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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Fouts

Shoulders: a commentary on Isaiah 9:4 & 6

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

I stumbled onto something interesting a week or so ago while doing prep work for the #12DaysofMisfits & in response to a question posed by one of our patrons, involving Isaiah 9. The question put forth was asking about verse 6 in relation to our response to Christian Nationalism, what does the Government being on Christ’s shoulders look like? What I found & am writing about here did not address her question or what Brandon had to guess on this morning's episode. Instead, I found something interesting about the imagery Isaiah uses here, & even more interesting, that I could not find a single commentary that dealt with this at all (if you know of any that do let me know please!).

In Isaiah 8, Isaiah is warning of the coming Assyrian Army that would demolish the Northern Kingdom & give quite a scare to Judah as well. Chapter 9 is a continuation of this warning, but while in Chapter 8 all hope seemed lost, Isaiah now provides hope.


1 Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future He will bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations. 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. 4 For You have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian. 5 For the trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:1-7


Most of us are familiar with this passage indirectly. Verse 6 is sung as a carol in most Advent seasons. The context of it though is probably not widely known, but that isn’t what I found so interesting. There are commentaries galore about the context & the names of Jesus in verse 6, however, there is another piece of verse 6 that I want to look at for a while, & in particular this verse in conjunction with verse 4.

In verse 4, the Assyrian’s yoke & rod of oppression are broken off the shoulders, & the people are then free, in the same way, they were after Gideon’s victory over Midian in Judges 7. This is what we see in Isaiah 37 & II Kings 19. Hezekiah & Isaiah pray for deliverance from Assyria & God wipes the Assyrian army off the map overnight. God himself broke the yoke of Assyria off the shoulder of Hezekiah. But now we look at verse 6, & we see that a child is born. This child also has something on His shoulders, but this time, we see the child taking the Government upon his shoulders. This is where suddenly the commentaries grow quiet. The focus of the scholarship I could find on verse 6 focused exclusively on the Names of God listed in this verse, but I think there is an important distinction that is being made through the imagery we have here between verses 4 & 6.


In verse 4 Judah is weighed down with oppression on their shoulders until God comes and breaks the yoke, then in verse 6 we see God coming as a child, but holding the authority of the Government on His shoulders. This is striking imagery. In both verses, we have the image of carrying weight on the shoulder, but in one verse there is oppression & another there is freedom & authority. These 2 verses give us a wonderful picture of what Christ did on the Cross & what He will do when He returns. These two verses give us a wonderful example of what Advent is all about. We remember the anticipation of the Messiah’s birth, while we also await for his return to fully break the oppressive yoke & to take on the full authority He has held since He spoke Creation into existence. (A more in depth look may be coming, but for now, Merry Christmas!)

 

This blog is a companion blog to Day 10 of the 2022 #12DaysofMisfits episode. To view this episode visit: https://youtu.be/SjvC2FgdUgs For more of the #12DaysofMisfits visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lSIibofNQU&list=PL3DjCo30WceIyfX4146XOth_A4F2co1sM


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