Isaiah 31

Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt

1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.
2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against that wicked nation, against those who help evildoers.
3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.
4 This is what the LORD says to me: “As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey— and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor— so the LORD Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.
5 Like birds hovering overhead, the LORD Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”
6 Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against.
7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
8 “Assyria will fall by no human sword; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced labor.
9 Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,” declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

Isaiah 31 Commentary

Chapter 31

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.

Cross References 37

  • 1. S Isaiah 28:1
  • 2. S Deuteronomy 17:16; S Isaiah 30:2,5; S Jeremiah 37:5
  • 3. S Isaiah 30:16
  • 4. S Isaiah 2:7
  • 5. Job 6:10; S Isaiah 1:4; S Isaiah 30:12
  • 6. S Deuteronomy 20:1; S Proverbs 21:31; S Isaiah 9:13; Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 29:16; Psalms 20:7; Daniel 9:13
  • 7. S Psalms 92:5; Romans 16:27
  • 8. Isaiah 45:7; Isaiah 47:11; Amos 3:6
  • 9. Numbers 23:19; S Proverbs 19:21
  • 10. S Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 29:15; Isaiah 32:6
  • 11. Isaiah 20:5; Isaiah 36:9
  • 12. S Psalms 9:20; Ezekiel 28:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:4
  • 13. S Isaiah 30:16
  • 14. Nehemiah 1:10; S Job 30:21; Isaiah 9:17,21; Jeremiah 51:25; Ezekiel 20:34
  • 15. Isaiah 10:3; Isaiah 30:5-7
  • 16. S Isaiah 20:6; Jeremiah 17:5
  • 17. Numbers 24:9; S 1 Samuel 17:34; Hosea 11:10; Amos 3:8
  • 18. Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 23:4; Ezekiel 34:23; Nahum 3:18
  • 19. Psalms 74:23
  • 20. Isaiah 42:13
  • 21. S Genesis 1:2; S Matthew 23:37
  • 22. S Psalms 91:4; S Isaiah 5:2; S Zechariah 9:15
  • 23. S Psalms 34:7; Isaiah 37:35; Isaiah 38:6
  • 24. S Exodus 12:23
  • 25. S Job 22:23; S Isaiah 1:27
  • 26. S Isaiah 1:5
  • 27. Isaiah 29:18
  • 28. S Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 30:22
  • 29. S Psalms 135:15
  • 30. S Isaiah 10:12
  • 31. S Exodus 12:12; Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 14:25; S Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 33:1; Isaiah 37:7; Jeremiah 25:12; Habakkuk 2:8
  • 32. S Genesis 49:15; S Deuteronomy 20:11
  • 33. Deuteronomy 32:31,37
  • 34. S Isaiah 18:3; S Jeremiah 4:6
  • 35. Jeremiah 51:9; Nahum 3:7
  • 36. S Isaiah 10:17
  • 37. Psalms 21:9; Malachi 4:1

Chapter Summary


This chapter denounces woe to those that trusted in the Egyptians; assures the Jews of God's care and protection of them; calls them to repentance, and foretells the destruction of the Assyrian army. The sin of those that trusted in Egypt, with the reasons of their trust, and not looking to the Lord, and seeking him, is declared in Isa 31:1 and their folly exposed in so doing; since the Lord is wise, powerful, and unchangeable, and the Egyptians frail and weak; so that the helper and the helped must fall before him, Isa 31:2,3 whereas protection might be expected from the Lord, as is promised, whose power is like that of the lion, and whose tender care is like that of birds to defend their young, Isa 31:4,5 wherefore the Jews are called upon to return to the Lord by repentance, from whom they had revolted; which would be shown by their detestation of idolatry, the sin they had been guilty of, Isa 31:6,7 and the chapter is closed with a prophecy of the ruin of the Assyrian army, and the flight of their king, Isa 31:8,9.

Isaiah 31 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.