LESSON 6 – Isaiah 50:4-11 (A Song of Obedience)

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This week I have been trying to drive a particular lesson home to one of the twins. Jonah has gotten into this habit of making a request and repeating that request over and over again. He sounds like a little 2-foot magpie. He doesn’t stop talking to take a breath or to listen. He doesn’t even know if I’ve granted his request or not – he just keeps repeating the request over and over again.

And so this week, Jonathan and I have been trying to drive home to Jonah the importance of listening – and more specifically listening to our voices. When he gets into magpie mode, we kneel down and place both hands on either side of his head and say: “Jonah, listen and obey.”

And as I began studying today’s lesson, I wondered if this is how God views us – does he view us as five-foot magpies? Does he ever get annoyed at our endless requests? Because you know we have a tendency to repeat them over and over and over again without listening to him. We don’t stop to listen to his voice. And if we aren’t listening to him, then how will we ever hear his response? How will we ever know what it is that he wants us to do? How will we ever know how to obey? Listening and obeying go together.  Scripture links them together for a reason.

Today we are looking at the third of Isaiah’s so-called Servant Songs, Is. 50:4-11. Remember, the entire book of Isaiah is painted as a giant mural of God’s activity in the world. And then at the center of Isaiah’s painting is the central figure of this Ideal Servant. And each of the four Servant Songs (Is. 42, 49, 50, and 52-53) provides us with different perspectives about the identity and work of this special individual.

So far we’ve seen that this individual is special because he bears God’s Spirit (Is. 42) and is the Word of God (Is. 49). We’ve discovered that he is special, because he’s been called to a special task to serve as the covenant and light to all people (Is. 42 & 49). Last week we learned that Isaiah called you to anticipate this special Servant. This week, in this Song of Obedience, we will learn that Isaiah is calling us to do more than anticipate him; we are being called to obey him.

I. A SOLILOQUY[1] OF THE OBEDIENCE OF THE SERVANT (IS. 50:4-9)

This Servant Song – Is. 50: 4-9 – is a Soliloquy of Obedience. The Servant himself is speaking, and he is recounting his obedience. We will begin looking at verse 4, but for the sake of context, we see that verses 1-3 were written directly to the children of Israel. In these beginning verses, God asks Israel – do you really think I’ve forgotten you? Do you really think I’ve forsaken you? Do you really think I am incapable of delivering you? And God’s answer to these questions is found in verses 4-9 – he is sending help! And help is coming in the form of the Ideal Servant. So, let’s look at this helper because he is going to serve as a model for the people. Again, he is the speaker in these verses, and look at what he says of himself:

Read Is. 50:4-9

Did you notice the number of times the Servant uses the name “Sovereign Lord?” Four times! Twice he says it is the Sovereign Lord who has called him and then twice he explains that it is the same Sovereign Lord that will help him accomplish his task. The Servant is sure of the sovereignty of the Lord and the sovereignty of his calling. God’s plan will be accomplished. This is important because of when God calls us to do something, that request is grounded in his nature.  The Sovereign Lord has called the Servant to the task of helping the people, primarily because it is God’s nature to help. Do you see the reflection?

A. Lifestyle of obedient interaction (Is. 50:4-5)

And so, the Servant is going to come as God’s agent – an agent of God’s nature and an agent of help. And look, he is providing us with an example of obedient interaction. Look at the emphasis in verses 4-5 on listening/hearing.

i. A learned tongue (Is. 50:4a)

The Servant has a task to proclaim the Word of God. Verse 4 tells us: “The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary.

We’ve seen this before. But the Servant is not just declaring words; he has been given a “learned” tongue for this task. And whenever Isaiah uses this word “learned” he uses it in reference to a disciple. A disciple who “by intimate association” has learned everything he knows from his master.[2]

And look at the reason this disciple is sitting at his master’s feet. It is not merely for the disciple, but so that what the disciple learns may be spoken to others. The Servant says ‘the reason I’ve been given this learned tongue is so “That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary.” And in Mat. 11:28, the Servant speaks a very important word to the weary: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

ii. A learned ear (Is. 50:4b-5)

But the Servant has more than a learned tongue – knowing what to say. The text tells us the Servant also has a learned ear. Look at the rest of verses 4-5: “He awakens Me morning by morning,  He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. 5 The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away.”

