Listen to me, distant nations, 1 you people who live far away! Before I was born, the Lord chose me and appointed me to be his servant.
He made my words as sharp as a sword. 2 With his own hand he protected me. a He made me like an arrow, sharp and ready for use.
He said to me, "Israel, you are my servant; because of you, people will praise me."
I said, "I have worked, but how hopeless it is! I have used up my strength, but have accomplished nothing." Yet I can trust the Lord to defend my cause; he will reward me for what I do.
Before I was born, the Lord appointed me; he made me his servant to bring back his people, to bring back the scattered people of Israel. The Lord gives me honor; he is the source of my strength.
The Lord said to me, 3 "I have a greater task for you, my servant. Not only will you restore to greatness the people of Israel who have survived, but I will also make you a light to the nations - so that all the world may be saved."
Israel's holy God and savior says to the one who is deeply despised, who is hated by the nations and is the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you released and will rise to show their respect; princes also will see it, and they will bow low to honor you." This will happen because the Lord has chosen his servant; the holy God of Israel keeps his promises.
The Lord says to his people, 4 "When the time comes to save you, I will show you favor and answer your cries for help. I will guard and protect you and through you make a covenant with all peoples. I will let you settle once again in your land that is now laid waste.
I will say to the prisoners, "Go free!' and to those who are in darkness, "Come out to the light!' They will be like sheep that graze on the hills;
they will never be hungry or thirsty. 5 Sun and desert heat will not hurt them, for they will be led by one who loves them. He will lead them to springs of water.
"I will make a highway across the mountains and prepare a road for my people to travel.
My people will come from far away, from the north and the west, and from Aswan b in the south."
Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth! Let the mountains burst into song! The Lord will comfort his people; he will have pity on his suffering people.