OT Encounters: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 – The Lord’s Favor

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for this Sunday, December 17, 2017, is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, which is a major part of the fifth Servant Song of Isaiah. It is interesting to see that that the speaker of this prophecy in none other than the Anointed One, the One who will rule over the Lord Yahweh’s kingdom: the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The words He uses to describe His reign are familiar ones: Preach to the afflicted; bind up the brokenhearted; liberty for the captives; opening eyes; comfort; and provide for those who mourn. Similar language used to identify the Coming One is found in many of the prophets and is used by Christ Himself in His answer to John the Baptist who sits in prison. We also note similarities to the Second Servant Song in Isaiah 49:7-13.

The language here also would remind the faithful Hebrew of the Year of Jubilee as laid out in Leviticus 25. However, we need to be careful not to assume that this is a reference to the Year of Jubilee and rather understand that the Year of Jubilee foreshadows and reflects the work of the coming Messiah. Also, see how the Prophet weaves the marriage and garment motifs into this Servant Song. The Messiah is coming to redeem and claim His bride!

I am grateful for the insights gathered from R. Lessing’s commentary on Isaiah 56-66 in the Concordia Commentary Series. And I include here a quote that is very helpful in our study: “The Anointed Servant ushers in the eschatological sabbatical program and this reverses Zion’s desolation. She had walked in the dark, but now lives in the dawning light.”

61:1 mashach—“to anoint”

Note that in the OT you anoint priests and you anoint kings but only one prophet is mentioned as being anointed: Elisha.

         levasar—root: basar—piel: “to bring news; herald as good tidings; preach”

Note the Trinitarian phrase: “The Spirit (Holy Spirit) of the Lord LORD (Father) is upon me (Son)

         lachavosh—root: chabash “to bind up”

         lishvuyim—root: shabah “to deport; take captive”

         deror—“release; liberty”

         welaasurim—root: asar—qal participle: “the ones who are bound”

61:2 ratson—“favor; goodwill; pleasure”

         naqam—“vengeance; retribution”

The “year of the LORD’s favor” reminds us of the Year of Jubilee, when slaves were set free and land was restored, etc. However, this was only for the Jewish people (believers). Other nations (unbelievers) were not included. Note also that it is the “day” of the LORD’s vengeance and the “year” of His favor. The LORD God’s grace always far outweighs His vengeance.

61:3 pear—“turban; head-dress; head wrap”

         sason—“joy; exultation”

        thehilah—“song of praise”

        lehithpaer—root: paar—hithpael: “to show one’s glory; be glorified”

61:4 shommoth—root: shamam “to be uninhabited; deserted”

         wechideshu—root: chadash—piel: “to make anew; restore”

61:8 gazel—“robbery”

         ohev mishpat—“love justice” This phrase appears 42 times in Isaiah and constitutes one of the main themes of the Messianic Kingdom”.

61:9 wetseetsaehem—“offspring; descendant”

         yakirum—root: nakar—hiphil: “to recognize; acknowledge with honor”

61:10-11 Note that the speaker now changes. The speaker is now the Prophet Isaiah.

61:10 shosh—root: shash/shish (hollow verb) “to rejoice; display great joy”

           tagel—root: gayal “to shout in joy; jubilation”

           yekahen—root: kahan—piel: “to act as a priest; to play the part of a priest”

           tadeh—“to adorn oneself”

61:11 thatsmicha—root: tsamah—hiphil: “to cause to sprout; cause to grow

Note the use of the marriage and garment motifs woven together with the seed/growth motif.