By Rev Dr Clive Chin
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
In order to understand Isaiah 9, we must first go back to the reign of King David, who was responsible for establishing the golden age of Israel (1 Chron. 18:4). David, in God’s providence, started out as a humble shepherd and was able to unite the confederacy of Israel’s tribes. He later turned the nation into a major power in the ancient world (2 Sam. 5). This was a major breakthrough due to the constant threats the Israelites faced in the Promised Land. The land was a strategic area, because it connected Asia, Europe, and Africa. Whoever controlled Israel’s God-given territory could exercise great economic and military power. David’s wisdom and skill in unifying the people of God ushered in an era of peace and prosperity.
Unfortunately, due to the sins of David’s successors, the golden age did not last. Idolatry was rampant, the kingdom split in two (1 Kings 12:16-20), and the powerful empires of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia conquered the people and ruled over them. However, God promised that Israel’s suffering under these pagans would not be the last word for his people.
Isaiah 9 reveals that at a specific time—after the Assyrian capture of Israel and invasion of Jerusalem—God would put a new leader on the throne, a son of David who would be even greater than his forefather. Isaiah foresaw that this coming king would be an “Everlasting Father,” a title that conveys the king’s willingness to put the needs of his children first. Also, this king would be a “Wonderful Counselor.” No longer would the king need trusted advisors, for by his wisdom he would always make the right decisions. Though Isaiah 9:6-7 has no more to say about this figure, perhaps the most notable aspect of the prophecy is that this king would be “Mighty God.” The Lord would enter history and reign in human flesh.
For Christians, it is clear that these verses refer ultimately to the Son of David, who is also the Son of God. We are human beings who are prone to put our trust in the princes and government authorities of this earth, but this passage reminds us that only Jesus deserves our full allegiance. May we remember in this Christmas season that we serve the King of kings, who has overcome the troubles of the world.