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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 32

Verse 1

Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.

The times of purity and happiness which shall follow the defeat of the enemies of Yahweh's people (Isaiah 32:1-8). Here the prophet passes from the type, Sennacherib's defeat and the establishment of Hezekiah's kingdom, to the establishment of Messiah's kingdom, on the overthrow of Antichrist. The period of wrath before that happy state (Isaiah 32:9-14). The assurance of the final prosperity of the Church is repeated (Isaiah 32:15-20).

Behold a king - not Hezekiah, who was already on the throne, whereas a future time is contemplated. If he be meant at all, it can only be as a type of Messiah the King, to whom alone the language fully applicable (Hosea 3:5; Zechariah 9:9: see Isaiah 11:3-5 notes). The kingdom shall be transferred from the world-kings, who have exercised their power against God, instead of for God, to the rightful King of kings (Ezekiel 21:27; Daniel 7:13-14).

And princes shall rule in judgment - subordinate to the King: referring to all in authority under Christ in the coming kingdom on earth; e.g., the apostles, etc. (Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 3:21.) The Chaldaic Targum paraphrases here, 'and the righteous, that they may take just vengeance on the peoples, shall be exalted to dignity.'

Verse 2

And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

A man - rather, the man, Christ (Lowth); Hebrew, 'iysh (H376), one eminent as a man. It is as "the Son of man" He is to reign, as it was as Son of man He suffered (Matthew 26:64; John 5:27; John 19:5, "Behold the man"). Not as Maurer explains, 'every one of the princes shall be,' etc.

As rivers of water in a dry place - as refreshing as water and the cool shade are to the heated traveler (Isaiah 35:6-7; Isaiah 41:18).

Verse 3

And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.

The eyes of them that see - the seers or prophets.

And the ears of them that hear - the people under instruction (Isaiah 35:5-6).

Verse 4

The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.

The heart also of the rash - the hasty: contrast "shall not make haste" (Isaiah 28:16); the reckless who will not take time to weigh religious truth aright. Or else, the well-instructed (Horsley).

The tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly - those who speak confusedly on divine things shall receive a facility in speaking clearly concerning them (cf. Exodus 4:10-12; Jeremiah 1:6; Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 21:14-15). Or, those drunken scorners who in stammering style imitated Isaiah's warnings, to mock them (Maurer). (Isaiah 28:7-11; Isaiah 28:13-14; Isaiah 28:22; Isaiah 29:20.) But the "scorners" in Isaiah 28:17-22 were to be destroyed, not converted. Therefore "the stammerers" are rather the servants of God who now speak but stammeringly of divine things, as compared with the spiritual utterance which the saints shall hereafter have in Messiah's manifested kingdom. For "speak plainly," translate, 'speak uprightly' (agreeably to the divine law); not as English version, referring to the distinctness of articulation, plainly. The Hebrew, tsaachowt (H6703), is literally, white: so candid things, candidly, sincerely, uprightly.

Verse 5

The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. The vile - rather, fool (Lowth); i:e., ungodly (Psalms 14:1; Psalms 74:18: Hebrew nabal (H5036), 1 Samuel 25:25).

Shall be no more called liberal (Hebrew, nadiyb (H5081)) - princely noble-minded.

Nor the churl - fraudulent (Gesenius) [ kiylay (H3596), from naakal (H5230), to act fraudulently]. So Vulgate. The English version deduces the Hebrew from kuwl (H3557), or else heekil, to take, to hold, to measure; or else [kaala'], to shut up or withhold. Aben Ezra fancifully, from the churl saying kal (H3605) liy (H3807a), 'all things belong to me,' not to another.

Bountiful - religiously. The atheistic churl, who envies the believer his hope 'full of immortality,' shall no longer be held as a patriot struggling for the emancipation of mankind from superstition (Horsley).

Verse 6

For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.

For the vile person will speak villany. Christ at His coming will manifest vile men in their real character, having stripped off them the mask which now they wear, and will deal with them accordingly. Grotius takes it present: 'For the (irreligious) fool speaketh folly (so vile ... villany, mean as in Isaiah 32:5), and his heart worketh iniquity,' etc. Thus, the reason is assigned why such persons will be excluded from offices of dignity in the coming kingdom. I prefer the English version as explained above. Compare Revelation 22:11.

