Saturday, February 01, 2014

Is Galatians 5:20 a good Scripture to use to advocate Christians not to use illegal drugs?

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery (φαρμακεία), enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. --  (Gal 5:18-26 ESV)

Is Galatians 5:20 a good Scripture to use to advocate Christians not to use illegal drugs?

Edited:  The basic answer is no.  If you only want to read a bit, go to the end where you will find the conclusion and application. If you want the detail go ahead and read from here. 

     Galatians 5:20 is a continuation of the list of works of the flesh which began in the previous verse.  The word generally translated as witchcraft or sorcery comes from the root work where we English speakers get the word pharmacy, transliteration is pharmakeia of the Greek φαρμακεία. Some do say that Galatians 3:20 teaches against the recreational use of drugs.    (While the IBT Ministries article uses the moralistic approaching Scripture, there are a lot of good points made as to why to avoid illegal drug use.)  The Bible teaches against drunkenness and therefore is against getting high.  Passages such as Proverbs 20:1 teach us that it is unwise to let alcohol cloud our judgment, and by deduction it is unwise to take any sort of mind altering substance that causes addiction.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Pro 20:1 ESV)
Addictions, especially harsh drug addictions can destroy lives.  This post is about the exegesis of Galatians 5:20.  So does this mean that pharmakeia (φαρμακεία) is witchcraft or is it drug use?  At least in modern culture these could be two very different practices.  Although in modern culture those who use drugs are sometimes those who practice witchcraft, it is not a given that they are the same.  Are both practices of illegal drug use and witchcraft to be avoided based on this one word?  

How Is the Word Used in the Bible?

    The word is used twice in the New Testament, besides in Galatians 5:20.  It is also used in Revelation 9:21 and 18:23.
and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. (Rev 18:23 ESV)
    Notice that in Revelation 18:23 the sorcery has a victim.  The nations are deceived by the sorcery.  The passage in Rev 9:21 groups sorcery with sexual immorality and theft.   Both sexual immorality and theft have victims.

What Do Reliable Biblical Greek Dictionaries Say?

    It is also helpful to look at the Biblical Greek dictionaries.   Louw and Nida in their dictionary say the word means "the use of magic, often involving drugs and casting spells upon people."  James H. Moulton and George Milligan in their Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament say, " in its general sense 'practice of drugging.' "  Thayer writes, "a. the use or the administering of drugs... b. poisoning."  While not exclusively so, the emphasis shows someone practicing pharmakeia (φαρμακεία) on someone else.

What Was the Ancient  Cultural Practices?

    The ancient and present use of magic can be distinguished from religion in general. They are not mutually exclusive categories, but religions pray to persuade the deities while magic through incantations and spells  command the supernatural entities.  Edwin M. Yamauchi in his 1983 Tyndale Bulletin Article called "Magic In The Biblical World" says, "The element of ‘coercion’, ‘control’, or ‘manipulation’ has been regarded as an essential element of magic in many definitions."  There is an element of technical control to produce outcomes.  Magic or sorcery in the ancient world did not only include incantations and spells, but the use of potions and poisons.  As sons and daughters of the Enlightenment we would see the use of these concoctions as effective because of their bio-chemical properties, but the ancients who used them may not have separated any physical cause from a spiritual cause.  This is why pharmakeia (φαρμακεία) would be both magic and administering a potion.  Both would be a part of a category that would be messy by today's way of thinking.  As Roy Zuck notes in his 1971 BibSac article called "The Practice of Witchcraft in the Scriptures", Paul sees the work of the Jewish sorcerer Bar-Jesus who was also called Elymas as deceiving.  While surely a sorcerer could turn his so-called art on himself, the techniques would be aimed at circumstances and individuals.  In individuals it would cause deception, a clouding of judgement.  There would be victims of the spells, incantations and potions.  Sometimes the desired effect was to induce romantic love if an aphrodisiac was administered, but other times the result would be sickness or death if a poison was administered.  A part of the tool kit of the sorcerer or magician was drugs to control the situation.

Conclusion and Application

     While certainly illegal or recreational drug use is to be avoided, it is probably better to look to Galatians 5:21 which calls drunkenness, methai (μέθαι), a work of the flesh.  Galatians 5:20 use of pharmakeia (φαρμακεία) is not as strong a defense against illegal drug use from a Bible interpretation point of view.  The word for drunkenness, methai (μέθαι), is also used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Proverbs 20:1.  These Scriptures warning against drunkenness or intoxication are better as one interprets Scripture.  It is better to understand that pharmakeia (φαρμακεία) includes controlling situations and other people through drugging them.

