"...And a little boy will lead them." Isaiah 11:6
The Character of the King. Isaiah 11:1-5
His Davidic Descent. Isa. 11:1
- The text reads as
follows: "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch
from his roots will bear fruit." (Isa. 11:1)
- If the reader begins
here, this prediction makes little sense. But in the broader context,
the prediction is clearly understandable. In the preceding chapter,
Isaiah had predicted the defeat of the invading Assyrian army. He had
spelled out Assyria's defeat especially in Isa. 10:5-19, 24-34. He had
used the imagery of a burning forest in Isa. 10:16-19. And in the
context immediately preceding Isaiah 11:1, the prophet had used the
imagery of God Himself destroying Assyria as a gigantic lumberjack
(Isa. 10:33-34): Yahweh,
the God of Troops would lop off the boughs of Assyria with a
terrible crash; "Those who are tall in stature will be cut down and
those who are lofty will be abased. He will cut down the thickets of
the forest with an iron axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Mighty one."
- So in the context of the
imagery of a huge forest being felled, it made perfect sense for
Isaiah to continue in that vein, but to switch from the demise of the
forest of Assyria to the successful reign of the righteous shoot
springing from the stem of Jesse, growing into the branch reigning over
the state of Israel
- Clearly Isaiah predicts
the Nature and Character of the Messianic King
in Isa. 11:1-5. But why
does he use the oblique reference to "a shoot" springing "from the stem
of Jesse" and "a branch from his roots" that "will bear fruit"? Allow
me to suggest the following reasons:
- The idea of a "shoot
springing from the stem" and "a branch from his roots" bearing fruit
speaks of the inauspicious and humble origins of the Messiah.
has already mentioned that a virgin would be with child and bear a son
whom she would name "Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). Whereas the virgin birth of
is a miraculous, Divine event in the thinking of us in the Church,
the whole concept of a single woman bearing a child was laden
in that day with suspicion (Matt. 1:18, 19) and innuendo (John 8:41).
- And when Jesus was
born, he came into existence in the animal quarters of a home (Luke
2:7). What a humble birthplace! His parents moved from Bethlehem, the
village to which they had been forced to travel to comply with the
census of Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1-5), back to their home town of
Nazareth (Matt. 2:21-23). What notoriety existed in that hamlet? As
"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46).
- The word for "branch"
is the Hebrew word nêtser (5342),
a sprout, shoot, or branch (always used figuratively) (adapted from BDB
and NASB). There are some scholars who believe Matthew had this shoot (nêtser) in mind when he wrote that Jesus
fulfilled prophecy by being called a Nazarene (Matt. 2:23) (Constable,
2. His Supreme Anointment with Yahweh's Spirit.
- But why refer to the Messiah
as springing from Jesse, and not from David? Constable
it this way: "The reference to humble 'Jesse,' rather than
to glorious David,
stresses God's grace in providing a deliverer from a lowly family.
- In a stunning succession
of statements, Isaiah reveals to us that this "shoot" / "branch" from
the stem of Jesse will indeed
be the Messiah.
The title "Messiah"
means, of course, "The Anointed
One." On a human level a prophet anoints a man's head with olive
oil to signify
he is God's choice as King (1 Sam. 9:15, 16; 10:1; 16:1, 12, 13). But
on a Divine level God anoints the King-designate with His Spirit
in order to serve as the King of Israel (1 Sam. 10:6, 10; 16:13). But
the superlatives here in Isa. 11:2 indicate
that the One of whom Isaiah speaks is the Ultimate Anointed
One, not merely an average King of Israel. Isaiah
has already predicted He will rule over the entire world (Isa. 2:1-4)!
He has also labeled this One as "Mighty God" and "Eternal Father" (Isa.
9:6). He has also predicted that His Davidic government on the throne
of David would never cease. Moreover there would never be any
corruption attached to His reign (Isa. 9:7). Let us examine each phrase here in Isa.
