13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14 As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand” (Isaiah 52:13-15).
The Prophet Isaiah began his magnificent song of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh by calling his readers to attention. He said, “Behold.” He used this word in order to emphasize an idea or doctrine. He wanted God’s people to pay attention and to take notice of what He was going to say.
To begin with, Isaiah emphasized three characteristics of Yahweh’s Servant. First, Yahweh’s servant “shall act wisely.” The LORD’s Servant would be prudent, would possess wisdom and understanding and He would succeed in His task. Additionally, the Servant “shall be high and lifted up.” This meant that He would continually be lifted up and elevated in praise and worship higher than anyone or anything else (Phil. 2:9; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). Finally, He would be “exalted.” He would receive a high status of honor.
However, the exaltation of the Servant was not because of His regality or beauty. “As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind” (Isaiah 52:14). Rather, this Servant was a source of astonishment. He would be deserted and abandoned. He was disfigured beyond any other human being. Notice the past tense state of being verbs which the prophet uses. The many “were” astonished and His appearance “was” so marred. Isaiah grammatically used what is known as the prophetic perfect tense. He was indicating that the work of the Servant, while in this context was yet future, was already accomplished in the sight of Yahweh.
“So shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand” (Isaiah 52:15). The Servant would not be viewed as important. Yet, He would accomplish the most important work on behalf of sinful mankind: the salvation of sinners.
The word “sprinkle” is associated with ceremonial cleansing by the priest under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 4:6; 8:11; 14:7). This Servant, who many did not considered important at all, would provide the most important thing for individuals, nations and their kings: cleansing from sin (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:1-14).
That is why they will eventually shut their mouths. They will have nothing to say about, and to, Him who they did not understand, comprehend or want.
Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Ultimately, when the Servant rules over his kingdom, he will receive international recognition for the effectiveness of his reign (cf. Philippians 2:9). The Servant must undergo inhuman cruelty to the point that he no longer looks like a human being. His appearance is so awful that people look at him in astonishment (53:1–3; Psalm 22:1-6; Matthew 26:67; 27:30; John 19:1-3). At his exaltation, human leaders in the highest places will be speechless and in awe before the once-despised Servant (cf. Ps. 2). When he takes his throne, they will see the unfolding of power and glory such as they have never heard. Paul applied the principle in this verse to his apostolic mission of preaching the gospel of Christ where Christ was yet unknown (Rom. 15:21).”
Soli deo Gloria!