This chapter and the next, speak of the mediator of Israel and the Saviour of the Gentiles.
In this chapter, Isaiah introduces a servant that is different from his servant Jacob and cannot refer to his shepherd Cyrus of Isaiah 45:1 / Isaiah 44:28.
The New Testament finds the fulfilment of this prophecy in Jesus Christ. The coming Saviour is embodied in the idea of Israel. The first seven verses of chapter 42 are purely Messianic.
These verses indicate how the Messiah brings to the Gentiles, God’s right judgement in a peaceful way, Luke 4:18-21, for the New Testament fulfilment. Jesus certainly had the Spirit on Him, John 3:34.
Barnes, in his commentary, says the following, concerning ‘my Spirit’.
‘The Lord Jesus was divine, yet as Mediator he is everywhere represented as ‘the anointed’ of God, or as endowed with the influences of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah 11:2. Also, Isaiah 61:1, where the Messiah says of himself, ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because be hath anointed me’, Luke 4:18. Before he entered upon his public ministry, the Spirit of God descended on him at his baptism, Matthew 3:17, and in all his work he showed that he was endowed abundantly with that Spirit.’
Isaiah tells how the Messiah will manifest Himself in the world as a quiet, gentle, and humble individual, the opposite of self-seeking, Matthew 6:1-7.
He will draw all men to Himself and He will bring justice to the downtrodden. His mission is not to destroy but to seek and to save, Luke 19:10.
The Messiah will not be broken nor His strength diminished until He brings the redemption, in other words, He will accomplish His mission.
Jesus was the fulfilment of all that Israel was supposed to be, Isaiah 36:6 / Ezekiel 29:6. In the New Testament, Matthew quoted this whole passage in Matthew 12:18-21, stating that the prophet Isaiah had written this, and applying every word of it to Jesus Christ.
God now addresses His servant, the Messiah. The Messiah has an exalted mission answering to the exaltation of Him who called Him. The Messiah will not lack the power to fulfil His mission.
By the Messiah, God makes a new covenant with His people, Jeremiah 31:31-32 / Micah 5:5. ‘To open the blind eyes’, Isaiah 42:17, refers not to a physical act but a figurative one, Isaiah 35:5 / John 9:39-41 / Luke 4:18,19.
He would be a light to the Gentiles, Acts 26:18, and in being a light to those in bondage, He would give freedom, John 8:32-36. The ‘prisoners’ are spiritual prisoners, Ephesians 4:8 / Hebrews 2:14.
God pledges His Name and honour to the accomplishment of the Messiah’s work and there will be restoration blessings of the return from the Babylonian captivity, and secondly, the redemption offered, this is predicted before it happened.
The prediction of new things is manifestly the works of God. These new things will be an occasion for all the earth to sing a new song because they are set free, Isaiah 12:1-6 / Isaiah 25:1-12 / Isaiah 26:1-10.
Even the plundering Arabs of Kedar will sing in jubilation, shouting the praises of God from the highest mountains. The ‘rock’ is a reference to Petra, the capital of the Edomites.
God would overcome His enemies after He held His peace long enough. He had restrained His speech, but now He will break forth as a woman suddenly giving birth to a child.
In order for this deliverance to take place, a great change must come. The land of captivity is turned from a garden land into a wasteland. This is indicative of the destruction that is going to come upon the captors of Israel.
The redemption of God’s people is to furnish them a deliverance which they knew not, that is, the decree of Cyrus. God’s work is twofold, judgement for idolaters and salvation for His own people. Those who were spiritually blind will see His grace and those who trusted in idols will be shamed.
The blind are told to free themselves from their blindness and deafness, Isaiah 6:10 / Romans 11:25. They are completely blind and completely deaf, John 9:40-41 / John 15:22.
Israel was the blinded servant, she was blinded because of the great things that God had done for her throughout her history. She had all the opportunity to witness the direct work of God in the life of the nation, but she turned away to be her own master.
These verses form a reproof toward Israel in a severe tone because so much has been committed unto her. Despite the glory given to Israel, when she fell into captivity no one could deliver her but God. Israel must remain in her afflicted condition until she changes.
Burned children usually shun the fire, but the nation of Israel didn’t learn, Hosea 4:6. Until Israel was willing to see her condition she would remain in this condition. The fury of God kindled the flame of war all around the Jewish nation and spread desolation everywhere.