To practice hypocrisy - rather, profligacy (Horsley).

And to utter error - impiety, perverse arguments.

To make empty the soul of the hungry - spiritually (Matthew 5:6).

Verse 7

The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.

The churl - the fraudulent (cf. Isaiah 32:5, note). This verse refers to the last clause of Isaiah 32:5 as Isaiah 32:6 referred to its first clause.

Even when the needy speaketh right - pleadeth a just cause (Isaiah 29:21). Spiritually, "the poor man's cause" is the divine doctrine, his rule of faith and practice.

Verse 8

But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.

But the liberal - rather, the princely, noble-minded.

By liberal things shall he stand - shall he be approved under the government of the righteous "King."

Verse 9

Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.

Rise up, ye women that are at ease. Address to the women of Jerusalem, who troubled themselves little about the political signs of the times, but lived a life of self-indulgence (Isaiah 3:16-23). The failure of food through the devastations of the enemy is here foretold, being what was most likely to affect them as mothers of families, heretofore accustomed to every luxury. Vitringa understands "women ... daughters" as the cities and villages of Judea, (Ezekiel 16:1-63.) See Amos 6:1.

Verse 10

Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.

Many days and years shall ye be troubled - namely, during the 70 years' captivity in Babylon (Piscator): as the limiting of the time in Isaiah 32:14-15 shows. The long duration of the calamity is implied. Rather, in little more than a year (Maurer). Literally, days upon a year (so Isaiah 29:1).

The vintage shall fail - through the arrival of the Assyrian invader.

The gathering shall not come. Since the wheat harvest is omitted, Isaiah must look for the invasion in the summer or autumn of 714 BC, when the wheat would have been secured already and the later fruit "gathering" and vintage would be still in danger.

Verse 11

Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.

Strip you - of your happy clothing (note, Isaiah 20:2).

Verse 12

They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.

They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields - `They shall smite on their breasts in lamentation for the pleasant fields' (Nahum 2:7) (Maurer). So the Septuagint and Arabic. "Teats" in the English version is used for fertile lands, which, like breasts, nourish life. [So the Greek, outhar arourees, uber glebae.] I prefer the English version, as the Hebrew of "for" is the same [ `al (H5921)] as in the clause "for the pleasant fields;" whereas Maurer's version requires it to be taken in a different sense in the first clause, 'upon their breasts.' There is a play on like sounds between shaadayim (H7699) ... sªdeey (H7704) ("teats ... fields"), which also implies their mutually corresponding in parallelism. The transition from "ye" to "they" (Isaiah 32:11-12) is frequent.

Verse 13

Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:

Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers - (Isaiah 5:6; Isaiah 7:23.)

Yea, upon all the houses of joy (in) the joyous city - pleasure houses outside of Jerusalem; not Jerusalem itself, but other cities destroyed by Sennacherib in his march (Isaiah 7:20-25). However, the prophecy in its full accomplishment refers to the utter desolation of Judea and its capital by Rome, and subsequently, previous to the second coming of the King (Psalms 118:26; Luke 13:35; Luke 19:38): "the joyous city" is in this view Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:2).

Verse 14

Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;

Because the palaces - most applicable to Jerusalem (note, Isaiah 32:13).

The multitude of the city shall be left - the noisy din of the city i:e., the city with its noisy multitude shall lie forsaken (Maurer). 'The multitude shall be left without a head, and shall not have king or princes' ('Poli Synopsis') It present state (Hosea 3:4-5).

The forts, [ `opel (H6077)] - rather, Ophel (i:e., The mound), the term applied specially to the declivity on the east of Zion, surrounded with its own wall (2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 33:14; 2 Kings 5:24), and furnished with "towers" (or watch-towers); perhaps referred here in the next words.

And towers - (Nehemiah 3:26-27.)

Shall be for dens for ever - limited by the "Until." etc., next verse; i:e., without end the present order of things, until the new order of things begins with the outpouring of the Spirit: for a long time.

