Isaiah 22

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

Home Gospel Tracts Bible Studies Jim Melough Contact


A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

22:1.  “The burden of the valley of vision.  What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?”


In modern speech the first sentence would read, “The sad prediction relative to the valley of Hinnom,” which lay on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  In other words it was the prediction of Jerusalem’s impending destruction.  Likewise the second sentence might be rendered, “Why are all of you hurrying up to the rooftops (which were flat)?” and one answer is that they could better observe the movements of the besiegers; another being that the rooftops were the last places of refuge, worthless though that refuge was.  They were like drowning men clutching at the proverbial straw.


The king (Zedekiah), and some of the princes, had fled the city, but were caught.


22:2.  “Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.”


The first half of this verse describes Jerusalem as being “uproarious, boisterous, pleasure-loving, frenzied, wanton,” but the second half is dramatically and ominously different: the laughter of revelry is replaced with the wail of lament as the plague sweeps multitudes into eternity, leaving the carcases of many to rot on the streets.


22:3.  “All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together which have fled from far.”


This panic-stricken flight of the elders of Jerusalem in the past, foreshadows what will be in the coming Great Tribulation.  Their being “bound by the archers” is generally understood to mean that they were pursued and captured without resistance.  And so will it be during the reign of the Tribulation-age Beast who will attempt to stamp out the worship of God, while demanding that he himself alone be worshiped, under pain of death.


22:4.  “Therefore said I, Look away from me: I will weep bitterly, labor not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.”


Phillips translates this verse, “Therefore I say, Leave me alone, Let me weep bitter tears, Stop trying to console me, for all my people are wiped out.”


Isaiah’s deep sorrow for Jerusalem languishing under Divine judgment adumbrates that of God relative to this world which has made itself the legatee of His judgment rather than His blessing, as it is written, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”


22:5.  “For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.”


The picture continues to be of the terrible judgments incurred by the rebellious citizens of Jerusalem, and of the whole land of Israel, “the valley of vision” being synonymous with Jerusalem; and Assyria being God’s instrument of judgment.


“... crying to the mountains” is also translated “echoing from or among the mountains,” and while this may be taken literally, it is to be remembered that virtually every hilltop had its idolatrous shrine, so that the reference may also be to the people’s pleading with their false gods to save them.


22:6.  “And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.


“Elamites are the archers; Syrians drive the chariots; the men of Kir hold up the shields,” is Taylor’s rendering of this verse.  It indicates the strength of those who meant to destroy Jerusalem; and is symbolic of the powers of darkness arrayed against the Lord and His people today.


22:7.  “And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.”


The numerical superiority of the enemy reflects the legions of evil spirits under Satan’s command; but we who belong to Christ are beyond their power to destroy, our assurance being declared by the Lord Himself, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.  I and my Father are one,” John 10:27-30.


Israel’s disobedience however, had forfeited that divine protection, and only the spiritually blind will fail to see that the apostasy of professing Christendom has rendered her similarly vulnerable today.


22:8.  “And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armor of the house of the forest.”


God’s discovering “the covering of Judah” means that He was removing His protection, and delivering disobedient Judah into the hand of the enemy.  Our disobedience will also forfeit His protecting care.


The “house of the forest” was the armory, and Judah’s seizing those weapons, instead of trusting in her omnipotent God, was utter folly; but before condemning her madness, we should remember that, not just once, but countless times, we have duplicated it - and always to our own undoing.  He who puts his trust in anyone or anything other than God, is a fool.


22:9.  “Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.”


The reference here is to the many breaches in the city wall; and their gathering together “the waters of the lower pool” refers to their having sought to store the water of the large lower pool in as many other places as possible.


22:10.  “And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.”


“... numbered” is also translated listed or surveyed, i.e., they had marked certain houses for demolition so that the rubble could be used to repair the breaches in the walls.


22:11.  “Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.”


In the area between the inner and the outer walls they had dug a large reservoir in which to store water from the old pool; but the prophet rebuked them for having failed to seek Jehovah’s help and guidance, it being He who had originally built the city, using men as His instruments.  Had they confessed their sin, and cast themselves upon His mercy they need have had no anxious care, for He would have delivered them.  Before condemning their folly however, we would do well to ponder whether we ourselves have not been all too often guilty of the same foolishness.

Surely honesty compels us to acknowledge that almost invariably we make our plans without consulting God, and often learn to our sorrow how much grief we would have saved ourselves by first seeking His guidance as directed in James 4:13-15, “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow, For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this, or that.”


22:12.  “And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:”


In that day when they were busy fortifying Jerusalem, God was calling them to repentant confession of sin, and trust in Him; but they ignored Him.


22:13.  “And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die.”


In their folly they caroused, saying, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” their attitude being exactly the same as that of many today, who live only for present pleasure, heedless of the fact that the few brief years of earthly life are followed by the endless torment of hell and the lake or fire - or the eternal bliss of heaven, depending on whether they had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


22:14.  “And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts.”