     So Galatians 5:20 would apply to a drug dealer who gets people hooked on their products in order to gain wealth or power.  It includes pimps who get their victims hooked on heroin so that the women desire the drug so much they are easily forced to prostitute themselves.  This would also include enabling spouses who ensure the liquor is available and used by the alcoholic spouse in order for the enabler to maintain control in a relationship.  It would include these connections to addiction culture, but it would also include manipulative religious practices where people are controlled through threat of supernatural consequences.  A promise of relief of suffering if a cash gift is given to a ministry at times fits the pattern of control of the supernatural rather than an honest prayer for the person seeking relief.  Arousing sexual passions via images or words can also be used to manipulate someone by intensifying his or her sexual desire.  Once passion is aroused to unusual levels the victim may be easily persuaded to engage in that which would normally be against his or her will.   So not only would control over people via drug fit pharmakeia (φαρμακεία) as a work of the flesh, but so would other ungodly manipulation of people. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Being Thankful For the Mess



 

What is Thanksgiving about?  We of course can make it about shopping, parades, family, food, harvest, football or travel.  The American holiday can have a lot of different meanings for a lot of folks.  The first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims was not about those things so much as the providence of God.  These survivors of a harsh environment were recognizing something that is not really an element of our modern way of looking at life.  The idea that God controls and governs all of life is the idea of providence.  It is the idea that our story is not the product of chance or created by ourselves.  God is in control of all that is in our lives and how it comes about.  For Abraham it meant not having a heir for years but then a son is born.  This is the earthly mess that created was used to bring about a covenant from heaven.  For Jacob it meant competition and struggles with his relatives; his brother and uncle.  This is the earthly mess that established the 12 tribes of Israel.  For David it meant successes in battle but failures in family life.  This the earthly mess that brought us the line that would produce the King of kings who came down from heaven.  For Isaiah it meant having a message but it being misunderstood.  This is the earthly mess that foretold of the one who would come as a suffering servant.  For the Pilgrims it meant struggling to survive in harsh condition with many dying.  This is the earthly mess that brought about a people of faith.  For myself it means many misguided steps on my part brought about failed attempts at lifelong goals.  This is the earthly mess that has been a school of spiritual growth I could never have anticipated.  God is guiding all these things that seem to be bad from an earthly point of view, but they bring about heavenly treasure. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prayer Before Competition

War is terrible and glorious. War shows the depravity of mankind. War shows the heroic valor of particular individuals. War should never happen, but we simulate it through our sports games every day. We want the heroism without the horrors. We want the heroism without the necessity of sacrificing life. War can never solve the problems of the heart. We hardly every trace the root of a war in the human heart, but that is where it begins. The cause of war is the human heart.

Sports are a story of the human heart also. There is athletic achievement which is the fruit of training of body and mind. There is the binding of human hearts to one another during training and competition. There is the weighing of one's character and abilities in the courts of the game. The winners and losers know more about themselves and their opponents in the end. Even if one possesses the ecstasy of a win , the opponents made the winner try harder and do more than ever imagined. The athlete does not compete for herself alone, but for her social group. The dignity of the group is at stake when the representative walks onto the field. Whether the athlete represents a school, city, region or nation, the few act on behalf of the many. If that representative fails but has competed with valor and prowess, heads are held up but looking for next time. If the competitor has failed to represent himself or the group with a worthy display, heads are held low. A win results in heads held high. A win is ecstasy for the many, not just the few. The loss is a point of self examination for all.

War is a story of the human heart. That is why we pray.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Future Jobs: Pill Wranglers and Alternative Currency Speculator

Mars Hill Audio Journal 118 has an interview with Gilbert Meilaender mentioned a Ray Kurzweil who was trying to beat death.  In doing so he had hired a  pill wrangler to organize his extensive vitamin pills that he takes everyday.  A vitamin wrangler, what a cool line to put on one's resume.  Perhaps such jobs, probably not a career, will be common in the future as the work environment changes in the next few years. 

Sparks & Honey have a new set of slides up on Slide Share on future jobs which may exist in the next ten years.  There is possibilities that they may have accurately noticed a trend that will continue, which is what this purports to do. 



While Sparks & Honey list interesting jobs such as Digital Death Manager and Hackschooling Counselor, I'm wondering if there are some other jobs of the future.  Perhaps there will things such as this...

Skills and Knowledge Reuse Coach -  If job applicants are negotiating the new job market via resume, and certain skill sets are no longer needed, then assistance re-inventing oneself is large need. 