The Servant has a learned ear. He says, ‘He wakens each morning to hear.’ A learned ear doesn’t just come from hearing a whole bunch of information. I don’t know if you have this problem, but sometimes when I hear something, that information goes right out through the other ear. Not all the info sticks in the middle. So, a learned ear doesn’t come from plain ole hearing, it comes ‘morning by morning’ when the ‘Lord opens his ear.’ A learned ear comes from intimate and frequent interaction with the master. The Sovereign Lord opens his ear, and the Servant is obedient to listen.

Now, throughout the Old Testament, listening and hearing indicates obedience.[3]

  • If God says ‘hear me’ or ‘incline your ear’ – he is calling his people to obey.
  • If God says, ‘My people have not heard me’ or ‘my pleas have fallen on deaf ears,’ he is saying the people have disobeyed him.[4]

Hearing equals obedience. And the Servant is saying, I am listening and obeying my master. The Servant is demonstrating a lifestyle of obedient interaction between disciple and master.[5]

And so, when God says listen/hear/give me your ear, he is calling the people to obedience. Not for the sake of ruling their lives, but so that their obedience would be a demonstration of their trust in Him. It is always about trust!

John 10:27 says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” And there are two different thoughts here. The first thought is of intimate discipleship –listening to our shepherd– “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them,” And the second thought is of obedience and they follow Me.”

So, if we want to have a learned tongue (to know how to say the right things to those who are hurting or weary), if we want to have a learned ear (to be able to hear the Shepherd’s voice and respond to him), then we must spend time in obedient interaction with him. That is spiritual maturity. If we desire a learned tongue and a learned ear, then we must be willing to spend time with our God, being quiet before him, and responding to his voice.

This is the example of the Servant – his ability to listen and obey His Father. The Servant has the tongue and the ear of the learned – he is obedient to the will of his master. This is not blind obedience, but rather a demonstration of trust in God because he is the Sovereign Lord. God is not after blind obedience – to rule your life like a puppet master. He is after your hearts. And obedience is a measure of the trust you place in God. Look at the Servant. The Servant obeys not because he is brainless (remember he’s a trained disciple), but because he trusts that the Lord truly is Sovereign.

We are called to listen and obey as a measure of our trust. Isaiah will continue to develop this theme of trust in this third Servant Song.

B. Lifestyle of obedient suffering (Is. 50:6)

And in verse 6, trust is set within the context of suffering: “I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.”

That means that for the Servant, the path of obedience is going to be difficult. Being obedient means he is going to have to suffer– physically and emotionally – to accomplish his task. This is the first time physical suffering is paired with the Servant. Previous passages have hinted at the difficult nature and in the second Servant Song the Servant experienced frustration or a sense of futility in his task (Is. 49:4). But now we see that his lifestyle of obedience will include physical pain (being beaten) and emotional pain (being publicly shamed and rejected spit upon).

Why is pain and suffering necessary? Why would God call anyone to endure such indignity? Is God masochistic? Does he take pleasure in our pain? Most certainly not! In the coming weeks, we’ll discover why suffering is such an intrinsic part of the identity of the Servant. We will discover that suffering will be a necessary part of the Servant accomplishing his task. And why, then, the Servant’s obedience to the call to suffer is tantamount for you and for me, today.

C. Lifestyle of obedient trust (Is. 50:7-9)

So, in this Servant Song, the Servant models for us:

  • a lifestyle of intimate discipleship,
  • a lifestyle of suffering, and lastly,
  • a lifestyle of trust.

Read verses 7-9: “ For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced;

Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. 8 He is near who justifies Me; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is My adversary? Let him come near Me. 9 Surely the Lord GOD will help Me; Who is he who will condemn Me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; The moth will eat them up.”

The Servant obeys the word of the Sovereign Lord, namely to endure suffering, for a good reason – because he trusts in him! The Sovereign Lord – the Lord of creation, the Lord of history, the Lord of all things – will help him.

And so he trusts in the Lord in the midst of the shame – this is really interesting because shame here in the Hebrew indicates someone “took a foolish course of action.” Often, in Jewish culture shame comes when one makes a poor decision, acts disobediently, sinfully. It is a shame that self-inflicted.[6] Yet, we know the Ideal Servant has been introduced to shame as a result of obedience, not disobedience. He isn’t shamed because of his own sinful actions or a foolish choice. And he says so as much in these verses – he knows God will vindicate him. He is innocent, yet He is enduring shame – mocking, rejection and physical beating – all with the view that the truth will emerge and he will be vindicated by God. That is trust – obeying even when the immediate price is shame.

