This passage is the third of the servant songs (Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6) in Isaiah. In this song, the servant acknowledges God's call to proclaim a sustaining word of hope to the Israelites, "the weary," as they return from captivity in Babylon. In spite of mistreatment, insults and disgrace by adversaries, the servant has not been turned back from the prophetic call and has vowed to "set my face like flint," knowing that God vindicates the servant who will not be put to shame.
Therefore, who can contend against God's servant? Who are the adversaries? The servant is renewed in strength and claims the promise that it is "the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?" Clothed in God's promise, the servant announces that the adversaries "will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up." This is the vindication of the servant and for those who "stand up together" with the anointed servant of God.
Gracious God, you call us to live as servants of your word of promise to the nations. Stand with us to contend against our adversaries, that we not be put to shame. Amen.
Isaiah 50:4-9 (NRSV)
4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens-- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
5 The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
7 The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
9 It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.