Judah’s happy tune
Nice walls, Jerusalem1When that great day comes, people in Judah will sing this song.
Our city is strong
Thanks to God.
He protects us behind thick walls.
Let the good people in,
Those devoted to God.
3People live in peace
When they’re faithful to God.
He gives them peace
Because they trust in him.
4Trust God forever.
The LORD is God,
He’s our solid rock.
5The high and the mighty,
He brings down to earth.
Towering cities collapse,
And crash to the ground
In a thundering roar
And a cloud of dust.
6The poor and the needy
Once oppressed in town
Trample the ruins left behind.
Good people on the straight road7
Good people know the path to take.
It’s the trail you clear,
Straight and smooth.
And we trust the calls you make.
We respect your name
And honor you for who you are.
9In the quiet of night, I look to you.
My spirit reaches out to find you.
When justice comes from heaven to earth
People of the world learn goodness.
Wasting mercy on the wicked10
Mercy is wasted on the wicked.
Goodness won’t rub off on them.
They contaminate purity
corrupt good people,
and think nothing of the majesty of God.
But wicked folks don’t see it.
Show them what you think of your people.
Shame the wicked as they watch.
Then toast them in fire till they’re gone.
LORD, give us peace in this life.
And all the goodness you plan for us.
Others have lorded over us,
And told us what to do.
But you are the only LORD
Whose name we revere and honor.
14Dead don’t live.
Ghosts don’t exist.
You’ve punished and wiped out the wicked.
And we’ve forgotten who they were.
15LORD, you are wonderful.
You’ve grown us a nation
A great, growing nation
With borders expanding our land.
Prayer won’t stop punishment16
LORD, people in trouble come to you.
They empty themselves in prayer.
Yet you answer them with punishment.
Crying for deliverance from pain.
We were those people, LORD.
18We thought we were pregnant and suffering
But all we produced was a rank puff of gas.
We’re losers who’ve never saved anyone.
We can’t bring people to life.
Your people who died will live again
Their bodies will come to life.
Dissolved in the dust
They’ll rise and shine
And then they’ll shout for joy.
You renew the earth with morning dew
And you restore life to the dead.
Shut the doors and behave.
Wait until the LORD’s punishment passes.
Head down, mouth shut until then.
21The LORD is coming from there to here
To punish the sinners of earth.
Blood will flow for all to see
The dead will lie on display.
Jerusalem’s walls kept Assyrian King Sennacherib’s army outside in their tents. They never broke through during their siege when Hezekiah reigned over Judah. They suddenly broke camp and left in a hurry. A Bible writer said an angel killed 185,000 of the Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). A Greek writer 250 years later, Herodotus, wrote that the army got stopped by a rat infestation that killed some of the soldiers. Some scholars speculate that the rats carried diseases—plagues such as bubonic, septicemic, pneumonic. Those three diseases—all from the same bacterium (yersinia pestis)—affect the immune system, blood, and lungs.
Which is it? “The dead don’t live” (14) or “the dead live again” (19)? Scholars say verse 14 refers to the wicked people the writer mentions in that verse, possibly the Assyrian ruler who oppressed and exploited weaker kingdoms. Verse 19 is a puzzle. Is it a metaphor, perhaps of the suffering Israelite nations doomed to be erased from the political map? The northern kingdom of Israel leaves in 722 BC, escorted into exile by Assyrians of what is now northern Iraq. The southern kingdom of Judah goes in 586 BC, escorted into exile by Babylonians of what is now southern Iraq. Or is verse 19 an anomaly—a rare Old Testament glimpse of what might be the belief in a resurrection and an afterlife?
Metaphor? (see note for 26:14). Or an early Old Testament reference to Glory Halleluiah, New Testament resurrection, and life after death? Some Jewish scholars say this verse helped convince Jews in Medieval times that there is a resurrection. Rabbinic Judaism, like much of Christianity, teaches that all people will rise from the dead. But when most Old Testament writers referred to death, they talked about Sheol, a place where dead spirits go and tend not to come back (Genesis 37:35), with the exception of Samuel, conjured up by a medium (1 Samuel 28:15). Many scholars, Jewish and Christian, say several Old Testament passages point to an end-time, apocalyptic day of resurrection for the dead: Isaiah 24—27; 25:8; 26:19; Daniel 12:2-3; 13).
Morning dew in the dry Middle East—where rains are few and far between—is the difference between life and death for plants that depend on that daily brush of moisture.
The background here might be Assyria’s continued oppression of the Israelites. Isaiah said God would use Assyrians to punish the Israelites. Most surviving Israelites would end up living in exile in what is now Iraq. “Head down and mouth shut” would have been good advice for them. Low profile. Don’t make waves. It’s a key to survival during an oppressive exile under an emperor or in a corporate job working for someone who goes by various names.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.