Question: "What is the tongue of the learned (Isaiah 50:4)?"
Answer: In the third of the “Servant Songs” of Isaiah, Israel’s Messiah speaks of His God-appointed mission: “The Lord GOD has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4, NKJV).
The word translated as “tongue” here refers to “speech” in the original Hebrew. The tongue of the learned literally means the “speech of those who are taught.” The Messiah’s God-given role is to hear and speak what God His Father teaches Him. Jesus is a humble and obedient servant, passing on only what He has heard and learned daily, “morning by morning,” through direct fellowship with God the Father. “I do nothing on my own,” said Jesus, “but speak just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:28).
Jesus yielded to the will of His Father (John 5:19, 30; 6:38). He opened His ears to hear and obey the voice of God and relinquished His tongue to speak the words of God. Spending time alone with His Father, Jesus sought guidance and meditated on God’s Word (Mark 1:35). In this way, Christ was given the tongue of the learned to speak divine wisdom and comfort to the weary (Matthew 11:28–30). Jesus modeled the ultimate example of being a Christian disciple (John 4:34).
“A word in season to him who is weary” is the good news of the gospel. In Isaiah 61:1, the Messiah declares, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed” (NLT).
The tongue of the learned belongs not to those who acquire human wisdom but to those who are divinely taught. The Messiah’s mouth was “like a sharpened sword” or “a polished arrow” hidden in the shadow of God’s hand (Isaiah 49:2). When Jesus opened His mouth to speak, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” was unleashed (Ephesians 6:17). The crowds were amazed at His teaching because He taught with God’s authority, wisdom, and power (Matthew 7:28–29; 13:54; Mark 6:2; John 7:46).
Jesus is the Logos, the Living Word of God (John 1:1–4, 14). He hears, learns, speaks, and lives God’s total message, that is, everything His Father wants to communicate to humanity (Colossians 1:19; 2:9; John 14:9). Jesus lived among us as God in the flesh, and He revealed God the Father to us (John 17:26).
When first called by God, Moses doubted his ability to be the Lord’s spokesperson. Moses balked, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10, ESV). But God reassured Moses: “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:11–12, ESV).
Moses developed the tongue of the learned by walking in close fellowship with God, listening to His voice (Numbers 12:6–8; Exodus 33:11), spending time in His presence (Exodus 34:29), and then speaking what God taught him to say (Exodus 24:3; 31:13).
The tongue of the learned is the true disciple’s tongue. This tongue is well-trained in righteousness (Psalm 34:13; Proverbs 12:18; James 3:9–10), producing a fountain of life (Proverbs 10:11). Those who submit to the will of God, listen to Him attentively, and learn to speak what He teaches them to say become effective ministers of the Lord.