Listen to me, distant nations,
you people who live far away!
Before I was born, the LORD chose me
and appointed me to be his servant.
He made my words as sharp as a sword.
With his own hand he protected me.49.2 With his own hand… me; or He kept me hidden in his hand.
He made me like an arrow,
sharp and ready for use.
3He said to me, “Israel, you are my servant;
because of you, people will praise me.”
4I said, “I have worked, but how hopeless it is!
I have used up my strength, but have accomplished nothing.”
Yet I can trust the LORD to defend my cause;
he will reward me for what I do.
5Before I was born, the LORD appointed me;
he made me his servant to bring back his people,
to bring back the scattered people of Israel.
The LORD gives me honour;
he is the source of my strength.
The LORD said to me,
“I have a greater task for you, my servant.
Not only will you restore to greatness
the people of Israel who have survived,
but I will also make you a light to the nations —
so that all the world may be saved.”
7Israel's holy God and saviour says
to the one who is deeply despised,
who is hated by the nations
and is the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you released
and will rise to show their respect;
princes also will see it,
and they will bow low to honour you.”
This will happen because the LORD has chosen his servant;
the holy God of Israel keeps his promises.
The LORD says to his people,
“When the time comes to save you, I will show you favour
and answer your cries for help.
I will guard and protect you
and through you make a covenant with all peoples.
I will let you settle once again
in your land that is now laid waste.
9I will say to the prisoners, ‘Go free!’
and to those who are in darkness,
‘Come out to the light!’
They will be like sheep that graze on the hills;
they will never be hungry or thirsty.
Sun and desert heat will not hurt them,
for they will be led by one who loves them.
He will lead them to springs of water.
11“I will make a highway across the mountains
and prepare a road for my people to travel.
12My people will come from far away,
from the north and the west,
and from Aswan49.12 Aswan: A city in southern Egypt, where a large Jewish community had settled. in the south.”
13Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth!
Let the mountains burst into song!
The LORD will comfort his people;
he will have pity on his suffering people.
14But the people of Jerusalem said,
“The LORD has abandoned us!
He has forgotten us.”
15So the LORD answers,
“Can a woman forget her own baby
and not love the child she bore?
Even if a mother should forget her child,
I will never forget you.
16Jerusalem, I can never forget you!
I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
17“Those who will rebuild you are coming soon,
and those who destroyed you will leave.
18Look around and see what is happening!
Your people are assembling — they are coming home!
As surely as I am the living God,
you will be proud of your people,
as proud as a bride is of her jewels.
19“Your country was ruined and desolate —
but now it will be too small
for those who are coming to live there.
And those who left you in ruins
will be far removed from you.
20Your people who were born in exile
will one day say to you,
‘This land is too small —
we need more room to live in!’
21Then you will say to yourself,
‘Who bore all these children for me?
I lost my children and could have no more.
I was exiled and driven away —
who brought these children up?
I was left all alone —
where did these children come from?’ ”
22The Sovereign LORD says to his people:
“I will signal to the nations,
and they will bring your children home.
23Kings will be like fathers to you;
queens will be like mothers.
They will bow low before you and honour you;
they will humbly show their respect for you.
Then you will know that I am the LORD;
no one who waits for my help will be disappointed.”
24Can you take away a soldier's loot?
Can you rescue the prisoners of a tyrant?
25The LORD replies,
“That is just what is going to happen.
The soldier's prisoners will be taken away,
and the tyrant's loot will be seized.
I will fight against whoever fights you,
and I will rescue your children.
26I will make your oppressors kill each other;
they will be drunk with murder and rage.
Then the whole human race will know that I am the LORD,
the one who saves you and sets you free.
They will know that I am Israel's powerful God.”
501The LORD says,
“Do you think I sent my people away
like a man who divorces his wife?
Where, then, are the papers of divorce?
Do you think I sold you into captivity
like a man who sells his children as slaves?
No, you went away captive because of your sins;
you were sent away because of your crimes.
2“Why did my people fail to respond
when I went to them to save them?
Why did they not answer when I called?
Am I too weak to save them?
I can dry up the sea with a command
and turn rivers into a desert,
so that the fish in them die for lack of water.
3I can make the sky turn dark,
as if it were in mourning for the dead.”
