The Word Made Fresh
1This song will be sung throughout the land of Judah on that day:
“We have a strong city, and victory will be ours
through its walls and bulwarks.”
2Open the gates so the righteous nation,
keeping faith, may enter.
3You keep in peace those who are of steadfast mind
because they trust in you.
4Always trust in the LORD;
the LORD is a steadfast rock for you.
5God has brought down those who live on the height.
God lays the lofty city low,
low to the ground, thrown into the dust,
6trampled underfoot by the feet of the poor and the needy.
7The righteous walk on a level path;
you, the Fair One, makes their path smooth.
8In the path of your pronouncements, LORD, we wait for you.
Your name and your fame are the desire of the soul.
9My soul yearns for you in the night.
My spirit diligently searches for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth
the people of the world learn about your righteousness.
10The wicked do not learn righteousness when favor is given them.
Even in the land that is upright they deal wrongly
and are blind to the majesty of the LORD.
11LORD, you have raised your hand, but they do not see it.
Let them be ashamed to see the zeal you have for your people.
And let the fire you have for your enemies overtake them.
12LORD, you pronounce peace for us;
Everything we have done, you have done for us.
13LORD our God, we have been ruled by other lords,
but we acknowledge you, and you alone.
14The dead are not alive; their departed spirits do not rise
because you punished them, and they are no more.
All memory of them has been wiped away.
15But you have made the nation larger, LORD.
You have enlarged the nation and you are glorified;
you have enlarged all the boundaries of the land.
16In their distress they sought you, LORD.
They prayed to you when your punishment was upon them.
17Like a pregnant woman who cries out in pain when the birth is
so were we because of you, LORD.
18We were with child and we writhed in pain,
but we only gave birth to wind.
We have won no victories on the earth,
and no one is being born to live in the world.
19But your dead shall live. Their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, arise! Awake and sing!
For you are like shining dew,
and the earth will give birth to her dead.
20Go, my people, and enter your rooms,
and close the doors behind you.
Hide yourselves for a little while
until the LORD’s wrath is spent.
21For the LORD will come out
to punish those who inhabit the earth for their sins.
The earth will make known the blood poured out on it,
and will hide her dead no more.
1-6: The coming deliverance foretold in the last chapter evokes a song of victory – God’s victory, not Israel’s.
7-15: The song continues, now resembling some of the psalms, now taking the tact of the wisdom narratives in Proverbs. The righteous benefit from God’s rule, the wicked do not.
16-19: All their suffering has been but the process of giving birth to something new, an idea that Paul picks up on in his letter to the Romans (see Romans 8:22: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now”). Notice that verse 19 reverses verse 14.
20-21: Therefore, given the promise of such a glorious future, Isaiah pleads with the people to hold on a little longer.
We have not had the experience, nor have we born the suffering of the people Isaiah is speaking directly to. But individually we have found ourselves in times of suffering and can relate to Isaiah’s promise that God isn’t going to let us go. Our life on earth is connected to that promise.