53:3 Despised and rejected, He was a Man of sorrows who knew what grief was. To men He was repulsive; even by Israel He was not appreciated.
“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
—Philip P. Bliss
53:3 despised … forsaken … despised. The prophet foresees the hatred and rejection by mankind toward the Messiah/Servant, who suffered not only external abuse, but also internal grief over the lack of response from those He came to save (e.g., Mt 23:37; Lk 13:34). hide their face … we did not esteem. By using the first person, the prophet spoke for his unbelieving nation’s aversion to a crucified Messiah and their lack of respect for the incarnate Son of God.
53:3 See 49:7; cf. John 1:10–11. Rejection of the servant reveals how misguided the human mind is. a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Jesus experienced sorrow and grief of various sorts throughout his whole life. “Acquainted” could also be rendered “knowing” (ESV footnote; see note on Isa. 53:11).
53:3 He was despised and rejected by The phrase connotes quick dismissal, not a strong willful and emotional rejection. The Servant is considered worthless, not worthy of attention.
a man of suffering The Hebrew word usually implies physical pain. He knew and understood pain.
acquainted with sickness He understood ailments and perhaps experienced them himself. The same language is used in Isa 53:4 where the phrasing suggests the Servant could heal sickness.
one from whom others hide their faces Parallels the Servant being despised and rejected. People look away to symbolize their dissociation with the Servant (compare note on 59:2).
The nt events surrounding Jesus’ betrayal exemplify this imagery of total rejection and dissociation. After Judas betrays Jesus (Luke 22:47–53), he feels so guilty that he commits suicide (Matt 27:3–10). Also, Peter rejects Jesus on the night He is delivered into the hands of His enemies (Mark 14:66–72); Jesus even prophesies that this will happen (Mark 14:26–30).
we did not hold him in high regard As in Isa 53:1, the “we” here must refer to the nation of Israel. The prophet is likely identifying with his people and speaking on their behalf (compare Jer 14:7–9).
This rejection of the Servant by his own people is likely echoed in John 1:10–11. Similarly, John depicts Jesus’ own disciples initially rejecting His mission after Jesus died and before they learned of His resurrection (see John 21:1–14).
53:3 despised and rejected. See 49:7. Cf. Ps. 22:6; Lam. 1:1–3; 2:15, 16.
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. The word for “grief” here is more often translated “sickness.” Human beings flee from suffering and weakness, yet the Servant deliberately embraces both.
53:4 he has borne our griefs. The central stanza of the poem draws attention to the reason for this suffering of the Servant. It is vicarious suffering in our place—that is, on behalf of His wandering people. The prophet includes himself in this redemptive experience, just as he included himself in the condemnation for sin in ch. 6.
smitten by God. They believe this about the Servant because the law said, “a hanged man is cursed by God” (Deut. 21:23; cf. Gal. 3:13). The onlookers thought Christ was suffering only what He deserved, but His experience of pain and anguish was for His people (1 Pet. 2:24). He did not merely suffer physical pain and human abandonment; on the cross, He was even abandoned by God, receiving the hellish fate that all people deserve. The extremity of Jesus’ suffering shows that His compassion is real and not theoretical (Heb. 2:17, 18).
53:5 we are healed. The sufferings of Christ remove the penalty that His people otherwise owe, and as a result He will undo the effects of sin in them. Death itself will be undone at last (1 Cor. 15:26).
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 979). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 53:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1338). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 53:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1224). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.