Isaiah 52:13

Behold! A new and remarkable object calls for attention. It is the "Servant of Jehovah." He has been humiliated and rejected, but he is on his way to exaltation and honour.

I. HIS FELICITOUS WISDOM. There enters into the idea of the word here used prosperity and good success, as in Joshua 1:8; Jeremiah 10:21. For wisdom, the devout wisdom, the wisdom of duty in obedience to the Divine commands, alone can bring that good success. Compare what is said of the Righteous Branch in Jeremiah 23:5; and see also for the word, 2 Kings 18:7; Proverbs 17:8. Some render the words "shall be intelligent; ' others, "shall be prosperous." The description applies to any who are endued with the Divine Spirit for practical ends.

II. HIS EXALTATION. There is a heaping up of verbs denoting exaltation - he shall be high, and lifted up, and lofty exceedingly. The highest pitch of honour, the loftiest possible rank, shall be his, and that in view of the universe. The right hand of God - the subjection of angels and authorities and powers, and every name that is named - are similar images (Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9; 1 Peter 3:22). If the Servant be not the Messiah, at least very similar language is used of him (Psalm 89:27). The exaltation bears a direct relation to the previous humiliation. The last would become first; the most despised would yet become the most honoured. Having volunteered for the lowest place on behalf of man's good, he would be exalted by the Divine hand to the highest possible. Once men were stupefied as they looked on his disfigured form, hardly bearing the semblance of a man. So did Job's friends stand aghast as they beheld him from a distance in his misery. But there shall be a magnificent contrast. Kings shall yet be dumb for admiration in his presence - owning his superior dignity (Job 29:9; Job 40:4). They will be eye-witnesses of things which had been previously inconceivable (cf. also Micah 8:16; Psalm 147:42; Job 5:16).

III. REVELATION IN THIS CONTRAST. The popular heart has everywhere delighted in such contrasts, between princely greatness and lowly guise or disguise. So the Greek Odysseus, on his return, is seen sitting lowly amidst the ashes of his hearth. And the Indians (Lyall, 'Asiatic Studies') relish in the highest degree such representations. We not only love surprise, but we feel that it is a Divine method to work by surprise. "Power keeps quite another road than the turnpikes of choice and will, namely, the subterranean and invisible tunnels and channels of life. Life is a series of surprises. God delights to hide from us the past and the future. 'You will not remember,' he seems to say, 'and you will not expect.' Every man is an impossibility until he is born, everything impossible until we see a success. The ardours of piety agree at last with the coldest scepticism, that nothing is of ourselves or our works - that all is of God. There is nothing at last in success or failure, but more or less of vital force supplied from the Eternal. The results of life are uncalculated and incalculable" (Emerson).

IV. HUMAN INCREDULITY ABASHED. HOW few believed the prophecies concerning the Servant! How few had eyes to see "such supramundane sights, when nothing on earth seemed to suggest them"! to discern the arm of Jehovah, that mysterious Divine Power, in its secret working! They were blinded by the evidence of the senses. He was as a slight and insignificant plant - but a shoot or sucker from the root brought up out of Egypt. Without that winning grace or imposing majesty that might have been expected, he failed to captivate men's hearts. He seemed isolated, sad sick, and men fled from his presence as it he had been a leper. But the result shows how little Providence reeks of our poor logic of appearances, our connections of cause and effect. Life is not so plain a business as it appears. "Presently comes a day, with its angel-whisperings, which discomfits the conclusions of nations and of years!" We boast of our common sense and experience; yet there is a Divine element ever at work to defeat our calculations and to astound us with its operations. The lesson is to be ever waiting and expecting - ever looking up for manifestations of that Divine wisdom which hides to reveal itself, that Divine power which is energizing unspent when all our resources are at an end, that Divine beauty which lurks beneath the dimmest forms and the meanest disguises. - J.

Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently.
I. THE STATE OF CHRIST'S HUMILIATION. "As many were astonied at Thee," etc.

1. Consider His outward or bodily sufferings.

2. His inward sorrows, the agonies of His mind, have no parallel.

II. OUR SAVIOUR'S EXALTATION. Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, etc. The exaltation of Christ may be considered under four particulars.

1. His resurrection from the dead.

2. His ascension into heaven.

3. His glorification at the Father's right hand.

4. His coming again to judgment.Practical improvement:

1. What hath been said on the subject of the Redeemer s sufferings, should excite all our gratitude and love to Him, who readily entered upon, and went through, all this scene of sorrow for our sake.

2. Let this excite us to greater zeal and diligence in His service; as the best expression of our gratitude and love.

3. The consideration of Christ's love and sufferings for us should inspire us with the firmest fortitude and fidelity, in defending His cause and the honour of His Gospel against all opposition, and in suffering for it.

