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Isaiah 38-42New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Hezekiah’s Illness

38 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord: “Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend this city.

“This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he has promised: See, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.[a]

A writing of King Hezekiah of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:

10 I said: In the noontide of my days
    I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
    for the rest of my years.
11 I said, I shall not see the Lord
    in the land of the living;
I shall look upon mortals no more
    among the inhabitants of the world.
12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
    like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
    he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;[b]
13     I cry for help[c] until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
    from day to night you bring me to an end.[d]

14 Like a swallow or a crane[e] I clamor,
    I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking upward.
    O Lord, I am oppressed; be my security!
15 But what can I say? For he has spoken to me,
    and he himself has done it.
All my sleep has fled[f]
    because of the bitterness of my soul.

16 O Lord, by these things people live,
    and in all these is the life of my spirit.[g]
    Oh, restore me to health and make me live!
17 Surely it was for my welfare
    that I had great bitterness;
but you have held back[h] my life
    from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
    behind your back.
18 For Sheol cannot thank you,
    death cannot praise you;
those who go down to the Pit cannot hope
    for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, they thank you,
    as I do this day;
fathers make known to children
    your faithfulness.

20 The Lord will save me,
    and we will sing to stringed instruments[i]
all the days of our lives,
    at the house of the Lord.

21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a lump of figs, and apply it to the boil, so that he may recover.” 22 Hezekiah also had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”

Envoys from Babylon Welcomed

39 At that time King Merodach-baladan son of Baladan of Babylon sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. Hezekiah welcomed them; he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say? From where did they come to you?” Hezekiah answered, “They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.” He said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord. Some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away; they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”

God’s People Are Comforted

40 Comfort, O comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that she has served her term,
    that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all people shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
    their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good tidings;[j]
lift up your voice with strength,
    O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,[k]
    lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Lord God comes with might,
    and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead the mother sheep.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
    and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure,
    and weighed the mountains in scales
    and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed the spirit of the Lord,
    or as his counselor has instructed him?
14 Whom did he consult for his enlightenment,
    and who taught him the path of justice?
Who taught him knowledge,
    and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Even the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
    and are accounted as dust on the scales;
    see, he takes up the isles like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not provide fuel enough,
    nor are its animals enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him;
    they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

18 To whom then will you liken God,
    or what likeness compare with him?
19 An idol? —A workman casts it,
    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold,
    and casts for it silver chains.
20 As a gift one chooses mulberry wood[l]
    —wood that will not rot—
then seeks out a skilled artisan
    to set up an image that will not topple.

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to live in;
23 who brings princes to naught,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25 To whom then will you compare me,
    or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
    calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
    mighty in power,
    not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.

Israel Assured of God’s Help

41 Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;
    let the peoples renew their strength;
let them approach, then let them speak;
    let us together draw near for judgment.

Who has roused a victor from the east,
    summoned him to his service?
He delivers up nations to him,
    and tramples kings under foot;
he makes them like dust with his sword,
    like driven stubble with his bow.
He pursues them and passes on safely,
    scarcely touching the path with his feet.
Who has performed and done this,
    calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, am first,
    and will be with the last.
The coastlands have seen and are afraid,
    the ends of the earth tremble;
    they have drawn near and come.
Each one helps the other,
    saying to one another, “Take courage!”
The artisan encourages the goldsmith,
    and the one who smooths with the hammer encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
    and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.
But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
    and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
    I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10 do not fear, for I am with you,
    do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

11 Yes, all who are incensed against you
    shall be ashamed and disgraced;
those who strive against you
    shall be as nothing and shall perish.
12 You shall seek those who contend with you,
    but you shall not find them;
those who war against you
    shall be as nothing at all.
13 For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Do not fear,
    I will help you.”

14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob,
    you insect[m] Israel!
I will help you, says the Lord;
    your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15 Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge,
    sharp, new, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
    and you shall make the hills like chaff.
16 You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away,
    and the tempest shall scatter them.
Then you shall rejoice in the Lord;
    in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

17 When the poor and needy seek water,
    and there is none,
    and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
    I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,[n]
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
    and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
    the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;
I will set in the desert the cypress,
    the plane and the pine together,
20 so that all may see and know,
    all may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    the Holy One of Israel has created it.

