6b).
  • not cover His "face from humiliation and spitting" (Isaiah 50:6c).
  • and any other hard things the Lord GOD has called Him to do.

Because the Servant trusts the Lord GOD completely, therefore He is resolved like flint to follow and obey the Lord GOD no matter what.

The Gospel writer Luke alluded to this prophecy in Isaiah when he wrote: "When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). In Greek, the expression that is translated as "determined" literally means "set His face." Luke's expression is the same root word as the word used for "flint" in the Greek translation of the Hebrew of Isaiah 50:7.

The Servant not only chooses to trust GOD and to obey Him, He also chooses to have the Lord GOD's perspective about His humiliating circumstances,

And I know that I will not be ashamed.

His knowledge (I know) was based on trusting His Father. Faith is to know things unseen as though they were tangible (Hebrews 11:1). He chose not to regard these naturally humiliating and shameful circumstances as shameful or humiliating. He saw them as GOD sees them: as worthy of great honor and exaltation. Despite their natural appearance and the physical pain, the scorn and abuse the Servant endured were actually very great deeds from GOD's (true) perspective. They were great for two reasons.

  1. They were great because they were done in obedience to GOD. The Lord will never command us to do something that is not good. These acts of obedience were done as an act of love and worship to the Lord GOD (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Jesus, the Messiah, taught His disciples: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:13-14). Jesus's obedience proved that He was a friend of the Lord GOD.

  1. They were great because they blessed and served other people. We see in Isaiah's first, second, and fourth Servant Songs how the Servant's sacrifice is part of GOD's plan to redeem and restore not only Israel but all the nations (Isaiah 42:1b, 4, 49:6, 52:15). The Messiah's incredible act of service blesses the world.

Jesus the Messiah alluded to these Messianic Servant Songs of Isaiah when He described Himself as a Servant, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

Moreover, Jesus the Messiah taught His disciples that serving others was the surest and only path to become truly great: "whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 20:26).

Jesus, the Messiah, chose to put His sufferings in perspective, just as Isaiah prophesied He would do. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the pain of the cross and despised the shame of man's insults and humiliations (Hebrews 12:2). The expression: "despising the shame," means He thought little or nothing of it. The shame paled in comparison to the joy and the glory set before Him.

The same is true for us. The sufferings and shame in this world that we endure is nothing in comparison to the indescribable glory that awaits us—if we endure as Jesus endured:

"If [we are] children [of God], [then we are] heirs also, heirs of God [unconditional, belonging is a gift] and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him [conditional on our choices] so that we may also be glorified with Him [the reward depends on the deed]. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time [deeds] are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
(Romans 8:17-18)

"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison," (Paul gave no weight to his suffering, compared to the reward).
(2 Corinthians 4:17)

"If we endure, we will also reign with Him," (belonging is a gift, the reward of reigning requires endurance in walking in His ways).
(2 Timothy 2:12a)

The Servant made the best choice in all three of the things He could control:

  • He chose to trust the Lord GOD who helps
  • He chose a perspective that His deeds that brought pain were worth the reward He believed God would grant for His faithful witness.
  • He chose to act, to walk in the will of His Father.

We too can make these same decisions. We do not get to choose our circumstances or control ultimate results, but God has granted us stewardship to make choices in these three areas. They are the only three things we have any control over, so we are exhorted to follow the example of Jesus, and make wise choices—choices that lead to our greatest benefit. But to do this requires faith,

  • Who will we trust?
  • What perspective will we adopt?
  • What will do?
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