Isaiah 28

Listen to Isaiah 28

Judgment on Ephraim and Jerusalem

1 Ah, the proud crown of 1the drunkards of Ephraim, and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley of those overcome with wine!
2 Behold, the Lord has 2one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest, like 3a storm of mighty, overflowing waters, he casts down to the earth with his hand.
3 4The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trodden underfoot;
4 5and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley, will be like 6a first-ripe fig before the summer: when someone sees it, he swallows it as soon as it is in his hand.
5 7In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory,[a] and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people,
6 and 8a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and 9strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 10These also reel with wine and 11stagger with strong drink; the priest and 12the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by[b] wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.
8 For all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left.
9 13"To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast?
10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little."
11 14For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the LORD will speak to this people,
12 to whom he has said, 15"This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose"; yet they would not hear.
13 And the word of the LORD will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, 16that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

A Cornerstone in Zion

14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you 17scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem!
15 Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the 18overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made 19lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter";
16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 20"Behold, I am the one who has laid[c] as a foundation 21in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: 'Whoever believes will not be in haste.'
17 And I will make justice 22the line, and righteousness 23the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter."
18 Then 24your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, you will be beaten down by it.
19 As often as it passes through it will take you; 25for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be 26sheer terror to understand the message.
20 For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on, and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in.
21 For the LORD will rise up 27as on Mount Perazim; 28as in the Valley of 29Gibeon he will be roused; to do his deed--strange is his deed! and to work his work--alien is his work!
22 Now therefore do not 30scoff, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard 31a decree of destruction from the Lord GOD of hosts against the whole land.
23 Give ear, and hear my voice; give attention, and hear my speech.
24 Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? Does he continually open and harrow his ground?
25 32When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cumin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and emmer[d] as the border?
26 33For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him.
27 Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin, but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod.
28 Does one crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it forever;[e] when he drives his cart wheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it.
29 This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is 34wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.

Isaiah 28 Commentary

Chapter 28

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.

Cross References 34

  • 1. [Hosea 7:5]
  • 2. [Isaiah 8:7]
  • 3. ver. 15, 18
  • 4. ver. 1
  • 5. [Amos 8:1, 2]
  • 6. Hosea 9:10; Micah 7:1
  • 7. Isaiah 2:11
  • 8. [1 Kings 3:28]
  • 9. [Isaiah 38:6]
  • 10. [Isaiah 3:12]
  • 11. Hosea 4:11
  • 12. Isaiah 9:15; Isaiah 56:10, 12
  • 13. Jeremiah 6:10
  • 14. Cited 1 Corinthians 14:21; See Isaiah 5:26-29
  • 15. Isaiah 30:15; [Matthew 11:28, 29]
  • 16. Isaiah 8:15
  • 17. ver. 22; Isaiah 29:20
  • 18. ver. 2, 18; [Isaiah 8:7, 8]
  • 19. [Romans 1:25]
  • 20. Cited Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6; [Psalms 118:22; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11]
  • 21. Isaiah 14:32
  • 22. [2 Kings 21:13]
  • 23. [2 Kings 21:13]
  • 24. ver. 15
  • 25. [Isaiah 50:4]
  • 26. [2 Chronicles 32:18]
  • 27. [2 Samuel 5:20; 1 Chronicles 14:11]
  • 28. See Joshua 10:10-14
  • 29. 1 Chronicles 14:16; See Joshua 9:3
  • 30. ver. 14
  • 31. Isaiah 10:23
  • 32. [Isaiah 55:10, 11]
  • 33. [Isaiah 21:10]
  • 34. Jeremiah 32:19; [Isaiah 9:6]

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. The Hebrew words for glory and hosts sound alike
  • [b]. Or confused by
  • [c]. Dead Sea Scroll I am laying
  • [d]. A type of wheat
  • [e]. Or Grain is crushed for bread; he will surely thresh it, but not forever

Chapter Summary


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.

Isaiah 28 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.