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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 31

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes


The woe against rejecters of God’s help chs. 31-32

Like the third "woe" (ch. 30), this fourth one deals with the folly of trusting in Egypt for security rather than the Lord. It applies particularly the principles set forth in the first part of the second "woe" (Isaiah 29:1-14), as is clear from the many word and thought links in these passages.

Verse 1

The prophet condemned those in Judah and Jerusalem who were relying on the brute strength, the military might, and the trained personnel of Egypt to provide security for their nation (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Going down to Egypt to secure these things revealed a lack of trust in the Holy One of Israel who had long ago proved His sovereignty over Egypt. Rather, the people should have simply looked to the Lord and cultivated a relationship with Him.

". . . when any people feel that special weapons can relieve them of dependence upon God, they are on the road to destruction." [Note: Oswalt, p. 571.]

Verses 1-5

Imminent disaster and later deliverance 31:1-5

The first five verses constitute a prologue to this "woe" and deal with imminent disaster followed by later deliverance.

"Without any particular break in the thought Isaiah continues his denunciation of those who look to Egypt for aid." [Note: Young, 2:373.]

Verse 2

The politicians in Jerusalem who advocated alliance with Egypt undoubtedly considered their policy wise (cf. Isaiah 5:21; Isaiah 19:11-15; Isaiah 28:14-15; Isaiah 30:1-2). But Isaiah, in irony, pointed out that the Lord, who purposed disaster for those who refused to trust Him, was the truly Wise One. He would be faithful to His Word to oppose the party of evildoers and those wicked "helpers" in whom the Judeans trusted.

Verse 3

The contrast between the relative strength of humans and God is stark.

"To us ’flesh’ seems so substantial, because visible and tangible, while ’spirit’ may seem ethereal. . . . Nothing could be further from biblical thinking, as a glance at passages like Zechariah 4:6 and John 3:5-8 will disclose." [Note: Grogan, p. 202.]

Yahweh would stretch out His hand in powerful judgment to defeat the helpers (Egypt) as well as the helped (Judah) because they trusted in human power rather than in God (cf. Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 7:19; John 4:24).

Verses 4-5

The Lord had told Isaiah that He would be as a lion and as a bird to Judah. As a lion attacks its prey with focused purposefulness, He would decimate the Judahites, and the shouts of the Egyptian shepherds that the Judahites had hired to protect them would not scare Him off. As a bird that protects its young from other animals, the Lord would protect Judah from its predator, Assyria (cf. Exodus 12).

"He who protects is He who is strong as a lion to accomplish His purposes." [Note: Young, 2:379.]

Verse 6

Many Israelites had been seriously unfaithful to the Lord, and Isaiah appealed to those of them in Judah to return to Him with their heart, not just because he had announced coming judgment.

Verses 6-9

Another call for repentance 31:6-9

The prophet now called his audience to repent with the prospect of salvation that lay in the future.

Verse 7

"In that day" points to the eschatological revival of Israel (cf. Isaiah 2:20). The Judahites of Isaiah’s day needed to return to the Lord, because in the future, Israel as a whole would do so. The time for decisive action was now.

Verse 8

The immediate situation also called for Judah to repent. Since the Lord promised to defeat Assyria Himself, His people needed to get into a right relationship with Him. To say that the Assyrian young men would become forced laborers was to say that Assyria would herself be overcome.

Verse 9

The rock of Assyria, her king (cf. Isaiah 30:29), would panic, and her princes would tremble at the evidence of divine intervention. The Assyrians would face a fire in Jerusalem that they could not endure. The Lord’s judgment on Sennacherib’s army at Jerusalem in 701 B.C. was the beginning of the demise of the Assyrian Empire.

"A friend of mine kept a card in his office desk that read: Faith Is Living Without Scheming. In one statement, that is what Isaiah was saying to Judah and Jerusalem, and that is what he is saying to us today." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 38.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 31". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/isaiah-31.html. 2012.
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