Isaiah 33

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O Lord, Be Gracious to Us

1 1Ah, you destroyer, who yourself have not been destroyed, you traitor, whom none has betrayed! When you have ceased to destroy, you will be destroyed; and when you have finished betraying, they will betray you.
2 O LORD, be gracious to us; 2we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
3 3At the tumultuous noise peoples flee; when you lift yourself up, nations are scattered,
4 and your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers; 4as locusts leap, it is leapt upon.
5 5The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
6 6and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion's[a] treasure.
7 Behold, their heroes cry in the streets; 7the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
8 8The highways lie waste; the traveler ceases. 9Covenants are broken; cities[b] are despised; there is no regard for man.
9 10The land mourns and languishes; Lebanon is confounded and withers away; Sharon is like a desert, and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.
10 11"Now I will arise," says the LORD, "now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.
11 12You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble; your breath is 13a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, 14like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire."
13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: 15"Who among us can dwell 16with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"
15 17He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed 18and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; 19his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.
17 20Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; 21they will see a land that stretches afar.
18 22Your heart will muse on the terror: "Where is he who counted, where is 23he who weighed the tribute? Where is 24he who counted the towers?"
19 25You will see no more the insolent people, the people 26of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend, stammering in a tongue that you cannot understand.
20 Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! 27Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, an 28immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken.
21 But there the LORD in majesty will be for us a place of 29broad rivers and streams, 30where no galley with oars can go, nor majestic ship can pass.
22 For the LORD is our 31judge; the LORD is our 32lawgiver; the LORD is our 33king; he will save us.
23 Your cords hang loose; they cannot hold the mast firm in its place or keep the sail spread out. 34Then prey and spoil in abundance will be divided; even 35the lame will take the prey.
24 And no inhabitant will say, 36"I am sick"; 37the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

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Isaiah 33 Commentary

Chapter 33

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.

Cross References 37

  • 1. Isaiah 21:2; [Isaiah 17:14]
  • 2. Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 26:8
  • 3. Isaiah 17:13; [2 Kings 19:7]
  • 4. [Joel 2:4, 5]
  • 5. Isaiah 2:17; Isaiah 5:15, 16
  • 6. [Isaiah 39:8]
  • 7. [Isaiah 36:22; 2 Kings 18:37]
  • 8. [Judges 5:6]
  • 9. [ver. 1]; See 2 Kings 18:14-17
  • 10. Isaiah 24:4; [Nahum 1:4]
  • 11. Psalms 12:5; Psalms 68:1; [Isaiah 10:26]
  • 12. [Isaiah 59:4; Psalms 7:14]
  • 13. Isaiah 10:16, 17; [Psalms 80:16]
  • 14. [See ver. 11 above]
  • 15. [Psalms 15:1; Psalms 24:3]
  • 16. Isaiah 66:15; Hebrews 12:29
  • 17. [Psalms 15:2; Psalms 24:4]
  • 18. Psalms 119:37
  • 19. Isaiah 30:23, 25
  • 20. Isaiah 6:5; [Zechariah 9:9]
  • 21. [Isaiah 54:2, 3]
  • 22. [Psalms 37:10]
  • 23. [2 Kings 18:14]
  • 24. [Psalms 48:12]
  • 25. [2 Kings 19:32, 33]
  • 26. Isaiah 28:11; Deuteronomy 28:49, 50
  • 27. Isaiah 32:18
  • 28. ver. 6
  • 29. Psalms 46:4, 5
  • 30. [Isaiah 2:16; Psalms 48:7]
  • 31. [Judges 2:16]
  • 32. James 4:12
  • 33. [1 Samuel 12:13]
  • 34. [Genesis 49:27]
  • 35. [Psalms 68:12]
  • 36. [Isaiah 1:5, 6]
  • 37. Isaiah 1:25, 26; Jeremiah 50:20

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew his
  • [b]. Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scroll witnesses

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains an account of God's judgments upon the enemies of his people, and of the peaceable, comfortable, and happy state of the church in the latter day. The judgment denounced, Isa 33:1 a prayer of the church for safety and protection, which it promises itself from what God had heretofore done, Isa 33:2,3 an answer to it, declaring the spoil of the enemy, and the happy times the people of God should enjoy through his appearance for them, Isa 33:4-6 though previous thereunto there would be very distressing ones, Isa 33:7-9 when the Lord resolves to arise and exert his power in the destruction of the people, who should be burnt up like stubble, thorns, and lime, Isa 33:10-12 persons far and near are called upon to take notice of this, Isa 33:13 which would issue in a different manner, in the surprise and terror of hypocrites, and in the safety and plenty of provisions for good men, who are described, Isa 33:14-16 and then follow promises to them, of seeing the King in his beauty, and beholding a distant country of reflecting on past terror with pleasure, being freed from it, and in no danger of a foreign enemy, Isa 33:17-19 and the chapter is concluded with a famous prophecy of the peace, prosperity, and safety of the church, and of the healthfulness of its inhabitants, under the protection of Christ, its King and Lawgiver, its enemies being also an easy prey to it, Isa 33:20-24.

Isaiah 33 Commentaries

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