Isaiah 32 Bible Commentary
Times of peace and happiness. (1-8) An interval of trouble, yet comfort and blessings in the end. (9-20)
Commentary on Isaiah 32:1-8
(Read Isaiah 32:1-8)
Christ our righteous King, and his true disciples, are evidently here intended. The consolations and graces of his Spirit are as rivers of water in this dry land; and as the overhanging rock affords refreshing shade and shelter to the weary traveller in the desert, so his power, truth, and love, yield the believer the only real protection and refreshment in the weary land through which he journeys to heaven. Christ bore the storm himself, to keep it off from us. To him let the trembling sinner flee for refuge; for he alone can protect and refresh us in every trial. See what pains sinners take in sin; they labour at it, their hearts are intent upon it, and with art they work iniquity; but this is our comfort, that they can do no more mischief than God permits. Let us seek to have our hearts more freed from selfishness. The liberal soul devises liberal things concerning God, and desires that He will grant wisdom and prudence, the comforts of his presence, the influence of his Spirit, and in due time the enjoyment of his glory.
Commentary on Isaiah 32:9-20
(Read Isaiah 32:9-20)
When there was so much provocation given to the holy God, bad times might be expected. Alas! how many careless ones there are, who support self-indulgence by shameful niggardliness! We deserve to be deprived of the supports of life, when we make them the food of lusts. Let such tremble and be troubled. Blessed times shall be brought in by the pouring out of the Spirit from on high; then, and not till then, there will be good times. The present state of the Jews shall continue until a more abundant pouring out of the Spirit from on high. Peace and quietness shall be found in the way and work of righteousness. True satisfaction is to be had only in true religion. And real holiness is real happiness now, and shall be perfect happiness, that is, perfect holiness for ever. The good seed of the word shall be sown in all places, and be watered by Divine grace; and laborious, patient labourers shall be sent forth into God's husbandry.
- Bible > Bible Commentary
- Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary (concise)
- Isaiah 32
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
Verses 1-8. - A PROPHECY OF MESSIAH'S KINGDOM. It is generally allowed that this prophecy is Messianic; but some critics insist that it is not so "in a narrow sense." They regard Isaiah as expecting Messiah's kingdom to follow immediately on the discomfiture of Sennacherib, and as looking to Hezekiah to inaugurate it. According to this view, Hezekiah, renovated in character, was to be the Messiah, and might have been so had he been "equal to the demands providentially made upon him." But he was not; and the task of establishing the kingdom fell to "another," at a later date. It is simpler to regard the prophet as looking for a greater than Hezekiah (comp. Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6), but ignorant how soon, or how late, his coming would be. Verse 1. - A king... princes. Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne translate, "the king... the princes;" but the Hebrew gives no article. The announcement is vague, and corresponds to those of other prophets, as of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:5), "Behold, the days come that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper;" and of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion... behold, thy King cometh unto thee." The "princes" of the text are the minor authorities whom the king would set over his kingdom - i.e., the apostles and their successors. In righteousness... in judgment. Messiah's rule will be a rule of strict justice and right, offering the strongest contrast to that under which the Jews have been living since the time of Jehoshaphat (see Isaiah 1:15-23; Isaiah 3:1-12, etc.).
And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
Verse 2. - A man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, etc. Modern critics mostly render, "each man" - i.e. the king, and each of his princes. But it is, to say the least, allowable - with Vitringa and Kay - to regard the word as referring to the king only (comp. Zechariah 6:12, where ish, a man, is used in the same vague way of One who is clearly the Messiah). There was never but one man who could be to other men all that is predicated in this verse of the "man" mentioned (comp. Isaiah 25:4, where nearly the same epithets are predicated of God). A covert; i.e. a protection against Divine wrath. Such is Messiah in his mediatorial character. Rivers of water; i.e. refreshing and invigorating (comp. Isaiah 55:1; John 4:14; John 7:37). The shadow of a great rook. At once refreshing and protecting (see Isaiah 25:4).
And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.
Verse 3. - The eyes of them that see shall not be dim. In Messiah's kingdom there shall be no judicial blindness, such as that threatened in Isaiah 6:9, 10, and described in Isaiah 29:10, 11; but men shall see the truth clearly (comp. Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 35:5; Matthew 13:16, etc.). The ears.., shall hearken;i.e. "shall both hear and understated" (compare "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear").
The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.
Verse 4. - The heart also of the rash; i.e. of those who were rash and hasty, who would not give themselves time to understand the warnings addressed to them, or to think of the real character of their actions. These shall, in Messiah's kingdom, "have the gift of discernment to perceive things in their true nature" (Delitzsch). The tongue of the stammerers. The tongue of those who hitherto have spoken hesitatingly and inconsistently on moral and religions subjects shall be ready - i.e., prompt and eager - to speak upon them with clearness and elegance. The grace given to the uneducated fishermen of Galilee enabled them to preach and teach gospel truth, not only with clearness, but with refinement.
The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.
