Isaiah 32:1
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
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(1) Behold, a king shall reign . . .—More accurately, the king. Isaiah 32:1-8 form a separate section, standing in the same relation to the foregoing chapter that the picture of the ideal king in Isaiah 11 does to the anti-Assyrian prophecy of Isaiah 10 “The king” is accordingly the true Anointed one of the future, not, of course without a reference to the character of Hezekiah as the partial and present embodiment of the idea. The addition of princes” worthy of their king emphasises this reference. The words are as an echo of Proverbs 8:15-16.

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.

32:1-8 Christ our righteous King, and his true disciples, are evidently here intended. The consolations and graces of his Spirit are as rivers of water in this dry land; and as the overhanging rock affords refreshing shade and shelter to the weary traveller in the desert, so his power, truth, and love, yield the believer the only real protection and refreshment in the weary land through which he journeys to heaven. Christ bore the storm himself, to keep it off from us. To him let the trembling sinner flee for refuge; for he alone can protect and refresh us in every trial. See what pains sinners take in sin; they labour at it, their hearts are intent upon it, and with art they work iniquity; but this is our comfort, that they can do no more mischief than God permits. Let us seek to have our hearts more freed from selfishness. The liberal soul devises liberal things concerning God, and desires that He will grant wisdom and prudence, the comforts of his presence, the influence of his Spirit, and in due time the enjoyment of his glory.Behold, a king - That is, Hezekiah. That it refers to him is apparent from the connection. The reign of Ahaz had been one of oppression and idolatry. This was to be succeeded by the reign of one under whom the rights of the people would be secured, and under whom there would be a state of general prosperity. This may have been uttered while Ahaz was on the throne, or it may have been when Hezekiah began to reign. Perhaps the latter is the more probable, as Ahaz might not have tolerated anything that would have looked like a reflection on his own reign; nor, perhaps, while he was on the throne would Isaiah have given a description that would have been a contrast between his reign and that of his successor.

Shall reign in righteousness - That is, a righteous king shall reign; or his administration shall be one of justice, and strongly in contrast with that of his predecessor. This was certainly the general characteristic of the reign of Hezekiah.

And princes shall rule - Hebrew, 'For princes, or, 'as to princes' (לשׂרים les'ârı̂ym). Lowth proposes to read this without the ל (l), as the ancient versions do. But it is not necessary to change the text. It may be rendered, 'As to princes, they shall rule' (compare Psalm 16:3). The 'princes' here denote the various officers of government, or those to whom the administration was confided.

In judgment - That this is a just description of the reign of Hezekiah is apparent from the history, see 2 Kings 18:3-6 : 'He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the grove. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him, for he clave unto the Lord, and departed not from following him.'


Isa 32:1-20. Messiah's Kingdom; Desolations, to Be Succeeded by Lasting Peace, the Spirit Having Been Poured Out.

The times of purity and happiness which shall follow the defeat of the enemies of Jehovah's people (Isa 32:1-8). The period of wrath before that happy state (Isa 32:9-14). The assurance of the final prosperity of the Church is repeated (Isa 32:15-20).

1. 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 is fully applicable (Ho 3:5; Zec 9:9; see on [747]Isa 11:3-5). 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 (Eze 21:27; Da 7:13, 14).

princes—subordinate; referring to all in authority under Christ in the coming kingdom on earth, for example, the apostles, &c. (Lu 22:30; 1Co 6:2; 2Ti 2:12; Re 2:26, 27; 3:21).Christ’s kingdom, and its blessings, Isaiah 32:1-8. Careless women shall be troubled, Isaiah 32:9-11, and the land laid waste, Isaiah 32:12-14, until a restoration, Isaiah 32:15-20.

This seems to me to be a distinct prophecy from the former, and delivered at another time, and probably before that which is related in the former chapters. For this is certain, and confessed by all, that the prophecies are not always set down in that order in which the prophets delivered them. The foregoing prophecy seems to have been delivered, not in the time of Ahaz, for he sent to the Assyrian, and not to the Egyptian, for help; but in the days of Hezekiah, who rebelled against the king of Assyria, as is said, 2 Kings 18:7, and was too prone to trust upon the staff of Egypt, as the Assyrian expressly chargeth him there, to which course it is likely he was drawn or tempted by some of his wicked princes and counsellors, whom the prophet therefore severely censures and condemns in the two foregoing chapters. And this seems to have been delivered in the time of Ahaz, and to speak of Hezekiah, and of his righteous and happy government. But withal, as Hezekiah and his reign was an eminent type of Christ, and of his kingdom; so this prophecy looks through Hezekiah unto Christ, as many other scriptures in their literal sense do unquestionably concern David, which yet have a mystical sense, and are also meant of Christ, in whom those things were more fully and eminently accomplished.

A king; Hezekiah, a type of Christ, and Christ typified by him.

Shall reign; 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, as the history plainly declareth.

Princes; the ministers of state, and justice, and war under the king. For a wise and good king will take care to have like ministers.

Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness,.... Not Hezekiah, as the Jewish writers; at least only as a type, as some writers interpret it; rather Christ himself, who is "King" not only of the whole world, and of the kings of it in general, but in particular is King of saints; and who "reigns" now in and over his church and people, being set as King by his Father over his holy hill of Zion, and, being exalted at his right hand, is made and declared Lord and Christ; and where he does and will reign until all enemies are put under his feet, and ere long will reign gloriously before his ancients in Jerusalem, Isaiah 24:23 and his reign is "in righteousness"; in a righteous manner, according to the rules of justice and equity: all his laws are just; his ways and methods of administration are right; his sceptre is a sceptre of righteousness: righteousness is the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins:

and princes shall rule in judgment: the ministers of the Gospel, pastors of churches, who are set over them in the Lord, and have the rule over them; and who rule well, and in judgment, when they rule according to the word of God; when they preach the Gospel, and administer ordinances, and do all the business of Christ's house, according to the instructions, laws, and rules he has given.

