The highest title of
tribute you could give a person in the Old Testament
was to call him "the servant of Yahweh" ('ebed
The Hebrew word for
servant, eber, denotes "God given authority
as the accredited messengers of the Lord." The
servant of the LORD was one who was chosen by
Yahweh. The origin implies the position of a slave.
Servant of the Lord
in the Old Testament
Abraham is the "servant"
of the Lord (Ps. 105:42). Moses is called "the
servant of the LORD," and "Moses My servant" more
often than anyone else in the Old Testament (Ex.
14:31; Num. 12:7; Deut. 34:5; Josh. 1:1, 15; 8:21,
23; 18:7; 1 Chron. 6:49; 2 Chron. 1:3; 24:6; Neh.
1:7; 10:29). "Moses the servant of Yahweh" is almost
the official title of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5; cf.
Numbers 12:7-8). The author of Hebrews describes
Moses as a servant in God's house when he writes,
"Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant"
(Hebrews 13:5). Joshua, Moses "servant," who led
Israel into the Promised Land was also called "the
servant of the LORD" at the end of his life (Joshua
24:9; Jud. 2:8). Caleb (Num. 12:24), and King David
are called the servant of the Lord (2 Sam. 7:5-8; 1
Kings 8:66; 11:36; 2 Kings 19:34; 2 Chron. 17:4).
The LORD speaks of His
prophets saying, "I have sent you all My servants
the prophets" (Jeremiah 7:25; 2 Kings 21:10; Amos
3:7). Isaiah is called the servant of the Lord (Isa.
20:3; 49:5), Elijah (2 Kings 10:10), and Job (1:8;
42:7). Even Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon is
called "My servant" (25:9; cf. 27:6). The old
Babylonian king thought he was king of the hill, but
in reality, he was only an instrument in the hands
of God. The redeemed are His servants, as we would
expect according to Psalm 34:22. "The Lord redeems
the soul of His servants, and none of those who take
refuge in Him will be condemned."
The nation of Israel was
even called the servant of the Lord (Isa. 41:8). It
is from this servant nation that God sent His
Suffering Servant. God called out a people for
Himself so that He could provide a redeemer for the
All of God's servants,
the prophets, speak of the coming of Jesus Christ
the true Servant of the LORD.
The angel of the LORD
called the coming Messiah a "Servant." "Now listen,
Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are
sitting in front of you, indeed they are men who are
a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My
servant the Branch" (Zechariah 3:8). The LORD
declares to Isaiah the coming of this same person
when he says: "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My
chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My
Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the
nations" (Isaiah 42:1).
The last of the four
Servant poems of Isaiah presents the exaltation,
humiliation, substitutionary sacrifice and extreme
exaltation of the Servant (Isa. 52:13-53:12).
The Suffering Servant of
the LORD is perhaps the highest title in the Old
Testament for God's Anointed One.
Jesus is the
Servant of Yahweh
As God's servant Jesus
did what Israel could not do. Matthew quotes Isaiah
42:1-4 and says the prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus,
the Servant of Yahweh, who does the will of His
Father perfectly. He is in perfect harmony with the
Father's intent and will. His first recorded words
reveal His divine Sonship and His mission in life.
Even as a youth He said, "I must be about My
Father's business" (Luke 2:49). Again He said, "I
came to do the will of Him that sent Me" (John
6:38). The climax of His servanthood is declared in
His own words: "For even the Son of Man did not come
to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a
ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). The Suffering Servant
of Yahweh dominated Jesus' whole thought. Jesus
Christ is the Suffering Servant of Yahweh.
The apostle Paul referred
to the humble attitude of Jesus saying: "although He
existed in the form of God, did not regard equality
with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in
the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a
man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the
point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians
2:6-8). Jesus Christ is the very essence of God, and
in His incarnation was perfect humanity. In the
person of Jesus Christ God became a humble house
hold servant. Remember Jesus bowed down and washed
the feet of Judas. What exalted humility! "Not My
will, Thy will be done!" It was by His own choice
that He became obedient and died as our substitute
on the cross.
Charles Hodge said, "When
Isaiah predicts that the 'servant of the Lord' would
suffer, triumph and be the source of blessings to
all people, the servant is to be understood to be
the Messiah . . ." We know this to be true because
of "subsequent explanatory declarations of the
Scriptures," and "the fulfilment of the
The promise of redemption
is repeated and amplified from time to time until
the Redeemer actually came. The nature of this
redemption was set forth with ever increasing
clearness with many specific promises.