Verse 5. - The vile person shall be no more called liberal; rather, the foolish person - as nabal is commonly translated (Deuteronomy 32:6; 2 Samuel 3:33; 2 Samuel 13:13; Psalm 14:1; Psalm 39:8; Psalm 74:22, etc.) - such a man as the "Nabal" of 1 Samuel 25. Men are apt to confound moral distinctions, and to call the "fools" who waste their substance in feasting and revelry "generous" or "liberal," and the niggards (churls) who hoard their riches "warm men," "wealthy men," "men well to do in the world" (see Isaiah 5:20; and comp. Arist.,' Eth. Nic.,' 2:8, § 3; Thucyd., 3:82). This perversion of truth shall not obtain in Messiah's kingdom. Bountiful; rather, wealthy (comp. Job 34:19, where the same word is translated "rich").
For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
Verse 6. - For the vile person will speak villany, etc.; rather, for the fool speaketh folly, and his heart doeth wickedness, practising profanity and uttering error against Jehocab, making empty the soul of the hungry - yea, the drink of the thirsty will he cause to fail. The prophet seems to have the portrait of Nabal in his mind, and to take him as the type of a class.
The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.
Verse 7. - The instruments. Mr. Cheyne translates, "the machinations," which gives a better sense; but the rendering is scarcely borne out by any parallel use of the term c'li in Scripture or elsewhere. C'li properly means "vessels," "weapons," "implements." He deviseth wicked devices; rather, he deviseth plots. The word "he" is emphatic. Unlike the fool, who passively does evil through thoughtlessness, the niggard actively devises crafty plans against his fellow-men. He seeks to cheat the poor out of their rights by false witness (comp. Isaiah 1:17, 23; Isaiah 3:14, 15; Isaiah 5:28, etc.), Even when the needy speaketh right; i.e. "has right on his side." The translation in the text is to be preferred to that in the margin.
But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.
Verse 8. - By liberal things shall he stand; or, to liberal things. The Hebrew will bear either sense. SECTION IX. FURTHER DENUNCIATIONS OF ISRAEL, JOINED WITH PROMISES (Isaiah 32:9-20).
Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.
Verses 9-12. - A REBUKE OF THE WOMEN. It might seem at first sight as if we had here a detached utterance of the prophet, accidentally conjoined with the preceding passage (vers. 1-8). But vers. 15-18 furnish a link of connection between the two portions of the chapter, and make it probable that they were delivered at the same time. Mr. Cheyne supposes that the indifference of a knot of women, gathered at some little distance from the men to whom Isaiah had addressed vers. 1-8, provoked the prophet suddenly to turn to them, and speak to them in terms of warning. Verse 9. - Rise up. The "careless daughters" are sitting, or reclining upon couches, at their ease. The prophet bids them stand up, to hear a message from God (comp. Judges 3:10). Ye women that are at ease; i.e. "that are self-satisfied and self-complacent." The word employed has almost always a bad sense (see 2 Kings 19:28; Job 12:5; Psalm 123:4; Amos 6:1; Zechariah 1:15). Hear my voice. This clause should be attached to the first half of the verse. The order of the words in the original is, "Ye women that are at ease, rise up and hear my words; ye careless daughters, hearken unto my speech."
Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.
Verse 10. - Many days and years shall yebe troubled; rather, in a year and days; i.e. "in less than two years." The object of the prophet is not to fix the duration of the trouble, but to mark the time of its commencement (comp. Isaiah 29:1). Shall ye be troubled; rather, shall ye tremble, or shudder (so Deuteronomy 2:25; Psalm 77:18; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 64:2; Jeremiah 33:9, etc.). Ye careless women; rather, ye confident ones. The word is different from that employed in vers. 9 and 11. The vintage shall fail; literally, has failed - "the perfect of prophetic certitude" (Cheyne). Some critics understand a literal failure, or destruction, of the vintage through the invasion of the Assyrians. Others suggest a refer-once to Isaiah 5:4-7. The vineyard of the Lord (Judah) has utterly failed to bring forth grapes - there is no ingathering - therefore destruction shall fall upon it.
Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.
Verse 11. - Tremble... be troubled. The repetition of this verse is, as usual, emphatic. Its object is to impress those whom the prophet is addressing with the certainty of the coming judgment. Strip you, and make you bare; i.e. "bare your breasts," in preparation for the beating which is to follow (see the comment on the next verse).
They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
Verse 12. - They shall lament for the teats, etc.; rather, they shall beat upon the breasts for the pleasant fields, etc. (so the LXX., the Vulgate, Jarchi, Gesenius, Ewald, Maurer, Knobel, Delitzsch, and Mr. Cheyne). Dr. Kay prefers the rendering of the Authorized Version, understanding by "the teats" such "dry breasts" as Hosea speaks of (Hosea 9:14). But nothing has been said in this place of any such affliction. For the pleasant fields, etc.; i.e. for their loss (see ver. 10).
Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:
Verses 13-20. - A FURTHER MINGLING OF THREATS WITH COMFORTING PROMISES. The women require, like the men, to be both warned and comforted, wherefore the prophet addresses to them, as to the men in Isaiah 30. and 31, an intermixture of threatening (vers. 13, 14) with promise (vers. 15-20). Verse 13. - Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars. This was the punishment with which the unfruitful vineyard was threatened in Isaiah 5:6. It may be understood either literally or of the wickedness that would abound when the time of judgment came. Yea, upon all the houses of joy (comp. Isaiah 5:9). If Sennacherib carried off, as he declares (G. Smith, 'Epenym Canon,' p. 134), more than two hundred thousand captives from Judaea, he must have left many houses without inhabitants. The solitude begun by him was completed by the Babylonians. The joyous city (see Isaiah 22:2). The word used has generally the sense of unholy mirth (comp. Isaiah 23:7; Isaiah 24:8; Zephaniah 2:15; Zephaniah 3:11).
Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
Verse 14. - The palaces shall be forsaken; literally, the palace; but the word is used in a generic sense. The prophet sees in vision Jerusalem deserted by her inhabitants, the grand houses of the rich empty, the strongholds haunted by wild beasts, and the slopes of the hills fed on by sheep, and even occasionally visited by the timid and solitude-loving wild ass. The description suits well the time of the Babylonian captivity, but not any earlier period. Probably it was not revealed to the prophet how soon the condition would be reached. The multitude of the city shall be left. The real meaning is, as Bishop Lowth expresses it, "The populous city shall be left desolate." But the whole passage is. as Delitzsch observes, "grammatically strange, the language becoming more complicated, disjointed, and difficult, the greater the wrath and indignation of the poet." The forts and towers; rather, hill and tower, with (perhaps) a special reference to the part of Jerusalem called Ophel (2 Chronicles 27:3; Nehemiah 3:26, etc.), the long projecting spur from the eastern hill, which points a little west of south, and separates the Kedron valley from the Tyropoeon. Shall be for dens; literally, for caves; but dens for wild beasts seem to be meant (comp. Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39). For ever. This expression must not be pressed. Hyperbole is a recognized feature of poetry written under strong excitement. A joy of wild asses. The wild ass is not now found nearer Palestine than Mesopotamia, or perhaps Northern Syria. It is exceedingly shy, and never approaches the habitations of men.
Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.
Verse 15. - Until. The expression "until" modifies the previous "forever," showing that the desolation was not always to continue. The Spirit be poured upon us from on high. An effluence from the Holy Spirit of God on individuals of eminence, prophets, kings, artificers, to fit them for their tasks, is recognized in many of the earlier books of Scripture, and especially in the Davidical psalms. But a general effluence of the Spirit of holiness on a nation, to produce a change of heart, seems to be first announced by Isaiah. The nearly contemporary prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28, 29) is, perhaps, as wide in its scope, but limited to the prophetic gift, which is not necessarily conjoined with spiritual-minded-ness or holiness of life. Isaiah, the "evangelical prophet," first teaches that the conversion of a nation is God's work, effected by the Holy Spirit, and effectual to the entire change of the heart of a people. And the wilderness be a fruitfulfield; i.e. "the community long cursed with barrenness of good works" (ver. 10) "becomes once more fruitful of them." And the fruitful field be counted for a forest. An order of climax seems to be here intended. The midbar, the bare pasturage-ground, becomes a Carmel, i.e. carefully cultivated; the Carmel becomes like Lebanon, a rich and luxurious forest. There is no close parallel between this verse and ver. 17 of Isaiah 29. The prophet is not tied down by his previous metaphors.
Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
Verse 16. - Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness. In all parts of the kingdom of Christ, the lowest as well as the highest, "judgment" and "righteousness" shall prevail (comp. ver. 1).
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Verse 17. - The work of righteousness shall be peace. Peace - a true peace, not a false one (Jeremiah 6:14) - shall be the result of the reign of righteousness. War, quarrels, enmity, hostile feelings, are all of them the fruit of unrighteousness. In the kingdom of the Messiah, just so far forth as it is thoroughly established, "the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (James 3:18). The effect of righteousness; literally, the service of righteousness, which perhaps means here "the wages of righteousness." Quietness and assurance; or, quietness and confidence (comp. Isaiah 30:15). The final happiness of the blessed in Christ's kingdom is always spoken of as a state of "rest and quietness" (see Psalm 95:11; Job 3:17; Jeremiah 6:16; Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 4:9-11, etc.). The "confidence" felt would be an assured confidence, not a rash and foolish one, like that of the women of vers. 10, 11.
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.
Verse 19. - When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; rather, but it shall hail in the coming down (i.e. the destruction) of the forest. "The forest" has commonly been regarded as Assyria, on the strength of Isaiah 10:18, 19, 33, 34. Mr. Cheyne, however, suggests Judah, or the high and haughty ones of Judah, whose destruction was a necessary preliminary to the establishment of Christ's kingdom. May not God's enemies generally be meant? The city. Nineveh (Lowth, Gesenius, Rosenmüller); Jerusalem (Delitzsch, Knobel, Cheyne, Kay); "the city in which the hostility of the world to Jehovah will, in the latter days, be centralized" (Drechsler, Nagel) - the "world-power," in fact. The last view seems to give the best sense.
Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.
