Isaiah 14:32 Commentaries: "How then will one answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD has founded Zion, And the afflicted of His people will seek refuge in it."
Isaiah 14:32
What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) What shall one then answer . . .?—The words obviously imply that the prophet either had received, or expected to receive, a message of inquiry from the Philistines, and that this is his answer. It seems not improbable, indeed, that the series of prophecies that follow were delivered in answer to such inquiries. The fame of the prophet had spread beyond the confines of Israel, and men of different nations came to Jerusalem to consult him. So Jeremiah’s oracles are delivered to the ambassadors who came to propose an alliance against Nebuchadnezzar in the time of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 27:3). Commonly, however, the words are referred to the embassies of congratulation, which came with plans of new alliances after the destruction of Sennacherib’s army (2Chronicles 32:23).

That the Lord hath founded Zion.—This is the answer to all such inquiries. Zion stands firm and safe in the protection of Jehovah. The “poor” (obviously those of Isaiah 14:30) shall trust (better, shall find refuge) in it. (Comp. Isaiah 28:16.) They need no foreign alliances, no arm of flesh.

Isaiah 14:32. What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation — At the same time that “the prophet sees, as it were, a thick cloud, coming from the north, darkening the heavens, an emblem of the calamity coming from that quarter on the Philistines, he sees the messengers of that nation, as in a common danger, going to the king of Judah, and deliberating concerning the common safety. While he beholds the first he turns his discourse to the Philistines, and excites them to lamentation: but observing the second, he teaches the Jews what answer they should give to the messengers of that nation on this occasion:” see Jeremiah 47:2, and Vitringa. What shall a Jew say in that day, when not only the Philistines, but even the Jews themselves, shall fall by the hands of one and the same enemy? That the Lord hath founded Zion, &c. — They shall give them this answer, That although Zion at present be in a very distressed and deplorable condition, and seems to be forsaken by her God, yet she stands upon a firm foundation, and God, who first founded her, will again restore and establish her; and his poor, despised people, shall resort to her, as to a strong and sure refuge. This verse seems evidently to be added, to express the very different condition of God’s people from that of the Philistines, in the events of the Babylonian invasion: that, whereas the Philistines should be irrevocably destroyed thereby, and no remnant of them should be left, as was said Isaiah 14:30; God’s people, though they should be sorely scourged, and carried into captivity, yet should be strangely preserved, and, after some years, delivered, and restored to their own land; whereby it would appear that Zion stood upon a sure foundation, and although it was grievously shaken, yet it could not be utterly and finally overthrown. 14:28-32 Assurance is given of the destruction of the Philistines and their power, by famine and war. Hezekiah would be more terrible to them than Uzziah had been. Instead of rejoicing, there would be lamentation, for the whole land would be ruined. Such destruction will come upon the proud and rebellious, but the Lord founded Zion for a refuge to poor sinners, who flee from the wrath to come, and trust in his mercy through Christ Jesus. Let us tell all around of our comforts and security, and exhort them to seek the same refuge and salvation.What shall one then answer - The design of this verse is obvious. It is to show that Judea would be safe from the invasions of the Philistines, and that God was the protector of Zion. For this purpose the prophet refers to messengers or ambassadors who should be sent for any purpose to Jerusalem, either to congratulate Hezekiah, or to form an alliance with the Jews. The prophet asks what answer or information should be given to such messengers when they came respecting their state? The reply is, that Yahweh had evinced his purpose to protect his people.

Of the nation - Of any nation whose ambassadors should be sent into Judea.

That the Lord hath founded Zion - That he is its original founder, and that he has now shown his regard for it by protecting it from the Philistines. It would be safe from their attacks, and Yahweh would thus show that he had it under his own protection. The Septuagint renders this, 'And what shall the kings of the Gentiles then answer? That the Lord hath founded Zion.' The scope of the passage is the assurance that Zion would be safe, being founded and preserved by Yahweh; and that the Philistines had no cause of triumph at the death of Ahaz, since God would still be the protector of his people. The doctrine established by this passage is, that in all the changes which take place by the death of kings, princes, magistrates, and ministers; and in all the revolutions which occur in kingdoms, the enemies of the people of God have no cause for rejoicing. God is the protector of his church; and he will show that he has founded Zion, and that his people are safe, No weapon that is formed against his people shall prosper, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church.

Shall trust in it - In Zion. It was a strongly fortified city, God was its protector, and in times of calamity his people could betake themselves there in safety. In this strong place the most weak and defenseless - the poorest of the people, would be safe. In the church of God, the poor are the objects of as deep regard as the rich; the humble, the meek, the weak, the feeble, are there safe, and no power of an enemy can reach or affect them. God is their defender and their friend; and in his arms they are secure.

