Syria and Israel threatened. (1-11) The woe of Israel's enemies. (12-14)
Verses 1-11 Sin desolates cities. It is strange that great conquerors should take pride in being enemies to mankind; but it is better that flocks should lie down there, than that they should harbour any in open rebellion against God and holiness. The strong holds of Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, will be brought to ruin. Those who are partakers in sin, are justly made partakers in ruin. The people had, by sins, made themselves ripe for ruin; and their glory was as quickly cut down and taken away by the enemy, as the corn is out of the field by the husbandman. Mercy is reserved in the midst of judgment, for a remnant. But very few shall be marked to be saved. Only here and there one was left behind. But they shall be a remnant made holy. The few that are saved were awakened to return to God. They shall acknowledge his hand in all events; they shall give him the glory due to his name. To bring us to this, is the design of his providence, as he is our Maker; and the work of his grace, as he is the Holy One of Israel. They shall look off from their idols, the creatures of their own fancy. We have reason to account those afflictions happy, which part between us and our sins. The God of our salvation is the Rock of our strength; and our forgetfulness and unmindfulness of him are at the bottom of all sin. The pleasant plants, and shoots from a foreign soil, are expressions for strange and idolatrous worship, and the vile practices connected therewith. Diligence would be used to promote the growth of these strange slips, but all in vain. See the evil and danger of sin, and its certain consequences.
Verses 12-14 The rage and force of the Assyrians resembled the mighty waters of the sea; but when the God of Israel should rebuke them, they would flee like chaff, or like a rolling thing, before the whirlwind. In the evening Jerusalem would be in trouble, because of the powerful invader, but before morning his army would be nearly cut off. Happy are those who remember God as their salvation, and rely on his power and grace. The trouble of the believers, and the prosperity of their enemies, will be equally short; while the joy of the former, and the destruction of those that hate and spoil them, shall last for ever.
This chapter contains a prophecy of the ruin of Syria and Israel, the ten tribes; who were in alliance; and also of the overthrow of the Assyrian army, that should come against Judah. The destruction of Damascus, the metropolis of Syria, and of other cities, is threatened, Isa 17:1,2 yea, of the whole kingdom of Syria, together with Ephraim or the ten tribes, and Samaria the head of them, Isa 17:3 whose destruction is expressed by various similes, as by thinness and leanness, and by the reaping and gathering of corn, Isa 17:4,5 and yet a remnant should be preserved, compared to gleaning gapes, and a few berries on an olive tree, who should look to the Lord, and not to idols, Isa 17:6-8 and the reason of the desolation of their cities, and of their fields and vineyards, was their forgetfulness of the Lord, Isa 17:9-11 and the chapter is closed with a prophecy of the defeat of the Assyrian army, who are compared for their multitude and noise to the seas, and to mighty waters, and the noise and rushing of them, Isa 17:12 and yet should be, at the rebuke of God, as chaff, or any small light thing, before a blustering wind, Isa 17:13 and who, in the evening, would be a trouble to the Jews, and be dead before morning; which was to be the portion of the spoilers and plunderers of the Lord's people, Isa 17:14.