Verse 20. - Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters. The idyllic picture, begun in ver. 15, terminates here. The people of the kingdom have a well-watered land (Isaiah 30:25), where they live peacefully, sowing their seed beside the water-courses, and having abundant pasture for their peaceful beasts - the ox and the ass (comp. Isaiah 30:24). A spiritual meaning doubtless underlies the literal sense.
And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.
Picture courtesy of George Hodan
Israel were the people of God, whom He called into a covenant relationship with Himself to be a light to the Gentiles. And although they broke their covenant, despised their birthright, murmured against God, disobeyed His Law, and played the harlot with the false gods of the surrounding, pagan, Gentile nations, the Lord is gracious and good - He is merciful and of great kindness to His people, Israel.
But God is also a God of justice and Israel's apostasy had to be punished, which was why they were sent into Babylonian captivity during the reign of Jeconiah the king and scattered to the far corners of the earth, following the crucifixion of their Messiah King - the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, God in His grace and mercy, has also promised to bring them back into a right relationship with Himself. He has promised to forgive their sins and to usher in a time of peace, prosperity, justice, and righteousness - when the wolf will lie down with the lamb and a little child shall lead them.
Today, we live in a world that is spiralling out of control, where evil is multiplying, the poor are oppressed, the love of many has grown icy cold, and a deep-seated hatred of both Israel and the Christian Church, is escalating out of control.
But Jesus is the King of Righteousness... and the work of righteousness which He carried out on the Cross of Calvary, brings peace with God to all who believe in His name. And in His grace, He pours the precious peace of God into the hearts of all His children who walk in spirit and truth.
May we, the Body of Christ, rest in His peace in this hostile, violent world, and look up and lift up our heads as our redemption draws nigh when Jesus comes in the clouds to Rapture His Bride and take us into heaven to be with Him.
And the day is fast approaching when the Lord Jesus... the rejected King of Israel, will return to earth with all His saints (us - His Bride - the Body of Christ). He will return to the earth in power and great glory, to set up His kingdom of righteousness and justice in Jerusalem - and all Israel shall be saved.
All who are called by His name, forgiven of their sins, and have been granted eternal life, will carry out their service of righteousness, in quietness and in confidence, forever. For the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the truths that I can learn from Your dealings with Your people, Israel. Thank You that Jesus is the King of Righteousness, and that the day is coming when You will put all wrongs to right - when You return in power and great glory to set up Your kingdom on earth. May I look up and lift up my head, knowing that the day of my redemption draws nigh. May the peace of Christ guard our hearts, knowing that You have already gained the victory over sin and death for all who believe in the name Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.
Picture courtesy of George Hodan
Choose a Verse from Isaiah 32
Now as we get into chapter 32 Isaiah jumps over a couple of millennia at least, as he looks forward. As God is going to come down and as a crouching lion roaring and so forth, over her prey, in verse Isaiah 32:4 going back to chapter 31. As the Lord of hosts shall come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof, He is likened unto a lion, a young lion that is roaring on his prey.
When you turn to the book of Revelation and you read there of the return of Jesus Christ, it declares in Revelation 10:3 ,"And He cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars: and when he has cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices." So Christ in His returning is going to let forth a great cry like a lion that is roaring. Now here, of course, it declares it in Isaiah 31:4 . Also in Jeremiah 25:30 . Also in Joel, and in many places of the Old Testament is referring to the day that the Lord has come roaring as the lion.
And so He has come.
Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in judgment. And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly ( Isaiah 32:1-4 ).
There's going to be a restoration when the King comes and reigns. No more will people be stuttering, stammer. Will speak plainly. And at this time,
The vile person shall be no more called liberal ( Isaiah 32:5 ),
I think that that's a very interesting verse, because we hear of liberals today, and for the most part, especially a theological liberal is an extremely vile person. But yet, they sort of hide behind the term of, "Well, I'm a liberal." And they use that as a covering for their vileness. And in that day, "the vile person will no more be called liberal."
nor the churl said to be bountiful ( Isaiah 32:5 ).
A rude kind of a bullish person.
For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD ( Isaiah 32:6 ),
Now what an apt description this is of the liberals. Their hearts are seeking to work iniquity and to practice hypocrisy. And what tremendous hypocrisy there is. As in theology, the liberals are always redefining terms so that you don't know what they're talking about. And you have to ask them, "But what do you mean by born again?" Because they've even picked up the term born again. They use the terms charisma, and they use all kinds of terms and you listen to them talk and you say, "My, he's right on! He was talking about Christ." Yes, but what does he mean when he says Christ? Does he mean an anointing that, you know, the Christ in me and the Christ in you? What does he mean when he says born again? And they've redefined these terms so that they can use the terms and you listen to them talk and you think, "My, he's talking about being born again! Isn't that wonderful?" But if you get a definition of their terminology, you'll find what they mean by being born again is entirely different from what we understand what it is to be born again by the Spirit of God into a new spiritual life.
So the hypocrisy by changing the definition of words so that they can give forth their villainy, really, but you don't understand what they're saying because you don't have the glossary that they are using. But, "they seek to utter error against the Lord."
to make empty the soul of the hungry; and will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail ( Isaiah 32:6 ).
