Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3 And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” 4 But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6 he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
7 Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Zion’s Children to Be Brought Home
8 Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,[a] to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; 9 saying to the prisoners, “Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.” They shall feed along the ways, on all the bare heights[b] shall be their pasture; 10 they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. 11 And I will turn all my mountains into a road, and my highways shall be raised up. 12 Lo, these shall come from far away, and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.[c]
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” 15 Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. 17 Your builders outdo your destroyers,[d] and those who laid you waste go away from you. 18 Lift up your eyes all around and see; they all gather, they come to you. As I live, says the Lord, you shall put all of them on like an ornament, and like a bride you shall bind them on.
19 Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land— surely now you will be too crowded for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away. 20 The children born in the time of your bereavement will yet say in your hearing: “The place is too crowded for me; make room for me to settle.” 21 Then you will say in your heart, “Who has borne me these? I was bereaved and barren, exiled and put away— so who has reared these? I was left all alone— where then have these come from?”
22 Thus says the Lord God: I will soon lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. 23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
24 Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant[e] be rescued? 25 But thus says the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued; for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. 26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
a. Isaiah 49:8 Meaning of Heb uncertain
b. Isaiah 49:9 Or the trails
c. Isaiah 49:12 Q Ms: MT Sinim
d. Isaiah 49:17 Or Your children come swiftly; your destroyers
e. Isaiah 49:24 Q Ms Syr Vg: MT of a righteous person
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.