This may not be taken to mean that at death all sin will be forgiven by God; but rather that death will end the ability to indulge in sin, and will instead begin the eternal torment of hell and the lake of fire, for all who die without having confessed their sin, and having trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. 


The twice repeated “Lord of hosts” is the assurance that God has the power to punish sin, and to continue for ever the punishment of all who die in unbelief.


22:15.  “Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,”


Shebna, meaning who built: tarry, I pray, was the master or comptroller of Hezekiah’s palace, the meanings of his name disclosing his resolve to have his name kept in perpetual remembrance by means of a magnificent mausoleum; the record of his evil aspiration making it clear that he is a type of the Tribulation age Beast, for few will have difficulty seeing in his desire for glory, a duplicate of Satan’s, the Beast’s spiritual master, whose wicked ambition is recorded in Isaiah, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High,” Isaiah 14:12-14.


22:16.  “What hast thou here? And whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulcher here, as he that heweth him out a sepulcher on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?”


It seems that Shebna, like many another before and after him, had made elaborate preparations for the continuation of his glory even after his death, by the erection of an elaborate and costly mausoleum hewn out of rock.  Nor is he alone in his folly!  The burial places of the world’s rich and famous bear eloquent testimony to man’s determination to perpetuate his own glory, even though the vast majority of such men are writhing in the torment of hell pending transfer to the awful lake of fire, where their agony will continue eternally.


22:17.  “Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.”


This was God’s assurance that Shebna’s corpse would never lie in the magnificent tomb he had prepared at much cost; nor would it have eased his torment even had his remains been laid there, for it matters not what becomes of our bodies, for they feel nothing after death.  It is only in resurrection that we will suffer everlasting torment, or enjoy eternal bliss, depending on whether we are raised again at the resurrection of life, or at the resurrection of damnation, see John 5:28-29, that resurrection depending on whether we die as believers or as unbelievers.


The literal captivity into which Shebna was carried (probably by the Assyrians), would end his glory, God’s “covering” him being generally understood to mean that he would become a man of no account, a nobody.


And so is it with the world’s great ones who die in unbelief.  Their earthly glory doesn’t follow them into eternity.  What folly then for a man to seek the adulation of men, instead of the commendation of God!


22:18.  “He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house.”


The “He” here is Jehovah, the violent turning and tossing like a ball, being a metaphoric allusion to the war that would result in Shebna’s being carried away prisoner to die in obscurity.  The “large country” to which he was taken is generally believed to have been Assyria.  The latter part of the verse means that the chariots in which he had trusted, and of which he had been so inordinately proud, would be captured by the enemy, to the shame of his master king Hezekiah.


22:19.  “And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.”


God was about to remove Shebna from office, and from his high position, the Assyrian king being the instrument God would use to execute His purposes.


It isn’t difficult to see in Shebna’s fall the foreshadowing of Satan’s and of the Beast’s at the end of the Great Tribulation.


22:20.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:”


“... that day” is the one described in the preceding verse relative to God’s destruction of Shebna. 


Eliakim means God will establish; and Hilkiah, the portion of Jehovah.  He is a type of Christ, for clearly that day of Eliakim’s promotion foreshadows the now imminent Millennium in which his great antitype the Lord Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords.


22:21. “And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.”


His being clothed with “thy robe” means that Eliakim would be invested with the authority of the fallen Shebna; while the girdle speaks of the Divine enablement with which God would endow him.  This continues to foreshadow Christ’s millennial glory, for clearly Eliakim is a type of Christ.


In the present context Jerusalem speaks of the political power and wisdom with which Eliakim would be invested; while the mention of Judah, meaning praise, points to his also being endowed with the spiritual discernment that would result in his ascribing to God all the glory.


His being “a father” to the people is the assurance that his rule would be characterized by benevolent wisdom and love.


22:22.  “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut and none shall open.”


His power would be benign, but absolute, as is also that of the Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom virtually the same words are used in Revelation 3:7, “... these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” 


22:23.  “And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.”


It was customary in that day to drive a strong peg into a wall of a dwelling, and to hang upon it items that were of value, or that were used frequently in connection with the operation of the house.  Eliakim’s being likened to such a peg points to his dependability and wisdom as governor of the people, the ultimate application, of course, being to the Lord Jesus Christ.


22:24.  “And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.”


Everything pertaining to the glory of God, and the well-being of the people, could be safely reposed in Eliakim; and what was true of him has its perfect fulfillment in Christ.


22:25.  “In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it.”


Many understand this verse to refer, not to Eliakim, but to his descendants, the fall of Judah coming during the future invasion of the land by the Babylonians.

[Isaiah 23]

Home Gospel Tracts Bible Studies Jim Melough Contact

     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
Portions of this website are copyrighted by the authors, and
all permissions and title to copyrights have been granted to Boundless Partners, Inc.

© 2000-2007 James Melough, ©2008 Boundless Partners