The desolations of Samaria. (1-4) The prosperity of Judah; with reproofs for sinfulness and unbelief. (5-15) Christ is pointed out as the sure Foundation for all believers. (16-22) God's dealings with his people. (23-29)
Verses 1-4 What men are proud of, be it ever so mean, is to them as a crown; but pride is the forerunner of destruction. How foolishly drunkards act! Those who are overcome with wine are overcome by Satan; and there is not greater drudgery in the world than hard drinking. Their health is ruined; men are broken in their callings and estates, and their families are ruined by it. Their souls are in danger of being undone for ever, and all merely to gratify a base lust. In God's professing people, like Israel, it is worse than in any other. And he is just in taking away the plenty they thus abuse. The plenty they were proud of, is but a fading flower. Like the early fruit, which, as soon as discovered, is plucked and eaten.
Verses 5-15 The prophet next turns to Judah, whom he calls the residue of his people. Happy are those alone, who glory in the Lord of hosts himself. Hence his people get wisdom and strength for every service and every conflict. But it is only in Christ Jesus that the holy God communicates with sinful man. And whether those that teach are drunk with wine, or intoxicated with false doctrines and notions concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah, they not only err themselves, but lead multitudes astray. All places where such persons have taught are filled with errors. For our instruction in the things of God, it is needful that the same precept and the same line should be often repeated to us, that we may the better understand them. God, by his word, calls us to what is really for our advantage; the service of God is the only true rest for those weary of the service of sin, and there is no refreshment but under the easy yoke of the Lord Jesus. All this had little effect upon the people. Those who will not understand what is plain, but scorn and despise it as mean and trifling, are justly punished. If we are at peace with God, we have, in effect, made a covenant with death; whenever it comes, it cannot do us any real damage, if we are Christ's. But to think of making death our friend, while by sin we are making God our enemy, is absurd. And do not they make lies their refuge who trust in their own righteousness, or to a death-bed repentance? which is a resolution to sin no more, when it is no longer in their power to do so.
Verses 16-22 Here is a promise of Christ, as the only foundation of hope for escaping the wrath to come. This foundation was laid in Zion, in the eternal counsels of God. This foundation is a stone, firm and able to support his church. It is a tried stone, a chosen stone, approved of God, and never failed any who made trial of it. A corner stone, binding together the whole building, and bearing the whole weight; precious in the sight of the Lord, and of every believer; a sure foundation on which to build. And he who in any age or nation shall believe this testimony, and rest all his hopes, and his never-dying soul on this foundation, shall never be confounded. The right effect of faith in Christ is, to quiet and calm the soul, till events shall be timed by Him, who has all times in his own hand and power. Whatever men trust to for justification, except the righteousness of Christ; or for wisdom, strength, and holiness, except the influences of the Holy Ghost; or for happiness, except the favour of God; that protection in which they thought to shelter themselves, will prove not enough to answer the intention. Those who rest in a righteousness of their own, will have deceived themselves: the bed is too short, the covering too narrow. God will be glorified in the fulfilling of his counsels. If those that profess to be members of God's church, make themselves like Philistines and Canaanites, they must expect to be dealt with as such. Then dare not to ridicule the reproofs of God's word, or the approaches of judgements.
Verses 23-29 The husbandman applies to his calling with pains and prudence, in all the works of it according to their nature. Thus the Lord, who has given men this wisdom, is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in his working. As the occasion requires, he threatens, corrects, spares, shows mercy, or executes vengeance. Afflictions are God's threshing instruments, to loosen us from the world, to part between us and our chaff, and to prepare us for use. God will proportion them to our strength; they shall be no heavier than there is need. When his end is answered, the trials and sufferings of his people shall cease; his wheat shall be gathered into the garner, but the chaff shall be burned with unquenchable fire.
In this chapter the ten tribes of Israel and the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, are threatened with divine judgments, because of their sins and iniquities mentioned. The ten tribes, under the name of Ephraim, for their pride and drunkenness, Isa 28:1 the means of their destruction, the Assyrian monarch, compared to a hail storm, and a flood of mighty waters, Isa 28:2 which destruction, for their sins, is repeated, and represented as sudden and swift; when they would be like a fading flower and hasty fruit, Isa 28:3,4 and then, as for the two tribes, though they had a glorious prince at the head of them, who had a spirit of wisdom and judgment for government, and of valour and courage for war, Isa 28:5,6 yet the generality of the people, led on by the example of priest and prophet, went into the same sensual gratifications as they of the ten tribes did, Isa 28:7,8 and became sottish and unteachable, and were like children just taken from the breast, and to be used as such, Isa 28:9-11 and though the doctrine proposed to be taught them was such as, if received, would be of the greatest advantage to them, for their comfort and refreshment, yet it was refused by them with the utmost contempt; which was to be their ruin, Isa 28:12,13, wherefore the rulers of Jerusalem are threatened with the judgments of God, which should come upon them night and day, the report of which would be a vexation to them; and from which they should not be screened by their covenant with death and hell, or by their shelters and coverings with lies and falsehood, in which they placed their confidence, Isa 28:14,15 Isa 28:17-22 in the midst of which account, for the comfort of the Lord's people, stands a glorious prophecy, concerning the sure foundation laid in Zion, on which all that are built are safe and happy, Isa 28:16 and the certainty of these judgments is illustrated by the method which the ploughman takes in sowing his corn, and threshing it out; for which he has instruction and direction from the Lord of hosts, Isa 28:23-29.