So, the Servant speaks of his obedience in Is. 50: 4-9. His obedience is a lifestyle of intimate discipleship, a lifestyle of suffering, a lifestyle of trust.

II. A SUMMON OF OBEDIENCE TO THE SEVANT (IS. 50:10-11)

Verses 10-11 function as a transition. Isaiah resumes his role as the speaker, and he is going to sum up the significance of the Servant’s obedience: we are to listen and obey the voice of the Servant. How? By following his example of obedience.

A. Four characteristics of God’s people (Is. 50:10)

And Isaiah tells us that those who obey the voice of the Servant are going to demonstrate four characteristics in verse 10. And these four traits are grouped together in pairs.

i. Fear the Lord (Is. 50:10a)

ii. Listen to the voice of the Servant (Is. 50:10a)

First, those who claim to know God are those who fear the Lord and listen to the voice of His Servant. Verse 10 says: “Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant?”

If we truly fear the Lord (meaning we respond to him in awe and respect and honor), then that will manifest itself in listening to His Servant. We already said that listening and hearing is the equivalent to obedience – internalizing God’s call and commands on our lives. And so, here, God is equating obedience to Him (fearing Him) with obedience to the Servant. That is key. Obedience to God and obedience to the Servant are one-in-the-same.

iii. Walk in darkness (suffering) (Is. 50:10b)

iv. Have no light (Is. 50:10b)

But then Isaiah gives us another set of characteristics of those who obey the voice of the Servant. He says in vs. 10:  “Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God.”

This characteristic might seem a little strange because we’ve been led to believe repeatedly in our studies of Isaiah that the Servant is the Light of the world. So, why would falling into step with the Servant mean we are still walking in darkness? Isaiah is using an image here – darkness symbolizes “frustration, injustice, humiliation, and even abuse.”[7] In this verse, darkness means suffering.

This is the interpretive key. God doesn’t promise his people a comfort-filled life. If he did, then there would be no need for trust and obedience. If we have all we need, then we do not need a Savior. This is our present-day reality. We live in a broken world. And even when we aren’t feeling the direct consequences of our own sins, we are always dealing with the sins of others against us. We will not escape suffering and darkness in this life. It is reality. And the Bible is speaking to real life here.

But, this is the characteristic of those who trust in the Servant – even when they walk in darkness/suffering and have no light, they “trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Is. 50:10b). We are to follow the example of the Servant and trust in His name in the midst of our darkness and times of suffering.

Why trust in the name of God? Well, Isaiah has made much of the names of God in his book, right? God’s name reveals his character. His name is the ‘I AM.’ His name is Creator. His name is Savior and Redeemer. We can trust in God’s name.

Trust is key, and we are called to listen and obey as a measure of our trust. Obedience means nothing without trust. In fact, obedience without trust is legalism. Obedience without trust is not really obedience at all. It is self-idolatry, because we are trusting in our own actions to bring us help (no matter how righteous those acts of ‘obedience’ might be). As if tithing, going to church or mass, confessing our sins, singing in the choir, giving money to the poor are going to produce any effect in our lives without the proper spirit of trust behind them. Our obedience, then, becomes like Isaiah says in 64:6 – filthy rags. He writes: “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses (NIV – righteous acts) are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.”[8]

All of our “righteous” acts are not righteous when there is no trust.

B. False fire kindled (Is. 50:11)

And then in vs. 11, Isaiah gives us a graphic picture of what this kind of empty righteousness looks like. He says: “Look, all you who kindle (NIV – light) a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks (NIV - provide yourselves with flaming torches): Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled— This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.”

In this verse, Isaiah is painting the picture of someone lighting fires or kindling sparks – they are attempting to create their own light to illuminate their suffering. And in the text, there is a sense of someone “girding” up a fire – someone with a torch attached to their body or arm as they grope in the darkness with their hands.[9] This is their attempt to “find their own way out of their darkness.”[10] In theory it is a great idea. But in reality it is very dangerous, because as Oswalt says “those flames may well eat their bearer alive.”[11]

When faced with suffering and darkness, our words and thoughts and actions reveal what kind of light we are using to illuminate our way. God is the one true Light – the only one capable of providing us with help and Light, and indeed he has in the form of this Ideal Servant.

