God Calls His Special Servant
1 Hear me, people by the sea.
Listen to me, you faraway nations.
The LORD called me before I was born.
He called my name while I was still in my mother’s womb.
2 He used me to speak for him.
He used me like a sharp sword,
but he also held me in his hand to protect me.
He used me like a sharp arrow,
but he also kept me safe in his arrow bag.
3 He told me, “Israel, you are my servant.
I will do wonderful things with you.”
4 I said, “I worked hard for nothing.
I wore myself out, but I did nothing useful.
I used all my power,
but I did not really do anything.
So the LORD must decide what to do with me.
He must decide my reward.”
5 The LORD is the one who made me in my mother’s womb,
so that I could be his servant.
He wanted me to lead Jacob and Israel back to him.
The LORD gives me honor.
I get my strength from my God.
6 And now he says, “You are a very important servant to me.
You must bring back to me the tribes of Jacob.
You must bring back the people of Israel who are still alive.
But I have something else for you to do that is even more important:
I will make you a light for the other nations.
You will show people all over the world the way to be saved.”
7 The LORD, the Holy Protector of Israel, speaks to his servant.
People hate that servant.
Nations despise him.
He is now a slave to rulers.
The Lord says to him,
“Kings will see you and stand to honor you.
Great leaders will bow down to you.”
This will happen for the LORD. The Holy One of Israel is the one who chose you, and he can be trusted.
The Day of Salvation
8 This is what the LORD says:
“There will be a special time when I show my kindness.
Then I will answer your prayers.
There will be a special day when I will save you.
Then I will help you and protect you.
And you will be the proof of my agreement with the people.
The country is destroyed now,
but you will give the land back to the people who own it.
9 You will tell the prisoners,
‘Come out of your prison!’
You will tell those who are in darkness,
‘Come out of the dark!’
The people will eat along the road,
and they will have food even on empty hills.
10 They will not be hungry or thirsty.
The hot sun and wind will not hurt them.
Their Comforter will lead them.
He will lead them by springs of water.
11 I will make a road for my people.
The mountains will be made flat,
and the low roads will be raised.
12 “Look! People are coming to me from faraway places.
They are coming to me from the north and from the west.
They are coming to me from Aswan in Egypt.”
13 Heavens and earth, be happy!
Mountains, shout with joy!
The LORD comforts his people.
He is good to his poor people.
14 But now Zion says, “The LORD has left me;
the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 But the Lord says,
“Can a woman forget her baby?
Can she forget the child who came from her body?
Even if she can forget her children,
I cannot forget you.
16 I drew a picture of you on my hand.
You are always before my eyes.* I … eyes Or “I see your figure before me always.” This is a wordplay. The Hebrew word “figure” also means “walls.”
17 Your children will come back to you,
and those who destroyed you will leave.
18 Look up! Look all around you!
All of your children are gathering together and coming to you.”
The LORD says, “On my life, I promise you this:
Your children will be like jewels that you tie around your neck.
Your children will be like the necklace that a bride wears.
19 “You are destroyed and defeated now.
Your land is useless.
But after a short time, you will have many people in your land.
And those who destroyed you will be far, far away.
20 You were sad for the children you lost, but they will tell you,
‘This place is too small!
Give us a bigger place to live!’
21 Then you will say to yourself,
‘Who gave me all these children?
I was sad and lonely.
My children were taken away.
They were gone.
So who gave me these children?
Look, I was the only one left.
Where did all these children come from?’ ”
22 This is what the Lord GOD says:
“Look, I will wave my hand to the nations.
I will raise my flag for everyone to see.
Then they will bring your children to you.
They will carry your children on their shoulders,
and they will hold them in their arms.
23 Kings will be their teachers.
The daughters of kings will care for them.
The kings and their daughters will bow down to you.
They will kiss the dirt at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the LORD,
and anyone who trusts in me will not be disappointed.”
24 If a strong soldier takes a prisoner,
can you set him free?
If a powerful soldier guards someone,
can the prisoner escape?
25 Here is the LORD’S answer:
“The prisoners will escape.
Those captured by the strong soldier will be set free.
That’s because I will fight your battles,
and I will save your children.
26 Those people hurt you,
but I will force them to eat their own bodies.
Their own blood will be the wine that makes them drunk.
Then everyone will know that the LORD saved you.
Everyone will know that the Powerful One of Jacob saved you.”
*49:16 I … eyes Or “I see your figure before me always.” This is a wordplay. The Hebrew word “figure” also means “walls.”