Isaiah 49:1–26 (NKJV)
49:1 “Listen, O coastlands, to Me,
And take heed, you peoples from afar!
The LORD has called Me from the womb;
From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.
2 And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;
In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me,
And made Me a polished shaft;
In His quiver He has hidden Me.”
3 “And He said to me,
‘You are My servant, O Israel,
In whom I will be glorified.’
4 Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain;
Yet surely my just reward is with the LORD,
And my work with my God.’ ”
5 “And now the LORD says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD,
And My God shall be My strength),
6 Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
These first few verses are Isaiah’s prophetic call to Israel, reminding them that they are the chosen vessels of God on the earth. They are the servant of the Lord, and God intends to bring them back from their captivity. His intention is to use either Cyrus or Darius to release and empower them to return. Verse 4 is a statement of unhappiness on Israel’s part. After this, it is documented that Israel gave up on the restoration. Verse 5 is God’s relaunch of His intention to restore them. This message in verses 5-6 is presumed to be directed at Darius, the king of Persia, to restore Israel, which he did.
7 Thus says the LORD,
The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
To Him whom man despises,
To Him whom the nation abhors,
To the Servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise,
Princes also shall worship,
Because of the LORD who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel;
And He has chosen You.”
Here, the Lord declares that although Darius was despised and abhorred, and lowly in status, God placed him in authority to help His people. Israel is restored because of the providence of God.
8 Thus says the LORD:
“In an acceptable time I have heard You,
And in the day of salvation I have helped You;
I will preserve You and give You
As a covenant to the people,
To restore the earth,
To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;
9 That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’
To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’
“They shall feed along the roads,
And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights.
10 They shall neither hunger nor thirst,
Neither heat nor sun shall strike them;
For He who has mercy on them will lead them,
Even by the springs of water He will guide them.
11 I will make each of My mountains a road,
And My highways shall be elevated.
12 Surely these shall come from afar;
Look! Those from the north and the west,
And these from the land of Sinim.”
13 Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the LORD has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted.
This passage is a declaration to Darius that the Lord intends to make His people’s path back to Israel smooth, simple, and prosperous. He will level the road, and provide pasture land to them. He will provide food and water, and the heavens and earth will break out in singing.
14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
And my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
17 Your sons shall make haste;
Your destroyers and those who laid you waste
Shall go away from you.
18 Lift up your eyes, look around and see;
All these gather together and come to you.
As I live,” says the LORD,
“You shall surely clothe yourselves with them all as an ornament,
And bind them on you as a bride does.
19 “For your waste and desolate places,
And the land of your destruction,
Will even now be too small for the inhabitants;
And those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children you will have,
After you have lost the others,
Will say again in your ears,
‘The place is too small for me;
Give me a place where I may dwell.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
‘Who has begotten these for me,
Since I have lost my children and am desolate,
A captive, and wandering to and fro?
And who has brought these up?
There I was, left alone;
But these, where were they?’ ”
Zion, or Israel, responds again to God’s promise of return and restoration by bemoaning the fact that the land is destroyed, and that progress and repairs happen woefully slowly. But God promises them that they will grow and prosper in the promised land.
22 Thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
And set up My standard for the peoples;
They shall bring your sons in their arms,
And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
23 Kings shall be your foster fathers,
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.
Then you will know that I am the LORD,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”
24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty,
Or the captives of the righteous be delivered?
25 But thus says the LORD:
“Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
And the prey of the terrible be delivered;
For I will contend with him who contends with you,
And I will save your children.
26 I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
All flesh shall know
That I, the LORD, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
The Lord responds with a grand announcement of how the king will bless Israel and help raise their children. The king and his people will bow before Israel. God will deliver His people and cause the captors to feed on themselves.
Today, we face many enemies and problems. We have struggles, disappointments, and loss. We face slow progress and unfulfilled dreams. However, we have a God who promises us the fulfillment of all dreams and the provision for our needs. We simply need to hear His voice and respond to His word. When we do, He will make kings babysit for us and bow before us. He is God!