But instead of trusting in the Light of the Servant, we often try to make our own fire. This is what I call ‘false fire.’ It is false because it is no help at all. When we create our own fire and it always ends badly. This is not a threat, it is reality.

And this is why creating our own fire – false fire – is so deadly. It means you are relying on yourself instead of God. It means that whatever circumstance or darkness in which you are currently walking, you are making the conscious decision to trust in your own light instead of THE LIGHT. And that trust can be in anything – your reasoning skills, your own plan, your own desires. We might think that our actions are right in our own sight, what is ‘expedient,’ what is ‘rational,’ but they all revolve around self. Relying on our abilities to rationalize or reason our way through a situation, relying on our abilities to justify our actions or responses to others, or relying on our abilities to find solutions to our problems.

Relying on self over God is not a neutral decision. Isaiah indicates that the choice to rely on self is a choice to reject the Servant. In short, when we chose self over the Servant, we are attempting to light our own way (with false fire) rather than relying on the Light of the Word. And this, Isaiah says, is self-idolatry.

So, we must follow the model of trust and obedience established by the Servant. And when we walk in those dark places in our lives (and we will), we must make the conscious choice to trust and rely on God through His Servant. Often this means waiting on his Light rather than rejecting the Servant and creating the light of false fire.

So, verses 4-9 speak about the Servant – he provides us with a model of obedience in daily life. And verses 10-11 speak to us – describing a proper response to the Servant. We have been summoned to trust and obey Him, Isaiah says.

C. A STATEMEN OF SUPPORT FOR THOSE OBEDIENT TO THE SERVANT (IS. 51:1-8)

Technically, Isaiah’s third Servant Song spans from Is. 50:4-9. However, as typical with Isaiah, the Servant pervades his mural. He colors the background of each and every passage. So, Isaiah’s portrait of the Ideal Obedient Servant bleeds over into the next chapter. Isaiah continues in chapter 51 with a statement of support for those who choose to trust and obey the Servant.

Read Is. 51:1-8

Did you notice how many times God says “Listen to me?” Three times – in verses 1, 4, and 7.  So, this passage is connected to Is. 50:4-9 in that God is giving encouragement to those who choose to listen and obey the Servant, primarily because listening and obeying is hard (just ask Jonah). It is not natural to us. We need help.

So, in these verses, God calls on those who choose to “pursue righteousness” to remain steadfast in listening and obeying the Servant. The term righteousness is multi-hued. In this passage, Isaiah is reflecting on this term with respect to humanity and then with respect to the Divine. And when it is used to describe mankind, it mostly refers to the ethical sense of righteousness. This is the sense of righteousness with which you and I are probably most familiar – integrity in everyday life, demonstrating righteousness in deeds and actions.

But Isaiah shades the term righteousness with greater depth when it refers to the Divine.


So, the definition of biblical righteousness, then, covers much more than a type of lifestyle or personal integrity. But often, that’s what we reduce it to, right? Doing good deeds, etc. But God’s righteousness includes all of God’s nature –particularly his dealings with the world and his people.

Most significantly, God’s righteous nature has to do with his faithfulness to His promises. God has promised to act toward creation in a certain way, and his righteousness compels him to remain faithful to those promises to creation. Namely, God promises to share his righteousness with mankind.

Righteousness becomes a gift God shares. Righteousness is NOT our own good deeds or our own fires that we kindle ourselves. And in this Song of Obedience, God is offering encouragement to all those who seek or pursue “righteousness.” Isaiah is saying that a righteous life will be a life that is in pursuit after God, after the Giver of righteousness.

So God offers two notes of support to those who truly seek righteousness – who seek Him. He calls their attention to God’s faithfulness and God’s own righteousness.

A. Remember my faithfulness  (Is. 51:1-3)

First, God says when you are faltering in your choice to trust me and obey me, remember my faithfulness, because God says that help to trust and obey is rooted in His faithfulness (or righteous dealings) toward his people throughout history.[13] And then God gives a very specific example of His faithfulness to his promises here – his promise to Abraham and Sarah to make them into a great nation, God’s own people.

i. Narrative of Abraham/Sarah (Is. 51:2)

Is. 51:2 says: “Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.”

