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God Delights in the Servant (Isaiah 42:1)

Daniel Barta

Nov 21, 2023

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 

Isaiah 42:1 (ESV)

Soon afterGod called Israel to “behold [His] servant,” He began describing Him. He did not just call them to look at the Servant in general but to consider specific features of His prized object.

First, the Servant is upheld by the LORD.  “I” says the LORD, “will uphold Him.” This servant gains His strength from YAHWEH. The LORD fortifies, preserves, and protects him. Upheld by the LORD, the servant “will not grow faint or be discouraged” until all He intends to accomplish comes to pass.

Second, He is the LORD’s chosen.  The LORD has selected, set apart, identified, and made Him peculiar. Of all the instruments God could have used to accomplish His purpose, He has chosen His Son. He has elected Him.

Third, He is the LORD’s delight. The LORD’s own soul delights in the Servant. The LORD takes pleasure in the servant. The servant makes the LORD happy. He looks upon the servant with a smile on His face and gladness in His heart.

With these three descriptions of His servant, the LORD sets before us His servant. Just as the bright yellow streak left behind by the stroke of a highlighter marks out a significant and important statement in a document, so these statements about the chosen catch the eye of the observant heart. They indicate for us the identity of the Servant.

God delights in Jesus whom He has chosen and will forever uphold.

When Isaiah penned the words of Isaiah 42, the identity of the servant remained undisclosed. He was a John Doe. Though Isaiah knew the servant existed and that one day He would come, the face of the servant remained hidden. Though God provided a glimpse into the future to Isaiah, the face in the image remained pixelated and blurry. When God sent Israel, Isaiah’s people, into captivity, those of faith went to foreign lands awaiting the coming of this servant having no idea who He would be or when He would arrive.

Thankfully, when the Servant did indeed show up, God made sure to identify Him as the promised servant. In

Luke 9:28-36, God let three of Jesus’s closest disciples see Him in His glory. We are told that while Jesus prayed,

29 ...the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. (‌Luke 9:29 ESV)

Peter and the other two who were with him had been sleeping, but...

32 ...when they became fully awake they saw his glory... Luke 9:32 (ESV)

With the full glory of God on display in Jesus,

35 ...a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Luke 9:35 (ESV)

In another important moment in the life of Jesus, Jesus came up out of the waters of the Jordan river after being baptized by John the Baptist. This marked the public announcement of the Messiah’s coming, and God the Father was sure to communicate with clarity to all on the river banks the identity of Jesus. There in front of all, God sent His Spirit as a dove to rest over Jesus, and with a booming voice heard by all, God said,

17 ...“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 ESV)

This one, Jesus, chosen by the Father and in whom the Father found great joy, faced the greatest of torments while being upheld in His work by the Father. He came for a purpose. He came to seek and to save. He came to establish justice and He came to usher in a new kingdom. This would be done through a cruel cross - a dark night of great agony. All, including His beloved disciples would abandon Him, but not the Father.

​32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. (John 16:32 ESV)

This Jesus proved to be the Servant promised in Isaiah 42:1. In Him, God the Father delights. He is the chosen servant whom the Father will never fail to uphold.

Delight in the Excellencies of Jesus Christ

How excellent must the Servant be if the God of the Universe takes pleasure in Him? How vast must be the desires of an infinite God? Yet, Christ satisfies His soul. The God of the universe lacks nothing. He possesses the resources to purchase and to obtain in any quantity whatever He wishes, and with unlimited options His heart seeks and finds pleasure in beholding the Son.

If the eternal appetite of the LORD finds fulfillment in Christ, should we not also seek the same? If the pure, holy, and righteous God desires and delights in Christ, are not all our longings and joys in Christ righteous and good while all our desires and lusts which pull us away from Christ impure, unrighteous, and evil? If the all-knowing, all -powerful, and all-wise God finds supreme delight in His Son, would not our pursuit of anything lesser prove foolish.

The great news of the gospel - the great news of Christmas - is that God sent Jesus, His servant, so that the great delight and pleasure the Father knows in the Son might be also known by us, now and forever. Just as we worked hard to prepare our favorite Christmas dish so that others around the table might enjoy what we enjoy, so God the Father has served up to us the great delight of His soul, so that with Him we might experience and share the infinite joy found only in His servant, Jesus Christ.

May the Living God, who is the portion and rest of the saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that living Him, and delighting in Him, may be the work of our lives. - Richard Baxter in The Saints Everlasting Rest

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