The thing about the liberal church and the liberal theologians is that they do not satisfy a person's real hunger for God. And people can go to church all their lives in these liberal churches and never really be satisfied. Their hunger for God's Word and God's truth never satisfied; their thirst for God never filled. Because the liberal theologians have absolutely nothing to offer of a true experience and relationship with God. Now they're extremely clever in their argumentation. In the presenting of their point. But their purpose is to become involved more politically and the presentation of the social gospel and the emphasis upon the social gospel. And to listen to them it sounds so good. It sounds so right. And here Isaiah is speaking of the day when the King comes and these liberals will be called what they really are.
The instruments also of the churl are evil: he devises wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand. Rise up ( Isaiah 32:7-9 ),
Now beginning with verse Isaiah 32:9 he turns now the attention and the thought to the women at this particular time in Jerusalem. And let me say that women are usually the true barometer of the moral state of a nation. Women are the ones who usually set the moral standards. And when the women become corrupted in their moral standards, there's nothing left. And so the prophet speaks out again as he did in an earlier chapter against the women in Jerusalem.
Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip yourselves, make bare, and put on sackcloth on your loins ( Isaiah 32:9-11 ).
In other words, the time has come really not to just be looking for pleasure and ease but to really be seeking God and turning to God. Sackcloth was a garment of mourning and begin to mourn over the condition of the nation, the condition of the country. I think that the message of Isaiah to the women of that day is extremely important to the women of our day. For defiled womanhood means a defiled nation.
They shall lament ( Isaiah 32:12 )
And he speaks of the lamentation, and it brings to mind what Jesus said will take place during the Great Tribulation period when the time has come for those to flee from Jerusalem to the wilderness place. "Woe unto them," He said, "who in those days are nursing a child or who are pregnant." Woe unto them because it will be hard to flee from Jerusalem in a hurry to get away from the man of sin, the son of perdition who will be coming to defile the temple and to blaspheme God. So the women lamenting.
The land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest ( Isaiah 32:13-15 ).
Until God begins His work of restoration. Now it is interesting how that the land of Israel did remain for centuries wasted, desolate, wild. And how that under this modern Zionist movement and the establishing of the nation Israel the wilderness is being turned into a fruitful garden. The valleys of Sharon which were marshlands, the valley of Megiddo which was marshland has been drained and now cultivated and tremendous agricultural development there. And so he speaks of the desolation of the land which did take place, "until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high."
"In the last days," the Lord said, "I'm going to pour out my Spirit upon all flesh" ( Joel 2:28 ). Joel prophesied that. And God is getting ready for this final outpouring. "The wilderness will be a fruitful field, a fruitful field be counted for a forest."
Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness ( Isaiah 32:16-17 )
I love this verse.
The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever ( Isaiah 32:17 ).
What a beautiful verse. "The work of righteousness is peace; the effect of right living is just quietness and assurance for ever." I've done the right thing. I just rest in it. The quietness and the assurance. I've done the right thing. How beautiful it is.
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place. Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass ( Isaiah 32:18-20 ). "
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 32". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/isaiah-32.html. 2014.
32 meaning isaiah
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There are obviously only three paragraphs in this chapter: a blessed promise (Isaiah 32:1-8), a warning to complacent and indifferent women (Isaiah 32:9-15), and a return to the message of hope (Isaiah 32:16-20).
"Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in justice. And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as streams of water in a dry place, as the shade of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. And the heart of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongues of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly. The fool shall be no more called noble, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the fool will speak folly, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice profaneness, and to utter terror against Jehovah, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. And the instruments of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the meek with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the noble deviseth noble things; and in noble things shall he continue."
There is much difference of opinion about the identity of that "King who shall reign in righteousness," which is the prominent feature of this paragraph. Jewish commentators usually take the position that it is Hezekiah who is here spoken of; and some Christian scholars have accepted this. Barnes stated flatly that, "This king is Hezekiah." He defended this position by pointing out the superiority of Hezekiah's rule over that of the evil Manasseh who succeeded him, and also such scripture references as the following:
"He removed the high places and broke the images and cut down the grove. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him, for he clave unto the Lord, and departed not from following him" (2 Kings 18:3-5).
Yes, indeed, in the context of a record of other kings of Israel, Hezekiah was indeed righteous; but in the absolute sense, no. The situation is the same as it was with other Old Testament heroes who bore the designation of "righteous men." For example, Lot, Noah, and others whose lives were indeed blemished with sin were called, "righteous in their generation" (Genesis 7:1); and that is the way we understand the "righteousness of Hezekiah." Certainly, Hezekiah was not righteous when he was going along with that plot to make an alliance with Egypt, contrary to God's will.
There are serious reasons why the theory of this "king's" being Hezekiah cannot be accepted. (1) Neither Hezekiah nor the conditions during his reign fulfill the conditions of justice, righteousness, and proper understanding and discernment by the people in all the land. "The evidence does not seem to warrant this interpretation."