4. Under every affliction of life let us turn our eyes to our suffering Redeemer, as a perfect pattern of patience.

5. Let us triumph in the faith and views of a triumphant Saviour.

(A. Mason, M.A.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF OUR LORD'S DEALINGS. He is called "My Servant," a title as honourable as it is condescending, and it is said that He deals prudently. He who took upon Him the form of a servant acts as a wise servant in everything; and indeed it could not be otherwise, for "in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

1. This prudence was manifest in the days of His flesh, from His childhood among the doctors in the temple on to His confession before Pontius Pilate. Our Lord was enthusiastic; but that enthusiasm never carried Him into rashness. Our Saviour was full of love, and that love made Him frank and open-hearted; but for all that He was ,ever prudent, and "committed Himself unto no man, for He knew what was in man." Too many who aspire to be leaders of the people study policy, craft and diplomacy. The Friend of sinners had not a fraction of that about Him; and yet He was wiser than if diplomacy had been His study from His youth up.

2. He who on earth became obedient unto death has now gone into the glory, but He is still over the house of God, conducting its affairs; He deals prudently still. Our fears lead us to judge that the affairs of Christ's kingdom are going amiss, but we may rest assured that all is well, for the Lord hath put all things under the feet of Jesus. All along through the history of the Church the dealings of the Lord Jesus with His people have been very remarkable. The wisdom in them is often deep, and only discoverable by those who seek it out, and yet frequently it sparkles upon the surface like gold in certain lands across the sea. Note how the Lord has made His Church learn truth by degrees, and purified her first of one error and then of another. The wise physician tolerates disease until it shall have reached the point at which he can grapple with it, so as to eradicate it from the system, so has the good Lord allowed some ills to fester in the midst of His Church, that He may ultimately exterminate them. Study the pages of ecclesiastical history, and you will see how Jesus Christ has dealt wisely in the raising up of fitting men for all times. I could not suppose a better man for Luther's age than Luther, yet Luther alone would have been very incomplete for the full service needed had it not been for Calvin, whose calm intellect was the complement of Luther's fiery soul.

3. Another translation of the passage is, "My Servant shall have prosperous success." Let us append that meaning to the other. Prosperity will grow out of our Lord prudent dealings.

4. In consequence of this the Lord shall he exalted and extolled.

II. THE STUMBLING-BLOCK IN THE WAY OF OUR LORD. It is His Cross, which to Jew and Greek is ever a hindrance. As if the prophet saw Him in vision, he cries out, "As many were astonied at Thee," etc.

1. He has risen from the grave and gone into His glory, but the offence of the Cross has not ceased, for upon His Gospel there remains the image of His marred visage, and therefore men despise it. The preaching of the Cross is foolishness to many.

2. The practical part of the Gospel is equally a stumbling-block to ungodly men, for when men inquire what they must do to be saved, they are told that they must receive the Gospel as little children, that they must repent of sin, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Very humbling precepts for human self-sufficiency! And after they are saved, if they inquire what they should do, the precepts are not those which commend themselves to proud human nature — for they are such as these — "Be ye kindly affectioned one to another," "forbearing one another and forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you." To the world which loves conquerors, and blasts of trumpets, and chaplets of laurel, this kind of teaching has a marred visage, and an uncomely form.

3. Then, what seems even more humbling, the Lord Jesus Christ in His prudent dealing sends this Gospel among us by men who are neither great nor noble, nor even among the wise of this world.

4. Worse still, if worse can be, the people who become converted and follow the Saviour are generally of the poorer sort, and lightly esteemed.

III. THE CERTAINTY OF THE REMOVAL OF THIS STUMBLING-BLOCK and the spread of Christ's kingdom. As His face was marred, so surely "shall He sprinkle many nations;" by which we understand, first, that the doctrines of the Gospel are to fall in a copious shower over all lands. This sprinkling we must interpret according to the Mosaic ceremonies. There was a sprinkling with blood, to set forth pardon of sin, and a sprinkling with water to set forth purification from the power of sin. The influence of His grace and the power of His work shall be extended not over the common people only, but over their leaders and rulers. "The kings shall shut their mouths at Him;" they shall have no word to say against Him; they shall be so subdued by the majesty of His power that they shall silently pay Him reverence, and prostrate themselves before His throne.

IV. THE MANNER OF ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT. How will it come to pass? Will there be a new machinery? Will the world be converted, and the kings be made to shut their mouths by some new mode of operation? I do not think so. Will the saints take the sword one day? No, the way which has been from the beginning of the dispensation will last to its close. It pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1. According to this passage, these kings and nations are first of all to hear. "Faith coming by hearing." If they are to hear, we must preach and teach, so that our clear line of duty is to go on spreading the Gospel.

2. These people appear not only to have heard, but to have seen. "That which had not been told them shall they see." This seeing is not with their bodily eyes but by the perceptions of their minds. Faith comes by the soul perceiving what the Gospel means.

