Isaiah 33

Distress and Help

1 Woe to you, destroyer, you who have not been destroyed! Woe to you, betrayer, you who have not been betrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed.
2 LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.
3 At the uproar of your army, the peoples flee; when you rise up, the nations scatter.
4 Your plunder, O nations, is harvested as by young locusts; like a swarm of locusts people pounce on it.
5 The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
6 He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.[a]
7 Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
8 The highways are deserted, no travelers are on the roads. The treaty is broken, its witnesses[b] are despised, no one is respected.
9 The land dries up and wastes away, Lebanon is ashamed and withers; Sharon is like the Arabah, and Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves.
10 “Now will I arise,” says the LORD. “Now will I be exalted; now will I be lifted up.
11 You conceive chaff, you give birth to straw; your breath is a fire that consumes you.
12 The peoples will be burned to ashes; like cut thornbushes they will be set ablaze.”
13 You who are far away, hear what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my power!
14 The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”
15 Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—
16 they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.
17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar.
18 In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror: “Where is that chief officer? Where is the one who took the revenue? Where is the officer in charge of the towers?”
19 You will see those arrogant people no more, people whose speech is obscure, whose language is strange and incomprehensible.
20 Look on Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken.
21 There the LORD will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them.
22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.
23 Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread. Then an abundance of spoils will be divided and even the lame will carry off plunder.
24 No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven.

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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 75

  • 1. S 2 Kings 19:21; S Isaiah 28:1
  • 2. S Isaiah 31:8; Habakkuk 2:8; S Matthew 7:2
  • 3. S Isaiah 21:2; Jeremiah 30:16; Ezekiel 39:10
  • 4. S Genesis 43:29; S Ezra 9:8
  • 5. Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5
  • 6. S Psalms 13:5; S Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 25:9
  • 7. S Isaiah 5:30
  • 8. S Psalms 46:6; S Psalms 68:33
  • 9. S Psalms 68:1; S Isaiah 13:14
  • 10. ver 10; Numbers 10:35; Psalms 12:5; Isaiah 59:16-18
  • 11. S Numbers 14:3; S 2 Kings 7:16
  • 12. S Isaiah 17:5; Joel 3:13
  • 13. Joel 1:4
  • 14. S Isaiah 5:16; Psalms 97:9
  • 15. S Job 16:19
  • 16. S Isaiah 9:7; S Isaiah 28:6
  • 17. S Isaiah 1:26
  • 18. S Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:1; Isaiah 51:6; Isaiah 60:18
  • 19. S Proverbs 1:7; Isaiah 11:2-3; Matthew 6:33
  • 20. S Genesis 39:3; S Job 22:25
  • 21. Isaiah 10:34
  • 22. S 2 Kings 18:37
  • 23. Isaiah 60:15; Zechariah 7:14
  • 24. S Judges 5:6; Isaiah 30:21; Isaiah 35:8
  • 25. S 2 Kings 18:14
  • 26. S Isaiah 3:26
  • 27. S 2 Kings 19:23; Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 37:24; Jeremiah 22:6
  • 28. S Isaiah 15:6; Isaiah 24:4
  • 29. S 1 Chronicles 27:29
  • 30. Micah 7:14
  • 31. 1 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 35:2; Nahum 1:4
  • 32. S ver 3; Psalms 12:5; Isaiah 2:21
  • 33. S Isaiah 5:16
  • 34. Psalms 7:14; Isaiah 59:4; James 1:15
  • 35. S Isaiah 26:18
  • 36. Isaiah 1:31
  • 37. Amos 2:1
  • 38. S Isaiah 5:6
  • 39. S Isaiah 10:17; S Isaiah 27:11
  • 40. Psalms 48:10; Psalms 49:1
  • 41. Isaiah 34:1; Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 49:1
  • 42. S Isaiah 1:28
  • 43. S Isaiah 32:11
  • 44. S Isaiah 1:31; S Isaiah 30:30; S Zechariah 13:9; Hebrews 12:29
  • 45. Isaiah 58:8
  • 46. Psalms 15:2; Psalms 24:4
  • 47. Ezekiel 22:13; Ezekiel 33:31
  • 48. S Proverbs 15:27
  • 49. Psalms 119:37
  • 50. S Deuteronomy 32:13
  • 51. S Psalms 46:1; S Isaiah 25:4
  • 52. Psalms 18:1-2; Isaiah 26:1
  • 53. Isaiah 48:21; Isaiah 49:10; Isaiah 65:13
  • 54. S Isaiah 6:5
  • 55. S Isaiah 4:2
  • 56. S Isaiah 26:15
  • 57. S Isaiah 17:14
  • 58. S Isaiah 2:15
  • 59. S Psalms 5:5
  • 60. S Genesis 11:7; S Isaiah 28:11; Jeremiah 5:15
  • 61. S Psalms 125:1
  • 62. S Isaiah 32:18
  • 63. S Genesis 26:22
  • 64. ver 6; Psalms 46:5; Psalms 125:1-2
  • 65. S Isaiah 10:34
  • 66. S Exodus 17:6; S Psalms 1:3; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 48:18; Isaiah 49:10; Isaiah 66:12; Nahum 3:8
  • 67. Isaiah 23:1
  • 68. Isaiah 11:4
  • 69. S Isaiah 2:3; James 4:12
  • 70. S Psalms 89:18
  • 71. S Isaiah 25:9
  • 72. S 2 Kings 7:8
  • 73. S 2 Kings 7:16
  • 74. S Isaiah 30:26
  • 75. S Numbers 23:21; S 2 Chronicles 6:21; Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 31:34; Jeremiah 33:8; Jeremiah 50:20; 1 John 1:7-9

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "is a treasure from him"
  • [b]. Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text "/ the cities"

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

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