Judah’s Praise and Prayer for Deliverance.* 1On that day this song shall be sung in the land of Judah:
“A strong city* have we;
he sets up victory as our walls and ramparts.a
2Open up the gates
that a righteous nation may enter,
one that keeps faith.b
3With firm purpose you maintain peace;
in peace, because of our trust in you.”c
4Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.d
5He humbles those who dwell on high,
the lofty city he brings down,
Brings it down to the ground,
levels it to the dust.e
6The feet of the needy trample on it—
the feet of the poor.
7The way of the just is smooth;
the path of the just you make level.f
8The course of your judgments, LORD, we await;
your name and your memory are the desire of our souls.
9My soul yearns for you at night,
yes, my spirit within me seeks you at dawn;
When your judgment comes upon the earth,
the world’s inhabitants learn justice.g
10The wicked, when spared, do not learn justice;
in an upright land they act perversely,
and do not see the majesty of the LORD.h
11LORD, your hand is raised high,
but they do not perceive it;
Let them be put to shame when they see your zeal for your people:
let the fire prepared for your enemies consume them.i
12LORD, you will decree peace for us,
for you have accomplished all we have done.j
13LORD, our God, lords other than you have ruled us;
only because of you can we call upon your name.
14Dead they are, they cannot live,
shades that cannot rise;
Indeed, you have punished and destroyed them,
and wiped out all memory of them.
15You have increased the nation, LORD,
you have increased the nation, have added to your glory,
you have extended far all the boundaries of the land.k
16LORD, oppressed by your punishment,
we cried out in anguish under your discipline.l
17As a woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in pain,
so were we before you, LORD.m
18We conceived and writhed in pain,
giving birth only to wind;
Salvation we have not achieved for the earth,
no inhabitants for the world were born.n
19* But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise!
Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and you cause the land of shades to give birth.o
The Lord’s Response*
20Go, my people, enter your chambers,
and close the doors behind you;
Hide yourselves for a brief moment,
until the wrath is past.p
21See, the LORD goes forth from his place,
to punish the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants;
The earth will reveal the blood shed upon it,
and no longer conceal the slain.q
* [26:1–19] This text is a mixture of praise for the salvation that will take place, a confession of Judah’s inability to achieve deliverance on its own, and earnest prayer that God may quickly bring about the longed-for salvation.
* [26:19] This verse refers not to resurrection of the dead, but to the restoration of the people; cf. Ez 37. The population of Judah was radically reduced by the slaughter and deportations that the historical disasters of the late eighth and seventh centuries B.C. brought upon the country. In this context, a major concern for the future was for an increase in the population, a rebirth of the nation’s life.