Can A Mother Forget Her Babies?

1 Listen to me, you islands!
Hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my birth he called me by name.
2 He made my words of judgment like a sharpened sword.
In the shadow of his hand he hid me.
I am like a polished arrow concealed in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel,
in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “My work seems so useless!
I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.
Yet I leave it all in the LORD’s hand,
and I will trust God for my reward.”

5 And now the LORD says—
6 “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
7 This is what the LORD says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will stand at attention when you pass by.
Princes will see and bow down,
because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel,
who has chosen you.”

8 This is what the LORD says:
“At just the right time, I will answer you.
On the day of salvation I will help you.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land and to assign it to its own people again.
9 to say to the captives,
‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’

“They will feed beside the roads and
find pasture on every barren hill.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them;
he will lead them beside springs of water.
11 I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.
12 See, they will come from afar—
some from the north, some from the west,
some from the region of Aswan. ”
13 Shout for joy, O heavens;
rejoice, O earth;
burst into song, O mountains!
For the LORD comforts his people
and will have compassion on them in their suffering.

14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Never! Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?
Can she feel no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will never forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
17 Soon your sons will come back,
and those who laid you waste will depart from you.
18 Lift up your eyes and look around;
all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,” declares the LORD,
“they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.”