Isaiah 49

The Work of the Lord’s Servant

1 Everyone, listen,
   even you foreign nations
      across the sea.
   The Lord chose me
   and gave me a name
      before I was born.
2 He made my words pierce
   like a sharp sword
      or a pointed arrow;
   he kept me safely hidden
      in the palm of his hand.
3 The Lord said to me,
      “Israel, you are my servant;
   and because of you
      I will be highly honored.”

4 I said to myself,
  “I’m completely worn out;
      my time has been wasted.
   But I did it for the Lord God,
      and he will reward me.”

5 Even before I was born,
      the Lord God chose me
   to serve him and to lead back
      the people of Israel.
   So the Lord has honored me
      and made me strong.

6 Now the Lord says to me,
  “It isn’t enough for you
      to be merely my servant.
   You must do more than lead back
   survivors from the tribes
      of Israel.
   I have placed you here as a light
      for other nations;
   you must take my saving power
      to everyone on earth.”

The Lord Will Rescue His People

7 Israel, I am the holy Lord God,
      the one who rescues you.
   You are slaves of rulers
   and of a nation
      who despises you.
   Now this is what I promise:
   Kings and rulers will honor you
      by kneeling at your feet.
   You can trust me! I am your Lord,
   the holy God of Israel,
      and you are my chosen ones.

The Lord Will Lead His People Home

8 This is what the Lord says:
        I will answer your prayers
    because I have set a time
    when I will help
        by coming to save you.
    I have chosen you
    to take my promise of hope
        to other nations.
    You will rebuild the country
        from its ruins,
    then people will come
        and settle there.
9 You will set prisoners free
    from dark dungeons
        to see the light of day.

    On their way home,
    they will find plenty to eat,
        even on barren hills.
10 They won’t go hungry
        or get thirsty;
    they won’t be bothered
    by the scorching sun
        or hot desert winds.
    I will be merciful
    while leading them along
        to streams of water.
11 I will level the mountains
        and make roads.
12 Then my people will return
        from distant lands
    in the north and the west
        and from the city of Syene.

The Lord’s Mercy

13 Tell the heavens and the earth
         to celebrate and sing;
      command every mountain
         to join in the song.
      The Lord’s people have suffered,
      but he has shown mercy
         and given them comfort.

14 The people of Zion said,
   “The Lord has turned away
         and forgotten us.”

15 The Lord answered,
   “Could a mother forget a child
         who nurses at her breast?
      Could she fail to love an infant
         who came from her own body?
      Even if a mother could forget,
         I will never forget you.
16 A picture of your city
         is drawn on my hand.
      You are always in my thoughts!
17 “Your city will be built faster
         than it was destroyed —
      those who attacked it
         will retreat and leave.
18 Look around! You will see
         your people coming home.
      As surely as I live,
         I, the Lord, promise
      that your city with its people
      will be as lovely as a bride
         wearing her jewelry.”

Jerusalem’s Bright Future

19 Jerusalem is now in ruins!
         Nothing is left of the city.
      But it will be rebuilt
         and soon overcrowded;
      its cruel enemies
         will be gone far away.

20 Jerusalem is a woman
         whose children were born
      while she was in deep sorrow
         over the loss of her husband.
      Now those children
      will come and seek room
         in the crowded city,
21 and Jerusalem will ask,
         “Am I really their mother?
      How could I have given birth
      when I was still mourning
         in a foreign land?
      Who raised these children?
      Where have they come from?”

22 The Lord God says:
     “I will soon give a signal
         for the nations
      to return your sons
      and your daughters
         to the arms of Jerusalem.
23 The kings and queens
         of those nations
      where they were raised
         will come and bow down.
      They will take care of you
      just like a slave
         taking care of a child.
      Then you will know
         that I am the Lord.
      You won’t be disappointed
         if you trust me.”

The Lord Is on Our Side

24 Is it possible to rescue victims
     from someone strong
         and cruel?
25 But the Lord has promised
         to fight on our side
      and to rescue our children
      from those strong
         and violent enemies.
26 He will make those cruel people
         dine on their own flesh
      and get drunk from drinking
         their own blood.
      Then everyone will know
         that the Lord is our Savior;
      the powerful God of Israel
         has rescued his people.

The Contemporary English Version, c1995 by the American Bible Society.
Selected texts provided for use with the Hypertext Bible Commentary