Isaiah 41-42 form a cohesive whole regarding the themes of God’s chosen people and God’s chosen Servant. Isaiah introduces the person known as the Servant of the LORD. All these themes are framed within the grand doctrine of the sovereignty of God.
Isaiah introduces the theme of the sovereignty of God by revealing God’s work through a Persian king (41:1–7, 25–29): Some two centuries before this Persian king is born, Isaiah predicts his victories, even calling him by name: Cyrus. (See also 44:28; 45:1). It is the LORD Himself who directs Cyrus’ victories. He also gives the king his strength so that no one is able to within the assault by the Persians.
However, even in the midst of misery, God remembers mercy. He both consoles and corrects Israel, His chosen people (41:8–24). God reminds Israel that He chose them because of Abraham, the friend of God. On the basis of His grace, the LORD will protect and uphold His people by His divine providence and provision. However, because of Israel’s sin of refusing to listen to the LORD or His prophets (42:18-21), God will permit them to be robbed, enslaved and imprisoned (42:22-25).
In the midst of this oracle, Isaiah announces the coming of the Messiah (42:1–9). The Messiah will be filled with the Holy Spirit, He will not quarrel, shout, crush the weak, but fulfill truth and righteousness. He will also act with gentleness, bring justice to all, and usher a kingdom of righteousness. God the Father guaranteed all that the Messiah would accomplish.
Creation’s response to God’s revelation is to praise Him (42:10-12) for not only defeating His enemies (42:13-15), but also delivering His people (42:16-17).
10Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. 11Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands. 13 The Lord goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes” (Isaiah 42:10-13).
The ministry of the Servant of the LORD is simple — to call the people of God to repentance so that the whole world would see Yahweh’s salvation. Today, the Servant of the LORD, Jesus Christ, continues to call God’s people to repent and trust in the promises of God through Christ alone, not only at conversion but throughout their lives.
Soli deo Gloria!