Sunday, September 08, 2013

TRUSTING WHILE FACING SUFFERING: AN EXEGESIS OF ISAIAH 50:4-11



A Term Paper
Presented to
Dr. Todd Beall
of Capital Bible Seminary
_____________

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Divinity


____________


by
Terry Pruitt
May 7, 2013

                                                               
4 The Lord GOD gave to me a tongue of disciples,
            to know how to sustain the weary with a word, 
He rouses morning by morning, 
            He rouses my ear to listen as the learned ones. 
5 The Lord GOD opened my ear
            and I myself was not rebellious,
            I did not turn my back.
­­6 I gave my back to those striking me
            and my cheeks to those who plucked them bare;
            I did not hide my face from reproach and spittle.
7 But the Lord GOD shall help me;
            therefore, I shall not be disgraced,
therefore I have placed my face like flint,
            and I know that I will not be ashamed.  
8 The one who justifies me is near; 
            Who will strive with me? 
            Let us stand together. 
Who is my adversary with a case against me? 
            Let him come near to me.
9 Behold, the Lord GOD shall help me; 
            Who is he who shall condemn me as guilty? 
Behold, they all shall wear out like a garment; 
            A moth shall eat them.
10  Who among you fears the LORD, 
            listening to the voice of His servant?
Who walks in darkness
            and has no light?  
Let him trust in the name of the LORD,
            and let him depend on his God. 
11 Behold, all of you who are kindling a fire,
            who are girding yourselves with sparks,
walk in the light of your fire,
             and by the sparks you have kindled. 
This you will have from my hand: 
            you shall lie down in a place of pain.




Introduction

            The Servant Songs of the OT book of Isaiah draw the reader to wonder who this servant is.  The reader of the Servant Songs asks with the Ethiopian eunuch, "About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?" (Act 8:34 ESV)   This paper is an exegesis of Isa 50:4-11.  It will show the literary context of Isa 50:4-11 as being a part of  a series of poems called the Servant Songs. It will examine the details of the Isa 50:4-11.  This paper will draw the conclusion that Isa 50:4-11 shows the Servant as one through whom God brings comfort and vindication to those who are suffering oppression.
            Motyer notes that a customary way of dividing the book has been to distinguish chaps. 1-39 from chaps. 40-66.[1]  While Motyer does see a difference in literary style  between chaps. 1-39 and chaps. 40-66, nonetheless he sees a unity of textual evidence, the geographic perspective, and theology. [2]  Though contested, it is best to see the text of the book of Isaiah to be a unified single work of literature written by the prophet by that name serving during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezikiah. The Servant Songs are featured in the second part of the book of Isaiah.  F. Duane Lindsey sees a progression of ideas in the Servant Songs.  The first Servant Song (42:1-9) shows the Servant's faithfulness while bringing salvation and order on all the earth.  The second Servant Song (49:1-13) shows the Servant bring salvation to the Gentiles and restoration of the land and relationship with God to Israel. The third Servant Song (50:4-11) tells of the sufferings endured by the Servant.  The fourth Servant Song (52:13-53:12) shows the suffering of the Servant but also his consequent exaltation.[3]  The book as a whole shows a prophetic prediction of God acting through providential control of the international political scene but also acting through his Servant.  The way the Servant is discussed begets a question in the mind of the reader of Isaiah to discern who is this servant and how are God's acts through his Servant comparable to the events on the international political scene. 

The Servant Songs Show God Acting Through the Servant (Isa 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-55:13)

            The Lord GOD's servant developed in the second part of Isaiah is just one portrait through which Isaiah portrays the Messiah.  J. Alec Motyer shows the three portraits of the Messiah from Isaiah: the King, the Servant and the Anointed Conqueror.  For Motyer, the Servant has the facets of being endowed with Spirit and word. The Servant's work is characterized by righteousness (Isa 53:11; 54:17).  He is in the line of the Davidic kingship (Isa 55:3). He holds Gentiles equal with Israel.[4]   Motyer says that the Servant passages are as follows:  Isa 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; and 52:13-53:13.[5]    Gary V. Smith additionally sees that interspersed between the last three servant poems are sections that have the theme "Salvation for Zion."  Smith holds that Isa 49:1-55:13 make up a section on the eschatological hope for Zion.[6]  These servant songs make up an important part of  salvation theology in the OT.  So who is this servant?

There is a Variety of Views Regarding the Identity of the Servant

             By identifying the Servants Songs as a single genre the reader may be predisposed to say that all the Servant Songs in Isaiah are to be identified as the same entity.  By contrast, John Calvin identifies the servant in Isa 50:4-11 as Isaiah himself who represents all servants of the Lord while in Isa 53:13 he sees the Servant as the Christ.[7]  Though Calvin takes the identity of the Servant to be two different entities in Isa 50 and Isa 53, it is probably best to keep a unified identity within the Servant Songs themselves.  Another view takes the servant throughout the book of Isaiah as primarily being one entity.   This view comes from the Jewish writer and apologist for Judaism, Gerald Sigal, who says that history of the Jewish people "shows that the servant is, none other than Israel personified."[8]  A survey of the word "servant" (עֶבֶד) in Isaiah shows that Isaiah uses the word in several ways.  The Hebrew word for servant (עֶבֶד) is used 39 times in Isa within 35 verses.[9]  Some of these references just denote a position of service without a heavy theological connotation such as Isa 36:9 where the servant just refers to those who served a king.  Sometimes God's OT covenant people, who are identified by the name Israel or synonymously as Jacob, are called God's servant (Isa 41:8; 44:1, 2; 45:4; 48:20). This usage of עֶבֶד identified as God's covenant people denotes their obligation to serve Him exclusively because He redeemed them from the Egyptians. 