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

(a) This prophecy is of Hezekiah, who was a figure of Christ, and therefore it should chiefly be referred to him.

(b) By judgment and justice is meant an upright government, both in policy and religion.

1. and princes shall rule] Some render emphatically: “and as for princes—they shall rule,” on account of a preposition in the Hebr.; but this is probably only a copyist’s error. On “righteousness” and “judgment,” see ch. Isaiah 1:21; cf. Isaiah 11:4-5.

1, 2. It is characteristic of Isaiah that the renovation of society is represented as commencing at the top, with the king and aristocracy. (Cf. ch. Isaiah 1:26, Isaiah 3:1-7) The ideal king has already been described (ch. Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:1-4) as supernaturally endowed with the virtues of a perfect ruler; here the emphasis lies on the manifestation of these qualities in righteous government; and this, according to the constitutional principles of Isaiah’s time, required an order of state officials animated by the same spirit as the king himself.

Ch. Isaiah 32:1-8. The ideal commonwealth of the Messianic Age

This passage, although treated by many expositors as the continuation of ch. 31, bears all the marks of an independent prophecy. Its insertion in the present group of discourses is sufficiently explained by the picture it gives of a reformed upper class, in contrast with the irreligious and unscrupulous nobility against whom the previous chapters have been mainly directed. The time of its actual composition cannot be determined with certainty, but it is perhaps most naturally assigned to the close of Isaiah’s ministry, when his mind was occupied with the hope of the ideal future. Much has been made of the fact that the figure of the Messianic King (Isaiah 32:1) is less idealised than in the great prophecies of ch. Isaiah 9:1-6 and Isaiah 11:1-4. But this circumstance is easily accounted for by the leading idea of the prophecy (which is the transformation of social relationships), and cannot be safely used as a criterion of date. Still less does it furnish an argument against the Isaianic authorship of the passage. It is true, however, that in its somewhat laboured didactic style, and in the terms employed, the passage differs widely from anything else in the acknowledged writings of Isaiah; and the suggestion that it may have owed its final literary form to a later hand cannot be altogether ignored.

The contents of the prophecy are as follows:—

(1) Isaiah 32:1-2. A perfectly just and beneficent government will be established; king and nobles alike being endowed with the virtues necessary for their office, and yielding protection to the poor.

(2) Isaiah 32:3-4. Public opinion also will be enlightened and purified; the people will no longer be misled by false and superficial judgments, but even the most ignorant will be gifted with the faculty of sound moral discernment.

(3) Isaiah 32:5-8. The consequences of this will be that “the aristocracy of birth and wealth will be replaced by an aristocracy of character” (Delitzsch); men will find their proper level and be estimated at their true worth (5). To this is appended an analysis of the two contrasted types, the “churl” and the true nobleman (6–8).

Verses 1-8. - A PROPHECY OF MESSIAH'S KINGDOM. It is generally allowed that this prophecy is Messianic; but some critics insist that it is not so "in a narrow sense." They regard Isaiah as expecting Messiah's kingdom to follow immediately on the discomfiture of Sennacherib, and as looking to Hezekiah to inaugurate it. According to this view, Hezekiah, renovated in character, was to be the Messiah, and might have been so had he been "equal to the demands providentially made upon him." But he was not; and the task of establishing the kingdom fell to "another," at a later date. It is simpler to regard the prophet as looking for a greater than Hezekiah (comp. Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6), but ignorant how soon, or how late, his coming would be. Verse 1. - A king... princes. Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne translate, "the king... the princes;" but the Hebrew gives no article. The announcement is vague, and corresponds to those of other prophets, as of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:5), "Behold, the days come that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper;" and of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion... behold, thy King cometh unto thee." The "princes" of the text are the minor authorities whom the king would set over his kingdom - i.e., the apostles and their successors. In righteousness... in judgment. Messiah's rule will be a rule of strict justice and right, offering the strongest contrast to that under which the Jews have been living since the time of Jehoshaphat (see Isaiah 1:15-23; Isaiah 3:1-12, etc.). Isaiah 32:1For Judah, sifted, delivered, and purified, there now begins a new ear. Righteous government, as a blessing for the people, is the first beneficent fruit. "Behold, the king will reign according to righteousness; and the princes, according to right will they command. And every one will be like a shelter from the wind, and a covert from the storm; like water-brooks in a dry place, like the shadow of a gigantic rock in a languishing land." The kingdom of Asshur is for ever destroyed; but the kingdom of Judah rises out of the state of confusion into which it has fallen through its God - forgetting policy and disregard of justice. King and princes now rule according to the standards that have been divinely appointed and revealed. The Lamed in ūlesârı̄m (and the princes) is that of reference (quod attinet ad, as in Psalm 16:3 and Ecclesiastes 9:4), the exponent of the usual casus abs. (Ges. 146, 2); and the two other Lameds are equivalent to κατά, secundum (as in Jeremiah 30:11). The figures in Isaiah 32:2 are the same as in Isaiah 25:4. The rock of Asshur (i.e., Sennacherib) has departed, and the princes of Asshur have deserted their standards, merely to save themselves. The king and princes of Judah are now the defence of their nation, and overshadow it like colossal walls of rock. This is the first fruit of the blessing.
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