And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.
I. Isaiah is desired to offer Ahaz a sign either in the depth or the height. That the Jewish economy was in some sense an economy of signs we all admit. The Jewish prophet was to call the attention of his countrymen to these signs, to discover the signification of them. Our Lord laid down the whole doctrine upon this subject when the Pharisees sought a sign from Him. He had given them signs of healing, life-giving power proofs, that a present God was with them. But they wanted a sign from heaven, the token of some distant God in the sky. That, He said, was the craving of an adulterous or sense-bound generation; and He asked them whether there were not signs in the sky at morning and evening by which they determined whether there would be a fine or cloudy day on the morrow, and whether there were not signs of the times which were warning them of evils to come. The new world has been just as rich in these signs as the old. If we do not use these, we may have others; but it will be because we are an adulterous and sinful generation, and need the portents and presages of an approaching downfall.
II. Ahaz said, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord my God." It was a hypocritical phrase; he did not fear to tempt the Lord his God; he did not believe Him. He feared lest the God of his fathers should do him some injury. "O house of David," said Isaiah, "is it not enough for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also?" Do you think you can change His purposes because you are incredulous and heartless? No; the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: "A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
III. From this time we may observe a continual recurrence of these two ideas,—frequently in direct conjunction, always following close upon each other,—the Assyrian invader, and the Immanuel, God with us. Isaiah speaks of himself and the children whom God has given him; all these were to be living signs, continual testimonies of an impending ruin and of a great Deliverer, of One to whom every Israelite might turn with his heart, and in whom he might find rest and salvation; but whose presence would stir up all the dark and evil and rebellious thoughts of those who would not yield themselves to Him.
F. D. Maurice, Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 235.
References: Isaiah 7:10-14.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. viii., p. 139. Isaiah 7:14.—Ibid., vol. iv., p. 89, and vol. ix., p. 336; Expositor, 1st series, vol. x., p. 331; J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 1st series, p. 96; Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 360; Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. ix., p. 91. Isaiah 7:16.—E. H. Plumptre, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 239. Isaiah 8:6.—S. Cox, Ibid., 1st series, vol. vi., p. 353. Isaiah 8:7, Isaiah 8:8.—E. H. Plumptre, Ibid., 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 240.
And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.
Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;
And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.
Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,
Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:
Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.
In the same day shall the Lord shave with a rasor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;
And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.
With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.