Connecting Isa 50:4-11 with NT Concept of the Messiah

            There is, however, a person who is the Lord's Servant and is distinct from Israel.  Isa 49:2 talks about "my servant, Israel," but then later in Isa 49:5 it says  "his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him."  In Isa 49:5 "his servant" cannot be the nation of Israel since he is the one bringing Israel back to the Lord.           O. T. Allis attempts to unify the two positions by saying that there is a "diversity-in-unity of the subject described."  Allis says "(t)he three aspects of the subject dealt with are:  sinful Israel, pious Israel, and that 'Israelite indeed in whom is no guile,' who was declared to be 'the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.' "[10]  While Allis is using a form of the word "Israel" in all three descriptions, he is not talking about the same entity with each of the three identities.  Though he has verbal agreement regarding all three, he does not quite theologically connect all three.  A generous reading of Allis will include a theological connection of the "Israelite in whom there is no guile" to the one who died for the nation of Israel (John 11:50; Isa 53:6).  J. A. Alexander more clearly states that there is a union between the Messiah and his people.[11]  Though concealed in this passage, the best way to take the passage is that it applies to the Messiah.  The NT reveals this Messiah as Jesus Christ.  While other Servant Songs are quoted by NT writers directly, connecting Jesus with Isa 50:4-11 is a bit more tenuous. There is no specific quote of Isa 50:4-11 in the NT; however, there is an allusion to Isa 50:6 in Luke 18:31- 32.  Adam Clarke makes the connection between Isa 50:6 and Luke 18:31-32.[12]  Jesus, in informing his disciples of future events, tells them, "'See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.  For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.'" (Luke 18:31b-32 ESV)  While the concept of spitting is discussed in other OT passages, none besides Isa 50:6 is a prophetic prediction of one being spit upon.[13]  The Servant is best understood as Jesus the Savior of Israel, who suffered vicariously for Israel. 

Exegesis of Isaiah 50:4-11

            The following section will trace the literary structure of the complete passage and then be followed by an examination of the verses.  The literary structure as a whole gives context for examining the individual verses. 

The Literary Structure of the Third Servant Song

            In Isa 50:1 the speaker is Yahweh (יהוה).  The third Servant Song is preceded in Isa 50:1-3 with accusations against Israel.  Lindsey calls the section a short trial speech which functions as a transition between the Servant Song in Isa 49:1-26 and the third Servant Song.[14]  Isa 50:4 has a new speaker.  In the beginning of the third Servant Song the speaker declares he receives empowerment to speak from the Lord GODאֲדֹנָי יְהֹוִה) ).  This declaration delineates a distinction between the third Servant Song and what precedes it. Alexander attempts to unify the speaker in the chapter by saying that in v. 1 "Jehovah" is speaking and then the "Messiah" speaking, thus it is justified due to the "two fold [sic.] nature of Christ."[15]  Though it is true that Christ has a two-fold nature, being fully God and fully man, the passage does not seem to prove or acsert that.  This line of interpretation only works by reading Christian theology back into the text.  It is probably best just to see this as a change of speaker to the Servant, who is not further identified in Isa 50:4-11.[16]  The Servant does not self-identify, but rather another speaker in v. 10 identifies the speaker in vv. 4-9 as the Servant.  The speaker in vv. 10-11 according to Smith is the prophet Isaiah himself.[17]  However, Delitzch says that in vv. 10-11 the speaker goes back to being "Jehovah."[18] Motyer divides up the passage as vv. 4-9 being autobiographical of the Servant and then vv. 10-11 as an ending section.  He sees a similar structure in all four servant songs.[19]  He sees the ending section, vv. 10-11, as giving exhortation to the readers to respond to the model of the Servant.[20]  Perhaps it is best to generalize by saying that the speaker in vv. 10-11 is the prophetic voice: either the voice of God himself or the voice of His appointed spokesperson. The division of speakers helps to identify the structure of the passage: vv. 4-9 with the Servant as speaker and then vv. 10-11 with the prophet's voice as speaker. 
            The autobiographical section contains three main ideas: the Lord GOD teaches the Servant (50:4-5), the Servant is obedient in suffering (50:6), and the Lord GOD vindicates his Servant (50:7-9).  The response expected from the Servant's example is to "trust in the Lord" (50:10-11).  Like other OT poetry, Isa 50:4-11 uses parallelism to clarify ideas and capture the imagination of the listeners.  The next section looks more at the details of the passage. 