The Futility of Idols

21 Set forth your case, says the Lord;
    bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.
22 Let them bring them, and tell us
    what is to happen.
Tell us the former things, what they are,
    so that we may consider them,
and that we may know their outcome;
    or declare to us the things to come.
23 Tell us what is to come hereafter,
    that we may know that you are gods;
do good, or do harm,
    that we may be afraid and terrified.
24 You, indeed, are nothing
    and your work is nothing at all;
    whoever chooses you is an abomination.

25 I stirred up one from the north, and he has come,
    from the rising of the sun he was summoned by name.[o]
He shall trample[p] on rulers as on mortar,
    as the potter treads clay.
26 Who declared it from the beginning, so that we might know,
    and beforehand, so that we might say, “He is right”?
There was no one who declared it, none who proclaimed,
    none who heard your words.
27 I first have declared it to Zion,[q]
    and I give to Jerusalem a herald of good tidings.
28 But when I look there is no one;
    among these there is no counselor
    who, when I ask, gives an answer.
29 No, they are all a delusion;
    their works are nothing;
    their images are empty wind.

The Servant, a Light to the Nations

42 Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
    until he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
    and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
    I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,[r]
    a light to the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
    my glory I give to no other,
    nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass,
    and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
    I tell you of them.

A Hymn of Praise

10 Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise from the end of the earth!
Let the sea roar[s] and all that fills it,
    the coastlands and their inhabitants.
11 Let the desert and its towns lift up their voice,
    the villages that Kedar inhabits;
let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy,
    let them shout from the tops of the mountains.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord,
    and declare his praise in the coastlands.
13 The Lord goes forth like a soldier,
    like a warrior he stirs up his fury;
he cries out, he shouts aloud,
    he shows himself mighty against his foes.

14 For a long time I have held my peace,
    I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor,
    I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills,
    and dry up all their herbage;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
    and dry up the pools.
16 I will lead the blind
    by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
    and I will not forsake them.
17 They shall be turned back and utterly put to shame—
    those who trust in carved images,
who say to cast images,
    “You are our gods.”

18 Listen, you that are deaf;
    and you that are blind, look up and see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
    or deaf like my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind like my dedicated one,
    or blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 He sees many things, but does[t] not observe them;
    his ears are open, but he does not hear.

Israel’s Disobedience

21 The Lord was pleased, for the sake of his righteousness,
    to magnify his teaching and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people robbed and plundered,
    all of them are trapped in holes
    and hidden in prisons;
they have become a prey with no one to rescue,
    a spoil with no one to say, “Restore!”
23 Who among you will give heed to this,
    who will attend and listen for the time to come?
24 Who gave up Jacob to the spoiler,
    and Israel to the robbers?
Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned,
    in whose ways they would not walk,
    and whose law they would not obey?
25 So he poured upon him the heat of his anger
    and the fury of war;
it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand;
    it burned him, but he did not take it to heart.

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 38:8 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  2. Isaiah 38:12 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  3. Isaiah 38:13 Cn: Meaning of Heb uncertain
  4. Isaiah 38:13 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  5. Isaiah 38:14 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  6. Isaiah 38:15 Cn Compare Syr: Heb I will walk slowly all my years
  7. Isaiah 38:16 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  8. Isaiah 38:17 Cn Compare Gk Vg: Heb loved
  9. Isaiah 38:20 Heb my stringed instruments
  10. Isaiah 40:9 Or O herald of good tidings to Zion
  11. Isaiah 40:9 Or O herald of good tidings to Jerusalem
  12. Isaiah 40:20 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  13. Isaiah 41:14 Syr: Heb men of
  14. Isaiah 41:18 Or trails
  15. Isaiah 41:25 Cn Compare Q Ms Gk: MT and he shall call on my name
  16. Isaiah 41:25 Cn: Heb come
  17. Isaiah 41:27 Cn: Heb First to Zion—Behold, behold them
  18. Isaiah 42:6 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  19. Isaiah 42:10 Cn Compare Ps 96.11; 98.7: Heb Those who go down to the sea
  20. Isaiah 42:20 Heb You see many things but do
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.

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