Our text today is one of the Servant Songs from the Book of Consolation, spoken to the people of Israel in Exile in Babylon. It is a word of hope and encouragement to a people feeling defeated and abandoned by God. The task of the Servant is to "sustain the weary with a word." Note how the Servant will sustain the weary: when picked on, insulted, and spit upon, the Servant did not retaliate. Instead, the Servant's face was set like flint in confidence that God would vindicate and sustain. The Servant issues a challenge to anyone or any event that might destroy hope and life. God will protect and vindicate.
In our times of exile and struggle, when we are wronged by someone, or struggle, we are tempted either to doubt God's presence or retaliate. Like the Servant, it is enough to throw ourselves into the arms of a loving God and know we will be sustained. The unshakable confidence of the Servant is our confidence and hope.
Gracious God, instill in us the spirit of the Servant, to live in strength and integrity, even when we are weary or tempted to get even. Amen.
Isaiah 50:4-9a (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?