- "The Spirit of the
LORD will rest on Him." (Isa. 11:2)
- The Hebrew text reads,
literally, "And will
settle upon Him – Spirit
of Yahweh." "Spirit"
is rûach (7307),
meaning "breath, wind, spirit" (Friberg),
depending on the context. Here the context is clear, for Isaiah
identifies Him as the Spirit
of Yahweh (3068),
the "Self-Existent One." In the prophecy of Isaiah, the Messiah
would one day acknowledge that
- The Spirit
Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good
news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to
proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the
favorable year of the LORD .... (Isa. 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19)
- "will rest" is the Qal Perfect
of the verb nûach (5117),
translated by BDB
as "rest, settle down and remain," providing a striking consonance to
the sound of rûach (7307).
This is not a temporary settling of Yahweh's Spirit
upon this Anointed
One. The Perfect
tense depicts it as a completed act.
- "on Him" There is no indication
in this prophecy as to the timing of the descent of the Spirit
this man. But we have a clear indication in each of the four Gospels as
to when it actually did happen. When John
the Immerser came preaching
in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Be repenting, for the Kingdom of
the Heavens has drawn near!" (Matt. 3:1, 2, JTB
identified him as the one of whom Isaiah the prophet had predicted
(Isa. 40:3; John 1:23). John
acknowledged that he himself, indeed
immersed Israelis in water for the purpose of demonstrating repentance
(Matt. 3:11). But there was One coming after him who was mightier than John.
That One would immerse Israelis with the Holy
Spirit and with
fire (Matt. 3:11). This would involve a sorting, threshing action in
which the wheat would be safely gathered in the barn, but the chaff
would be burned with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:12). Immediately
thereafter, Matthew recorded that Jesus, whom he already had identified
as the Messiah
(Matt. 1:1), came from Galilee to the Jordan to be
immersed by John
(Matt. 3:13). "Having been immersed, moreover, Jesus
ascended immediately from the water, and look! – the heavens were
opened, and He saw the Spirit of
God descending as if it were a dove
coming upon Him; and look! –
a voice from the heavens saying, 'This One is the Son of Me, the
Beloved One, in whom I take great pleasure' " (John 3:16, 17, JTB
- So this is the point
at which God anointed the God/man Jesus with the Holy
fulfilling the prophecy of Isa. 11:2. Please do not misunderstand me. I
am NOT saying that Jesus became Deity at this point. Before He became
man, He existed eternally as the Divine Logos (3056)
(Word) of God who was
with God, who was God, and who created everything that exists (John
He has always been and will always be Deity. But immediately after His
immersion is the point at
which God anointed Jesus to be Israel's greatest Prophet,
and greatest King.
This was a Ministry anointing.
- It is also clear from
the record of the Gospels that no Israeli prophet or priest has
anointed Jesus with olive oil. That is significant. The nation of
Israel does not yet acknowledge that Jesus is her Messiah,
That is tragic. But one day Israelis will. They will repent for having
killed their King (Zech. 12:10-13:1). One day all Israel will be saved
(Rom 11:25, 26, 26), and it is my belief that, on behalf of the entire
nation, some Israeli prophet or priest will anoint Jesus with olive oil
as Supreme King over the nation! There has to be, in a royal
transaction, that which I call "the Consent of the Governed." In NT
terms we understand that to be the transaction of faith in Jesus the Messiah
by which we are saved and granted eternal life (John 3:16-18,
- "The spirit of wisdom
and understanding" (Isa. 11:2)
There are but three
words in the next phrase in Hebrew, all nouns. The first is "Spirit,"
once again, with no article. This again refers to the Holy
Spirit. The NASB places the term in lower case, indicating the
editors' belief that this is an intangible attribute of the Messiah
rather than the actual presence of the Holy
Spirit. I profoundly disagree. The noun "Spirit,"
appears four times in this passage, always anarthrous. It is the Holy
Spirit of the LORD who is meant each time. That is why I have
capitalized the entry at the beginning of this paragraph. Isaiah did
not need to add "of the LORD" each time he used the noun. That is to be
- "of wisdom" – the second is chokmâh (2451).