The Lord GOD Teaches the Servant. (vv. 4,5)

            4 The Lord GOD gave to me a tongue of disciples,
                                to know how to sustain the weary with a word, 
                He rouses morning by morning, 
                                He rouses my ear to listen as the learned ones. 
                        5 The Lord GOD opened my ear
                                and I myself was not rebellious,
                                I did not turn my back.

            The Lord GOD is teaching the Servant to minister to the weary.  Oswalt says that this particular Servant song uses the term "Lord GOD" (אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה ) repeatedly to show the certainty of the prediction.[21]   There is a chiasm in v. 4.  The outer portion of the chiasm is an adjective used to designate one who participates in learning (לִמּוּדִים).[22]  Whybray says the use of the Hebrew word לִמּוּדִים is a play on words with the first use pointing to "teaching" and the second one to "pupil."[23]  The chiastic pattern is not a word-for-word chiasm, except for the middle section which says "He rouses morning by morning, He rouses" (יָעִיר בַּבֹּקֶר בַּבֹּקֶר יָעִיר).  The emphasis in this middle section of the chiasm is the Lord GOD bringing about a maturation of ability in the Servant through daily interaction.[24] Delitzsch asserts that prophets receive visions at night; however, the Servant receives the revelations upon waking.[25] Heb 1:1 states that the prophets received revelation in a various ways and various times (Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως).  Young sees the "morning by morning" interaction as not prophetic revelation but preparation for obedience.[26]  So rather than trying to contrast how the prophets received their revelation as opposed to the Servant, it is best to see the Servant as having daily fellowship and teaching from the Lord GOD.
            The phrase "to know how to sustain the weary with a word" refers to the Servant's work to comfort.  The word לָעוּת (sustain or help),  BDB characterizes as having dubious meaning.  BDB then cites that the following scholars who believe this to be a textual corruption: Gesinius, Delitsch, Dillmann, and Ryssel.[27] The BHS critical apparatus also cites the problems of the word and attempts to posit a correction of לִרְעֹה (teach) or לְעַוֹּת or לְעַוֵּת ("bend") .  According to John D. Watts, Klosterman and Cheyne favor the use of the Hebrew word  לִרְעֹה ("teach") from the root - רעָה, while others may simply want to use the piel infinitive לְעַוֹּת or לְעַוֵּת ("bend") from the root - עָוַת.[28] It is best to maintain the more difficult reading here since the textual evidence supports it.  So the Servant "sustains" the weary.   Westermann believes the "weary" to be Israel.[29]  Certainly Messiah came first to the lost sheep of Israel, but also for those beyond Israel, the weary from other nations (Matt 15:24; John 10:16).
            The BHS textual apparatus says that one should probably delete the first use of "he rouses" (יָעִיר), but Watts says that the Masorities division of the verse demands that it be maintained for it to make sense.[30]  BHS even more strongly wants to delete the second use of "in the morning" (בַּבֹּקֶר) since it is absent from a Hebrew MS, LXX, Old Latin and Ethiopic versions.[31] As previously mentioned, these words (יָעִיר and בַּבֹּקֶר) are a part of chiasm and if one took them out, the chiasm would be destroyed. 
            The BHS editors say that the phrase, "The Lord GOD opened my ears"               (אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה פָּתַח־לִי אֹזֶן) is perhaps added.  Whybray believes the phrase to be an accidental repetition, but Watts affirms that it should be there in order to maintain the right sense.[32]  It is best to keep the phrase (אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה פָּתַח־לִי אֹזֶן) since no ancient text has an alternate reading.  Rather than seeing the repetition as a textual problem it is best to take it as parallelism which highlights the Servant's role as teacher.  Young says that the first line of v. 5 is a continuation of the thought of the previous verse, but the second line is a new thought:  the Servant has an inner disposition with no rebellion.[33]  Smith contrasts the response of the Servant with that of Israel, Moses, and Jeremiah who did not obey immediately.[34]   The Servant has an attitude of obedience in contrast the previous mentioned recipients of the covenants. 

The Servant Suffers in Obedience. (v. 6)

­­­­                6 I gave my back to those striking me
                                and my cheeks to those who plucked them bare;
                                I did not hide my face from reproach and spittle.

