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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Isaiah 32

Verse 1

The king and the princes of the future will not panic but will rule righteously (cf. Isaiah 31:9). This is Messiah (chs. 9; 11) who embodies righteousness. His princes are His executives, His vice-regents. [Note: See Douglas K. Stuart, "The Prophetic Ideal of Government in the Restoration Era," in Israel’s Apostasy and Restoration: Essays in Honor of Roland K. Harrison, pp. 283-92.] They stand in contrast to the unrighteous princes of Judah who advocated alliance with Egypt (cf. Isaiah 29:15-16; Isaiah 30:1-2).

Verses 1-8

Coming deliverance in the future 32:1-8

Having introduced the eschatological day of the Lord (Isaiah 31:7) and the interim day of the Lord (Isaiah 31:8-9), Isaiah proceeded to reveal more about these times. He also contrasted the king of the Assyrians (Isaiah 31:9) with the messianic King to come.

"The destruction of the Assyrian army points prophetically to the final world conflict, which will usher in the rule of Christ, the perfect King of Israel. Christ’s kingdom will fulfill God’s ideal of a holy commonwealth, administering a perfect righteousness throughout the earth. God’s King will provide complete shelter to all who seek refuge in him, and he will satisfy their thirsty souls with living water." [Note: Archer, p. 631.]

Verse 2

Each of these rulers will be a person of integrity and will be a source of provision and refreshment for the people of God, providing every beneficial care (cf. Isaiah 29:20-21; Matthew 20:28; John 10:11).

Verses 3-4

God will transform all the shortcomings of humanity. Physical, but mainly spiritual, transformation is in view. People will perceive, receive, understand, and communicate the truth as they would not and could not before (cf. Isaiah 6:9-10).

Verse 5

The characters of the amoral and the unscrupulous will experience transformation as well.

Verses 6-8

These verses expound further on the changes that will take place in fools and rogues. Their present characteristics are all too familiar, but these will change with the coming of Messiah. Fools disregard their moral and spiritual obligations. Rogues work deviously for their own advantage at the expense of others. In contrast, noble people are liberally outgoing to God and others.

Verse 9

The women of Judah blandly assumed that nothing would disturb their present secure circumstances. Isaiah challenged them to listen to him. They were not secure.

Verses 9-18

An appeal to Judah’s women to repent 32:9-18

Isaiah had appealed to the sons of Israel to return to the Lord (Isaiah 31:6), and now he appealed to the women of Israel to rise up in repentance (Isaiah 32:9; cf. Isaiah 3:16-26). Appeal to both sexes stresses the importance of everyone repenting. As in his appeal to the men, the prophet also announced an immediate threat and a more distant disaster.

Verse 10

In just over a year something devastating would happen that would preclude the harvest of grapes that they must have anticipated eagerly.

Verses 11-12

These women needed to prepare for captivity and to mourn at the prospect of an enemy invasion and its consequences.

Verses 13-14

Land once cultivated would become deserted, and their homes, even the palaces, would be left empty. Animals would occupy what humans formerly inhabited (cf. Isaiah 5:17).

"The devastation caused by Sennacherib’s wind would be completed by Nebuchadnezzar’s whirlwind." [Note: Grogan, p. 207.]

Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C., 115 years after Sennacherib besieged it in 701 B.C.

Verse 15

These reversals would not be final, however. God’s Spirit would effect an even greater change later in the future (cf. Psalms 104:30; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10). Then the wilderness would become fertile, and what was presently considered fertile would become a veritable jungle so full of large plants would it be (cf. Isaiah 30:23-26). The creation will burgeon, the divine curse will be removed, and the damage that sin has caused will be reversed (cf. Isaiah 29:17).

Verses 16-17

Justice and righteousness will be everywhere. The effects of this righteousness will be peace, rest, and security (cf. Isaiah 11:4-9). This will come about because people will be right with God (cf. Isaiah 30:15).

"The person who has received the grace of God’s forgiveness is at peace with God. Knowing himself to be at peace with the Sovereign of the universe, it is no longer necessary to project his own turmoil upon those around him (Philippians 3:12-17). Furthermore, the person for whom God’s character has become central will be less likely to oppress others in a frantic attempt to supply his or her own needs." [Note: Oswalt, p. 588.]

Verse 18

God’s people who responded to the appeals in Isaiah 31:6 and Isaiah 32:9 would live free from external threats, not erroneously thinking they were secure (cf. Isaiah 32:9).

Verse 19

The forest is a figure of soldiers (Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 10:33-34) and of the fallen world (Isaiah 2:12-13). The city refers to Jerusalem, but it also represents humankind organized in rebellion against God (Isaiah 24:10). Thus both the near and the far views of God’s actions blend here. God will destroy, the hail representing His devastating intervention in human life, both the Assyrian soldiers soon and the fallen world later (cf. Isaiah 10:34). He would devastate Jerusalem soon and rebellious humankind later.

Verses 19-20

A summary of coming blasting and blessing 32:19-20

The last two verses of this "woe" serve as an epilogue (cf. the prologue, Isaiah 31:1-5). Again there is an abrupt transition from present terror to future tranquillity. Judgment and glory both lay ahead for the Israelites, and it was time for them to choose to return to the Lord. God has revealed the distant future, as well as the immediate future, so people will get right with Him now.

Verse 20

The blessed residents of the land in the distant future will enjoy the best existence, represented here in a pastoral setting. They will be in right relation to God, having responded to His invitations to return to and hear the Lord (Isaiah 31:6; Isaiah 32:9). Their blessing will consist of divine favor (cf. Psalms 32:1), personal fulfillment (cf. Psalms 112:1), and total rectitude (cf. Psalms 2:12; Psalms 37:8-9). Many amillennial interpreters take the eschatological blessings of Isaiah 32:1-8; Isaiah 32:15-18; Isaiah 32:20, as well as Isaiah 31:7, as marking the future heavenly reign of Christ throughout eternity.

In the near future, the Judahites could experience a measure of deliverance from the Assyrians by repenting. Some of them did repent. Sennacherib was not able to take Jerusalem, even though he devastated much of Judah. In the far future, the Israelites will enjoy salvation from all their enemies because they will repent at the second coming of Christ (cf. Zechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 14:14). This did not take place after the Exile or after Pentecost on the scale that Isaiah envisioned here. God does not wait for people to repent before He acts in mercy. Rather, the goodness of God leads people to repentance (cf. Romans 2:4; Romans 11:22).

"This concludes the four [five] woes, from which the fifth [sixth], that immediately follows, is distinguished by the fact, that in the former the Assyrian troubles are still in the future, whereas the fifth [sixth] places us in the very midst of them." [Note: Delitzsch, 2:54.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 32". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.