The Book Corner

The Book Corner

The Servant Songs: A Study in Isaiah. By F. Duane Lindsey. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1985. 170 pp. Paper, $7.95.

The Lord Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, said to two of His disciples, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25, 26). He then expounded those Old Testament passages relating to His recent sufferings on Calvary’s Cross.

Some of the clearest passages in the Old Testament relating to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus are found in the four “Servant Songs” of the Book of Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). Dr. F. Duane Lindsey, a professor at Dallas Theology Seminary, has done an outstanding job of properly exegeting and expounding these passages.

This study is written out of the strong conviction that the Servant is the Lord Jesus Christ in these Servant Songs. In his introduction Lindsey deals with the word and concept of “servant” as recorded in the Old Testament, the book of Isaiah and these songs in particular. Then he shows how the New Testament identifies and interprets the Servant as the Lord Jesus. A historical overview of the various interpretations is then given. This section could be helpful, especially when witnessing to our Jewish friends in order to better understand their thinking. The chapter ends with the historical, literary and theological context in which these songs appear.

The first song (Isa. 42:1-9) presents the call of the Servant who will “bring salvation and establish a proper order on the whole earth” (p. 36).

The second song (Isa. 49:1-13) defines the commission of the Rejected Servant to “bring salvation to the Gentiles and ultimately … restore Israel to the land and to Yahweh” (p. 60).

The third song (Isa. 50:4-11) describes the commitment of the Servant to His “sufferings and patient endurance” (p. 80).

The final song (Isa. 52:13-53-53:12) graphically depicts the career of the Servant. It presents “the details and purpose of the Servant’s sufferings and death, particularly as they relate to His exaltation and the ultimate success of His mission” (p. 99). This is by far the clearest passage relating to the “sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). The importance of this last chapter cannot be underestimated. Lindsey spends approximately 20 pages on each of the preceeding songs, but devotes 42 pages to this one.

In the conclusion Lindsey summarizes his arguments for the Servant’s identification as the Messiah in these songs and how He is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Appropriate subject, author, Scripture and Hebrew/Greek word indexes conclude the book.

Several things in this book commend themselves to the reader. First, this book sets forth a clear outline for each song, thereby reflecting the order and structure found in the Word of God. These outlines will aid preachers who seek to honor the Lord and His Word by discerning the structure which He has placed in it. Second, this book demonstrates the scholarship which undergirds it. There are copious footnotes referring to most of the major works in English on these songs. The average reader may want to skip over them, but the serious Bible student will find them helpful when pursuing further studies on this subject. Third, for the average reader, the Hebrew and Greek words have been translated and transliterated into English for those who do not know the Biblical languages.

Some readers might be disappointed by the fact that each chapter does not have “personal applications” for one’s life. I do not think this was the author’s intent. Yet the exegesis and exposition are carefully done, so that a discerning reader will be able to draw out applications for his or her own life.

This study is balanced, thorough, and well-reasoned. The reviewer must admit that his heart “burned within” him (Luke 24:32) as he read this book which brought him to a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ in these Servant Songs.

—Gordon W. Franz.