            Verse 6 states that the Servant is giving himself over to physical suffering and indignity.  Martin says that the Servant gave his body over to those who persecuted him.  The message is that though the Servant is suffering, he is obedient.[35]  Clarke points out that plucking of the beard and spitting are signs of great indignities.[36]  Goldengay believes that the prophet is suffering because he is saying that Cyrus would be the savior of Israel.[37] On the other hand, Smith counters that the audience is not identified, those who conduct the beatings are not identified and the reason for the beating is not given.[38] 
Westermann sees v. 6 as a concession that God is on his opponent's side.[39] This seems to be counter to the next two verses that follow.  Young's assessment that this verse reminds the Christian of the suffering of the Messiah is more on target.[40]
            There are two textual variants in vx 6 according to the BHS textual apparatus.  The first is regarding "those who pluck bare" (לְמֹרְטִים).  Watts translates it as "to those making bare."  There is a variant in the Dead Sea Scroll 1QIsaa which has למטלים ("to the ones beating with iron").[41]  While the difference shows a great variance in wording, the meaning still is that the Servant is suffering voluntarily at the hands of others.  The context does not show someone beating iron, but one humiliating the Servant.  Without stronger evidence it is best to keep the MT. 
            The second textual variant in v. 6 has to do with the word הִסְתַּרְתִּי ("I hid").  The BHS says in the textual apparatus that the Dead Sea Scroll 1QIsaa says הסִרֹתִי ("turn away").  Watts on the other hand says that the Targums and the 1QIsaa both say הִסְתַּרְתִּי ("I hid") while he asserts that the LXX and Syriac versions have ἀπέστρεψα and `pnyt respectively for "turn away."[42]  In both variants the Servant is giving himself to suffer in a physical and violent way.  Again, without stronger evidence, it is best to keep the MT. 

The Lord GOD Vindicates the Servant. (vv. 7-9)
                                   
                        7 But the Lord GOD shall help me;
                                therefore, I shall not be disgraced,
                therefore I have placed my face like flint,
                                and I know that I will not be ashamed.  
                        8 The one who justifies me is near; 
                                Who will strive with me? 
                                Let us stand together. 
                Who is my adversary with a case against me? 
                                Let him come near to me.
                        9 Behold, the Lord GOD shall help me; 
                                Who is he who shall condemn me as guilty? 
                Behold, they all shall wear out like a garment; 
                                A moth shall eat them.

            Isaiah 50:7-9 shows how the Servant is suffering but he is not disgraced and he trusts that the Lord will vindicate him.  In v. 7, the Lord GOD is helping the Servant and the result is one of honor and internal fortitude.  The עַל־כֵּן ("therefore") marks two things: no disgrace, and determination.[43]  Alexander points out in v. 7 that it is not current realities that create the lack of shame but hope in God.[44]  Motyer says that the help is future.[45] As Westermann says, there is a contrast between the current reality relative to    v. 6 "I hid not my face from reproach" and the future hope in v. 7 "I know that I will not be ashamed."[46]  The contrast maybe seen in the disjunctive vav used at the beginning of  v. 7.[47]  Young points out the possible allusion Luke makes to this verse in Luke 9:51.[48]  The v. 7 shows that the dignity which comes from God transcends earthly honor.
            Verse 8 draws out a contrast between the one who declares righteous and those who would make accusations on the Servant.  Smith points out the contrast between the one who "justifies me" (מַצְדִּיקִי) and the one who "accuses me" (בַעַל).   These words are forensic terms contrasting being either free from legal guilt or being guilty.[49]  The Servant in v. 8 is ready to face his accusers. 
            Verse 9 continues on the theme of facing accusers but moves on to show that they will be destroyed.  Delitzsch says the use of the interrogative with the personal pronoun (מִי־הוּא) is emphatic.[50]  The Servant continues to face his accusers.  Delitzsch does not distinguish between the destruction of the adversary being like a garment wearing out and a moth eating it.  He summarizes them as "working imperceptibly and slowly."[51] Smith, on the other hand, says that the moth-eaten garment is not a transparent metaphor.  He thinks that the "wearing out" may point to slow destruction at work and the unseen work of the "moth" points that they are already full of holes, nothingness.[52]   The wearing out of the garment points to inevitability of destruction through normal everyday use and the eating of moths points to an outside but hidden entity that destroys.  There was little that the ancients could do against either one.  The destruction of the Servant's adversaries is inevitable and predictable.   

Prophetic Exhortation (50:10-11)

                        10  Who among you fears the LORD, 
                                listening to the voice of His servant?
                Who walks in darkness
                                and has no light?  
                Let him trust in the name of the LORD,
                                and let him depend on his God. 
                        11 Behold, all of you who are kindling a fire,
                                who are girding yourselves with sparks,
                walk in the light of your fire,
                                 and by the sparks you have kindled. 
                This you will have from my hand: 
                                you shall lie down in a place of pain.