3. After they had seen, it appears from the text that they considered. "That which they had not heard shall they consider." This is how men are saved: they hear the Gospel, they catch the meaning of it, and then they consider it. When they had seen and considered silently, they accepted the Lord as their Lord, for they shut their mouths at Him; they ceased from all opposition; they quietly resigned their wills, and paid allegiance to the great King of kings.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY INTO THE WORLD, BY THE MYSTERIOUS SUFFERINGS OF ITS DIVINE FOUNDER. "Behold, My Servant!" The "astonishment of many" evidently refers to the inconsistency apparent between the high pretensions and the depressed condition of this Servant of God. In truth, the plan of Christianity, with its introduction into the world, is far above the calculations of human sagacity.

II. THE DECLARATION OF THE PROPHET WITH REGARD TO THE UNIVERSAL DIFFUSION OF THE RELIGION OF CHRIST ON THE EARTH. "My Servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high."

1. The expression, "He shall deal prudently," is, in the margin, translated, "He shall prosper;" and thus the whole clause is declarative of the same truth — the triumph and success of the Son of God. If many were astonished at His humiliation, a far greater number shall be astonished at His exaltation.

2. This grand and glorious achievement He effected by means that came not within the range of mortal discernment. It was by death that He conquered death. It was by a perfect obedience in action and in suffering, that He became the second Adam — the spiritual Head of a new and happier race. He planted His religion in the earth, opposed by hostile scorn and relentless malice and despotic power. The cause of Christ achieved its victories by its own inherent power. Its adherents were, indeed, strong; but it was in faith, and purity, and charity. Thus the Servant of God prospered, and was extolled, and became very high.

3. But His reign on the earth is yet very limited, and His conquests incomplete.


1. That there shall be a wide dispersion of Divine knowledge over heathen and Mohammedan nations; for men cannot see or consider that which is not first presented to their notice.

2. The nations shall fix their anxious attention on the truths declared to them.

3. Impressed with holy awe, they shall assume the attitude of abasement and submission. I apprehend that the expression, the "kings shall shut their mouths at Him," implies the submission of whole nations, here represented by kings; for, as the reception of Christianity on the part of the rulers of a country requires the overthrow of every system of religious polity previously established, such a reception publicly made, implies, more or less, the submission of the mass of the people.

4. He shall forgive their iniquities and sanctify their hearts. "He shall sprinkle many nations;" that is, in allusion to the aspersions under the law, by which the people were sanctified, the Son of God shall apply to the souls of regenerated multitudes the blood of His great atonement, and the sacred influences of His Holy Spirit. Then, "a nation shall be born in a day."

(G. T. Noel, M. A.)

1. HIS WORK BELOW. He is called the "Servant" of the Lord. "As many were astonied at Thee," etc. The disciples saw Him on the Cross; they gazed on Him with amazement, and scarcely recovered themselves by the third day. The women who followed Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, stood afar off, and smote their breasts as they killed Him; and the thousands of men whom He had healed and cured, looked with astonishment at the ignominious termination of such a life. Even the elements seemed to join in the universal consternation; the sun refused to shine, and hid himself in darkness; the light of the moon was clouded.

II. THINK OF HIM SITTING IN GLORY UPON HIS THRONE. "He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high."

1. He shall be exalted. This relates to His authority and power. Verily, a name is written in His vesture and on His thigh, and that name is "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

2. He shall be extolled. It has been the delight of every apostle, of every evangelist, of every missionary, of every minister, of every Christian, to extol Him; and when we have done our best, it is our grief and shame and humility that we cannot extol Him more.

3. "He shall be very high," or, if you prefer the language of the apostle, "In all things He shall have the pre-eminence."

III. The works of mercy which the Saviour is accomplishing IN HIS EXALTED STATE. He sets forth His Gospel according to His promise. "He shall sprinkle many nations." This denotes the office of Christ. "The kings shall stop their mouths at Him. This text is best explained by quoting, a passage in which Job, speaking of himself as the chief magistrate, says, "When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street! the young men saw me," etc. (Job 29:7-10). Such was the respect for the dignity of this man of God, that in his presence the nobles and the elders spake not, but imposed silence on their lips; so shall it be with the potentates and monarchs of the earth in the presence of Him "who is greater than all."

(J. Stratten.)

Our Lord Jesus Christ bore from of old the name of "Wonderful," and the word seems all too poor to set forth His marvellous person and character. It is an astonishing thing that there should have been a Christ at all; the Incarnation is the miracle of miracles; that He who is the Infinite should become an infant.



( C. H. Spurgeon.)

He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high
We obtain the following series of thoughts, "He will rise, He will be still more exalted, He will stand high." The three verbs thus signify beginning, progress and result, or the climax of the exaltation.

(F. Delitzsch, D.D.)

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