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The Work of the Lord’s Servant

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

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.”

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.

Now the Lord says to me,
“It isn’t enough for you
    to be merely my servant.
You must do more than lead back
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

Israel, I am the holy Lord God,
    the one who rescues you.
You are slaves of rulers
and of a nation
    who despises you.[a]
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

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.[b]
You will rebuild the country
    from its ruins,
then people will come
    and settle there.
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.[c]

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[d]
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[e]
    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?[f]
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.


  1. 49.7 You. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 49.8 my. . . nations: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 49.12 Syene: The Dead Sea Scrolls; the Standard Hebrew Text “Sinim.” The reference may be to modern Aswan, a city in southern Egypt.
  4. 49.17 Your city. . . destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 49.20 whose children. . . sorrow: These “children” are Jews who were born in foreign countries during the time that Jerusalem was in ruins. Jerusalem probably stands for all the cities in Judah that were destroyed by the Babylonians.
  6. 49.24 cruel: The Dead Sea Scrolls and two ancient translations; the Standard Hebrew Text “good.”

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