Listen to me, you people of the islands!*
Pay attention, you who live far away! The Lord called me before I was born; he gave me my name while I was still in my mother's womb. 2
The words he gave me to speak are like a sharp sword. He has protected me by covering me with his hand. He put me in his quiver like a sharp arrow, keeping me safe there.
3 He told me, “You are my servant, Israel, and I will reveal my glory through you.”
4 But I replied, “I've worked for nothing! I've exhausted myself, and for what? Even so, I leave it with the Lord to do what's right, and my reward is with my God.”
Now my Lord is going to speak, the one who formed me in the womb as his servant to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to himself.†
I am honored in the Lord's sight, and my God has given me strength. 6
He says, “It's nothing much for you to be my servant to bring back the tribes of Jacob, those people of Israel that I've preserved. I'm also going to make you a light for the foreigners so that my salvation may reach everybody.”
7 This is what the Lord says, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, to the one who was despised and detested by the nation, to the one who is the servant of rulers: Kings will see you and stand up, and princes will bow down to you, because the Lord, who is trustworthy, the Holy One of Israel, has chosen you.
This is what the Lord says: I will answer you at the proper time; I will help you on the day of salvation. I will take care of you, and I will give you to the people as my agreement with them, to restore the land and to reassign the parts that have been abandoned. 9
Tell the prisoners, “Come out!” Tell those living in darkness, “Come into the light!” Like sheep they will feed along the roads and in the pastures on hills that once were barren. 10
They won't be hungry or thirsty, and they won't get hot in the sun, for the one who loves them will lead them to springs, and guide them to water. 11
I will turn all my mountains into a road; my highways will be really high! 12
Look at these people coming from far away! Look at these people coming from the north, and from the west, and from Upper Egypt.‡ 13
Heavens, shout for joy! Earth, celebrate! Mountains, sing out in happiness! The Lord has come to care for his people, and he will treat his suffering people kindly.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has given up on me; the Lord has forgotten about me.”
Really? Can a mother forget her nursing baby? Can she forget to be kind to the child she carried in her womb? Even if she could forget, I will never forget you! 16
Look at your names I've written on the palms of my hands! I'm always thinking about your walls.§ 17
Soon your children will come running back. Your destroyers, those that devastated your land, will be gone. 18
Take a look around. See all your children gathering and coming back to you. As I live, declares the Lord, you will wear them all as jewelry, proudly putting them on like a bride. 19
Your ruined towns and abandoned places and devastated lands will be crowded with people, while those who took over your country will be long gone. 20
The children born during your time of mourning in exile will say, “This place is too crowded for me! Make room so I have a place to live!” 21
Then you will say to yourself, “Who gave birth to all these children for me? My children were killed and I was unable to have more; I was exiled and thrown aside—so who brought these children up? Look, I was abandoned, so where did they come from?”
22 This is what the Lord God says, Watch as I give the signal to the nations, as I raise my flag to let everyone know. They will bring them back, carrying your sons in their arms, and lifting your daughters onto their shoulders. 23 Kings will be your child-minders; queens will be your nurses. They will bow low before you, and lick the dust from your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord, and that those who put their trust in me will never be ashamed.
Can loot be taken from a warrior? Can prisoners be rescued from a dictator?* 25
But this is what the Lord says: Even the prisoners of warriors will be won back; even loot will be recovered from a dictator. I will fight with your enemies, and I will rescue your children. 26
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh and drink their own blood like wine. Then everyone will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.