Verse 15

Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.

Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high. This can only partially apply to the spiritual revival in Hezekiah's time; its full accomplishment belongs to the Christian dispensation, first at Pentecost (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17), perfectly in coming times (Psalms 104:30; Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 39:29; Zechariah 12:10), when the Spirit shall be poured on Israel, and though it on the Gentiles (Micah 5:7).

And the wilderness be a fruitful field ... - when Judea, so long waste, shall be populous and fruitful, and the land of the enemies of God shall be desolate. Or, 'the field now fruitful shall be but as a barren forest in comparison with what it shall be then.' The barren shall become fruitful by regeneration: thee already regenerate shall bring forth fruits in such abundance that their former life shall seem but as a wilderness where no fruits were ('Queen Elizabeth's Bible'). I prefer the former view: cf. Isaiah 32:6, note. Hypocrites, who now are counted as a "fruitful field," shall then "be counted for a forest" - i:e., shall be manifested in their true unfruitfulness. Compare Isaiah 47:11: also Isaiah 29:17, note above.

Verse 16

Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

Judgment - justice.

Shall dwell in the wilderness - then reclaimed.

And righteousness remain in the fruitful field - then become still more fruitful: thus "wilderness" and "fruitful field" include the whole land of Judea.

Verse 17

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

And the work - the effect (Proverbs 14:34; James 3:18).

Of righteousness shall be peace - internal and external.

Verse 18

And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

And my people shall dwell in ... sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places - free from fear of invasion.

Verse 19

When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.

When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place. So the Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac refer "coming down" to the hail, not to the forest. But the Vulgate refers it to the forest. So Maurer. Literally, 'But it shall hail with coming down of the forest, and in lowness shall the city (Nineveh) be brought low - i:e., humbled.' The "hail" is Yahweh's wrathful visitation (Isaiah 30:30; Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 28:17). The forest is the Assyrian host, dense as the trees of a forest (Isaiah 10:18-19; Isaiah 10:33-34; Zechariah 11:2). In the antitypical sense, "the forest" is the antichristian host; and "the city" is the God-opposed world-city. So the "hail" in the Egyptian plague (Exodus 9:23-26) smote all in the field, both man and beast, and brake every tree: "only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail." When the enemy shall be smitten with overwhelming troubles, the people of God shall dwell in quiet (Isaiah 32:18).

Verse 20

Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.

Blessed (are) ye that sow beside all waters. While the enemy shall be brought "low," the Jews shall cultivate their land in undisturbed prosperity.

All waters - all well-watered places (Isaiah 30:25). The Hebrew translated "beside," ought rather to be translated "upon" (Ecclesiastes 11:1), where the meaning is, 'Cast thy seed upon the waters when the river overflows its banks; the seed will sink into the mud, and will spring up when the waters subside, and you will find it after many days in a rich harvest.' Before sowing, they send oxen, etc., into the water to tread the ground for sowing. Castalio thinks there is an allusion to the Mosaic precept, not to plow with an ox and donkey together, mystically implying that the Jew was to have no contact with Gentiles; the Gospel abolishes this distinction (Colossians 3:11): thus the sense here is, Blessed are ye that sow the Gospel seed without distinction of race in the teachers or the taught. But there is no need of supposing that the ox and donkey here are yoked together; they are probably "sent forth" separately, as in Isaiah 30:24.

Remarks: What "rivers of water" are to the thirsty, and "the shadow of a great rock" to the heated traveler, that Christ is to the soul which flees to Him, faint, weary, and thirsting for salvation. He gives spiritual sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, understanding to the thoughtless, and ready speech to the stammerers" (Isaiah 32:3-4). When "the heart" is put right, then all the other members fulfill their spiritual functions aright. Things and persons are often now called by wrong names. The worldly "vile" man passes as 'princely,' "the churl" as "bountiful." But then the King, whose prerogative it is to manifest inward character, shall expose the worthless and the hypocrite in their true colours (Isaiah 32:6). On the other hand, those truly princely shall then be manifested in spiritual noble-mindedness, and as such shall stand accepted before the Great King, through faith working by love.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.