The Root of Jesse, Day 1

“The Root of Jesse, Day 1”
Isaiah 11:1
©️2020 by Gloria M. Chang

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

Isaiah 11:1

The dynasty of David, the strong, ruddy youth chosen from among the sons of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:12), had decayed to a stump thirteen kings and over three hundred years later during the reign of King Ahaz. The idolatrous king of Judah sacrificed his son to Moloch by fire, and promoted the worship of foreign gods. When threatened by Aram and Israel, Ahaz put his trust in Assyria rather the Lord, pleading to Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, “I am your servant and your son” (2 Kings 16:7). In exchange for military aid, Ahaz stripped the gold and silver from the house of the Lord and his palace as tribute to Assyria. 

In opposition to the faithless obsequiousness of the king of Judah, the prophet Isaiah pronounced judgment upon Assyria:

And the glory of its forests and orchards
will be consumed, soul and body,
and it will be like a sick man who wastes away.

And the remnant of the trees in his forest
will be so few,
that any child can record them.

Isaiah 10:18-19

Assyria, too, will be reduced to mere stumps:

Now the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
is about to lop off the boughs with terrible violence;
The tall of stature shall be felled,
and the lofty ones shall be brought low;

He shall hack down the forest thickets with an ax,
and Lebanon in its splendor shall fall.

Isaiah 10:33-34

Destruction from war and devastation will be so great that God’s people, once as numerous as the “sand of the sea” (Isaiah 10:22; Genesis 32:13) will be cut down to a small, but faithful remnant:

On that day
The remnant of Israel,
the survivors of the house of Jacob,
will no more lean upon the one who struck them;
But they will lean upon the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

Isaiah 10:20

Out of this backdrop of darkness and desolation, Isaiah beholds new life emerging from a withered stem—a fragrant blossom from the stump of Jesse.

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung.
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind;
To show God’s love aright,
She bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death now save us,
And share our every load.

Traditional German carol (1599), translated by Theodore Baker (1894).
Verse 3 by Friedrich Layritz (1844), translated by Harriet R. Krauth (1875).

4 Replies to “The Root of Jesse, Day 1”

  1. Dear GMC, Wow! Your reflection led me to find Sting singing this beautiful German carol. Traditional meets contemporary in a beautiful rendition of this Marian hymn.

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