Abraham and Sarah knew something of walking in darkness, right? They were asked to walk by faith and trust in God when their circumstances screamed such a choice was foolish. God asked them to trust in His promise that one day they would be made into a mighty nation. And that promise was made when the couple was nearly 100 years of age, and Sarah was barren! Talk about seemingly insurmountable obstacles!

And how did Abraham and Sarah fare on the trust and obedience meter? At times, not very well. Sarah created her own false fire to illuminate her dark circumstances. Instead of trusting in God’s promises, she trusted in her own reason and by giving her hand-maiden to Abraham to bear a child. And what was the result? She got burned. Burned bad! Her plan of kindling her own fire to light her darkness didn’t end very well.

Yet God was faithful to his promise even when Sarah wasn’t faithful to trust. And indeed, a mighty nation was formed out of this one elderly, barren woman. The command to “look” in verse 2 is the same word God used in Gen. 15:5-6 when he led Abraham outside and said “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

And then immediately after this command in Gen. 15, the text says Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Belief and trust was required and what was the result? God credited to Abraham as righteousness. Righteousness was a gift, then. Righteousness was not native to Abraham.

Paul brings up this same point in Rom. 3:10-12: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside;”[14] So how does someone go from being unrighteous and seeking God to being like Abraham and receiving the gift of righteousness? Trust.  All those who exercise faith in God will be credited (or gifted) with God’s righteousness. God gave Abraham the gift of righteousness because he trusted in him.

What was true of Abraham and Sarah is true for us today, Paul says.[15] God is faithful to light our dark paths. But we must trust him to do so. When we falter, God says, remember my faithfulness to Abraham and Sarah. So, the key concept for those who pursue righteousness is trust in God’s faithfulness – not performance of good deeds (although that will be evidence of faith).

B. Remember my nature (Is. 51:4-8)

i. Righteous (Is. 4-5)

But God’s faithfulness is not the only reason pursuers of righteousness should be comforted. God tells those who desire to listen and obey his Servant to consider His own nature – which is both true righteousness and eternal.

We’ve talked at great length about righteousness being God’s very nature and how that is tied to his faithfulness to his promises – but what does this that really mean? I believe in verses 4-5, God shows us what true righteousness looks like. Because we see God’s righteousness rules his nature. It rules his relationships. It rules his Word, and it rules his actions.

1. Righteousness rules God’s relationships (Is. 51:4a)

First, righteousness rules God’s relationships. Verse 4 says: “Listen to Me, My people; And give ear to Me, O My nation:” Look at how tenderly he refers to Israel calling them “my people” and “my nation.” This is a reference to God’s righteousness as he is faithful to his promise for a relationship. And the only reason this relationship can even take place is because God makes a covenant with a group of people and calls them His (Is. 43). God’s righteousness is revealed when he is faithful to that promise of relationship.

2. Righteousness rules his Word (Is. 51:4b)

Second, we see that righteousness rules God’s word. In 4b he says: “For law will proceed from Me, And I will make My justice rest As a light of the peoples.” The Law is not just the 10 commandments. The Law – literally “instruction” – was the totality of the first five books of the Bible. And God’s Word – His Law – was righteous, was it not? It was so righteous that the people stumbled under the weight of it when they tried to uphold by their own strength.

But then in the book of Isaiah, we see that the Servant functions as God’s Word. Remember in Is. 42 the coastlands wait for the Servant’s Law (Is. 42:4). This is the new song that is talked about at the end of Is. 42 – it is a NEW LAW. And then look at what the Word of the Lord is doing here in Is. 51:4. The Law is coming directly from God. And it is in this New Law that the people are to listen to because it brings justice and light with it to all peoples of the earth – not just Israel. This is the good news of salvation – a new instruction that is written on our hearts (Jer. 31:31). God’s righteousness is revealed when he is faithful to his promises of a Word of salvation.

3. Righteousness rules his actions (restoring justice) (5)

And finally, look at verse 5 because we see God’s righteousness in its sum form: “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait upon Me, And on My arm they will trust.”

God is at work restoring his creative design, which is justice. So in his promises – to form a relationship with his people, to instruct his people in the Word, and to restore all of the cosmos -

we see the true picture of righteousness. And what a big picture it is! God’s righteousness is much more than the righteous acts of God. God’s righteousness is about his promises of a relationship, his promises of help to live in his presence, and his promises of restoration.

