The Word Made Fresh
1Look! A king will rule in righteousness
and princes will rule with justice.
2Each one will serve as protection from the wind,
or as a hiding place from the storm.
They will be like streams of water in a dry place,
and like the shade beneath a huge rock in a weary land.
3Then the eyes of those who can see will not be closed
and the ears of those who can hear will listen.
4Those who are rash will have open minds and good judgment,
and those who stammer will be able to speak clearly.
5Fools will no longer be thought of as noble,
nor villains said to have honor,
6because fools speak foolishly, constantly making plans
to practice ungodliness and speak wrongly of the LORD.
They refuse to satisfy the hunger of the poor,
and they deprive the thirsty of anything to drink.
7Their dishonest plans are evil, and they invent wicked lies
to bring ruin to the poor, even when their pleas are honest.
8Those who are noble, on the other hand,
plan noble things and uphold them.
9Arise, you women of leisure! Listen to me!
Hear what I say, you lazy daughters.
10You are complacent now, but in a little more than a year
you will be shaken, for the vintage will fail
and there will be no harvest of fruit.
11Tremble, you women who live easy lives.
Shudder, you who are complacent.
Strip off your clothes and bare yourselves,
then wrap yourselves in sackcloth.
12Beat your breasts and grieve for the once pleasant fields
and the once fruitful vines.
13Grieve for my people’s land as it grows thorns and briers.
Grieve for all the happy homes in the jubilant city.
14Grieve, for the palace will be abandoned.
The city, once crowded with people, will be deserted.
The hills and watchtowers will become animal dens,
inhabited by wild donkeys, a pasture for wild flocks.
15So it will be until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the wilderness is once again a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field becomes a forest.
16Then justice will inhabit the wilderness
and righteousness will preside over the fruitful field.
17Righteousness will result in peace,
and there will be quietness and trust forever.
18My people shall abide in peace,
and dwell in secure homes and safe places of rest.
19Then even though hail may flatten the forest
and the city be badly damaged,
20you who sow seed alongside every stream
and allow the ox and donkey to wander freely, will rejoice.
1: Isaiah imparts his vision of the ideal society, marked by righteousness and justice.
2: The royal authorities, king, and princes, will rule with refreshing equity.
3-4: Eyes, ears, and minds represent three ways of gaining understanding and wisdom. Even those who stammer will be empowered to communicate effectively.
4-8: Fools and villains will not be able to gain a noble place in this new society. Only those who are upright will be recognized.
9-15: Before that can happen, though, there will be a time of disaster. Isaiah prophesies that within a year and a half blight will overtake the fields and orchards and the city will be forsaken and overrun by wild animals. He addresses this awful prophesy to the “women who are at ease,” a reference to the wealthy class. The dire conditions that are coming will last until “a spirit from on high” is poured out on the land and it begins to prosper again.
16-20: An idyllic setting is described. Righteousness and justice will rule, resulting in peace, quietness and trust (in God). The people will live in serene dwellings, going about their daily lives in peace. Sufficient crops will be produced from sowing in naturally fertile and well-watered places. They will think nothing of letting their animals roam freely, assured that they will not be stolen or lost.
19-20: These verses seem completely out of place. Perhaps it was displaced through centuries of copying scrolls by hand. It reads more naturally if it follows directly on verse 13.
If we forsake God, turn away from worship, and allow our churches and synagogues to pine away with a handful of believers, can our fate be any different from what Isaiah says Israel must face? God allows us to drift, but only so long and so far. Each of us should review our own fidelity and faith; we each should strive to be more faithful. If you were to make a list of ways to be faithful, what would be at the top of your list?