Isaiah 50:4-9

Lectionary Text for April 14, 2014

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 50:4-9a

The Lord God has given me

the tongue of those who are taught,

       that I may know how to sustain with a word

him who is weary.

       Morning by morning he awakens;

he awakens my ear

to hear as those who are taught.

    The Lord God has opened my ear,

and I was not rebellious;

I turned not backward.

    I gave my back to those who strike,

and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;

       I hid not my face

from disgrace and spitting.

    But the Lord God helps me;

therefore I have not been disgraced;

       therefore I have set my face like a flint,

and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

        He who vindicates me is near.

       Who will contend with me?

Let us stand up together.

       Who is my adversary?

Let him come near to me.

    Behold, the Lord God helps me;

who will declare me guilty?

       Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment;

the moth will eat them up. {C}[1]


Our Old Testament lesson for Palm Sunday guides us swiftly into Holy Week.  It is a beautiful poetic prophecy from Isaiah that at once turns our minds to Christ and our thoughts to his suffering. 

The reading is begun abruptly in the chapter probably because the first three verses can be rather confusing.  To be very simple in its explanation, we are pushed into verse four with the idea that we are barren and alone.  Nothing is good and we are left wanting in our own sin looking and clinging to God.

Verse four points us to Christ and gives us a look at the eloquence of his teaching.  In the same breath, we ourselves must understand that these words have been put into our mouths to speak in the times of trial on this earth and for the sake of bringing those who are weary a sustaining word. 

Verse five shows us the sinlessness of Christ in that He was not rebellious to the Word of God. 

Verse six then reminds us of the suffering of Christ on our behalf.  He who was without sin, became, or took on the punishment, of our sin for us.  We are struck by the utter humiliation of Christ in this verse.  Christ gave himself over to this torture willingly and without regret.  The words in verse five, “I turned not backward” and verse six, “I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” remind us of the position Christ took in saving his people.

To take a brief excurses from the text and pause here, we must examine our Christian lives.  We do not want to take on the idea that because Christ suffered so much, or the moral of the story idea that says we can do what Christ has done.  However, we are challenged by these words as they apply to Christ in us.  Are we willing to take such a stand for our faith?  Are we so comfortable that we take a “back seat” position in our faith?  The sad thing about our culture is that though many are convicted in their faith, few have the courage to stand for it even in the midst of such harsh persecution. 

Verse seven and following takes us both out of this excurses with a promised, and sends us forward in Christ in the text.

We are given the amazing statement, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced’ therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

This amazing and comforting statement reminds us of the strength given by God to us.  Though we fall under the weight of our sin, we know that Christ suffered even death for us.  We also know that through his grace and forgiveness, we are given the strength to meet the trouble of today with confidence and courage.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Is 50:4–9.