Leaders Should Be Good and Fair
1 Listen to what I say! A king should rule in a way that brings justice. Leaders should make fair decisions when they lead the people.
2 If this would happen, the king would be like a shelter to hide from the wind and rain, like streams of water in a dry land, and like the cool shadow of a large rock in a hot land.
3 Then people would actually see what they look at. They would actually listen to what they hear.
4 People who are now confused would be able to understand. Those who cannot speak clearly now would be able to speak clearly and quickly.
5 Fools would not be called great men. People would not respect men who make secret plans.
6 Fools say foolish things, and in their minds they plan evil things to do. They want to do what is wrong. They say bad things about the LORD. They don’t let hungry people eat their food. They don’t let thirsty people drink the water.
7 They use evil like a tool and plan ways to steal from the poor. They tell lies about the poor and keep them from being judged fairly.
8 But a good leader plans good things to do, and that will make him a leader over other leaders.
Hard Times Are Coming
9 Some of you women are calm now; you feel safe. But you should stand and listen to the words I say.
10 You feel safe now, but after one year you will be troubled. That is because you will not gather grapes next year—there will be no grapes to gather.
11 Women, you are calm now, but you should be afraid. You feel safe now, but you should be worried. Take off your nice clothes and put on sackcloth. Wrap it around your waist.
12 Beat your breasts in sorrow. Cry because your fields are empty. Your vineyards once gave grapes, but now they are empty.
13 Cry for the land of my people. Cry because only thorns and weeds will grow there. Cry for the city and for all the houses that were once filled with joy.
14 People will leave the capital city. The palace and towers will be left empty. People will not live in houses—they will live in caves. Wild donkeys and sheep will live in the city—animals will go there to eat grass.
15 This will continue until God gives us his Spirit from above. Then the desert will become rich farmland and the farmland will be like thick forests.
16 That is, what is now a desert will be filled with right decisions, and what is now a farmland will be filled with justice.
17 That justice will bring peace and safety forever.
18 My people will be safe in their homes and in their calm, peaceful fields.
19 But before this happens, the forest must fall and the city must be torn down.
20 Some of you live away from the cities. You plant seeds by every stream and let your cattle and donkeys roam free. You will be very blessed.