The Servant of the Lord*
1Hear me, coastlands,
listen, distant peoples.a
Before birth the LORD called me,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.*
2He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword,
concealed me, shielded by his hand.
He made me a sharpened arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
3He said to me, You are my servant,
in you, Israel,* I show my glory.
4Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
for nothing and for naught spent my strength,
Yet my right is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.b
5For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
I am honored in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
6It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;c
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.*
7Thus says the LORD,
the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
To the one despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers:
When kings see you, they shall stand up,
and princes shall bow down
Because of the LORD who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.d
The Liberation and Restoration of Zion
8Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,*
on the day of salvation I help you;
I form you and set you
as a covenant for the people,
To restore the land
and allot the devastated heritages,e
9To say to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the roadways they shall find pasture,
on every barren height shall their pastures be.f
10They shall not hunger or thirst;
nor shall scorching wind or sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.g
11I will turn all my mountains into roadway,
and make my highways level.h
12See, these shall come from afar:
some from the north and the west,
others from the land of Syene.*
13Sing out, heavens, and rejoice, earth,
break forth into song, you mountains,
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.
14But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”i
15Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.j
16See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you;*
your walls are ever before me.
17Your children hasten—
your levelers, your destroyers
go forth from you;
18Look about and see,
they are all gathering and coming to you.
As I live—oracle of the LORD—
you shall don them as jewels,
bedeck yourself like a bride.
19Though you were waste and desolate,
a land of ruins,
Now you shall be too narrow for your inhabitants,
while those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20The children of whom you were bereft
shall yet say in your hearing,
“This place is too narrow for me,
make room for me to live in.”
21You shall ask yourself:
“Who has borne me these,
when I was bereft and barren?
Exiled and repudiated,
who has reared them?
I was left all alone;
where then do these come from?”k
22Thus says the Lord GOD:
See, I will lift up my hand to the nations,
and to the peoples raise my signal;
They shall bring your sons in their arms,
your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.l
23Kings shall be your guardians,
their princesses your nursemaids;
Face to the ground, they shall bow down before you
and lick the dust at your feet.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
none who hope in me shall be ashamed.
24Can plunder be taken from a warrior,
or captives rescued from a tyrant?
25Thus says the LORD:
Yes, captives can be taken from a warrior,
and plunder rescued from a tyrant;
Those who oppose you I will oppose,
and your sons I will save.
26I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh,
and they shall be drunk with their own blood
as though with new wine.
All flesh shall know
that I, the LORD, am your savior,
your redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.m
* [49:1–7] The second of the four “servant of the Lord” oracles (cf. note on 42:1–4).
* [49:1] Gave me my name: designated me for a special task or mission (cf. Jer 1:5).
* [49:3] Israel: the servant is identified with the people of Israel as their ideal representative; however, vv. 5–6 seem to distinguish the servant from Israel.
* [49:6] The servant’s vocation extends beyond the restoration of Israel in order to bring the knowledge of Israel’s God to the rest of the earth; cf. Lk 2:32.
* [49:8] You: the individual is not named; perhaps Cyrus or the prophet.
* [49:12] Syene: now called Aswan, at the first cataract of the Nile in southern Egypt.
* [49:16] Upon the palms…you: for continual remembrance; cf. Ex 13:9, 16; Dt 6:6–9.
a. [49:1] Is 41:9; 43:1; 44:2, 24; 46:3.
c. [49:6] Is 42:1–6; 44:5; 45:14; Lk 2:32; Acts 13:46–47.
g. [49:10] Is 51:14; Rev 7:16.
j. [49:15] Is 43:4; 44:21; 46:3–4.