And how is this righteousness to be revealed and worked out? Through “his Arms.” Do you remember, that we talked about the Arm of the Lord when we studied Is. 40. The second half of the book of Isaiah opens with the Arm of the Lord restoring his rule, establishing justice, and establishing his salvation activity. We will discover that this righteousness is the Servant. He is the Arm of the Lord. He is the means of the covenant/relationship, he is the instruction or Word of the Lord, he is the means by which salvation and justice are restored.

God is righteousness because it is his very nature. And it is the same righteousness that is born in the life and ministry of the Ideal Servant – the Servant God asks Israel to trust, to obey and to emulate a lifestyle of obedience.

ii. Eternal (Is. 51:6-8)

Isaiah could have stopped here. There is enough here to chew on for weeks. There is enough motivation to listen and obey (trust) to God’s Servant in Is. 51:4-5 alone! But God gives us another reminder for why we should listen and obey. God is eternal. Listen to vs. 6-8:

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished.
7 “ Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
You people in whose heart is My law:
Do not fear the reproach of men,
Nor be afraid of their insults.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
And the worm will eat them like wool;
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation from generation to generation.”

By its very nature, creation will wear out, vanish. It will do so by virtue of being a created thing. But look at the contrast – the salvation and righteousness of God is eternal.

So, Isaiah presents us with two options in this “Song of Obedience.” We can approach the darkness of our lives by trying to produce our own fire, our own light. That means, we can rely on our own reason, our own schemes, and our own strength. Or, we can trust and listen to the voice of God’s Servant, who is the Light.

The results from each choice are polar opposites. The results of our choice to rely on self are likened to smoke, a worn and frayed garment, and even death. Why? Because we are relying on the strength of a created thing, which is by its very nature – not eternal.

However, the result of our choice to rely on the Servant is eternal salvation, endless righteousness. Why? Because these are gifts given from an eternal God. He is sharing himself with us. And because he is eternal, his gifts are eternal. This is the secret to the Servant’s obedience. He was reviled, yet he obeyed his call and endured shame, trusting in an eternal God who offers eternal help.

This is about a demonstration of trust. The Servant modeled trust, and you and I are summoned to emulate the Servant’s trust. And God has promised to support us in our choice to obey in the dark times of life.

The ultimate comfort, then, in the midst of our sufferings, our darkness is two-fold:

  • God is righteous – meaning he is faithful to his promises (like he was to Abraham and Sarah). And he desires to share the blessings of his righteousness (eternal salvation) with you and with me.
  • God is eternal – meaning our present sufferings, which however horrific, are experienced within a temporal vanishing realm. And God, who is eternal, seeks to share his eternal nature with us.

Ladies, if we are pursuers of righteousness – pursuers of God – then we will be assured help in listening and obeying God. This means trust is the key. That also means we can listen and we can obey. And while it is not easy, and it is not natural to us – obedience comes when we rely on God’s strength and eternal gifts – God’s nature. Like Psalm 84:12 says: “O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!


[1]soliloquy is a long speech addressed internally or addressed to the speaker’s audience. In a monologue, the speaker is often addressing other characters.

[2] John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), pg. 323.

[3] Particularly in the book of Isaiah – see Is. 30.

[4] Oswalt, 324.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Oswalt, 326.

[7] Oswalt, 329.

[8] The Hebrew has the sense of menstrual cloths for ‘dirty rags’, see Oswalt 626. “They are not the sign of new life coming, but of the lack of conception, because all they do is self-serving and self-enhancing.” See Gary Smith’s commentary on Isaiah 40-66, pg.  690. Smith says: “The sinner is more repulsive than a rancid menstrual cloth. This is…a stark contrast to the clothing of salvation and righteousness that believers will wear in God’s future kingdom.”

[9] Oswalt, 330.

[10] Oswalt, 329.

[11] Oswalt, 330.

[12] Definition adapted from Grenz, Stanley, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, 103.

[13] Oswalt, 333.

[14] Paul is quoting from Ps.14:1-3 and 53:1-3.

[15] Listen to what Paul says of Abraham and how faith brings about Gods’ righteousness in our life today. Rom. 4:20-25 says: “20He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

About the Author

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of HiveResources.com - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.