4 The LORD God
gave me an educated tongue
to know how to respond to the weary
with a word that will awaken them
in the morning.[a]
God awakens my ear
in the morning to listen,
as educated people do.
5 The LORD God opened my ear;
I didn’t rebel; I didn’t turn my back.
6 Instead, I gave my body to attackers,
and my cheeks to beard pluckers.
I didn’t hide my face
from insults and spitting.
7 The LORD God will help me;
therefore, I haven’t been insulted.
Therefore, I set my face like flint,
and knew I wouldn’t be ashamed.
8 The one who will declare me innocent
Who will argue with me?
Let’s stand up together.
Who will bring judgment against me?
Let him approach me.
9 Look! The LORD God will help me.
Who will condemn me?
This is the third of Isaiah’s poems about the figure of the Suffering Servant. This servant is a figure for both the people of Israel as they were supposed to be and an individual who will be for Israel and the world what the people have failed to be.
In this poem it is the servant’s ear that is highlighted. God awakens his ear each day that he may be the person given wholly to God (v.4). But hearing alone is not enough. In v.5 the servant hears and heeds the divine guidance he has received. And heeding that guidance places the servant in contradiction and conflict with those who resist and reject God’s will and way.
We might say the theme of this servant poem is “Hear, Here!” We hear God’s Word addressed to us. And in heeding God we are made present (“here”) where God wants us to be in the midst of the work of his kingdom.
God speaks personally to us in his Word. His Word is first and foremost his Son, Jesus Christ. As we accompany Jesus into his passion this Holy Week, we hear his call to us to follow and be present to what is happening to him. For in the drama that swirled around him that first Holy Week, we are called to embrace our own true identity and destiny. And that means an ever deeper solidarity (presence, here-ness) with the world and God’s purposes for it.
Let us not merely hear this call from Jesus this Lent. That is, hear it not simply as what happened to Jesus then and there. Let us hear it as his call to us to involve ourselves here and now, heeding this call and becoming ever more present to our world and God’s love for it and the roles he intends for us to play in it.