Isaiah 32 – A King’s Reign of Righteousness
A. Blessings from the coming king.
1. (1) In the aftermath of Jerusalem’s deliverance, a king comes.
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
And princes will rule with justice.
a. Behold, a king will reign in righteousness: This promise was made in a certain context. In the previous chapter, God assured that the Assyrians would be judged, and Judah would be delivered. But God didn’t want only to remove the threat; He also wanted to bless Judah with a righteous king, so the promise was made.
i. However, it is likely that the prophecy of Isaiah 32 and 33 was given before the time of the prophecy of Isaiah 30 and 31. Both look to the time of the Assyrian invasion of Judah, but Isaiah 30 and 31 are set in the time of Hezekiah, as the invasion neared Jerusalem. Most commentators believe that the king who will reign in righteousness mentioned here was Hezekiah, and since it says that he will reign, this prophecy may have been given at the beginning of Isaiah’s prophetic career, during the reign of King Ahaz, the predecessor to King Hezekiah.
ii. It is possible that the prophecy of Isaiah 32 and 33 was given during the reign of Hezekiah, and this announcement refers to the latter part of his reign. It is also possible that it was given during the time of Hezekiah, and it prophesies the coming of King Josiah, the great-grandson of the present king of Judah, Hezekiah, who reigned during the Assyrian threat. Josiah was a righteous king (2 Kings 22:2).
b. A king will reign in righteousness: In some sense, Hezekiah certainly fulfilled this prophecy. It was written of him, and he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done…. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses (2 Kings 18:3, 5-6).
c. A king will reign in righteousness: Yet ultimately, Hezekiah was a picture of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Jeremiah 23:5 announces this about our Messiah: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
i. “This seems to have been delivered in the time of Ahaz, and to speak of Hezekiah, and of his righteousness 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.” (Poole)
d. And princes will rule with justice: It wasn’t enough – it is never enough – to have a righteous king. The king must have helpers, princes under him, who will also rule with justice. Hezekiah had such loyal princes, such as Eliakim, Shebna the scribe, the elders of the priests, and Isaiah himself (2 Kings 19:2).
i. These weren’t princes in the literal sense of being sons of King Hezekiah. The Hebrew word for princes can mean any ruler under a king.
ii. If Hezekiah, the righteous king, points to Jesus, then who are Jesus’ princes? His people are His princes, as 1 Peter 2:9 later explains: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Revelation 5:10 also has this proclamation from God’s people: And [You] have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth. Many of the seemingly unnecessary trials and pains of this life have a wonderful purpose in the world beyond: training us to be princes, faithfully ruling with King Jesus.
2. (2-4) The blessings of restoration from the king.
A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,
And a cover from the tempest,
As rivers of water in a dry place,
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.
Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge,
And the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.
a. Rivers of water in a dry place: This described how wonderful the spiritual renewal during the reign of Hezekiah was, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. By God’s blessing, those who see could see better than ever, and those who hear will listen.
i. The more glorious reign of Jesus is all these things for us as well. He is a shelter from the storm (a cover from the tempest), as rivers of water in a dry place, and like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
ii. “If King Hezekiah were a type of Christ, then this prophecy may refer to his time; but otherwise it seems to have Hezekiah primarily in view. It is evident, however, that in the fullest sense these words cannot be applied to any man; GOD alone can do all that is promised here.” (Clarke)
b. The heart of the rash will understand knowledge: The spiritual renewal during the reign of Hezekiah promoted trust in God’s word, and because of that, hearts were changed. God also would bless in miraculous ways (the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly).
3. (5-8) The blessings of righteousness and integrity from the king.
The foolish person will no longer be called generous,
Nor the miser said to be bountiful;
For the foolish person will speak foolishness,
And his heart will work iniquity:
To practice ungodliness,
To utter error against the LORD,
To keep the hungry unsatisfied,
And he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
Also the schemes of the schemer are evil;
He devises wicked plans
To destroy the poor with lying words,
Even when the needy speaks justice.