            In this last section the prophetic voice warns that the reader should listen to the voice of the Servant.  He spells out the response just in case the reader is not able to deduce it.  As Smith points out the words, "Who among you?" (מִי בָכֶם) points the reader to "trust in the name of the LORD."[53] 
            Clarke sees a theological problem with this section.  He interprets that "walk in darkness" means without regeneration.  Clarke wants to defend against the idea that one could be unregenerate, "walking in darkness," and still be listening to the voice of the Servant.  Are there those out there who attempt to obey the Lord and still are unsaved?  Clarke feels it is best to solve it by making it a question and response in the same way that Bishop Lowth suggests:  Question:  "Who among you fears the LORD?  Answer:  Listen to the voice of His servant.  Question:  Who walks in darkness and has no light?  Answer:  Let him trust in the name of the Lord and depend on his God.[54]  This interpretation may solve some theological issues observed by Lowth; however, Lowth's solution seems like a forced interpretation.  In contrast to Clarke, Martin takes the view that "walking in darkness" does not mean being spiritually lost, but rather living in difficult times.  Also Martin takes it that walking in the light is a metaphor for self-sufficiency.[55] Motyer advocates yet another interpretation of "walking in darkness."  He sees "to walk in darkness" is to have the Servant experience.[56]  The darkness does not seem to be the darkness of sin. The one who walks in darkness is walking like the Servant. The darkness in which the Servant walks is best thought of as his suffering.  In this case the Servant is the example to the one who walks in darkness.  The darkness is both the physical suffering and the indignation given from the Servant in v. 6. 
            Verse 10 also has a textual problem.  BHS cities that the word "listening" (שֹׁמֵעַ) should rather be read as "let him hear" (יִשְׁמַע) based on a comparison of the LXX (ἀκουσάτω) and Syriac version.  Clarke agrees that it should be "let him hear" (יִשְׁמַע) based upon the observation that it is a "more elegant turn and distribution to the sentence."[57]    However, Watts disagrees and points to the evidence in the MT and the Dead Sea Scrolls.[58] With both the MT and the Dead Sea Scrolls in agreement, the evidence weighs towards the MT reading.  Delitzsch points out the essence of the Christian faith is found in verse 10: "trust" (יִבְטַח) and "rely"( וְיִשָּׁעֵן) on the Lord.[59]  This message is compatible with the basic message later on revealed more fully in the NT of salvation by faith.  Motyer sees in vv. 10 and 11 two classes of people: those who follow the model of the Servant, and those who are self-sufficient.[60]  The next verse shows more about the self-sufficient. 
            Verse 11 is a warning against those who are self-sufficient, those who light their own path.  Motyer sees these self-sufficient ones as drawing merely on "earthly resources."[61]  Delitsch sees that the fire is the fire of divine judgment.[62] However, Smith sees these fires as their own fires in contrast with the Lord's fire.[63]  As mentioned before this usage of darkness as a metaphor in v. 10 is unusual, so the light in v. 11 should most likely follow suit.  It is most likely that the fire and light in this case is self-sufficiency and earthly resources.  Their own strength will be their own punishment. 
            There are two textual issues in this last verse.  The BHS textual apparatus thinks that the MT of "girding" (מְאַזְּרֵי) should probably be replaced with "lighting" (מאִירֵי) based on a comparison with the Syriac text.  However, Watts points out that the LXX and the Aramaic texts support the MT and should be maintained.[64]   Another textual issue in the BHS textual apparatus is the word "by the flame of" (בְּאוּר) is compared with the LXX (τῷ φωτὶ), Syriac and Latin Vulgate version which say "in the light" (בּאוֹר).  Again Watts favors the MT.[65]  Without further evidence the MT is probably the best reading. 

Conclusion

            The Third Servant Song is designed to bring to mind a curiosity, one who suffers willingly.  Isaiah paints a picture of the Servant as one who suffers.  His identity is not explicitly known, but his characteristics are spelled out.  The point of the passage is not to point out the identity of the Servant, but the characteristics of the Servant so that later on his identity will be known.  Though somewhat through a veil, Luke alludes to the one who is prophesied to be spit upon: this applies to Jesus Christ (Luke 18:31-32).  He is a Servant who is taught of the Lord continually and sustains the weary.  He suffers willingly, and the Lord vindicates his Servant.  The prophetic voice calls for the reader to respond by trusting and relying on the Lord.  That same prophetic voice calls the reader to avoid self-sufficiency founded on earthly resources.  The church of the Lord Jesus Christ should be able to look at the Servant and see the pattern for discipleship: suffering but trusting in the Lord none the less.


                [1] J. Alec. Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993)  23.

                [2] Ibid., 26-30.
                [3] F. Duane Lindsey, "Isaiah's Songs of the Servant Part 3: The Commitment of the Servant in Isaiah 50:4-11,"  BSac 139 (1982) 217.

                [4] Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah,13.

                [5] Ibid., 15.

                [6] Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 40-66 (New American Commentary 15B; Nashville: B&H, 2009) 54.

                [7] John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Trans. John Pringle. Vol. 8. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009) 52, 107.