4The Sovereign LORD has taught me what to say,
so that I can strengthen the weary.
Every morning he makes me eager
to hear what he is going to teach me.
5The LORD has given me understanding,
and I have not rebelled
or turned away from him.
I bared my back to those who beat me.
I did not stop them when they insulted me,
when they pulled out the hairs of my beard
and spat in my face.
7But their insults cannot hurt me
because the Sovereign LORD gives me help.
I brace myself to endure them.
I know that I will not be disgraced,
for God is near,
and he will prove me innocent.
Does anyone dare to bring charges against me?
Let us go to court together!
Let him bring his accusation!
9The Sovereign LORD himself defends me —
who, then, can prove me guilty?
All my accusers will disappear;
they will vanish like moth-eaten cloth.
10All of you that honour the LORD
and obey the words of his servant,
the path you walk may be dark indeed,
but trust in the LORD, rely on your God.
11All of you that plot to destroy others
will be destroyed by your own plots.
The LORD himself will make this happen;
you will suffer a miserable fate.
511The LORD says,
“Listen to me, you that want to be saved,
you that come to me for help.
Think of the rock from which you came,
the quarry from which you were dug.
2Think of your ancestor, Abraham,
and of Sarah, from whom you are descended.
When I called Abraham, he was childless,
but I blessed him and gave him children;
I made his descendants numerous.
3“I will show compassion to Jerusalem,
to all who live in her ruins.
Though her land is a desert, I will make it a garden,
like the garden I planted in Eden.
Joy and gladness will be there,
and songs of praise and thanks to me.
4“Listen to me, my people,
listen to what I say:
I give my teaching to the nations;
my laws will bring them light.
5I will come quickly and save them;
the time of my victory is near.
I myself will rule over the nations.
Distant lands wait for me to come;
they wait with hope for me to save them.
6Look up at the heavens; look at the earth!
The heavens will disappear like smoke;
the earth will wear out like old clothing,
and all its people will die like flies.
But the deliverance I bring will last for ever;
my victory will be final.
7“Listen to me, you that know what is right,
who have my teaching fixed in your hearts.
Do not be afraid when people taunt and insult you;
8they will vanish like moth-eaten clothing!
But the deliverance I bring will last for ever;
my victory will endure for all time.”
9Wake up, LORD, and help us!
Use your power and save us;
use it as you did in ancient times.
It was you that cut the sea monster Rahab51.9 Rahab: A legendary sea monster, which represented the forces of chaos and evil, and was sometimes a symbol of Egypt. to pieces.
10It was you also who dried up the sea
and made a path through the water,
so that those you were saving could cross.
11Those whom you have rescued
will reach Jerusalem with gladness,
singing and shouting for joy.
They will be happy for ever,
for ever free from sorrow and grief.
12The LORD says,
“I am the one who strengthens you.
Why should you fear mortals,
who are no more enduring than grass?
13Have you forgotten the LORD who made you,
who stretched out the heavens
and laid the earth's foundations?
Why should you live in constant fear
of the fury of those who oppress you,
of those who are ready to destroy you?
Their fury can no longer touch you.
14Those who are prisoners will soon be set free;
they will live a long life
and have all the food they need.
15“I am the LORD your God;
I stir up the sea
and make its waves roar.
My name is the LORD Almighty!
16I stretched out51.16 One ancient translation stretched out; Hebrew planted. the heavens
and laid the earth's foundations;
I say to Jerusalem, ‘You are my people!
I have given you my teaching,
and I protect you with my hand.’ ”
Jerusalem, wake up!
Rouse yourself and get up!
You have drunk the cup of punishment
that the LORD in his anger gave you to drink;
you drank it down, and it made you stagger.
18There is no one to lead you,
no one among your people
to take you by the hand.
19A double disaster has fallen on you:
your land has been devastated by war,
and your people have starved.
There is no one to show you sympathy.
20At the corner of every street
your people collapse from weakness;
they are like deer caught in a hunter's net.
They have felt the force of God's anger.
21You suffering people of Jerusalem,
you that stagger as though you were drunk,
22the LORD your God defends you and says,
“I am taking away the cup
that I gave you in my anger.
You will no longer have to drink
the wine that makes you stagger.
23I will give it to those who oppressed you,
to those who made you lie down in the streets
and trampled on you as if you were dirt.”