But a generous man devises generous things,
And by generosity he shall stand.
a. The foolish person will no longer be called generous…the foolish person will speak foolishness: The spiritual renewal during the reign of Hezekiah meant that spiritual reality would be exposed for all to see. No more would there be deception by appearances; if a man were foolish, he would be exposed as foolish.
i. Wicked plans: “Apart from Job 17:11, has a uniformly bad meaning. It occurs nineteen times of sexual misconduct (e.g. Leviticus 18:17). It is planning for one’s own advantage at whatever cost to others.” (Motyer)
b. But a generous man devises generous things: Not only would the foolishness of the foolish be exposed, but so would the generosity of the generous. Righteousness and wickedness would each be seen for what they were and regarded accordingly.
i. “Wickedness shall be discovered and punished wheresoever it is, and virtue shall be manifested and rewarded, and all things shall be managed with sincerity and simplicity.” (Poole)
B. A call to prepare for the coming of the Spirit.
1. (9-11) The women at ease are called to repent.
Rise up, you women who are at ease,
Hear my voice;
You complacent daughters,
Give ear to my speech.
In a year and some days
You will be troubled, you complacent women;
For the vintage will fail,
The gathering will not come.
Tremble, you women who are at ease;
Be troubled, you complacent ones;
Strip yourselves, make yourselves bare,
And gird sackcloth on your waists.
a. Rise up, you women who are at ease: Before the righteous king would come, the people had to prepare themselves. The women who are at ease and the complacent daughters had to get ready for the righteous king.
i. At ease is the same word used later in the chapter, where God promises secure dwelling places (Isaiah 32:18). Complacent is the same word used later in the same chapter, where God promises peaceful habitation. “According to Isaiah, there is nothing wrong with feeling secure and undisturbed as long as one’s trust is solidly based on the Lord.” (Wolf)
b. Tremble, you women who are at ease: Instead of an indulgent, self-focused life, they would be required to tremble, be troubled, and put on the clothing of mourning. This would show repentance and readiness for the righteous king.
2. (12-14) The whole land mourns.
People shall mourn upon their breasts
For the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers,
Yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city;
Because the palaces will be forsaken,
The bustling city will be deserted.
The forts and towers will become lairs forever,
A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks—
a. People shall mourn upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine: Because of the Assyrian invasion to come, God would use the tough economic times to wake Judah up. For the vintage will fail, the gathering will not come (Isaiah 32:10). The tough times touched everyone (all the happy homes in the joyous city…the palaces will be forsaken).
3. (15) The Spirit is poured out upon a humbled people.
Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
a. Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high: God used the invasion from Assyria, the tough times, and the humble mourning of the people to prepare them for an outpouring of His Spirit.
i. Until: It was only the Spirit of God that could make the difference; the tough times would last until the Spirit was poured out.
ii. Is poured upon us: God wanted to do more than scatter a few drops of His mercy and blessing; He wanted His Spirit to be poured upon His people.
iii. From on high: This is the source of the true outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t come from among men, or because of men’s efforts. It comes from heaven, from on high.
b. The wilderness becomes a fruitful field: When the Holy Spirit is poured out, what was barren and desolate before is now full of life and fruitfulness. True fruitfulness comes from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
c. And the fruitful field is counted as a forest: When the Holy Spirit is poured out, what was good before (a fruitful field) miraculously becomes even better (a forest).
4. (16-20) Blessings brought by the Spirit.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
Though hail comes down on the forest,
And the city is brought low in humiliation.
Blessed are you who sow beside all waters,
Who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
a. Justice…righteousness…. peace…quietness and assurance forever: When God’s Spirit is poured out among His people, this is what it is like. This means that we shouldn’t be satisfied with what claims to be of the Spirit but isn’t marked by the fruit of the Spirit. This means that if we lack these things, we can come and ask the LORD to pour out His Spirit upon us.
b. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings… though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation: When God’s Spirit is poured out, we live on a principle higher than circumstances. If others feel the pelting hail, or are brought low in humiliation, it doesn’t affect those blessed by the poured-out Spirit of God.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com