God's judgments against the enemies of his church. (1-14) The happiness of his people. (15-24)
Verses 1-14 Here we have the proud and false destroyer justly reckoned with for all his fraud and violence. The righteous God often pays sinners in their own coin. Those who by faith humbly wait for God, shall find him gracious to them; as the day, so let the strength be. If God leaves us to ourselves any morning, we are undone; we must every morning commit ourselves to him, and go forth in his strength to do the work of the day. When God arises, his enemies are scattered. True wisdom and knowledge lead to strength of salvation, which renders us stedfast in the ways of God; and true piety is the only treasure which can never be plundered or spent. The distress Jerusalem was brought into, is described. God's time to appear for his people, is, when all other helpers fail. Let all who hear what God has done, acknowledge that he can do every thing. Sinners in Zion will have much to answer for, above other sinners. And those that rebel against the commands of the word, cannot take its comforts in time of need. His wrath will burn those everlastingly who make themselves fuel for it. It is a fire that shall never be quenched, nor ever go out of itself; it is the wrath of an ever-living God preying on the conscience of a never-dying soul.
Verses 15-24 The true believer watches against all occasions of sin. The Divine power will keep him safe, and his faith in that power will keep him easy. He shall want nothing needful for him. Every blessing of salvation is freely bestowed on all that ask with humble, believing prayer; and the believer is safe in time and for ever. Those that walk uprightly shall not only have bread given, and their water sure, but they shall, by faith, see the King of kings in his beauty, the beauty of holiness. The remembrance of the terror they were in, shall add to the pleasure of their deliverance. It is desirable to be quiet in our own houses, but much more so to be quiet in God's house; and in every age Christ will have a seed to serve him. Jerusalem had no large river running by it, but the presence and power of God make up all wants. We have all in God, all we need, or can desire. By faith we take Christ for our Prince and Saviour; he reigns over his redeemed people. All that refuse to have Him to reign over them, make shipwreck of their souls. Sickness is taken away in mercy, when the fruit of it is the taking away of sin. If iniquity be taken away, we have little reason to complain of outward affliction. This last verse leads our thoughts, not only to the most glorious state of the gospel church on earth, but to heaven, where no sickness or trouble can enter. He that blotteth out our transgressions, will heal our souls.
Isaiah 33:1-24 . THE LAST OF ISAIAH'S PROPHECIES AS TO SENNACHERIB'S OVERTHROW.
Isaiah 33:1 Isaiah 33:8 Isaiah 33:9 , describe the Assyrian spoiler; strong as he is, he shall fall before Jehovah who is stronger ( Isaiah 33:2-6 Isaiah 33:10-12 ). The time is the autumn of 713 B.C.
1. and thou--that is, though thou wast not spoiled--though thou wast not dealt treacherously with and treachery are therefore without excuse, being unprovoked.
cease--When God has let thee do thy worst, in execution of His plans, thine own turn shall come (compare Isaiah 10:12 , 14:2 , Habakkuk 2:8 , Revelation 13:10 ).
2. us; we . . . their . . . our--He speaks interceding for His people, separating himself in thought for a moment from them, and immediately returns to his natural identification with them in the word "our."
every morning--each day as it dawns, especially during our danger, as the parallel "time of trouble" shows.
3. the tumult--the approach of Jehovah is likened to an advancing thunderstorm ( Isaiah 29:6 , 30:27 ), which is His voice ( Revelation 1:15 ), causing the people to "flee."
nation--the Assyrian levies.
4. The invaders' "spoil" shall be left behind by them in their flight, and the Jews shall gather it.
caterpillar--rather, "the wingless locust"; as it gathers; the Hebrew word for "gathers" is properly used of the gathering of the fruits of harvest ( Isaiah 32:10 ).
running to and fro--namely, in gathering harvest fruits.
them--rather, "it," that is, the prey.
6. wisdom--sacred; that is, piety.
thy--Hezekiah's; or rather, "Judea's." "His" refers to the same; such changes from the pronoun possessive of the second person to that of the third are common in Hebrew poetry.
treasure--Not so much material wealth as piety shall constitute the riches of the nation ( Proverbs 10:22 , 15:16 ).
