"God is God. Because he is God, he is worthy of my obedience." Elisabeth Elliot

Are You Singing the Song of the Servant this Christmas?

Sunday Scripture

This week, I started listening to Christmas music on the way to work. Our 24/7 Christmas music radio station plays everything from crooning Bing to the musical equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater. One frosty morning, fresh off my Isaiah Advent reading and a mug of hot tea, the radio wished me a Holly Jolly Christmas that was positively jarring.

Christmas really is “the most wonderful time of the year” for Christ followers, but there is so much left unsaid in the average Christmas song. Reading through Isaiah this year is deepening my desire for truth-saturated music to accompany the prophet’s unveiling of God’s rescue plan, first through a coming Divine King in Isaiah 1-39 and then through a coming Servant in Isaiah 40-55.

Isaiah’s four Servant Songs point to Jesus with startling clarity–but only because I’m reading with the benefit of truth revealed in the New Testament. One by one, they unwrap the character and the assignment of Messiah. Let the music of grace and God’s provision wash over your heart as we rehearse Isaiah’s four songs of the suffering Servant.

Isaiah’s Four Servant Songs

  1. Unstopping and Unstoppable (Isaiah 42:1-9)
    The promised Servant will bring justice, comfort, and encouragement. Best of all, he will not fail to accomplish his purposes, for he knows in advance the outcome of all his decisions and actions.
  2. For All Nations (Isaiah 49:1-13)
    The Servant will be womb-formed, and his mission is the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to his people, not merely to one nation, but to all nations.
  3. Suffering and Glory (Isaiah 50:4-11)
    Here, the Servant makes it clear that he will accomplish his purposes and God will be glorified, but it will happen through suffering. He is absolutely certain of God’s help and determined to fulfill the divine will, come what may.
  4. Humiliation and Exaltation (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
    The final song underscores the Bible’s divine authorship, for there’s no other way a seven-hundred-year-old description could contain such minute detail, as God reveals to Isaiah the brutal facts of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation. Isaiah 53 insists that Christmas joy is intimately linked with Good Friday suffering and Easter resurrection.

Obedience Requires a “Flinty” Faith

Long ago, I learned that one of Elisabeth Elliot’s favorite verses came from the third servant song:

The Lord God helps me;

   therefore I have not been disgraced;

therefore I have set my face like a flint,

    and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

Isaiah 50:7

Flint is hard and tough, and it’s a stone that, historically, has been used in making tools and starting fires. Jesus practiced a “flinty” obedience to all that our redemption required because he had a “flinty” faith in and commitment to God’s sovereign plan.

There are ten thousand points of application in this week’s reading from Isaiah, but this is mine: I want to sing the Servant’s song of obedience.

God’s assignments do not always come with all the details I would like to have. However, his help is available in fulfilling his purposes in my life. It is my privilege to obey and to follow.

Or… Elisabeth Elliot said it so much better:

God is God. Because he is God, he is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in his holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.”

What assignment from God is requiring your “flinty” obedience today? Let’s take the grace that’s offered for this moment and set our faces toward obedience, trusting for his help which cannot fail.

"The Lord God helps me...therefore I have set my face like a flint." Isaiah 50:7

Because “he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found,”

God’s mission–revealed in Isaiah–is the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to his people, not merely to one nation, but to all nations.

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42 thoughts on “Are You Singing the Song of the Servant this Christmas?”

  1. Michele, I can remember when the meaning of Isaiah 50:7 first hit me. It comes with the choice in obedience. I have never regretted my decision to follow Him. Beautiful post!

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  2. So good, Michele. Praise God he’s provided salvation for all nations, not just Israel; he’s not willing that any of us perish. Praise Jesus Christ who was willing to suffer humiliation, horrific pain, and separation from his beloved Father so that we might live forever with him one day. Praise God that as his Son is now glorified, we too can look forward to a glorification of our own (Romans 8:30). In light of such loving, gracious provision, how can I do less than obey him?! It is to my shame that I even consider going my own way! I’m so glad you shared Elisabeth Elliot’s favorite verse–that’s a good one to memorize. And your descriptor “flinty obedience” is a helpful visual to keep in mind. Thank you, Michele!

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  3. As someone on the far side of fifty, it’s dawned on me that I’ve thought that now it’s time to rest from flinty faith, to retire in slippers with a pipe, to let others do the heavy lifting. Instead in many ways it’s harder, I’m needing to dig deeper, hold on tighter. Seeing glimpses of His face makes it all worthwhile. Beautiful post, Michele.

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  4. Setting my face like flint is not the hard part. Determining the details of God’s will is where I sometimes stumble. The will to obey is there, listening for God’s direction is what I must continue to work on. Reading these posts help.

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  5. So much clarity in this post. Thank you so much as I do appreciate it. I’m loving that Alexa will play Christmas music for me non-stop, but have at times chosen to ask her for classical because as you say, it is not so glaring and has more of the Christmas songs that I’m use to. I also listen to just normal radio Christmas songs, but they are more from the modern version, and not the old classicals except once in a while. Have a beautiful Chrismas this week with all it’s joys.

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  6. If ever we needed a flinty faith, laced with compassion and grace and kindness, it would be now.

    Christmas blessings to you and your family in this most unusual season, Michele … and thanks for continuing to build and strengthen my faith.

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    1. This was really my introduction to the Servant Songs as a “heading” and I feel the need to really revisit them again soon. I do love the book of Isaiah and even after spending a month focused on it entirely, I still need more teaching on it!

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  7. I want to have a flinty faith too. “God’s assignments do not always come with all the details I would like to have. However, his help is available in fulfilling his purposes in my life.” Amen! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas, Michele!

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  8. ‘Jesus practiced a “flinty” obedience to all that our redemption required because he had a “flinty” faith in and commitment to God’s sovereign plan’. I pray for the grace for the same flinty obedience. Amen! Great post Michele – Merry Christmas to you and yours 🙂 x

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  9. Thanks so much for linking up with me at the #FaithAndWorshipChristianWeekend 15, open until December 28 at 12:05 am. Shared on social media.

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  10. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
    ********************************************************

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  11. We’ve been singing Christmas songs since the beginning of November this year. I think not being able to see family has been even harder than I thought it would be – given the time of year. But there’s nothing like a good sing-song to lift the spirits. Thank you for joining us for the #DreamTeamLinky Michele and wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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  12. I find strength in the shared hymns and carols that promote faith and hope. But we also need to be flinty and resolved in these difficult times, always obedient to God. Thanks for linking up with #dreamteamlinky

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