Jesus is the
Suffering Servant of Yahweh.
We have every reason to
take the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 as the
picture of Jesus Christ.
In praise to Jesus the
early church called Him, "Thy holy servant Jesus"
(Acts 4:27, 30; 3:13). We are immediately reminded
of the title "Servant of Yahweh" in Isaiah (42:1;
49:6-7; 52:13; 53:11). Only Jesus Christ can be the
Suffering Servant of Yahweh. Isaiah 53:11 is
fulfilled in the death of Jesus on the Cross bearing
our sins and iniquities.
"As a result of the
anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be
By His knowledge the
My Servant, will justify
As He will bear their
The prophet Isaiah had a
true personal Servant in view. The great fact of
Isaiah 53 is vicarious suffering. The fulfilment is
in Christ on the Cross. Franz Delitzsch said, "Every
word is as it were written under the cross at
Golgotha." Compare the following Scriptures: Matthew
8:14-17; with Isaiah 53:4; Matt. 12:14-21 with Isa.
42:1-4; Luke 23:37 with Isa. 52:12; 2 Corinthians
5:21 with Isa. 53:6, 9; 1 Peter 1:19 with Isa. 53:7;
1 Pet. 2:22-25 with Isa. 53:6, 7. The picture the
apostle Peter presents in his epistles and preaching
in Acts is based on the Servant in Isaiah 53 which
stresses the sacrificial quality of the Servant's
sufferings (Isa. 53:4-6, 8, 10-12).
Adam plunged the whole
human race into sin. We are all guilty of failing to
be what God wants us to be. We fall short of
bringing glory to God. However, the perfect Servant
of Yahweh suffered and died bearing our iniquities
on the cross. He is the Righteous One of Isaiah
fifty-three. The LORD saw the anguish of His soul
and was satisfied. Therefore, the believing sinner
is "justified as a gift by His grace through the
redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God
displayed publicly as propitiation in His blood
through faith. This was to demonstrate His
righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He
passed over the sins previously committed; for the
demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the
present time, so that He would be just and the
justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans
3:24-26). The LORD God applied the substitutionary
death of Jesus to believing sinners and declared us
justified by faith. The Suffering Servant of God
accomplished our salvation. He has declared us right
Four times in Acts Jesus
is called the "Servant" in the preaching of the
apostle Peter (3:13, 26; 4:27, 30). In these four
passages Jesus is being called the Servant of God,
not child of God. The Greek word pais can be
translated "child," "son" as in the KJV or "servant"
(NASB, RSV, ASV, Phillips, NEB, and most others). In
these passages "Servant" is the best meaning because
of the identification of the "servant of God" with
the Messiah (Isa. 53 et al). All of the best
scholars are in agreement that "Servant" is the best
Exaltation of the
Servant of Yahweh
Jesus said that if we are
to enter into the kingdom of God we must humble
ourselves and become like helpless children. We
enter God's kingdom by faith. We come to Him
helpless, unable to save ourselves, totally
dependent on the mercy and grace of God. The
Righteous Servant declares the unrighteous sinner
just in God's sight.
Jesus' glory is closely
associated with His death. After Judas left the
upper room Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man
glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is
glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in
Himself, and will glorify Him immediately" (John
13:31-32). God the Father was glorified in the death
of His Son.
This lowly Servant was
exalted and given a name above every name (cf. Phil.
2:6-8). The word "glorify" is used frequently in
John's Gospel (John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16, 23, 28;
13:31-32; 14:13; 15:8; 16:14; 17:1, 4-5, 10). Jesus
is exalted and glorified by God the Father because
He humbled Himself by becoming a servant and died
for the ungodly (Acts 2:33; Phil. 2:9; Heb. 1:3-4,
8). "He shall see of the fruit of the travail of His
soul and be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11).
What will He do with us
if we humble ourselves in His sight? It is the only
attitude God will use. He despises the arrogant.
Let's come before Him with a contrite heart, humble
and ready to serve Him.
Jesus Christ is the
perfect fulfilment of the Servant of the Lord. The
Servant Songs of Isaiah imply the equation of the
Davidic Messiah and the Suffering Servant.
Title: Exodus 14:31
Servant of the Lord
Christ in the Old Testament