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BOOK III.

THE SERVANT OF THE LORD.

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BOOK III.

Having completed our survey of the fundamental truths of our prophecy, and studied the subject which forms its immediate and most urgent interest, the deliverance of Israel from Babylon, we are now at liberty to turn to consider the great duty and destiny which lie before the delivered people—the Service of Jehovah. The passages of our prophecy which describe this are scattered both among those chapters we have already studied and among those which lie before us. But, as was explained in the Introduction, they are all easily detached from their surroundings; and the continuity and progress, of which their series, though so much interrupted, gives evidence, demand that they should be treated by us together. They will, therefore, form the Third of the Books, into which this volume is divided.

The passages on the Servant of Jehovah, or, as the English reader is more accustomed to hear him called, the Servant of the Lord, are as follows: xli. 8 ff; xlii. 1-7, 18-25; xliii. passim, especially 8-10; xliv. 1, 21; xlviii. 20; xlix. 1-9; l. 4-11; lii. 13-liii. The main passages are those in xli., xlii., xliii., xlix., l., and lii.-liii. The others are incidental allusions to Israel as the Servant of the Lord, and do not develop the character of the Servant or the Service.

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Upon the questions relevant to the structure of these prophecies—why they have been so scattered, and whether they were originally from the main author of Isa. xl.-lxvi., or from any other single writer,—questions on which critics have either preserved a discreet silence, or have spoken to convince nobody but themselves,—I have no final opinions to offer. It may be that these passages formed a poem by themselves before their incorporation with our prophecy; but the evidence, which has been offered for this, is very far from adequate. It may be that one or more of them are insertions from other authors, to which our prophet consciously works up with ideas of his own about the Servant; but neither for this is there any evidence worth serious consideration. I think that all we can do is to remember that they occur in a dramatic work, which may, partly at least, account for the interruptions which separate them; that the subject of which they treat is woven through and through other portions of Isa. xl.-liii., and that even those of them which, like ch. xlix., look as if they could stand by themselves, are led up to by the verses before them; and that, finally, the series of them exhibits a continuity and furnishes a distinct development of their subject. See pp. 313, 314, and 336 ff.

It is this development which the following exposition seeks to trace. As the prophet starts from the idea of the Servant as being the whole, historical nation Israel, it will be necessary to devote, first of all, a chapter to Israel's peculiar relation to God. This will be ch. xv., "One God, One People." In ch. xvi. we shall trace the development of the idea through the whole series of the passages; and in ch. xvii. we shall give the New Testament interpretation and fulfilment of235 the Servant. Then will follow an exposition of the contents of the Service and of the ideal it presents to ourselves, first, as it is given in Isa. xlii. 1-9, as the service of God and man, ch. xviii. of this volume; then as it is realised and owned by the Servant himself, as prophet and martyr, Isa. xlix.-l., ch. xix. of this volume; and finally as it culminates in Isa. lii. 13-liii., ch. xx. of this volume.

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