English must supply the preposition "of." A summary of BDB
is as follows. The general meaning is "wisdom." It may refer to (a)
skill (in war); (b) wisdom (in administration); (c) shrewdness, wisdom;
(d) wisdom, prudence (in religious affairs; (e) wisdom (ethical and
religious). Used, as it is, of God's Spirit,
this noun indicates He
possesses wisdom in all of the above senses. And of course, the point
of Isaiah's prediction is that the coming Messiah
will be anointed with
Spirit of manifold wisdom, and so the Messiah
wisdom in all of the above senses.
- "and understanding" – the third is bîynâh (998),
preceded by waw, "and."
The noun means
"understanding, insight, discernment." So the Spirit
resting upon the Messiah
will, therefore, impart to Him not only superlative wisdom, but
also profound understanding, insight, and discernment.
- According to Constable,
and 'understanding' are synonyms that, together, mean great wisdom." We
are reminded of the statement by the Apostle Paul that "Christ
... became to us wisdom from God ..." (1 Cor. 1:30). John
comments are appropriate. He speaks of the wisdom and understanding of Christ
- which appeared in
his disputation with the doctors; in
his answers to
the ensnaring questions of the Scribes and Pharisees; in the whole of
his ministry; and in his conduct at his apprehension, trial,
condemnation, and death; as also in the wisdom, knowledge, and
understanding he imparted to his disciples, and does more or less to
all his people:
- "The spirit of counsel
and strength" (Isa. 11:2)
Once again refers to the Holy
Spirit, thus I have capitalized the noun. The noun rûach
once again, appears with no article.
- "of counsel" – ‛êtsâh (6098),
meaning counsel, advice,
consultation, plan, strategy, purpose (adapted from BDB and the
translations in the NASB
text). The Gospels are filled with the teaching and counsel and advice
of the Messiah.
Lengthy samples include the "Sermon on the Mount"
(Matt. 5-7); the "Olivet
Discourse" (Matt. 24-25); the Upper Room
Discourse (Joh. 13-16); and His High Priestly Prayer (Joh. 17). In His First
Advent here on earth, the Holy
Spirit enabled Christ to
give necessary information and teaching to His disciples. The Spirit
also enabled Christ
to strategize against his religious / political opponents, consisting
of a majority of the Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and scribes. They
could never trap Him in His speech. He always got the best of them. In
Advent, the Messiah
will have the ability to outwit and thwart any who might disagree with
Him (see, e.g., Zech. 14:16-19). It is worth noting that it had already
been revealed to Isaiah that the Messiah
would be called "Wonderful Counselor," although the word "Counselor" is
the Qal Participle
of the verb yâ‛áts (3289).
- "and strength" – gebûrâh (1369),
meaning strength, might, power.
There are a number of references in the OT to God's might, strength,
and mighty deeds. Among them are Deut. 3:24; 1 Chron. 29:11, 12; 2
Chron. 20:6; Job 12:13; Psa. 20:6; 21:13; 54:1; 65:6; 66:7; 71:16, 18;
80:2; 89:13; 106:2, 8; 145:4, 11, 12; 150:2; Isa. 11:2; 33:13; 63:15;
Jer. 10:6; 16:21; Mic. 3:8. This passage (Isa. 11:2) declares that God
will anoint His Messiah
with the Holy
Spirit who Himself possesses strength, might, and power. And so the
Spirit will imbue the Messiah
with that same strength, might and power. The power of the Messiah
was evident in His capacity to perform many miracles during His First
Advent (John 5:1-9; 6:1-14, 16-21; 9:1-11; 11:1-45; 20:30, 31).
When He returns at His Second
Advent, His mighty power will be evident in such passages as Isa.
63:1-6; Matt. 24:30, 31; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 19:11-21.
that "'Counsel' and 'strength' suggest His ability to
strategize wisely and then execute His strategy."
