The sin and folly of seeking help from Egypt. (1-5) God's care for Jerusalem. (6-9)
Verses 1-5 God will oppose the help sought from workers of iniquity. Sinners may be convicted of folly by plain and self-evident truths, which they cannot deny, but will not believe. There is no escaping the judgments of God; and evil pursues sinners. The Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion. The Lion of the tribe of Judah will appear for the defence of his church. And as birds hovering over their young ones to protect them, with such compassion and affection will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. He will so defend it, as to secure its safety.
Verses 6-9 They have been backsliding children, yet children; let them return, and their backslidings shall be healed, though they have sunk deep into misery, and cannot easily recover. Many make an idol of their silver and gold, and by the love of that are drawn from God; but those who turn to God, will be ready to part with it. Then, when they have cast away their idols, shall the Assyrian fall by the sword of an angel, who strikes more strongly than a mighty man, yet more secretly than a mean man. God can make the stoutest heart to tremble. But if we keep up the fire of holy love and devotion in our hearts and houses, we may depend upon God to protect us and them.
Isaiah 31:1-9 . THE CHIEF STRENGTH OF THE EGYPTIAN ARMIES LAY IN THEIR CAVALRY.
1. and stay on horses, and trust in chariots--In their level and fertile plains horses could easily be used and fed ( Exodus 14:9 , 1 Kings 10:28 ). In hilly Palestine horses were not so easily had or available. The Jews were therefore the more eager to get Egyptian chariots as allies against the Assyrian cavalry. In Assyrian sculptures chariots are represented drawn by three horses, and with three men in them (see Isaiah 36:9 , Psalms 20:7 , Daniel 9:13 ).
2. he also is wise--as well as the Egyptian priests, so famed for wisdom ( Acts 7:22 ), but who are "fools" before Him ( Isaiah 19:11 ). He not only devises, but executes what He devises without "calling back His words" ( Numbers 23:19 ).
home--the whole race.
help--the Egyptian succor sought by the Jews.
3. not spirit--not of divine power ( Psalms 56:4 , Psalms 146:3 Psalms 146:5 , Zechariah 4:6 ).
he that helpeth--Egypt.
4. ( Isaiah 42:13 , Hosea 11:10 ).
roaring on--"growling over" his prey.
abase himself--be disheartened or frightened.
5. As in the image of "the lion," the point of comparison is the fearless might of Jehovah; so in that of the birds, it is His solicitous affection ( Deuteronomy 32:11 , Psalms 91:4 , Matthew 23:37 ).
flying--Rather, "which defend" their young with their wings; "to fly" is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word [MAURER]. "Hovering over" to protect their young [G. V. SMITH].
passing over--as the destroying angel passing over, so as to spare the blood-marked houses of the Israelites on the first passover ( Exodus 12:13 Exodus 12:23 Exodus 12:27 ). He passed, or leaped forward [LOWTH], to destroy the enemy and to spare His people.
6. The power and love of Jehovah, just mentioned, are the strongest incentives for returning to Him ( Ezekiel 16:62 Ezekiel 16:63 , Hosea 6:1 ).
ye . . . Israel--The change of person marks that when they return to the Lord, He will address them in more direct terms of communion in the second person; so long as they were revolters, God speaks of them, as more at a distance, in the third person, rather than to them.
7. In the day of trial the idols will be found to render no help and will therefore be cast away. Compare as to the future restoration and conversion of Israel simultaneously with the interposition of Jehovah in its defense, Zechariah 12:9-14 , Zechariah 13:1 Zechariah 13:2 .
for a sin--that is, whereby especially you contracted guilt ( 1 Kings 12:30 ).
8. Assyrian--Sennacherib, representative of some powerful head of the ungodly in the latter ages [HORSLEY].
sword, not of . . . mighty . . . mean man--but by the unseen sword of God.
flee--Sennacherib alone fled homewards after his army had been destroyed ( Isaiah 37:37 ).
young men--the flower of his army.
discomfited--rather, "shall be subject to slavery"; literally, "shall be liable to tribute," that is, personal service ( Deuteronomy 20:11 , Joshua 9:21 ) [MAURER]. Or, not so well, "shall melt away" [ROSENMULLER].
9. Rather, "shall pass beyond his strongholds"; he Shall not stop to take refuge in it through fear ( Judges 20:47 , Jeremiah 48:28 ) [GESENIUS].
ensign--the banner of Jehovah protecting the Jews [MAURER].
fire . . . furnace--"light" and "fire," namely, of Jehovah's altar at Jerusalem ( Isaiah 29:1 ). Perhaps "furnace," as distinguished from "fire," may mean that His dwelling-place (His hearth) was at Jerusalem (compare Isaiah 4:5 ); or else the fiery furnace awaiting all the enemies who should attack Jerusalem.