Advent 2023 Devotional - Day 4

Advent 2023 Devotional - Day 4

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.

The Weight of the World

Isaiah 9:2-7

By Hilary Denny 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.

We all carry burdens. They can come from within ourselves or from the outside world. We worry, we stress, and we fear. We feel beaten down by our own sins, and by the oppression that comes from the sins of others. We live in a world where structures and institutions are failing at their mandate to care and provide for the people that they are responsible for. The effects of those broken systems and people weigh us down. 

This is definitely true as a mom. My own fear and worry about raising my kids in a broken world weigh on me daily. I also feel my own helplessness and brokenness in striving to be the best parent I can be. It’s a weight, a burden. 

Israel was familiar with this feeling, too. Isaiah describes how the people were under a “yoke of burden,” and a “staff” or “rod of oppression” was on their “shoulder” (9:4). Assyria conquered Israel in 734 BC, and Israel was living under the oppression of a foreign nation who had taken their land. Can you feel the weight of it all? Isaiah is speaking of oppression that the people of Israel were feeling using visceral language. “Every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood,” Isaiah writes, describing the mercilessness of the armies that invaded Israel. 

Fast forward several hundred years, and someone else would come and carry weight on his shoulder. This is really good news! Isaiah 9:6 tells us that the promised Messiah would have the “government … upon his shoulder,” a phrase that reverses the description of Israel having oppression on its shoulder. Instead of oppression, this ideal king to be born would have leadership on His. His reign would be marked by peace, justice, and righteousness and would have no end. “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” would be His names.  

Of course we know this leader to be Jesus. He was not helpless and not burdened by his own failures and brokenness. He humbled himself, but still held absolute power and authority over death and darkness. He is the creator King who came to lift our burdens. 

Those burdens we carry? We can give those over to Him because He reigns supreme. The oppression we feel?  We can know that even though we live in a fallen world, Jesus will continue to bring peace, justice, and righteousness (9:7). All power and authority are on His shoulders, so we don’t have to carry the weight of the world on ours. 


  • What weight are you carrying today? How does it make you feel?
  • How does knowing that Jesus holds absolute power and authority help you release that weight?