A poker face. A “face like flint.” That’s how Isaiah describes his own mysterious character who appears in the second of his famous Servant Songs. 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. … I have set my face like flint (50:7).
The secret of his quiet strength? The Suffering Servant draws his strength from beyond himself: I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near (50:7).
The Hebrew word for “vindicate” is closely related to the word for “righteousness.” A vindicator, in this sense, is not simply one who swoops in and plucks the victim out of a dangerous situation; the vindicator confirms that the victim is righteous and has been suffering unjustly.
That’s why a poker face or a “face like flint” is so important to Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. It’s important to him that he not be put to shame, that he be vindicated, and for that reason he absorbs his enemies’ abuse stoically. The Suffering Servant desires this vindication not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of the one he serves. The Suffering Servant knows his suffering is not just a personal ordeal: it is also a public witness.
- Isaiah 50:4 - 9
- Luke 19:28 - 40