32. messengers of the nation—When messengers come from Philistia to enquire as to the state of Judea, the reply shall be, that the Lord … (Ps 87:1, 5; 102:16).

poor—(Zep 3:12).

What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? what shall a Jew say to the people of other nations, who shall either be sent or come to inquire concerning the state of Zion in that day, when not only the Philistines, but even the Jews themselves, shall fall by the hands of one and the same enemy?

Nation is put collectively for nations, as gate and city for gates and cities in the foregoing verse. They shall give them this answer, That although Zion at present be in a very distressed and deplorable condition, and seems to be forsaken by her God; yet she stands upon a firm foundation, and God, who first founded her, will again restore and establish her, and his poor despised people shall resort to her, as to a strong and sure refuge. What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation?.... Or nations, of any of the nations. Not the messengers sent to Hezekiah, Isaiah 39:1 but rather such as were sent to him, to congratulate him upon his victory over the Philistines; or any others that were sent, and came from other nations, that inquired about these matters, and the answer returned is,

That the Lord hath founded Zion; and not Hezekiah; he had given his people victory over their enemies, and protected, defended, and established them, and therefore ought to have all the glory:

and the poor of his people shall trust in it; or, "betake themselves to it"; as to a place of safety, being founded by the Lord, and under his protection. So the church of God, which often goes by the name of Zion in Scripture, is of his founding; he has laid Christ as the foundation of it, and such as are sensible of their spiritual poverty, misery, and danger, trust in him; not in Zion, but in the foundation God has laid in Zion, or built his church upon.

What shall one then answer the {y} messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded {z} Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.

(y) Who will come to enquire of the state of the Church.

(z) They will answer that the Lord defends his Church and those that join themselves to it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. The oracle ends, in a manner characteristic of Isaiah, with a piece of practical advice to the political leaders of the state. Some words have probably dropped out of the first half of the verse.

the messengers of the nation] are no doubt Philistine envoys endeavouring to negotiate an alliance with Judah. They are probably to be regarded as actually waiting in Jerusalem while the court deliberates on the expediency of joining the rebellion. The prophet’s answer is unhesitating.

that the Lord hath founded Zion] A leading principle of Isaiah’s later ministry; see on ch. Isaiah 8:18, Isaiah 28:16, and General Introduction, pp. xxxvi, lxii.

the poor of his people …] Better as R.V., in her shall the afflicted of his people take refuge.Verse 32. - What shall one then answer, etc.? What answer shall be made to the Philistine ambassadors, when they come to Jerusalem and entreat for aid? Simply this - that God has founded and will protect Zion, and that the poor and weak among God's people - whether Jews or Philistines - had better betake themselves to the shelter of the "city of the great King."



There now follows, apparently out of all connection, another prophecy against Asshur. It is introduced here quite abruptly, like a fragment; and it is an enigma how it got here, and what it means here, though not an enigma without solution. This short Assyrian passage reads as follows. "Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, that takes place; to break Asshur to pieces in my land, and upon my mountain will I tread him under foot: then his yoke departs from them, and his burden will depart from their neck. This is the purpose that is purposed over the whole earth; and this the hand that is stretched out over all nations. For Jehovah of hosts hath purposed, and who could bring it to nought? And His hand that is stretched out, who can turn it back?" It is evidently a totally different judicial catastrophe which is predicted here, inasmuch as the world-power upon which it falls is not called Babel or Chasdim, but Asshur, which cannot possibly be taken as a name for Babylon (Abravanel, Lowth, etc.). Babylon is destroyed by the Medes, whereas Asshur falls to ruin in the mountain-land of Jehovah, which it is seeking to subjugate - a prediction which was literally fulfilled. And only when this had taken place did a fitting occasion present itself for a prophecy against Babel, the heiress of the ruined Assyrian power. Consequently the two prophecies against Babel and Asshur form a hysteron-proteron as they stand here. The thought which occasioned this arrangement, and which it is intended to set forth, is expressed by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 50:18-19, "Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria." The one event was a pledge of the other. At a time when the prophecy against Assyria had actually been fulfilled, the prophet attached it to the still unfulfilled prophecy against Babylon, to give a pledge of the fulfilment of the latter. This was the pedestal upon which the Massâh Bâbel was raised. And it was doubly suited for this, on account of its purely epilogical tone from Isaiah 14:26 onwards.
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