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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, January 15, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 42:1–9

Here is 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.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
   or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
   and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
   he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
   until he has established justice in the earth;
   and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the Lord,
   who created the heavens and stretched them out,
   who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
   and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
   I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
   a light to the nations,
   to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
   from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
   my glory I give to no other,
   nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass,
   and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
   I tell you of them. (NRSV)

Reflection
Some of my favorite passages from the Hebrew scriptures are found in the servant songs in Isaiah. Today’s text is the first of these songs of prophetic poetry. The original hearers of these words hungered for the hope they bring. The Israelites were in exile, yearning for signs pointing to a future in which their God would yet lead them.

Who is this promised servant? Biblical scholars have debated this question for many years. Most now agree that this description actually applies to the ancient Israelites as a nation. The servant is a corporate image for the promised ways of all God’s people.

In our own time, we recognize the teaching of the purposes of the Holy One and the establishment of justice in the ministry of Jesus. Now it is our responsibility as God’s people in the present to carry on this prophetic work, for together we are the servant in whom God delights. We are to bring forth justice to the nations. We are to reach out for God’s hand, guiding and sustaining us in our prophetic work which we share, as our divine partner leads us toward the new things that God declares.

Prayer
God of hope, thank you for gracing my life with these words of prophetic poetry. Nurture, I pray, my life and our common life as servant leaders, inspired by your prophets. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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