Apr 9 – Palm Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-9a
The Servant’s Humiliation and Vindication

Background: The book of Isaiah is a composite book, probably written over a long period of time and most likely not by an individual. This passage is taken from a section that was most likely written in the 6th century during the Babylonian exile. Most of the portion of Isaiah from chapters 40-55 is focused on an announcement of the imminent release from captivity as exiles and restoration of Israel in the Promise Land.

Theme: This passage is often referred to as the third servant song. This passage is most commonly viewed as a message of hope and encouragement for the exiles. The prophet or the servant appears to focus on remembering God’s providence before the exile and to draw conclusions about the nature of God once Israel is restored to its home.

Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Isaiah 50:4-9a.
* Briefly describe the setting of this passage. What has happened leading up to this passage? Where does this passage take place?
* Who do you think the servant is in this passage?
* Do you think this passage advocates pacifism or unchallenged submission to oppression? Why or why not?
* An alternative translation for “a teacher” in verse 4 is “one who is taught”. What implication would the change in translation have on the interpretation of the passage?
* One could claim the servant is a disciple and the teaching they offer or receive is a means of socializing them to the body of faith. If the focus of this passage is the socialization of believers, how might that change your interpretation of the passage?
* By what means do you think the writer makes the claim of verse 7a “The Lord God helps me…”?
* What do you think the function of the vindicator identified in verse 8a was for the culture this text was written for? What do you think the function of a vindicator would be in our day?
* An alternative translation of “Who will contend with me?” from verse 8b could be “Who will bring a covenantal suit against me?” What do you think is the implied answer from the context of Isaiah? What do you think the answer is to the question? What do you think was the actual answer to the question offered?
* How might Isaiah make the claim that only God can declare him guilty, as implied in verse 9a?
* How might this passage an invitation for us? What invitation is offered to us in our spiritual journey by the text?
* What do you think it means to have the tongue of a teacher?
* How might words sustain the weary in our world?
* What is the challenge to our mission and ministry found in this text?