7-9. From the vision of future glory Isaiah returns to the disastrous present; the grief of "the valiant ones" (parallel to, and identical with, "the ambassadors of peace"), men of rank, sent with presents to sue for peace, but standing "without" the enemy's camp, their suit being rejected ( 2 Kings 18:14 2 Kings 18:18 2 Kings 18:37 ). The highways deserted through fear, the cities insulted, the lands devastated.
cry--( Isaiah 15:4 ).
8. broken . . . covenant--When Sennacherib invaded Judea, Hezekiah paid him a large sum to leave the land; Sennacherib received the money and yet sent his army against Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 18:14 2 Kings 18:17 ).
despised--make slight of as unable to resist him ( Isaiah 10:9 , 36:19 ); easily captures them.
9. ( Isaiah 24:4 ).
Lebanon--personified; the allusion may be to the Assyrian cutting down its choice trees ( Isaiah 14:8 , 37:24 ).
Sharon--south of Carmel, along the Mediterranean, proverbial for fertility ( Isaiah 35:2 ).
Bashan--afterwards called Batanea ( Isaiah 2:13 ).
fruits--rather, understand "leaves"; they lie as desolate as in winter.
10. The sight of His people's misery arouses Jehovah; He has let the enemy go far enough.
I--emphatic; God Himself will do what man could not.
11. Ye--the enemy.
conceive chaff--( Isaiah 26:18 , 59:4 ).
your breath--rather, your own spirit of anger and ambition [MAURER], ( Isaiah 30:28 ).
12. ( Isaiah 9:19 , Amos 2:1 ). Perhaps alluding to their being about to be burnt on the funeral pyre ( Isaiah 30:33 ).
thorns--the wicked ( 2 Samuel 23:6 2 Samuel 23:7 ).
13. far off--distant nations.
near--the Jews and adjoining peoples ( Isaiah 49:1 ).
14. sinners in Zion--false professors of religion among the elect people ( Matthew 22:12 ).
hypocrites--rather, "the profane"; "the abandoned" [HORSLEY].
who, &c.--If Jehovah's wrath could thus consume such a host in one night, who could abide it, if continued for ever ( Mark 9:46-48 )? Fire is a common image for the divine judgments ( Isaiah 29:6 , 30:30 ).
among us--If such awful judgments have fallen on those who knew not the true God, how infinitely worse shall fall on us who, amid religious privileges and profession, sin against God, ( Luke 12:47 Luke 12:48 , 4:17 )?
15. In contrast to the trembling "sinners in Zion" ( Isaiah 33:14 ), the righteous shall be secure amid all judgments; they are described according to the Old Testament standpoint of righteousness ( Psalms 15:2 , 24:4 ).
stoppeth . . . ears . . . eyes--"Rejoiceth not in iniquity" ( 1 Corinthians 13:6 ; contrast Isaiah 29:20 , Psalms 10:3 , Romans 1:32 ). The senses are avenues for the entrance of sin ( Psalms 119:37 ).
16. on high--heights inaccessible to the foe ( Isaiah 26:1 ).
bread . . . waters--image from the expected siege by Sennacherib; however besieged by trials without, the godly shall have literal and spiritual food, as God sees good for them ( Isaiah 41:17 , Psalms 37:25 , 34:10 , 132:15 ).
17. Thine--the saints'.
king in . . . beauty--not as now, Hezekiah in sackcloth, oppressed by the enemy, but King Messiah ( Isaiah 32:1 ) "in His beauty" ( Song of Solomon 5:10 Song of Solomon 5:16 , Revelation 4:3 ).
land . . . very far off--rather, "the land in its remotest extent" (no longer pent up as Hezekiah was with the siege); see Margin. For Jerusalem is made the scene of the king's glory ( Isaiah 33:20 , &c.), and it could not be said to be "very far off," unless the far-off land be heaven, the Jerusalem above, which is to follow the earthly reign of Messiah at literal Jerusalem ( Isaiah 65:17-19 , Jeremiah 3:17 , Revelation 21:1 Revelation 21:2 Revelation 21:10 ).