- "The spirit of
knowledge and the fear of the LORD." (Isa. 11:2)
- "Spirit" – For the fourth time in this verse, rûach
appears with no article preceding. Once again, the one of whom Isaiah
speaks is the Holy
Spirit, with whom the Messiah
will be anointed. The Spirit of
God is said here to possess a final pair of attributes. With
both of these He will anoint the Messiah.
- "of knowledge" –
linked with prudence and discretion (Prov. 1:4); with wisdom and
instruction (Prov. 1:7); with wisdom and understanding (Prov. 2:6);
with being sensible (Prov. 14:18); with intelligence (Prov. 15:14);
with counsel (Prov. 22:20); with discipline (Prov. 23:12); with justice
and understanding (Isa. 40:14); with faithfulness and kindness (Hos.
4:1); with loyalty (Hos. 6:6). Our first parents were forbidden to eat
of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9, 17). In
conjunction with empowerment and enablement by the Holy
construct items for the tabernacle, knowledge was linked with wisdom,
understanding, and all kinds of craftsmanship (Ex. 31:3; 35:31). So the
Spirit, who is the personification of all sorts of knowledge,
wisdom, and understanding, would rest upon the Messiah.
Likewise the Messiah,
when He appeared was the epitome of every sort of knowledge,
wisdom, and understanding.
- "and fear of the LORD" –
literally, "and fear of Yahweh." "Fear" yir'âh (3374),
fear, dread, terror, generating a healthy respect. God caused the
nations of Canaan to fear the invading Israelis (Deut. 2:25). The fear
of God / Yahweh is everywhere in the OT commended as both beneficial
and necessary. It is a motivator to prevent one from sinning (Ex.
20:20; Prov. 16:6). The fear of Yahweh (the LORD) is the beginning of
wisdom (Psa. 111:10; Prov. 9:10), and the beginning of knowledge (Prov.
1:7). The fear of the LORD prolongs life (Prov. 10:27; 14:27; 19:23).
Isa. 11:2 states that the Holy
Spirit is possessed of and characterized
by a healthy fear of the LORD. As He anoints the Messiah,
also is wholly grounded in the fear of the LORD. In fact, Isa. 11:3
tells us the Messiah
in the fear of the LORD. Under the terms of the New Covenant,
one day bring Israel
back to the Promised Land. He will make them dwell
in safety (Jer. 32:37). He will give them one heart and one way so that
they will fear Him always, for their own good and for the good of their
children (Jer. 32:39). He will make an everlasting
covenant with them
that He will not turn away from them, and will do them good. And He
will put the fear of Yahweh in their hearts so they will not
from Him (Jer. 32:40).
- According to Constable,
"'Knowledge' and 'fear' refer to His
[Messiah's] acknowledgment of and loyalty to
God. The source of [all] these traits [listed above] would be God's
Spirit on Him."
- Constable has noted
the frequency with which the prophet Isaiah speaks of God's Holy Spirit
30:1; 32:15; 34:16; 40:13; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; 61:1; 63:10-11,
14). Years ago I had wondered aloud while teaching Sunday School class
the meaning of the "seven Spirits" of God mentioned in Rev. 1:4; 3:1;
4:5; 5:6. A woman in the class suggested that Isa. 11:2 provided the
answer. I believe she may be correct. There is the initial reference to the Spirit
of Yahweh. Each of the next three references is a couplet. If
one breaks down each couplet, then Isaiah refers to the Spirit of
wisdom; the Spirit of understanding; the Spirit of counsel; the Spirit
of strength, the Spirit of knowledge; and the Spirit of the fear of
Yahweh. According to Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
- Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are specified, to imply
perfection of them was to be in Him. Compare "the seven Spirits" (Re
1:4), that is, the Holy Ghost in His perfect fullness: seven being the
(Scripture quotation taken
Posted February 24, 2020. Updated April 13, 2020