(2) It is also impossible to receive this as a promise of Hezekiah's reign, because Hezekiah was already reigning, and the passage speaks of a "future situation.," not one that already existed. "The king here is not Hezekiah, who was already on the throne, whereas a future time is contemplated."
(3) Objections to the refusal to see this as a Messianic passage are weak and ineffective. Some, of course, say that in Christ's kingdom, there are no "princes" to reign with Him. While true enough in an ordinary sense, it is nevertheless true that "all Christians" are a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9); and does not the Bible say, "He hath made us (Christians) to be kings and priests unto God" (Revelation 1:6 KJV), and that Our Lord himself is "The prince of the kings of the earth" (Revelation 1:5), and that, "They (Christians) lived and reigned with Christ"? (Revelation 20:6). Furthermore, the fundamental Pauline teaching of the New Testament is that every Christian is "baptized `into Christ,'" is therefore a member of Christ's spiritual body; and that it is proper to say that Christians are in a sense "actually Christ." Whatever Christ does, Christians also do. Whatever he did, they "have therefore done"; and that is why the redeemed may lawfully say that they "have already died to sin" in the person of their Savior.
The germ of that very important Pauline conception is therefore right here in this chapter of Isaiah.
(4) Another objection is that no clear picture of Christ appears in these verses; and that objection disappears completely when the passage is understood, not as a picture of the King, but as a prophecy of His Kingdom, of the Messianic Age; and a number of discerning scholars have properly understood this:
"Christ's kingdom will fulfill God's holy ideal of a holy commonwealth, administering perfect righteousness throughout the earth. This is the fourth of Isaiah's promises of the Messiah: Isaiah 7:14; 9:6f; 11:1ff; and 32:1. The role of the coming Messiah fits the description in this verse. He is the King who shall role in righteousness. Here are the characteristics of the future age."
As excellent a commentary on this passage as any we have seen is the following from Peake, who, although a critical scholar, offered the following:
"Here is a description of the Messianic time, though the figure of the Messiah does not appear in the passage. King and princes will reign in righteousness, each of them a source of shelter and refreshment. The present failure in moral insight and responsiveness will be removed; the inconsiderate will gain judgment, the faulty speaker the faculty of lucid expression. Men will be designated in harmony with their true character. The fool shall no longer be called noble, nor the swindler an aristocrat; for fool and swindler will act in accordance with their nature, but the noble will resolve on noble schemes and persist in their execution."
Before leaving these first eight verses we should notice a little further the satanic habit of giving sins and sinful men names that tend to ameliorate their shame and unworthiness. The drunkard is called an "alcoholic"; the vicious murderer is judged to be "sick"; the grossly immoral is labeled as a "schizophrenic"; the shoplifter, the gambler, and other sinners are also dignified with special names and descriptions. In the kingdom of Christ, however, things will be called what they are! "God's standard of judgment will at last become man's standard."
"Rise up, ye women that are at ease, and hear my voice; ye careless daughters, give ear unto my speech. For days beyond a year shall ye be troubled, ye careless women; for the vintage shall fail, the ingathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones; strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins. They shall smite upon the breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city. For the palace shall be forsaken; the populous city shall be deserted; the hill and the watch-tower shall be for dens forever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; until the Spirit be poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest."
At first, these lines seem to have no connection with the preceding and subsequent paragraphs; but as Rawlinson noted, "They furnish a link between the two portions of the chapter, making it probable that they were delivered upon the same occasion." He also accepted the speculation of Cheyne that, this prophecy was uttered at a public festival, and that, "A group of women, gathered, we may suppose, at a little distance from the rest and testifying their indifference (perhaps by frivolity), received this address from Isaiah." The warning was indeed shocking. In about a year, disaster would come upon Jerusalem, this fixing the approximate date of the prophecy as just prior to the destruction of Sennacherib's army in 701 B.C.
"The beating of their breasts" because of the failure of the vintage and the harvest, is similar to what is related of the priestesses of Nineveh during the fall of that wicked city: "She is uncovered, she is carried away; and her handmaids moan as with the voice of doves, beating upon their breasts" (Nahum 2:7).
Although Jerusalem was not destroyed by Sennacherib, all of the suburban cities were indeed captured and plundered; and the fields and vineyards were devastated indeed. Besides that, an even greater disaster loomed starkly ahead, which would be executed in the Babylonian destruction and captivity of the people. Thus the warning to these women who were so indifferent to God's Word was one that was well deserved and should have been heeded.
"Yet, the desolation shall not be permanent." It will last only "until God's Spirit is poured out upon the people from on high" (Isaiah 32:15); therefore, we must understand a limitation on the words "forever" in Isaiah 32:14. It is good to keep in mind that "forever" in the Hebrew Bible never means "for all eternity."
The mention of God's Spirit here is very significant and shows that the theme of the whole chapter continues to be the Messianic Age, to which the prophecy returned after Isaiah's rebuke of the careless women. The second chapter of Joel which was quoted by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost identifies the coming of God's Spirit upon men as a mark of the New Covenant.
