Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
I. The prophets spoke of things to come, but they spoke of things present also; they held up a light in a dark place, imperfectly understood in their own days, but bright and clear when the full day arose, of which they had obscurely spoken; but they also held up a light, a broad blazing light, to the men of their own times, which would never become clearer than it then was, and would be hardly ever again so clear. That is, they were teachers of righteousness to their own people; the sins which they reproved were the sins which they saw daily committed; the judgments which they threatened were the judgments which these sins would draw down.
II. Our times and our own nation more closely resemble the time of Isaiah's preaching, and the nation of Israel to whom he preached, than any other time or nation that could be named. The worship of God was established by law amongst the Israelites as it is amongst us. Israel, in the days of Isaiah, was full of great riches and great poverty,—great covetousness and luxury on one side, great misery and carelessness of God on the other. Who can look through this land at this moment and not see the same state of things here? Israel, in the days of Isaiah, had too many of those who scorned at God's word and His promises; and of this, too, they who know what is the present state of England, know that there is too much amongst us. The prophets, then, are in a most remarkable manner the mirror or glass in which we may see our own likeness. To us, God's Christian Israel, a promise is made of a state of overwhelming blessing after a time of fearful judgments—judgments for the punishment of the tares, and for the cleansing and perfecting of the good seed; till at last, when all that do evil or that tempt to evil shall be gathered out of the kingdom of God, the righteous may shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii., p. 222.
Reference: Isaiah 32:15.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 273.
Isaiah 32:17I. Isaiah was a true patriot; he was a man of the purest moral character, and of the most absolute faith in God. It broke his heart to see the degradation of his countrymen; he saw that if there was a God in heaven who governed the world on principles of justice, such a social condition of a nation as marked Israel then must draw down what men in his day called judgment. He saw the ruthless Assyrian massing his troops together, and from that quarter the desolation threatened to come; they would be a trouble for many days and many years, till the nation was regenerated by a new and better spirit poured out upon them from on high; till men were estimated at their true value; till the frivolities of fashionable life had given place to earnestness of purpose, and the work of righteousness brought peace, and the effects of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
II. Every one who has read the utterances of these old Hebrew prophets with any attention can hardly have failed to be struck with what we may call, in the highest sense of the word, their political tone and character. They desired to purify the nation's moral life at its source. They tried to awaken their age from soothing but false dreams, that to-morrow would be as today, and much more abundant.
III. There are three things of which when the Spirit came He was to reprove the world—of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. My faith is that national sins bring what the old Hebrew prophets call national judgments, not in the way of miracle, but as a natural and necessary consequence; and, on the other hand, that national righteousness averts them. The deadliest atheism is that which denies the supremacy of the principle of righteousness in the government of the world.
D. Fraser, Penny Pulpit, No. 2436.
Reference: Isaiah 32:17.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 348.
Isaiah 32:20I. Notice, first, the characters here described. They are sowers. Of course a sower implies seed, and it will be well for us to acknowledge at the outset that there is only one granary, so to speak, in which the living seed of the kingdom is treasured, viz., the Bible. (1) The true spiritual sower, having first of all received himself the seed, will manifest a real love for the work. He will go forth willingly, conscientiously, and lovingly to scatter broadcast the precious treasure, not merely on well-cultivated patches of human soil, but "beside all waters," finding very often his chiefest joy in sowing the unlikeliest patches. (2) The true spiritual sower will not only have an ardent love for, but he will also have faith in, his work. This is eminently the case with the earthly husbandman. You see him yonder on the eastern hill-slope with seed-basket in one hand, and the other employed in casting forth the seed. And think you that he would be at all that trouble unless he firmly and in his deepest soul believed, nay, was certain, that the glad harvest-home would crown at length his efforts? If the earthly sower has such faith in the vitality of his seed, how much more should we in that seed of the Word which liveth, abideth for ever. (3) The true spiritual sower will not only have faith in the seed, but also in the soil. The farmer who does not believe the soil capable of producing fruit will certainly not waste time in its cultivation. If we did not to-night believe that between every human heart and the Gospel seed there was such affinity that it could not help taking root therein, we should most certainly give up our toil. (4) The true spiritual sower will often encounter difficulty in his work. (5) The spiritual sower is earth's truest philanthropist.
II. Consider our sphere of operation—"beside all waters." Wherever there is a solitary spot capable of receiving the good and living seed—whether at home or abroad, in dens of squalor or palaces of luxury and ease, in the crowded city or the rural village—we are commanded to go and plant it there.
III. Consider the benediction here pronounced. "Blessed are they that sow beside all waters." (1) The work itself is its own reward. (2) The spiritual sower enjoys the benediction of others. (3) He has the smile and benediction of Him in whose service he is engaged.
J. W. Atkinson, Penny Pulpit, No. 940.
Reference: Isaiah 32:20.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 497.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
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.
Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.