April 8, 2014

Confidence from the sovereign Lord

By Michael Sherer, ITS director
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 50:4-9a (NRSV)

Confidence. We know it when we feel it. We know it when we see it in others. But where does confidence come from? For the writer of Isaiah 50, his confidence comes from knowing the Lord, from serving the Lord. It’s really an amazing recital, bordering on boastful. Who among us could say anything quite like it? The prophet is confident in his gifts and vocation, confident that he is listening to God, confident that he is following the Lord, steely in the face of persecution and abuse, dauntless in his belief that God will help and sustain him. But the passage goes far deeper than mere confidence. The prophet’s confidence is buttressed and buoyed by the following attributes:

Mission. Confidence without mission is aimless. The prophet’s determination grows out of knowing that God has something important for him to do. Who among us would endure persecution and danger for no particular reason?

Righteousness. The prophet is confident in his righteousness. His persecution is not deserved. On the contrary, he wears it as a badge of honor, evidence of his persistence in the face of opposition and suffering.

Determination. The prophet is a rock. He has ‘set his face like flint.’ You can feel his grit and determination oozing from every line of this passage. He’s going to get the job done or quite literally die trying.

Spiritual sensitivity. According to the prophet, every day God wakens his ear “to listen like one being instructed.” My first impulse when writing this devotion was to focus on the first four attributes. Imagine a world where all of God’s people were suffused with confidence, mission, righteousness and determination. We would be an unstoppable force and so much good would be accomplished! But much damage might also be inflicted by God’s people in the absence of the spiritual sensitivity that comes from listening to God daily, continuously.

God, this Lenten season, like the prophet, we pray that we might be equipped with the confidence, righteousness, determination and mission to do your work in the world. But we also pray for the spiritual sensitivity to do it with the grace, wisdom and compassion that comes from listening to you daily. Amen.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 50:4-9a (NRSV)

The Servant’s Humiliation and Vindication

The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.

The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment;
the moth will eat them up.



Comments (4)

  1. Thanks, Michael, for this excellent thought-provoking meditation. Wilma

    Wilma Shank April 8, 2014 |
  2. One of the best devotionals ever. Thanks.

    Sally Rich April 8, 2014 |
  3. Thank you for this awesome commission spelled
    out so clearly! Yes–for today and tomorrow, Lord!

    Bonnie Sowers April 8, 2014 |
  4. Thank you, sir, for your very enlightening and empowering message. I feel stronger now for my God-given mission. With every good wish for Holy Week and Easter.
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet April 9, 2014 |