Safe Houses, Quiet Gardens
32 1-8 But look! A king will rule in the right way,
and his leaders will carry out justice.
Each one will stand as a shelter from high winds,
provide safe cover in stormy weather.
Each will be cool running water in parched land,
a huge granite outcrop giving shade in the desert.
Anyone who looks will see,
anyone who listens will hear.
The impulsive will make sound decisions,
the tongue-tied will speak with eloquence.
No more will fools become celebrities,
nor crooks be rewarded with fame.
For fools are fools and that’s that,
thinking up new ways to do mischief.
They leave a wake of wrecked lives
and lies about God,
Turning their backs on the homeless hungry,
ignoring those dying of thirst in the streets.
And the crooks? Underhanded sneaks they are,
inventive in sin and scandal,
Exploiting the poor with scams and lies,
unmoved by the victimized poor.
But those who are noble make noble plans,
and stand for what is noble.
* * *
9-14 Take your stand, idle women!
Listen to me!
Indulgent, idle women,
listen closely to what I have to say.
In just a little over a year from now,
you’ll be shaken out of your lazy lives.
The grape harvest will fail,
and there’ll be no fruit on the trees.
Oh tremble, you idle women.
Get serious, you pampered dolls!
Strip down and discard your silk fineries.
Put on funeral clothes.
Shed honest tears for the lost harvest,
the failed vintage.
Weep for my people’s gardens and farms
that grow nothing but thistles and thornbushes.
Cry tears, real tears, for the happy homes no longer happy,
the merry city no longer merry.
The royal palace is deserted,
the bustling city quiet as a morgue,
The emptied parks and playgrounds
taken over by wild animals,
delighted with their new home.
15-20 Yes, weep and grieve until the Spirit is poured
down on us from above
And the badlands desert grows crops
and the fertile fields become forests.
Justice will move into the badlands desert.
Right will build a home in the fertile field.
And where there’s Right, there’ll be Peace
and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.
My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood—
in safe houses, in quiet gardens.
The forest of your pride will be clear-cut,
the city showing off your power leveled.
But you will enjoy a fortunate life,
planting well-watered fields and gardens,
with your farm animals grazing freely.
The Ground Under Our Feet Mourns
33 Doom to you, Destroyer,
not yet destroyed;
And doom to you, Betrayer,
not yet betrayed.
When you finish destroying,
your turn will come—destroyed!
When you quit betraying,
your turn will come—betrayed!
2-4 God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.
First thing in the morning, be there for us!
When things go bad, help us out!
You spoke in thunder and everyone ran.
You showed up and nations scattered.
Your people, for a change, got in on the loot,
picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.
5-6 God is supremely esteemed. His center holds.
Zion brims over with all that is just and right.
God keeps your days stable and secure—
salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus,
and best of all, Zion’s treasure, Fear-of-God.
7-9 But look! Listen!
Tough men weep openly.
Peacemaking diplomats are in bitter tears.
The roads are empty—
not a soul out on the streets.
The peace treaty is broken,
its conditions violated,
its signers reviled.
The very ground under our feet mourns,
the Lebanon mountains hang their heads,
Flowering Sharon is a weed-choked gully,
and the forests of Bashan and Carmel? Bare branches.
10-12 “Now I’m stepping in,” God says.
“From now on, I’m taking over.
The gloves come off. Now see how mighty I am.
There’s nothing to you.
Pregnant with chaff, you produce straw babies;
full of hot air, you self-destruct.
You’re good for nothing but fertilizer and fuel.
Earth to earth—and the sooner the better.
13-14 “If you’re far away,
get the reports on what I’ve done,
And if you’re in the neighborhood,
pay attention to my record.
The sinners in Zion are rightly terrified;
the godless are at their wit’s end:
‘Who among us can survive this firestorm?
Who of us can get out of this purge with our lives?’”
15-16 The answer’s simple:
speak the truth,
avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living!
A safe and stable way to live.
A nourishing, satisfying way to live.
God Makes All the Decisions Here
17-19 Oh, you’ll see the king—a beautiful sight!
And you’ll take in the wide vistas of land.
In your mind you’ll go over the old terrors:
“What happened to that Assyrian inspector who condemned and confiscated?
And the one who gouged us of taxes?
And that cheating moneychanger?”
Gone! Out of sight forever! Their insolence
nothing now but a fading stain on the carpet!
No more putting up with a language you can’t understand,
no more sounds of gibberish in your ears.
20-22 Just take a look at Zion, will you?
Centering our worship in festival feasts!
Feast your eyes on Jerusalem,
a quiet and permanent place to live.
No more pulling up stakes and moving on,
no more patched-together lean-tos.
Instead, God! God majestic, God himself the place
in a country of broad rivers and streams,
But rivers blocked to invading ships,
off-limits to predatory pirates.
For God makes all the decisions here. God is our king.
God runs this place and he’ll keep us safe.
23 Ha! Your sails are in shreds,
your mast wobbling,
your hold leaking.
The plunder is free for the taking, free for all—
for weak and strong, insiders and outsiders.
24 No one in Zion will say, “I’m sick.”
Best of all, they’ll all live guilt-free.