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Isaiah 50


God Helps His Servant The Servant, Israel's Hope Covenant, Faithfulness, and Judgment   Israel's Punishment
50:1-3  (1-3) 50:1-3  (1-3) 50:1-3  (1-3) 50:1  (1) 50:1-3  (1-3)
      50:2-3  (2-3)  
      The Obedience of the Lord's Servant Third Song of the Servant
50:4-11  (4-11) 50:4-6  (4-6) 50:4-6  (4-6) 50:4-6  (4-6) 50:4-11  (4-11)
  50:7-9  (7-9) 50:7-9  (7-9) 50:7-9  (7-9)  
  50:10-11  (10-11) 50:10-11  (10-11) 50:10-11  (10-11)  




This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. This is the third Servant Song (50:4-9).


B. In 49:25d the court imagery is used with the Servant as the defense advocate. Here the court imagery is used of YHWH as divorcing His covenant people for their faithlessness.


C. In contrast to the faithlessness of the covenant people, the faithfulness of the Servant, the ideal Israelite, is stressed. He will accomplish what Israel could not!


D. Notice that most English translations see three paragraphs in vv. 4-11, which would denote three main truths.

1. vv. 4-6

2. vv. 7-9

3. vv. 10-11



1Thus says the Lord,
"Where is the certificate of divorce
By which I have sent your mother away?
Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you?
Behold, you were sold for your iniquities,
And for your transgressions your mother was sent away.
2Why was there no man when I came?
When I called, why was there none to answer?
Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom?
Or have I no power to deliver?
Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke,
I make the rivers a wilderness;
Their fish stink for lack of water
And die of thirst.
3I clothe the heavens with blackness
And make sackcloth their covering."

50:1 There are two ancient legal situations used to highlight Israel's legal standing.

1. divorce of a faithless wife (cf. 54:6-7; Jer. 3:1,8; Hos. 2:4)

2. the selling of someone into slavery for a debt (cf. Deut. 32:30; II Kgs. 4:1; Neh. 5:5)

For Israel's "iniquities" and "transgressions" she was judged and exiled. It was not the weakness of YHWH, but the rebellion of His people (cf. 59:2).

50:2 This verse starts with a series of four rhetorical questions, as v. 1 had two. The first two deal with YHWH, surprised at the lack of intercession and faith response.

He asks if Israel had lost confidence in His ability to save!

▣ "Is My hand so short" This is a Qal perfect and a Qal infinitive absolute of the same root (BDB 894, KB 1126), which intensifies a concept, here a question.

▣ "ransom" See Special Topic at 41:14. It is parallel to "deliver."

4The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
5The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient
Nor did I turn back.
6I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
7For the Lord God helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
8He who vindicates Me is near;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand up to each other;
Who has a case against Me?
Let him draw near to Me.
9Behold, the Lord God helps Me;
Who is he who condemns Me?
Behold, they will all wear out like a garment;
The moth will eat them.
10Who is among you that fears the Lord,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
11Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,
Walk in the light of your fire
And among the brands you have set ablaze.
This you will have from My hand:
You will lie down in torment.

50:4-6 These verses describe aspects of the Servant's ministry (in His own words).

1. gifted to listen

2. gifted to encourage, v. 4a

3. He listens to

a. hurting, weary ones (cf. Jer. 31:25), v. 4b

b. YHWH, vv. 4c,d,5a

4. He was not disobedient, v. 5b

5. He did not turn back, v. 5c

6. He yielded Himself to abuse by leaders (cf. Matt. 26:67; 27:30; Mark 15:19)

a. whipped His back

b. plucked out His beard

c. spit in His face

The Servant's verbal skills will lead to a rejection of His message and person by those who refuse to listen (cf. v. 11).

50:4a "disciple" This is a rare word (BDB 541), found only here (twice) and 8:16 in this sense. Usually it is translated "taught" (54:13).


NASB, NRSV"sustain the weary one"
NKJV"speak a word in season to him who is weary"
TEV"strengthen the weary"
NJB"to give a word of comfort to the weary"
JPSOA"speak timely words to the weary"
REB"to console the weary"

Obviously the MT is ambiguous because the word "sustain" (BDB 736, KB 804) appears only here.

50:4c,d There is a repeated Hiphil imperfect (BDB 734, KB 802), "awakens." In the Hiphil it is used to rouse or stir up activity.

1. 13:17 - the Medes (Jer. 51:11)

2. 41:2,25 - Cyrus II

3. 45:13 - Cyrus II

4. here - the Servant

5. Dan. 11:2 - inter-biblical ruler

YHWH is in control of world history and world redemption!

50:6 The specific treatment of the obedient Servant is a foreshadowing of the treatment of Jesus. This introduces the fourth Servant Song in 52:13-53:12, esp. vv. 3,4-5,7-9. The Servant will pay a high price for His loyalty, trust, and obedience in YHWH (cf. Psalm 2, 22). There is a purpose in suffering for Him (cf. Mark 10:45; II Cor. 5:21; the book of Hebrews).

50:7-9 The first verse of this strophe is repeated in v. 9a, "the Lord (Adon) God (YHWH) helps me."

Because of this the Servant will

1. not be disgraced

2. set His face like flint (cf. Luke 9:51)

3. be ashamed

Why, because YHWH acts on His behalf, introduced by another series of questions (vv. 8-9). The grammatical structure (i.e., "Who. . .?") runs through v. 10.


NASB, NRSV"vindicate"
NKJV, LXX"justifies"
TEV"prove me innocent"
NJB"saving justice"
JPSOA"My vindicator"
REB"will clear my name"

As vv. 6-7 describe an unjust trial, so v. 8 describes a just verdict. The verb (BDB 842, KB 1003) is a Hiphil participle which means "declare righteous" (cf. Exod. 23:7; Deut. 25:1; I Kgs. 8:32; Pro. 17:15). It is used in a negative context in Isa. 5:23. It describes

1. God in this context

2. the Servant in 53:11


▣ "Let him draw near to Me" This is a Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense. The verb (BDB 620, KB 670) is used of approaching a judge at trial. Notice here the Servant is the Judge.

50:10-11 AB takes these two verses as a response to the Servant (p. 116), apparently by YHWH (Leupold, p. 196). There is a contrast between two kinds of "light."

1. the darkness of those who have faith in God and His Messiah but do not fully understand (v. 10)

a. let him trust in the name of the Lord - Qal imperfect (BDB 105, KB 120) used in a jussive sense

b. let him rely on his God - Qal imperfect (BDB 1043, KB 1612) used in a jussive sense

2. those who make their own light (i.e., fire, see Special Topic at 47:14) and walk in it (Qal imperative) which will eventually consume them (i.e., lie down in torment, v. 11)