My servant will be successful; he will be high and lifted up; he will be greatly exalted…. Therefore I will assign a portion among the mighty, and he will divide the spoil with the strong….
Isaiah 52:13; 53:12a [author’s translation]
The fourth of the so-called “Suffering Servant Songs” begins at Isaiah 52:12 and continues on to 53:12. When we recognize that fact we discover a very interesting phenomenon. We are used to the descriptions of suffering, degradation, loss, and injustice that characterize the Servant in 53:1-11, and as a result easily overlook the surprising statement in 53:12a. But when we recognize that the poem begins in 52:13, and we see how it begins, we are prepared to realize the significance of that closing statement. In fact, the poem begins and ends on a note of triumph. This is the destiny of the Servant. In spite of all the tragedy and loss – no, because of the tragedy and loss, his mission will be totally successful. [The Heb. word has the connotations of wisdom, prudence, effectiveness (prosperity), and success.] In the end, he will be in the place of the Victor.
How could Jesus leave heaven for a cow-stall? How could he lay aside the robes of divine glory, and wrap himself in a towel? How could he who had been ministered to by angels take the lowest place? He could do it because he knew who he was! He could do it because he knew how the story ends! On the one hand, he lost everything, and he really did. He was not merely masquerading as a limited, fragile, dying human. It was real. But at the same time, he knew that he was the Lord, the Prince of Glory. He was armored against the temptation to feel sorry for himself because he knew the destiny of his servanthood.
You and I need that same sense of destiny. Why should we scrabble for position and power in this world, as though this is all there is? Why should we work so hard to protect ourselves and our rights, when we know the end of the story? “Blessed are you when all men revile you and persecute you for my name’s sake, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” Believe it, and take the lowest place, knowing that the destiny of the servant is triumph.