Prayer of suffering (Isa 38:12-38:15)

“My dwelling is plucked up.

My dwelling is removed from me

Like a shepherd’s tent.

Like a weaver,

I have rolled up my life.

He cuts me off from the loom.

From day to night,

You bring me to an end.

I cry for help

Until morning.

Like a lion,

He breaks all my bones.

From day to night,

You bring me to an end.

I clamor

Like a swallow,

Like a crane.

I moan

Like a dove.

My eyes are weary

With looking upward.

O Lord!

I am oppressed!

Be my security!

But what can I say?

He has spoken to me.

He himself has done it.

All my sleep has fled.

Because of the bitterness of my soul.”

Second Isaiah has King Hezekiah suffering a lot. He has lost his dwelling so that all he has is a tent, like a shepherd. His life has been rolled up so that he is like a weaver who cannot get to his loom. He suffers both day and night as he cries all night. His bones are broken as if from a lion’s attack. He clamors like a swallow or a crane and moans like a dove. He is weary from looking up. He wanted Yahweh to be his security because he was oppressed. What can he say? Yahweh has told him about what he has done to him. He cannot sleep because of his bitter soul. This king is depressed.

A message for everyone (Isa 18:3-18:6)

“All you inhabitants of the world!

You who live on the earth!

When a signal is raised

On the mountains!

Look!

When a trumpet is blown!

Hear!

Thus Yahweh said to me.

‘I will quietly look

From my dwelling

Like clear heat in sunshine,

Like a cloud of dew

In the heat of harvest.

Before the harvest,

When the blossom is over,

The flower becomes

A ripening grape.

He will then cut off the shoots

With pruning hooks.

He will hew away

The spreading branches.

They shall all be left

To the birds of prey

Of the mountains.

They shall all be left

To the animals

Of the earth.

The birds of prey

Will summer on them.

All the animals of the earth

Will winter on them.”

Now Isaiah delivers a more universal message since this is for everyone living on earth, not just the Israelites. Yahweh had spoken to him. The example that he used was the harvest of vineyards, a fairly common biblical theme. Yahweh looked out from his dwelling, as on a clear sunny day or an overcast day at harvest time. He explained that the vine first had a blossom, a flower. Finally the ripened grape was ready for harvest. Along the way, he used pruning shears to cut back shoots and wandering branches. He left these for the birds and animals to use as food, sometimes storing them up for winter or summer. It is not clear whether this is an allusion to battles between the Assyrians and the Egyptians and Ethiopians. However, it is the story of the growth of a grape, if nothing else.