Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
31:10 on distant isles Often used to refer to the farthest reaches of the known world (see Isa 11:11; 41:1; 60:9). who scatterer of Israel now gathers them The scattering was part of the covenant curses (Lev 26:33), but the restoration and gathering also was promised (Deut 30:1–4). Compare Jer 9:16; 10:21; 30:11; Ezek 36:19, 24.
a shepherd guards his flock The metaphor of Yahweh as a shepherd caring for His flock is common in the OT.
31:11 The Lord shall ransom Jacob The image of salvation in the formal sense of a legal ransom or act of redemption is a common feature in Isa 40–48 (e.g., Isa 43:1; 44:22; 48:20). God redeems His chosen people even at the cost of the other nations. This is a metaphorical ransom invoking the idea that redemption required payment.
31:12 life will become like a well-watered garden The imagery of this verse points to the future blessing on the land that results when God’s people are in right relationship with Him (compare Isa 35:10; 58:11).
The prophetical books speak of God’s tender mercy and John Paul II points out that “it is significant that in their preaching the prophets link mercy, which they often refer to because of the people’s sins, with the incisive image of love on God’s part. The Lord loves Israel with the love of a special choosing, much like the love of a spouse, and for this reason, he pardons its sins and even its infidelities and betrayals. When he finds repentance and true conversion, he brings his people back to grace. In the preaching of the prophets, mercy signifies a special power of love, which prevails over the sin and infidelity of the chosen people.
Connected with the mystery of creation is the mystery of the election, which in a special way shaped the history of the people whose spiritual father is Abraham by virtue of his faith. Nevertheless, through this people which journeys forward through the history both of the Old Covenant and of the New, that mystery of election refers to every man and woman, to the whole great human family: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you’ (Jer 31:3)” (Dives in Misericordia).
– James Gavigan
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.