Isaiah’s Servant Songs: The Servant’s Loyalty

Loyalty is a basic element of good relationships. The American English Dictionary defines loyalty: “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.” In studying Jehovah’s perfect Servant, we have looked at many beautiful qualities of His earthly service. In chapter 42, we learned about His love for others, which stemmed from the love He experienced from His God. In chapter 49, we learned about His lips – His words that were the very words of God. Now, in chapter 50, we will focus on the Servant’s loyalty to Jehovah – His loyal tongue, loyal ear and loyal heart of dependence upon God. He lived in full allegiance and commitment to His God, right to the moment of His death. We can be thankful that He is still loyal and always will be.

The Servant’s Loyal Tongue

There is nothing like the tongue to give clear evidence of what is going on in the heart. The Lord Jesus spoke all the Father gave Him to say (Joh 14:10). He was wise and sagacious in His speech. His words were carefully crafted and skillfully communicated in love to a needy audience. How did He speak?

First, He spoke with authority, not like the scribes. His message was of divine origin. He knew that He was representing His God. The people were amazed at His words and said, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” (Luk 4:36).[1]

Second, He spoke with accuracy. He knew when and how to speak. It wasn’t random, casual, hit-or-miss speaking. He observed the need and spoke to the heart. He constantly brought blessing into the lives of others. This is what Isaiah described, “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught” (Isa 50:4).

Third, He spoke with affinity. There was a genuine connection and closeness with those He spoke with. He never spoke with a superior attitude. While the Lord Jesus always had the answer, He did not come across with arrogance or a know-it-all attitude. In chapter 53, He was called the “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” No wonder He had words for those who were weary; He felt affinity with them. Mark 1 records how with tenderness and compassion He spoke to the leper, a man who was unclean and ostracized, who probably hadn’t had anyone care for him in years.

The Servant’s Loyal Ear

The words of Isaiah, “morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear,” can be taken literally as how He started and lived His days. In Mark 1, it speaks about His healing the sick at sunset, and then a few verses later, it says, “Rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mar 1:35).

The expression “the Lord God has opened my ear” can be linked back to the Hebrew servant of Exodus 21 who served his master, acquired a wife from his master and was raising a family. He had rights under the law to leave after six years but had to go alone, or he could stay and remain in servitude. His statement of commitment is beautiful: “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free” (Exo 21:5). At that point he was brought before the judges and taken to the doorpost, where his ear was bored through with the awl, and he served his master for the rest of his life. It was a commitment not motivated by obligation but rather by love and devotion. Such was the motive of the perfect Servant.

The key verse of Mark’s Gospel is found in 10:45: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This perfectly sums up His entire life. His death was the supreme act of service. The language of Isaiah is striking about the Lord Jesus: “I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting” (Isa 50:5-6). Even when the will of God required physical suffering beyond human understanding, He was willing to do it. This full surrender revealed the depths of His devotion to Jehovah and to us. The ear marked by the awl was a visible sign of a committed heart.

The Servant’s Loyal Heart of Dependence Upon His God

The Servant didn’t do anything of His own accord. Over and over, Jesus declared His dependence upon His Father. As a boy, He told His parents, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luk 2:49 KJV). In John 5, He stated, “I can do nothing on my own.” In Isaiah, He said, “But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps me” (Isa 50:7-9). The Servant lived a life of full, loving dependence upon God, and that led Him to pay the ultimate price, to die on the cross for us.

The question may well be raised, “How can we live like this?” It is essential for us to understand the reality that we cannot do this alone. We can only do it by relying on our God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we can find the strength we need to live as loyal servants of our God.

In essence, the true cost of commitment is one’s total denial of self and willingness to take up his cross. It’s the paradox Jesus so often shared when He bid us to come and die that we might truly live. He said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mar 8:35). In Mark 12, He said, “The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (v29-30 NLT). This is the Jewish “shema.” It was recited twice daily by devout Jews. It necessitates loving with our whole being. “All your heart” refers to our affections, undivided and complete. “All your soul” speaks of our emotions, full of feeling and warmth. “All your mind” means our intellect; this is not blind, irrational devotion, but that which is wise and engages our mind. “All your strength” is our energy, involving movement and action.

May God give us loyalty like our Savior. As we speak His Word, let us speak truth with love. As we wake each morning, may it be with open, willing hearts to listen to what God has to say to us. As we live our lives and seek to do His will, may we surrender to it regardless of the cost. And as we do so, let us lean heavily upon our God, for we, like the loyal Servant, cannot do it alone.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the ESV unless otherwise noted.