Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.Isaiah 32:1. Behold, a king — Hezekiah, a type of Christ, and Christ typified by him, shall reign in righteousness — Therefore Hezekiah was not king when this prophecy was delivered. And whereas some say that he speaks of the good government of Hezekiah, after the destruction of Sennacherib, it is easy to observe, that his government was as good before that time as afterward; and that in the very beginning of his reign he ruled with righteousness and the fear of God. And princes — The ministers of state, judges, and magistrates under the king, shall rule in judgment — Shall execute their offices with integrity and faithfulness. “Ahaz and his princes had ruled very wickedly, but a king was about to mount the throne who would reign in righteousness, employ upright magistrates, and protect the people, both from internal oppression, by his equitable administration, and from external invaders, by his faith and prayers.” — Scott. But although these expressions are, in some sort, applicable to Hezekiah and his good reign, they are much more true of Christ and his reign, as are also several other expressions here used, especially those in the third and fourth verses, which evidently relate to happier times than Hezekiah lived to see. And therefore we may justly say, “That the reformation which Hezekiah made was but a shadow of those greater improvements in grace and holiness, which properly belong to the times of the gospel. — Lowth.
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.Isaiah 32:2-4. And a man — Either the man or king spoken of, or each of his princes, shall be a hiding-place — A protection to the people under their government, especially to such as are oppressed or injured by those that are more powerful than they; from the wind — From the rage and violence of evil men. As rivers of water in a dry place — Not less refreshing and acceptable shall this king and his princes be to their subjects. And as the shadow of a great rock — In a dry and scorched country, which is called weary, because it makes travellers weary; as death is called pale in other authors, because it makes men’s faces pale. And the eyes of them that see — Of the people, who shall not shut their eyes and ears against the good counsels and examples of their religious king and rulers, as they have done formerly; both princes and people shall be reformed. The heart also of the rash — Who were hasty in judging of things; which is an argument of ignorance and folly; shall understand knowledge — Shall become more knowing and considerate in their judgments and actions. And the tongue of the stammerers — Who used to speak of the things of God darkly, doubtfully, and unwillingly; shall be ready to speak plainly — As men’s understandings shall be enlightened, so their speech shall be reformed: which, though it was in part fulfilled in Hezekiah, yet was truly and fully accomplished only by Christ, who wrought this wonderful change in an innumerable company, both of Jews and Gentiles.
And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.
The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.
The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.Isaiah 32:5-6. The vile person — Base and worthless men; shall be no more called liberal — Shall no longer be reputed honourable, because of their high and honourable places, but wickedness shall be discovered wherever it is, and virtue manifested and rewarded. Nor the churl said to be bountiful — The sordid and covetous man; but under this one vice all vices are understood, as under the opposite virtue of bountifulness all virtues are comprehended. For the vile person will speak villany — Men shall no longer be miscalled; for every one will discover what he is by his words and actions. And will work iniquity — He will, from time to time, be devising wickedness, that he may execute it when he hath opportunity. To practise hypocrisy — To do bad things, though with a pretence of religion and justice. To utter error — To pass unjust sentences, directly contrary to the command of God. To cause the drink, &c. — Whereby they take away the bread and drink of the poor.
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.
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.Isaiah 32:7-8. The instruments also of the churl are evil — Hebrew, כלי, the vessels. It is a word of a very general signification among the Hebrews, and signifies any person or thing which is employed in a man’s service. The sense is, that such covetous or wicked princes most willingly choose and employ wicked men in their affairs, because such men will, without any regard to conscience or justice: serve all their exorbitant desires. It includes, however, his counsels, practices, and arts, which are here declared to be generally evil. He deviseth wicked devices — He uses all his understanding and art to do injuries to others; to destroy the poor with lying words — With false and unrighteous decrees. When the needy speaketh right — When their cause is just and good. But the liberal deviseth liberal things — He who is truly liberal and virtuous, will show it by designing and practising liberal or virtuous actions. And by liberal things shall he stand — He who does so will not destroy himself thereby, as wicked men falsely suppose, but establish and advance himself. “The Christian reader need not be told how exactly the particulars, expressed in these verses, belong to Christ’s kingdom, who is a hiding-place from the storm of sin and the world, John 16:33; whose kingdom is a kingdom of light, of faith, of love; all whose subjects are enlightened by the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; who gave eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, tongues to the dumb, and, by his divine grace, changed the most churlish and illiberal dispositions into generosity and love.” Vitringa.
But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.
Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.Isaiah 32:9-12. Rise up, &c. — The prophet, to show the sinners and hypocrites in Zion, (Isaiah 33:14,) that they must not expect to receive blessings from God, such as he had just now predicted, while they remained in a state of impenitence, denounces against them the calamities which should come upon them; 1st, By the Assyrian, and then by the Babylonish destruction. Ye women that are at ease — That indulge yourselves in idleness and luxury; shake off your carelessness and sloth, and prepare yourselves to hear the sentence pronounced by God concerning you. Hear my voice, ye careless daughters — Hebrew, בשׂחות, ye confident and secure, who are insensible of your sin and danger. Many days and years — Hebrew, ימים על שׁנה, days above a year; that is, a year and some days: which, it seems, expresses the time of the continuance of the judgment by the Assyrians; that it should last some days above one year, as indeed it did, and no longer; for Hezekiah reigned in all but twenty-nine years, 2 Kings 18:2. And Sennacherib invaded the country in his fourteenth year; and, after his defeat and departure, God promised and added to him fifteen years more, 2 Kings 20:6. For the vintage shall fail — During the time of the Assyrian invasion. The gathering shall not come — Namely, of the other fruits of the earth; as that feast which was observed after the gathering of all the fruits was called the feast of ingathering, Exodus 23:16. Tremble, ye women, &c. — It seems probable, from these repeated addresses to the women, that those of Jerusalem especially, and, perhaps, also of many of the other towns in Judea, were, at that time, peculiarly vain, luxurious, dissipated, and wanton, and regardless of all religion. The prophet, therefore, especially addresses them, and warns them that a time of trouble awaited them. Strip ye and make ye bare — Put off your ornaments, as God commanded upon a like occasion, (Exodus 33:5,) that you may put on sackcloth instead of them, as mourners and penitents used to do. They shall lament for the teats — For the pleasant and fruitful fields which, like teats, yielded you plentiful and excellent nourishment.
Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.
Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.
They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:Isaiah 32:13-14. Upon the land, &c., shall come up thorns and briers — If any of you think there is no great cause for such trembling and lamentation, on account of a calamity which shall last but for a year and some days, know that this affliction by the Assyrians is but an earnest of further and sorer judgments. For the time is coming when this land shall be laid desolate; and, instead of vines and other fruits, it shall yield nothing but briers and thorns. Yea, upon all the houses of joy — Upon that ground where now your houses stand, in which you take your fill of mirth and pleasure. Because the palaces — Hebrew, ארמון, the palace, the king’s house, and other magnificent buildings in the city, shall be forsaken —
Shall be destitute of inhabitants. The multitude of the city shall be left — Shall be forsaken of God and given up into their enemies’ hands. The forts, &c., shall be for dens for ever — For a long time; a joy of wild asses — Desolate places, in which wild asses delight to be. “This description,” says Bishop Lowth, “of impending distresses belongs to other times than that of Sennacherib’s invasion, from which they were so soon delivered. It must, at least, extend to the ruin of the country and city by the Chaldeans. And the promise of blessings which follows was not fulfilled under the Mosaic dispensation; they belong to the kingdom of Messiah.”
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;
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.Isaiah 32:15. Until the Spirit be poured upon us, &c. — And this calamity shall, in a manner, continue until the time come in which God will pour, or, as יערה, properly signifies, reveal, that is, evidently and plentifully confer his Spirit upon his people. Which was done, in some sort, upon their return from Babylon, when God, by his Spirit, moved Cyrus to give them liberty of returning to Jerusalem, and the people to return and build the city and temple. But it was far more clearly and fully accomplished in the days of the Messiah, when God’s Spirit was in a most evident and glorious manner poured forth upon the apostles and other believing Jews, to the astonishment of their very adversaries; and when the following promises were, in a good measure, fulfilled, and are more fully to be accomplished in God’s due time. And the wilderness be a fruitful field — Which expressions are to be understood allegorically of the conversion of the Gentile nations, which had been long barren, and of the rejection of the Jews in the time of the Messiah. See on Isaiah 29:17.
Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.Isaiah 32:16-18. Then judgment — Just judgment, as the next clause explains it, shall dwell in the wilderness — In what had formerly been a wilderness, namely, among the Gentiles, now supposed to be converted to Christianity; by whom righteousness also shall be practised, and among whom it shall remain. And the work of righteousness shall be peace — The effect of this righteousness shall be peace of conscience, possessed by all that practise it, and tranquillity, of mind, as well as peace with God. Or, perhaps, outward prosperity may be chiefly intended. And the effect — Hebrew, עבדה, the service, of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever — השׁקשׂ ובשׂח, rest and confidence. The being truly righteous before God, and walking in his ordinances and commandments blameless, (Luke 1:6,) shall be attended with an assurance of God’s favour, and a dependance on him for the fulfilment of his promises; from whence will arise a holy serenity and security of mind, with a lively and joyful expectation of eternal felicity, of which no external circumstances of prosperity or adversity can deprive the possessors. And my people — The converted Gentiles, who shall then be my people; or the Jews upon their conversion to Christianity in the latter days; shall dwell in a peaceable habitation — Shall be safe and happy under the peculiar protection and care of God.
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.Isaiah 32:19. When — Or, rather, And it shall hail — As my blessings shall be poured down upon my people, who, from a wilderness, are turned into a fruitful field, so my judgments (which are signified by hail, Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 28:17, and elsewhere) shall fall upon them who were a fruitful field, but are turned into a forest, as was said Isaiah 32:15; that is, upon the unbelieving and rebellious Jews. And the city — Jerusalem, which, though now it was the seat of God’s worship and people, yet he foresaw would be the great enemy of the Messiah; shall be low in a low place — Hebrew, תשׁפל בשׁפלה, shall be humbled with humiliation; that is, shall be greatly humbled, or brought very low.
Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.Isaiah 32:20. Blessed are ye that sow, &c. — As the barren forest shall be destroyed, so the fruitful field shall be improved and bring forth much fruit, which is signified by a declaration of the blessedness of them that sow in it; beside all waters — In all moist and flat grounds which are likely to yield good fruit; or, in every well-watered place, as Bishop Lowth renders it, who quotes Sir John Chardin as observing, that the place exactly answers the manner of planting rice in the East; concerning which, see the note on Ecclesiastes 11:1. But this passage, as well as that in the foregoing verses, is to be understood mystically of the times of the gospel, and of the great and happy success of the ministers of it, whose spiritual sowing of the word, accompanied with the influences of the Holy Ghost, produced much fruit in the Gentile nations, to the glory of God and their own comfort.