Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
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 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).
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.
2. a man—rather, the man Christ [Lowth]; it is as "the Son of man" He is to reign, as it was as Son of man He suffered (Mt 26:64; Joh 5:27; 19:5). Not as Maurer explains, "every one of the princes shall be," &c.
And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.
3. them that see—the seers or prophets.
them that hear—the people under instruction (Isa 35:5, 6).
The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.
4. rash—rather, "the hasty"; contrast "shall not make haste" (Isa 28:16); the reckless who will not take time to weigh religious truth aright. Or else, the well-instructed [Horsley].
stammers—those who speak confusedly on divine things (compare Ex 4:10-12; Jer 1:6; Mt 10:19, 20). Or, rather, those drunken scorners who in stammering style imitated Isaiah's warnings to mock them [Maurer] (Isa 28:7-11, 13, 14, 22; 29:20); in this view, translate, "speak uprightly" (agreeably to the divine law); not as English Version, referring to the distinctness of articulation, "plainly."
The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.
5. vile—rather, "fool" [Lowth]; that is, ungodly (Ps 14:1; 74:18).
churl—rather, "fraudulent" [Gesenius].
bountiful—religiously. The atheistic churl, who envies the believer his hope "full of immortality," shall no longer be held as a patriot struggling for the emancipation of mankind from superstition [Horsley].
rivers—as refreshing as water and the cool shade are to the heated traveller (Isa 35:6, 7; 41:18).
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.
6. vile … villainy—rather, "the (irreligious) fool … (his) folly."
will speak—rather, "present"; for (so far is the "fool" from deserving the epithet "noble-minded") the fool "speaketh" folly and "worketh," &c.
hypocrisy—rather, "profligacy" [Horsley].
error—impiety, perverse arguments.
hungry—spiritually (Mt 5:6).
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.
7. churl—"the fraudulent"; this verse refers to the last clause of Isa 32:5; as Isa 32:6 referred to its first clause.
speaketh right—pleadeth a just cause (Isa 29:21); spiritually, "the poor man's cause" is the divine doctrine, his rule of faith and practice.
But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.
8. liberal—rather, "noble-minded."
stand—shall be approved under the government of the righteous King.
Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.
9-20. Address to the women of Jerusalem who troubled themselves little about the political signs of the times, but lived a life of self-indulgence (Isa 3:16-23); the failure of food through the devastations of the enemy is here foretold, being what was most likely to affect them as mothers of families, heretofore accustomed to every luxury. Vitringa understands "women—daughters" as the cities and villages of Judea (Eze 16:1-63). See Am 6:1.
Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.
10. Many days and years—rather, "In little more than a year" [Maurer]; literally, "days upon a year" (so Isa 29:1).
vintage shall fail—through the arrival of the Assyrian invader. As the wheat harvest is omitted, Isaiah must look for the invasion in the summer or autumn of 714 B.C., when the wheat would have been secured already, and the later fruit "gathering," and vintage would be still in danger.
Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.
11. strip you—of your gay clothing. (See Isa 2:19, 21).
They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
12. lament for … teats—rather, shall smite on their breasts in lamentation "for thy pleasant fields" (Na 2:7) [Maurer]. "Teats" in English Version is used for fertile lands, which, like breasts, nourish life. The transition from "ye" to "they" (Isa 32:11, 12) is frequent.
Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:
13. (Isa 5:6; 7:23).
houses of joy—pleasure-houses outside of Jerusalem, not Jerusalem itself, but other cities destroyed by Sennacherib in his march (Isa 7:20-25). However, the prophecy, in its full accomplishment, refers to the utter desolation of Judea and its capital by Rome, and subsequently, previous to the second coming of the King (Ps 118:26; Lu 13:35; 19:38); "the joyous city" is in this view, Jerusalem (Isa 22:2).
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;
14. palaces—most applicable to Jerusalem (see on Isa 32:13).
multitude … left—the noisy din of the city, that is, the city with its noisy multitude shall lie forsaken [Maurer].
forts—rather, "Ophel" (that is, the mound), the term applied specially to the declivity on the east of Zion, surrounded with its own wall (2Ch 27:3; 33:14; 2Ki 5:24), and furnished with "towers" (or watchtowers), perhaps referred to here (Ne 3:26, 27).
for ever—limited by thee, "until," &c., Isa 32:15, for a long time.
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.
15. This can only partially apply to the spiritual revival in Hezekiah's time; its full accomplishment belongs to the Christian dispensation, first at Pentecost (Joe 2:28; Ac 2:17), perfectly in coming times (Ps 104:30; Eze 36:26; 39:29; Zec 12:10), when the Spirit shall be poured on Israel, and through it on the Gentiles (Mic 5:7).
wilderness … fruitful field … forest—when Judea, so long waste, shall be populous and fruitful, and the land of the enemies of God shall be desolate. Or, "the field, now fruitful, shall be but as a barren forest in comparison with what it shall be then" (Isa 29:17). The barren shall become fruitful by regeneration; those already regenerate shall bring forth fruits in such abundance that their former life shall seem but as a wilderness where no fruits were.
Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
fruitful field—then become more fruitful (Isa 32:15); thus "wilderness" and "fruitful field" include the whole land of Judea.
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
17. work—the effect (Pr 14:34; Jas 3:18).
peace—internal and external.
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
18. sure … quiet—free from fear of invasion.
When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.
19. Literally, "But it shall hail with coming down of the forest, and in lowness shall the city (Nineveh) be brought low; that is, humbled." The "hail" is Jehovah's wrathful visitation (Isa 30:30; 28:2, 17). The "forest" is the Assyrian host, dense as the trees of a forest (Isa 10:18, 19, 33, 34; Zec 11:2).
Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.
20. While the enemy shall be brought "low," the Jews shall cultivate their land in undisturbed prosperity.
all waters—well-watered places (Isa 30:25). The Hebrew translation, "beside," ought rather to be translated, "upon" (Ec 11:1), where the meaning is, "Cast thy seed upon the waters when the river overflows its banks; the seed will sink into the mud and will spring up when the waters subside, and you will find it after many days in a rich harvest." Before sowing, they send oxen, &c., into the water to tread the ground for sowing. Castalio thinks there is an allusion to the Mosaic precept, not to plough with an ox and ass together, mystically implying that the Jew was to have no intercourse with Gentiles; the Gospel abolishes this distinction (Col 3:11); thus the sense here is, Blessed are ye that sow the gospel seed without distinction of race in the teachers or the taught. But there is no need of supposing that the ox and ass here are yoked together; they are probably "sent forth" separately, as in Isa 30:24.