The Servant of the Lord

In Lent 2020 we will again move slightly off the Revised Common Lectionary to consider on Sundays those readings from Isaiah’s ‘Servant cycle’ which appear in the readings for Holy Week. While these readings are heard in congregations which observe a full Holy Week service cycle, they are not often preached on there. The readings also appear in other parts of the three year lectionary cycle but not as a group.

These readings are concerned with God’s intention to reconcile Israel to Godself through a chosen and somewhat mysterious ‘servant’. For this reason the servant songs have been an important element in Christian interpretation of the work of Jesus.

Preparing for the series

For an introduction to chapters 40-55 of Isaiah — so-called ‘Second Isaiah’ — within which the servant songs are found, see the first few paragraphs Anna Grant-Henderson’s commentary page here.

A video/audio introduction to Second Isaiah and the servant songs by Christine Hayes can be found here. This lecture covers also Ezekiel; the material on Second Isaiah begins at 31:58 and the material on the servant songs at 38:00

Another useful online video source is Sandra Richter’s general account of Second Isaiah (including the songs) here.

If you’re interested in a commentary on the Songs, Walter Brueggeman’s comment on Second (and Third) Isaiah is both accessible and solid. Available in hard copy and electronically via Amazon and other sources. Some online commentary for each passage is also indicated below.

The focus texts for the series will be as follows:

  • Sunday March 1 (Lent 1) Isaiah 42:1-9; See Howard Wallace’s commentary on this text here or Anna Grant-Henderson’s here.
  • Sunday March 15 (Lent 3) Isaiah 49:1-7; See Howard Wallace’s commentary on this text here or Anna Grant-Henderson’s here.
  • Sunday March 22 (Lent 4) Isaiah 50:4-9a; See Howard Wallace’s commentary on this text here or Anna Grant-Henderson’s here.
  • Sunday March 29 (Lent 5) Isaiah 52:13-53:12; See Howard Wallace’s commentary on this text here or Anna Grant-Henderson’s here.

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