Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgement to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets,” – Matthew. 12:18
The words are the accomplishment of a prophecy, taken out of Isaiah 52:1,2, as we may see by the former verse, ‘that it might be fulfilled.’ Now the occasion of bringing them in here in this verse, it is a charge that Christ gives, verse 16, that they should not reveal and make him known because of the miracles he did. He withdraws himself; he was desirous to be concealed, he would not allow himself to be seen over much, for he knew the rebellious disposition of the Jews, who were eager to change their government, and to make him king. Therefore, he laboured to conceal himself in various ways. Now, upon this injunction, that they should tell nobody, he brings in the prophet Isaiah prophesying of him, ‘Behold my servant, he shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.’ Other kings labour that their pomp and magnificence may be seen; but he does not desire ostentation, he shall not be contentious nor clamorous. For these three things are meant when he says, ‘he shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall his voice be heard in the streets;’ he shall not yield himself to any ostentation, for he came in an abased state to work our salvation; he shall not be contentious, nor yet clamorous in matter of wrong; there shall be no boasting any kind of way, as we shall see when we come to the words. You see, then, the inference here.
The purpose of the prophet Isaiah is to comfort the people, and to direct them how to come to worship the true God, after he had preached against their idolatry, as we see in the former chapter, ‘Behold my servant,’ &c. Great princes have their ambassadors, and the great God of heaven has his Son, his servant in whom he delights, through whom, and by whom, all dealings between God and man are.
As is usual in the prophecies, especially of Isaiah, that evangelical prophet, when he foretells anything to comfort the people in the promise of temporal things, he rises to establish their faith in better things. He does this by adding to them a prophecy, a promise of Christ the Messiah, to assert thus much: I will send you the Messiah, and that is a greater gift than this that I have promised you; therefore you may be sure of the lesser one. As the apostle reasons excellently, ‘If he spared not his own son, but delivered him to death for us all, how shall he not with him give us all things?’ Rom. 8:32. So here, I have promised you deliverance out of Babylon, and this and that; do you doubt of the performance? Alas! what is that in comparison to a greater favour I intend for you in Christ, that shall deliver you out of another type of Babylon? ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen;’ and in Isaiah 7:14, ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,’ I will send you the Messiah; God shall become man; therefore, I will not stand for any outward favour or deliverance whatsoever. So he goes on to the grand promise, that they might reason from the greater to the less.
There is another purpose, why in other promises there is mention of the promise of the Messiah: to uphold their faith. Alas! we are unworthy of these promises, we are so laden with sin and iniquity. It is no matter, I will send you the Messiah. ‘Behold my servant in whom my soul delighteth,’ and for his sake I will delight in you. I am well pleased with you, because I am well pleased in him; therefore, be not discouraged. All the promises are yea and amen in Jesus Christ,’ 2 Cor. 1:20; for all the promises that be, though they be for the things of this life, they are made for Christ, they are yea in him, and they are performed for his sake, they are amen in him. So much for the occasion of the quotation in the evangelist St Matthew, and likewise in the prophet Isaiah.