Isaiah 32

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

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A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

32:1.  “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.”


While this may be taken as a general statement concerning the integrity with which kings are to rule, and leaders are to execute judgment, the reference is specifically to the Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, when all of this will be literally fulfilled, He being the righteous King referred to here.


32:2.  “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.”


The “Man” is the Lord Jesus Christ, the “hiding place” of all who trust Him as Savior, see John 3:8.


The wind is a Biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit, see, e.g., “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”  See also Acts 2:2-4, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting .... And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost ....”  In the present instance however, the wind portrays Him as the Executor of God’s judgment against all who resist His striving, and who reject God’s pardon and gift of eternal life.


The “rivers of water in a dry place” describe the Lord Jesus Christ as presented in the Scriptures, for the cleansing and refreshment of all who trust Him as Savior, see John 4:10, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water,” and John 4:14, and “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”


He is also the “great rock” in the “weary land” of this sin-sick world.  All who trust Him as Savior dwell under the shadow of His wings, sheltered from the burning heat of life’s troubles and cares, knowing that “all things work together for good to those who love God,” Romans 8:28, knowing that every event of life is ordered or permitted by Him.


32:3.  “And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.”


The fact that the first application is to converted Israel in the Millennium doesn’t preclude its application to all believers.  Genuine converts are endowed with the ability to see the deeper spiritual meaning lying beneath the surface of the Bible’s literal language, and their response is to yield obedience.


32:4.  “The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.”


“... rash” means hasty, hurried, hotheaded, impulsive.  Whatever a man may have been in his unconverted state can be transformed by his obedience to the written Word; and he who had at best been able to speak uncertainly about spiritual things, will be able to bear an effective testimony to the saving grace of God.


32:5.  “The vile person shall be no more called liberal (noble), nor the churl said to be bountiful.”


“... vile” is also translated base, decadent, impious, scoundrel, ungodly; and “churl” is rendered crafty, knave, villain.  These evil descriptions fit many who hold high positions in business, politics and religion today, but it will not be so in the Millennium.


32:6.  “For the vile person will speak villainy, 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.”


“... vile” is also rendered base, decadent, impious, ungodly; and “villainy” means that which is base, iniquitous, profane.  Such a person will continually plot evil, and speak lies about the Lord.


His withholding food and drink from the hungry and thirsty may have a spiritual significance as well as a literal, for Scripture is man’s spiritual food and drink, so that the description fits the hordes of Christendom’s unconverted hypocritical clerics who are guilty of this very sin. Professedly the servants of God, they are in reality the slaves of Satan.


32:7.  “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.”


“... churl” is also translated knave, crafty one, villain, evil man.  The description is of men similar in character to the hypocritical Jewish leaders whom the Lord denounced so scathingly in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”


The reference is generally understood to be to the corruption of the law courts where the poor were often condemned on the lying testimony of their rich antagonists; nor has anything changed since that day: he who can afford the highest priced lawyer is still the litigant most likely to win a favorable decision.


32:8.  “But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.”


“... liberal” as used here means noble, another translation of this verse being, “But the noble man’s plans are noble and nobly does he stand by them,” Phillips; another rendering being, “But the man of noble mind forms noble designs and stands firm in his nobility,” NEB   


32:9.  “Rise up ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.”


As to why the word was addressed to the women, Jenning’s comment is that, “The women are here addressed because of the peculiar sensitiveness of the feminine temperament, quick to catch the first sight of coming danger and to take alarm.”


Another is that the women tend to mold the character of society, since the children during their most formative years are under the influence of their mothers more than of their fathers; and even husbands are influenced by their wives to a greater extent than is generally acknowledged.


32:10.  “Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.”


This verse is also translated, “In little more than a year you will shudder, you complacent women; for the vintage will fail, the fruit harvest will not come,” RSV.  God was going to lay His hand upon the nation in chastisement because of their sinfulness.


32:11.  “Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.”


This was the prophet’s plea for them to heed his warning, and to evince genuine repentance by replacing their costly raiment with sackcloth, but his plea fell on deaf ears.


32:12.  “They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.”


A better translation of “lament for the teats” is “beat upon your breasts,” an extravagant but common way of expressing deep sorrow, the cause of that sorrow being the coming famine - the barrenness of the fields and vines.


32:13.  “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:”


Instead of abundant crops the land would produce thorns and briars.  The careless joy of the city would give way to weeping and wailing.


32:14.  “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;”


This anticipates conditions following the attack of the city by the Romans, but “... for ever” is obviously not to he taken literally, but rather as meaning a “long time.”


32:15.  “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.”


The conversion of the wilderness into a “fruitful field ... counted for a forest” means that formerly barren land would become abundantly fruitful.


The partial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost foreshadows the fuller outpouring that will occur in the Millennium when these conditions will prevail.


32:16.  “Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.”


This means that righteousness will then reign world-wide.


32:17.  “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”


When righteousness reigns security and peace will abound.


32:18.  “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places:”


All of this will be fulfilled literally in the Millennium, but even today it can be the experience of every obedient believer, for God’s assurance is that “All things work together for good to those who love God,” Romans 8:28.  The ultimate application however, is to the believer’s experience in heaven where the promised peace will be eternal.


32:19.  “When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.”


This verse is also translated, “But first the hail-storm must do its work, forest be laid low, cities leveled with the ground,” Knox.  The reference here seems to be to the terrible Tribulation judgments that will precede the Millennium, “the forest” being a metaphor for the people who are likened to trees.


32:20.  “Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.”


The Amplified translation of this verse reads, “Happy and fortunate are you who cast your seed upon all waters [when the river overflows its banks; for the seed will sink into the mud and when the waters subside will spring up; you will find it after many days in an abundant harvest], and can safely send forth the ox and the donkey [to range freely].”


The spiritual counterpart of literal sowing is the spreading of the good news of the gospel, the overflowing water of the river representing earth’s burgeoning billions, see Ecclesiastes 11:1, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”  Our responsibility is to sow the good seed of the Gospel, leaving to God the production of a harvest, i.e., souls saved.  After many days, i.e., when we are in heaven, we will see the result of our sowing in the form of those we have led to Christ.


The literal abundance of the millennial era is declared in that the animals will be allowed to graze in the grain fields.

[Isaiah 33]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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