18. meditate--on the "terror" caused by the enemy, but now past.
where, &c.--the language of the Jews exulting over their escape from danger.
scribe--who enrolled the army [MAURER]; or, who prescribed the tribute to be paid [ROSENMULLER]; or, who kept an account of the spoil. "The principal scribe of the host" ( 2 Kings 25:19 , Jeremiah 52:25 ). The Assyrian records are free from the exaggerations of Egyptian records. Two scribes are seen in every Assyrian bas-relief, writing down the various objects brought to them, the heads of the slain, prisoners, cattle, sheep, &c.
receiver--"weigher," Margin. LAYARD mentions, among the Assyrian inscriptions, "a pair a scales for weighing the spoils."
counted . . . towers--he whose duty it was to reconnoitre and report the strength of the city to be besieged.
19. fierce people--The Assyrians shall not be allowed to enter Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 19:32 ). Or, thou shalt not any longer see fierce enemies threatening thee as previously; such as the Assyrians, Romans, and the last Antichristian host that is yet to assail Jerusalem ( Deuteronomy 28:49 Deuteronomy 28:50 , Jeremiah 5:15 , Zechariah 14:2 ).
stammering--barbarous; so "deeper," &c., that is, unintelligible. The Assyrian tongue differed only in dialect from the Hebrew, but in the Assyrian levies were many of non-Semitic race and language, as the Medes, Elamites, &c.
20. solemnities--solemn assemblies at the great feasts
not . . . taken down . . . removed--image from captives "removed" from their land ( Isaiah 36:17 ). There shall be no more "taking away" to an enemy's land. Or else, from nomads living in shifting tents. The saints, who sojourned once in tabernacles as pilgrims, shall have a "building of God--eternal in the heavens" ( 2 Corinthians 5:1 , Hebrews 11:9 Hebrews 11:10 ; compare Isaiah 54:2 ).
stakes--driven into the ground; to these the "cords" were fastened. Christ's Church shall never fall ( Matthew 16:18 ). So individual believers ( Revelation 3:12 ).
21. there--namely, in Jerusalem.
will be . . . rivers--Jehovah will be as a broad river surrounding our city (compare Isaiah 19:6 , Nahum 3:8 ), and this, too, a river of such a kind as no ship of war can pass (compare Isaiah 26:1 ). Jerusalem had not the advantage of a river; Jehovah will be as one to it, affording all the advantages, without any of the disadvantages of one.
galley with oars--war vessels of a long shape, and propelled by oars; merchant vessels were broader and carried sail.
gallant--same Hebrew word as for "glorious," previously; "mighty" will suit both places; a ship of war is meant. No "mighty vessel" will dare to pass where the "mighty Lord" stands as our defense.
22. Lord--thrice repeated, as often: the Trinity ( Numbers 6:24-26 ).
judge . . . lawgiver . . . king--perfect ideal of the theocracy, to be realized under Messiah alone; the judicial, legislative, and administrative functions as king to be exercised by Him in person ( Isaiah 11:4 , 32:1 , 4:12 ).
23. tacklings--Continuing the allegory in Isaiah 33:21 , he compares the enemies' host to a war galley which is deprived of the tacklings or cords by which the mast is sustained and the sail is spread; and which therefore is sure to be wrecked on "the broad river" ( Isaiah 33:21 ), and become the prey of Israel.
they--the tacklings, "hold not firm the base of the mast."
then--when the Assyrian host shall have been discomfited. Hezekiah had given Sennacherib three hundred talents of silver, and thirty of gold ( 2 Kings 18:14-16 ), and had stripped the temple of its gold to give it to him; this treasure was probably part of the prey found in the foe's camp. After the invasion, Hezekiah had so much wealth that he made an improper display of it ( 2 Kings 20:13-15 ); this wealth, probably, was in part got from the Assyrian.
the lame--Even the most feeble shall spoil the Assyrian camp (compare Isaiah 35:6 , 2 Samuel 5:6 ).
24. sick--SMITH thinks the allusion is to the beginning of the pestilence by which the Assyrians were destroyed, and which, while sparing the righteous, affected some within the city ("sinners in Zion"); it may have been the sickness that visited Hezekiah ( Isaiah 38:1-22 ). In the Jerusalem to come there shall be no "sickness," because there will be no "iniquity," it being forgiven ( Psalms 103:3 ). The latter clause of the verse contains the cause of the former ( Mark 2:5-9 ).