We now know, of course, that God's Spirit came on Pentecost and that the wonderful blessings promised by Isaiah here would be delivered by the preaching of the gospel of Christ; but, we may not suppose for a moment that Isaiah fully understood "when" such blessings would occur; and, it may even be admitted that the prophet might have "thought," either that a repentant Hezekiah might be that righteous king, or that soon after Sennacherib's army was destroyed, the Messiah would indeed come, etc. There is no greater error, however, than trying to interpret the Bible by what men "suppose" the prophet who gave the message might have "thought." It is totally irrelevant what Isaiah may have thought. God is the speaker in his prophecy, not Isaiah.
"Then justice shall abide in the wilderness; and righteousness shall abide in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, shall be quietness and confidence forever. And my people shall abide in a peaceable habitation, and in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting-places. But it shall hail in the downfall of the forest; and the city shall be utterly laid low. Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send for the feet of the ox and the ass."
Here we have further characteristics of the citizens of God's kingdom, the peace and tranquillity of which are the kingdom's most salient features. Even when the angels announced the birth of the Messiah, they began with the announcement of "Peace on earth to men of good will." Not many details are here given, and like all Messianic prophecy, this one is vague and ambiguous. However, one thing stands out starkly. Even that Golden Age shall end suddenly in the hail of the wrath of God and in the destruction of the "populous city." That city we take to be the "great world city," Mystery Babylon the great, mentioned prophetically in Revelation 16:19, and the fall of which will be an event that heralds the end of the current dispensation and the onset of the final judgment of the Great Day.
The increased fertility of the earth and other agricultural metaphors are frequently used in scripture to describe the spiritual blessings to be enjoyed in the New Covenant.
"Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters ..." (Isaiah 32:20). Commentators have a lot of trouble with this verse; and, as we have already noted, the passage is not too clear. However, to us it says that, followers of the Lamb should, "preach the gospel in season and out of season"; exploit all opportunities; take every chance; do not be too particular nor too choosey as to what we shall do for the Lord. If this is what the passage means, it is the equivalent of the proverb which states that, "He that regardeth the winds shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap!" (Ecclesiastes 11:4).
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 32". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/isaiah-32.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Isaiah 32 – A King’s Reign of Righteousness
A. Blessings from the coming king.
1. (1) In the aftermath of Jerusalem’s deliverance, a king comes.
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
And princes will rule with justice.
a. Behold, a king will reign in righteousness: This promise was made in a certain context. In the previous chapter, God assured that the Assyrians would be judged, and Judah would be delivered. But God didn’t want only to remove the threat; He also wanted to bless Judah with a righteous king, so the promise was made.
i. However, it is likely that the prophecy of Isaiah 32 and 33 was given before the time of the prophecy of Isaiah 30 and 31. Both look to the time of the Assyrian invasion of Judah, but Isaiah 30 and 31 are set in the time of Hezekiah, as the invasion neared Jerusalem. Most commentators believe that the king who will reign in righteousness mentioned here was Hezekiah, and since it says that he will reign, this prophecy may have been given at the beginning of Isaiah’s prophetic career, during the reign of King Ahaz, the predecessor to King Hezekiah.
ii. It is possible that the prophecy of Isaiah 32 and 33 was given during the reign of Hezekiah, and this announcement refers to the latter part of his reign. It is also possible that it was given during the time of Hezekiah, and it prophesies the coming of King Josiah, the great-grandson of the present king of Judah, Hezekiah, who reigned during the Assyrian threat. Josiah was a righteous king (2 Kings 22:2).
b. A king will reign in righteousness: In some sense, Hezekiah certainly fulfilled this prophecy. It was written of him, and he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done…. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses (2 Kings 18:3, 5-6).
c. A king will reign in righteousness: Yet ultimately, Hezekiah was a picture of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Jeremiah 23:5 announces this about our Messiah: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
i. “This seems to have been delivered in the time of Ahaz, and to speak of Hezekiah, and of his righteousness and happy government. But withal, as Hezekiah and his reign was an eminent type of Christ and of his kingdom; so this prophecy looks through Hezekiah unto Christ.” (Poole)
d. And princes will rule with justice: It wasn’t enough – it is never enough – to have a righteous king. The king must have helpers, princes under him, who will also rule with justice. Hezekiah had such loyal princes, such as Eliakim, Shebna the scribe, the elders of the priests, and Isaiah himself (2 Kings 19:2).
i. These weren’t princes in the literal sense of being sons of King Hezekiah. The Hebrew word for princes can mean any ruler under a king.
ii. If Hezekiah, the righteous king, points to Jesus, then who are Jesus’ princes? His people are His princes, as 1 Peter 2:9 later explains: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Revelation 5:10 also has this proclamation from God’s people: And [You] have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth. Many of the seemingly unnecessary trials and pains of this life have a wonderful purpose in the world beyond: training us to be princes, faithfully ruling with King Jesus.
2. (2-4) The blessings of restoration from the king.
A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,
And a cover from the tempest,
As rivers of water in a dry place,
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.
Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge,
And the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.
a. Rivers of water in a dry place: This described how wonderful the spiritual renewal during the reign of Hezekiah was, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. By God’s blessing, those who see could see better than ever, and those who hear will listen.
i. The more glorious reign of Jesus is all these things for us as well. He is a shelter from the storm (a cover from the tempest), as rivers of water in a dry place, and like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
ii. “If King Hezekiah were a type of Christ, then this prophecy may refer to his time; but otherwise it seems to have Hezekiah primarily in view. It is evident, however, that in the fullest sense these words cannot be applied to any man; GOD alone can do all that is promised here.” (Clarke)
b. The heart of the rash will understand knowledge: The spiritual renewal during the reign of Hezekiah promoted trust in God’s word, and because of that, hearts were changed. God also would bless in miraculous ways (the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly).
3. (5-8) The blessings of righteousness and integrity from the king.
The foolish person will no longer be called generous,
Nor the miser said to be bountiful;
For the foolish person will speak foolishness,
And his heart will work iniquity:
To practice ungodliness,
To utter error against the LORD,
To keep the hungry unsatisfied,
And he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
Also the schemes of the schemer are evil;
He devises wicked plans
To destroy the poor with lying words,
Even when the needy speaks justice.
But a generous man devises generous things,
And by generosity he shall stand.
a. The foolish person will no longer be called generous…the foolish person will speak foolishness: The spiritual renewal during the reign of Hezekiah meant that spiritual reality would be exposed for all to see. No more would there be deception by appearances; if a man were foolish, he would be exposed as foolish.
i. Wicked plans: “Apart from Job 17:11, has a uniformly bad meaning. It occurs nineteen times of sexual misconduct (e.g. Leviticus 18:17). It is planning for one’s own advantage at whatever cost to others.” (Motyer)
b. But a generous man devises generous things: Not only would the foolishness of the foolish be exposed, but so would the generosity of the generous. Righteousness and wickedness would each be seen for what they were and regarded accordingly.
i. “Wickedness shall be discovered and punished wheresoever it is, and virtue shall be manifested and rewarded, and all things shall be managed with sincerity and simplicity.” (Poole)
B. A call to prepare for the coming of the Spirit.
1. (9-11) The women at ease are called to repent.
Rise up, you women who are at ease,
Hear my voice;
You complacent daughters,
Give ear to my speech.
In a year and some days
You will be troubled, you complacent women;
For the vintage will fail,
The gathering will not come.
Tremble, you women who are at ease;
Be troubled, you complacent ones;
Strip yourselves, make yourselves bare,
And gird sackcloth on your waists.
a. Rise up, you women who are at ease: Before the righteous king would come, the people had to prepare themselves. The women who are at ease and the complacent daughters had to get ready for the righteous king.
i. At ease is the same word used later in the chapter, where God promises secure dwelling places (Isaiah 32:18). Complacent is the same word used later in the same chapter, where God promises peaceful habitation. “According to Isaiah, there is nothing wrong with feeling secure and undisturbed as long as one’s trust is solidly based on the Lord.” (Wolf)
b. Tremble, you women who are at ease: Instead of an indulgent, self-focused life, they would be required to tremble, be troubled, and put on the clothing of mourning. This would show repentance and readiness for the righteous king.
2. (12-14) The whole land mourns.
People shall mourn upon their breasts
For the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers,
Yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city;
Because the palaces will be forsaken,
The bustling city will be deserted.
The forts and towers will become lairs forever,
A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks—
a. People shall mourn upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine: Because of the Assyrian invasion to come, God would use the tough economic times to wake Judah up. For the vintage will fail, the gathering will not come (Isaiah 32:10). The tough times touched everyone (all the happy homes in the joyous city…the palaces will be forsaken).
3. (15) The Spirit is poured out upon a humbled people.
Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
a. Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high: God used the invasion from Assyria, the tough times, and the humble mourning of the people to prepare them for an outpouring of His Spirit.
i. Until: It was only the Spirit of God that could make the difference; the tough times would last until the Spirit was poured out.
ii. Is poured upon us: God wanted to do more than scatter a few drops of His mercy and blessing; He wanted His Spirit to be poured upon His people.
iii. From on high: This is the source of the true outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t come from among men, or because of men’s efforts. It comes from heaven, from on high.
b. The wilderness becomes a fruitful field: When the Holy Spirit is poured out, what was barren and desolate before is now full of life and fruitfulness. True fruitfulness comes from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
c. And the fruitful field is counted as a forest: When the Holy Spirit is poured out, what was good before (a fruitful field) miraculously becomes even better (a forest).
4. (16-20) Blessings brought by the Spirit.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
Though hail comes down on the forest,
And the city is brought low in humiliation.
Blessed are you who sow beside all waters,
Who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
a. Justice…righteousness…. peace…quietness and assurance forever: When God’s Spirit is poured out among His people, this is what it is like. This means that we shouldn’t be satisfied with what claims to be of the Spirit but isn’t marked by the fruit of the Spirit. This means that if we lack these things, we can come and ask the LORD to pour out His Spirit upon us.
b. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings… though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation: When God’s Spirit is poured out, we live on a principle higher than circumstances. If others feel the pelting hail, or are brought low in humiliation, it doesn’t affect those blessed by the poured-out Spirit of God.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
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