Song of Isaiah (1)

Song of Isaiah (1)

The First Song of Isaiah

Please read Isaiah 12:2-6.

AUTHOR. This book was written during the prophet Isaiah’s ministry lasting forty years, starting around 760 BC. Isaiah wrote while living in Jerusalem. He started his ministry during times of relative peace and prosperity, and so, because there wasn’t as much of a hard edge to his messages, he was well-liked. But soon Isaiah spoke words of the Lord’s judgment and coming punishment for their sins. He was very active in addressing the shortcomings of the kings of Judah during his ministry, and continued calling them to repentance. Isaiah is considered by most Biblical scholars to be the greatest of all the prophets, and his book is the first of the writings of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Because his messages from the Lord became very difficult to hear, the people, and the kings, often rejected what he had to say. Isaiah grew to be quite unpopular during much of his ministry. He was highly gifted as a poet, a genius, and his writings are considered literary masterpieces. He combined the simple and the complex into what Eugene Peterson called a “Salvation Symphony.” His writings are still accepted as unsurpassed works of art, and they poetically, prophetically point to events that would happen soon, and events that would happen in the distant future. Isaiah discusses the Messiah more than any other book of the Hebrew Bible, referring to the Messiah in many different ways, including Suffering Servant, Sovereign Lord, and Everlasting Savior. As Peterson once wrote, “Isaiah is the supreme poet-prophet to come out of the Hebrew people.” Jewish tradition has Isaiah dying a martyr’s death, executed under the reign of the wicked king Mannaseh.

PERSONAL NOTE. Many years ago, Sheri and I were attending an Episcopal church which occasionally sang this “First Song of Isaiah.” The tune is by Mr. Jack Noble White, composed in 1976, and the melody is nothing short of inspired. The words from Isaiah 12 pulsate with the spiritual energy of the Holy Spirit, and then when it is sung this way, the song settles in your spirit. The words of Isaiah’s song are so perfectly composed, they practically sing themselves. If ever there was a Scripture passage to memorize, this would be it. So years ago I in fact did memorize it, and I have said it in my prayers many times a week ever since. There is a quality that is particular to anything that is truly inspired… It never gets old. The depth of the words are such that one never reaches the bottom. Isaiah 12 has become my statement of faith, and when I recite it, the Holy Spirit continues to make the words fresh and profound. Isaiah 12 is fresh bread for the soul. Thank you, Isaiah, for allowing the Holy Spirit to use your poetic gifts. This version of the First Song of Isaiah can be found in the Book of Common Prayer, in the section entitled “Morning Prayer II.” Enjoy.

The First Song of Isaiah (Isaiah 12:2-6):

“Surely it is God who saves me;

I will trust in Him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,

and He will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing

from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say,

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon His Name;

Make His deeds known among the peoples;

See that they remember that His Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for He has done great things,

and this known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,

for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.”

SPIRITUAL CLAIM. Whenever I sense I am being harassed or hounded by forces of spiritual darkness, or am fearful, or I simply want to confirm which side I’m on, I recite the opening words of this song. “Surely it is God who saves me; I will trust in Him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and He will be my Savior.” With these triumphant words of faith, I am declaring to the spiritual powers that I trust in the Lord to save me, to remain my refuge and dwelling place. These words remind the spiritual forces that God is my Savior, and that I am sheltering my spirit in Him. When used this way, as a spiritual declaration, it is important to sing or speak the words aloud. When you are merely thinking these words in your head, they will not reach the ears of our foes. Satan and his forces are not omniscient, they can not read minds. Speak or sing these words aloud, and you are declaring to the spiritual world that God is your strength, and there is no point to trying to assault someone hidden in the stronghold of the Lord. With these words, you are telling the evil one that you are not fearful, that God has become your salvation. You are telling the Accuser that he may as well surrender in his battle, since God has already won the victory.

JOY. There is an overall tone of triumphant joy in this song. “You shall draw water with rejoicing;” “His name is exalted;” “Sing the praises of the Lord;” “Cry aloud, ring out your joy!” This is a victory chant of the redeemed, for those who have tasted of God’s redeeming grace. So, this song is not only a spiritual declaration and a war cry, it is a song of triumph, a psalm of joy.

WATER. Isaiah 12 was always recited in the climactic last day of the 7-day Feast of Tabernacles in the Temple. The high priest would draw water with his golden pitcher from a nearby pool of living, burbling water. He would then return to the Temple and pour the water onto the altar. This was an ancient tradition in the Jewish faith, and a very joyous part of that Feast. While the water was poured, the people would chant various Scripture foretelling live-giving water, from Isaiah, JeremiahZechariah, and other books of the Hebrew Bible. The people always included Isaiah 12:3 in their chants, “And you shall draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation.” This was all very messianic, because Scripture tells over and over again of an abundance of water during the messianic era. All the people could think about during this ceremony was the coming of the messiah. It was at this dramatic point in the water ceremony that Jesus stood up and literally shouted for everyone to hear, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me! Let anyone who believes in me come and drink! For as Scripture says, ‘From his heart shall flow streams of living water!” (John 7:37-38). Could Jesus have made this any clearer? Our salvation comes through Him, His heart overflows with spiritual water, “welling up for  eternal life.”(John 4:14). If one is looking to satisfy one’s thirst for eternal life, for God, one needs to look no further than the Spirit of Jesus, the living fountain, the spring of salvation.

THE LORD. One of my favorite lines in Isaiah’s Song is the very last line. I like to dwell on it. I’d like to live there. “The great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.” 700 years after these words were spoken by Isaiah, they became true in the Person of Christ. Lord Jesus, you are the Great One, the Holy One, and you are in our midst. We praise God for your incarnation, for being Emmanuel, God with us, for being present to us through your Holy Spirit. Amen.

The First Song of Isaiah – Combined Choirs – YouTube

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