49 Listen to me, O isles and coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord has called me from the womb; from the body of my mother He has named my name.
2 And He has made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand has He hid me and made me a polished arrow; in His quiver has He kept me close and concealed me.
4 Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in empty futility; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense is with my God.
5 And now, says the Lord—Who formed me from the womb to be His servant to bring Jacob back to Him and that Israel might be gathered to Him and not be swept away, for I am honorable in the eyes of the Lord and my God has become my strength—
6 He says, It is too light a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors [of the judgments] of Israel; I will also give you for a light to the nations, that My salvation may extend to the end of the earth.
7 Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, Israel’s Holy One, to him whom man rejects and despises, to him whom the nations abhor, to the servant of rulers: Kings shall see you and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, Who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen you.
8 Thus says the Lord, In an acceptable and favorable time I have heard and answered you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you; and I will preserve you and give you for a covenant to the people, to raise up and establish the land [from its present state of ruin] and to apportion and cause them to inherit the desolate [moral wastes of heathenism, their] heritages,(B)
9 Saying to those who are bound, Come forth, and to those who are in [spiritual] darkness, Show yourselves [come into the light of the Sun of righteousness]. They shall feed in [b]all the ways [in which they go], and their pastures shall be [not in deserts, but] on all the bare [grass-covered] hills.
10 They will not hunger or thirst, neither will mirage [mislead] or scorching wind or sun smite them; for He Who has mercy on them will lead them, and by springs of water will He guide them.(C)
11 And I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways will be raised up.
12 Behold, these shall come from afar—and, behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim (China).
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth, and break forth into singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion upon His afflicted.
14 But Zion [Jerusalem, her people as seen in captivity] said, The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.
15 [And the Lord answered] Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; [O Zion] your walls are continually before Me.
17 Your children and your builders make haste; your destroyers and those who laid you waste go forth from you.
18 Lift up your eyes round about and see [the returning exiles, ready to rebuild Jerusalem]; all these gather together and come to you. As I live, says the Lord, you [Zion] shall surely clothe yourself with them all as with an ornament and bind them on you as a bride does.
19 For your waste and desolate places and your land [once the scene] of destruction surely now [in coming years] will be too narrow to accommodate the population, and those who once swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children of your bereavement [born during your captivity] shall yet say in your ears, The place is too narrow for me; make room for me, that I may live.
21 Then [Zion], you will say in your heart, Who has borne me all these children, seeing that I lost my offspring and am alone and barren and unfruitful, an exile put away and wandering hither and thither? And who brought them up? Behold, I was left alone [put away by the Lord, my Husband]; from where then did all these children come?
22 Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up My hand to the Gentile nations and set up My standard and raise high My signal banner to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in the bosom of their garments, and your daughters will be carried upon their shoulders.
23 And kings shall be your foster fathers and guardians, and their queens your nursing mothers. They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth and lick up the dust of your feet; and you shall know [with an acquaintance and understanding based on and grounded in personal experience] that I am the Lord; for they shall not be put to shame who wait for, look for, hope for, and expect Me.
24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives of the just be delivered?
25 For thus says the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty will be taken away, and the prey of the terrible will be delivered; for I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will give safety to your children and ease them.
26 And I will make those who oppress you consume themselves [in mutually destructive wars], thus eating their own flesh; and they will be drunk with their own blood, as with sweet wine; and all flesh will know [with a knowledge grounded in personal experience] that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
- Isaiah 49:3 It is difficult to know positively to whom the Lord is speaking in these next verses—whether (1) to the Messiah, (2) to Israel, or (3) to Isaiah. The large majority of early authorities favored interpretation (1); later scholars incline toward interpretation (2). See also footnote on Isa. 42:1.
- Isaiah 49:9 The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) here reads, “In all the highways they shall be fed, and there shall be pasture for them in all the paths.”
- Isaiah 49:3 : Gen. 32:28; Deut. 7:6; 26:18, 19; Eph. 1:4-6.
- Isaiah 49:8 : II Cor. 6:2.
- Isaiah 49:10 : Rev. 7:16, 17.