                [8] Gerald Sigal, "Who is the Suffering Servant of the Lord?"[cited 24 March 20013] Online: http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121:who-is-the-suffering-servant-of-the-lord&catid=48:suffering-servant&Itemid=500

            [9] BibleWorks. Vers. 9, (Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2013) Computer software. Is 14:2, 20:3; 22:20; 24:2; 36:9; 36:11; 37:5; 37:24, 35; 41:8, 9; 42:1, 19; 43:10; 44:1, 2, 21, 26; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3, 5-7; 50:10; 52:13; 53:11; 56:6; 63:17; 65:8, 9, 13-15;  66:14.

[10] O.T. Allis, The Unity of Isaiah (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1950) 84. 

                [11] J. A. Alexander, Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah (Reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1992) 250.

                [12] Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary (Vol. 4. Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1940) 194.

                [13] BibleWorks. Vers. 9 (Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2013) Computer software.

                [14] Lindsey, "Commitment", 217.

                [15] Alexander, Prophecies of Isaiah, 249. 

                [16] Smith, Isaiah 40-66, 385.
               
                [17] Ibid.

                [18] Franz Delitzsch, The Prophecies of Isaiah (Reprint Ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960) 280.

                [19] Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 15.

                [20] Ibid., 401. 

                [21] John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66  (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 323.

                [22] Delitzsch, The Prophecies of Isaiah, 277.
                 
                [23] R. N. Whybray, Isaiah 40-66 (New Century Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981) 151.

                [24] BDB, 113.

                [25] Delitzsch, The Prophecies of Isaiah, 277.
     
                [26] E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah (3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974) 3:299.

                [27] BDB, 736. Also, BDB says that it is connected with the Aramaic (עות), and then relates it to the Arabic word (غاث).  Delitzsch, The Prophecies of Isaiah. 277. Delitzsch corrects the BDB spelling in his work by saying the middle radical is a vav , but continues to spell the word in Arabic with an aleph.  Both the Hebrew vav and the Arabic aleph are a long straight letter.  If the word is related to the Arabic then it should be spelled ghayn-waw-tha (غَوْث) rather than ghayn-aleph-tha (غاث).  Measure IV of the Arabic word means "help" while measure X means to "appeal for help."  Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (Arabic-English) (4th Ed.;  ed. J. Milton Cowan; Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1979) 804. The Arabic etymology supports the English translation as "help." 

                [28] John D. W. Watts, Isaiah 34-66 (Word Biblical Commentary; Waco, TX: Word, 1987) 197.

            [29] Ibid., 196.  The "weary" (יָעֵף) also is a textual issue in the BHS critical apparatus.  The apparatus notes that fragments of the Cairo Geniza have the qal infinitive construct of the verb instead of the adjective.  Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66: A Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969) 228.

                [30] Watts, Isaiah 34-66, 196.

                [31] Ibid.

                [32] Ibid.  Whybray, Isaiah 40-66, 151.

                [33] Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3:299.              

                [34] Smith, Isaiah 40-66, 381. 

                [35] Martin, "Isaiah," The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1004-1005. 

                [36] Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, 193-94.

                [37] Goldengay, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 407. 

                [38] Smith, Isaiah 40-66. 381.

                [39] Westermann, Isaiah 40-66, 230.

                [40] Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3:300. 

                [41] "Isaiah Scroll 42." Isaiah Scroll 42. Christian Ethereal Library, n.p. [cited 02 Apr. 2013]. Online: http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/qum-42.htm

                [42] Ibid. The notes on the Christian Ethereal Library that show a photograph of the 1QIsa agrees with the note in the BHS critical apparatus.   Watts, Isaiah 34-66, 196. 

                [43] Smith, Isaiah 40-66, 383. 

                [44] Alexander, Prophecies of Isaiah, 252.

                [45]Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 400.

                [46] Westermann,  Isaiah 40-66, 231.

                [47] Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, 331.
               
                [48] Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3:301.  "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." (Luke 9:51 ESV)

                [49] Smith, The Book of Isaiah, 384. 

                [50] Delitzsch, The Prophecies of Isaiah, 279.

                [51] Ibid., 280. 

                [52] Smith, Isaiah 40-66, 384. 

                [53] Smith, The Book of Isaiah, 386.

                [54] Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, 194.  See also Smith, The Book of Isaiah, 386.  Smith takes the darkness to be "spiritual or political darkness." 

                [55] Martin, "Isaiah", 1105. 

                [56] Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 401.

                [57] Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, 195. 

                [58] Watts, Isaiah 34-66, 196.

                [59] Delitzsch, The Prophecies of Isaiah, 280.

                [60] Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, 401.

                [61] Ibid.

                [62] Delitzsch, The Prophecies of Isaiah, 281.

                [63] Smith, Isaiah 40-66, 386.

                [64] Watts, Isaiah 34-66, 196.

                [65] Ibid.



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