Isaiah 32: Generosity & Assurance
The prophet Isaiah describes the effects of the coming Savior on people and on their abilities to listen, understand and speak. Likewise, those who do not live for God and instead trust in worldly things will be left without a home.
The audience, or the people and population described can be understood on the micro and macro levels. In the microcosm, the people described are the nation of Israel. In the macro, the people are all of those souls affected by the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the entire population of the world, indeed, you and me.
Verses 1-8: Although past scholars have purported that the king mentioned here is Hezekiah or Josiah, there is also the school of thought that the king referred to here is Christ. When we take a faith-based reading of this passage, it is difficult not to see the divine themes at play in this description and to conclude that the king referred to is Christ. The comparisons on the king’s reign and his protections in verse two are protections from the elements. And just as described by comparison, Jesus Christ saves us from the dangers of sin.
Once the good news of the gospel of Jesus arrives in the world, true believers will hear, understand and live righteously. These are the blessed souls that have heard, believed, repented and been baptized into Jesus Christ. The phrase, “the ears of those who hear will listen” in verse 3 is a precursor to the phrase often spoken by Christ himself: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Mark 4:9. All of it coalesces to show us that if we are ready to hear the gospel, we will hear, understand, be enlightened and have life.
To counterpoint the righteousness theme, verses 5-8 prophesy that sin will continue despite the renewed understanding of God’s plan. The true nature of fools and misers will be revealed and the fruits of sin will not change. But those who behave responsibly towards others will reflect the behavior of the righteous king Jesus.
Verses 9-15: Complacent women of Israel are called out in these verses. They are asked to pay attention to what is to come, to the fruits of their complacency. The harvest will fail and no one will attend planned gatherings. These women are advised to tremble on fear of God, and to wear only rough sackcloth on their bodies, a practice signifying calamity, grief or penitence.
The condition of these women can also be understood as a reflection of the entire people. Verse 12 says, “People shall mourn upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.” This grief is associated with the failure of life-giving things as caused by God for the complacency.
The prophet then paints a desolate picture of their city in verses 13 and 15, describing overgrown palaces, forts and towers as “A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks—” This too is the result of disobedience and not taking God’s directives seriously. This condition will persist until God’s revelation of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Acts 2, which is referred to in verse 15: “Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high.”
The two latter statements in verse 15 are symbolic to describe spiritual richness and abundance that follow God’s revelation in Acts 2: “. . . the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.” Rather than the great cities made by man being counted as glorious, the glory of God’s creation is preferred.
We can take the opportunity to use this symbolism in verse 15 to compare how the Israelites planned to save themselves by going down to Egypt with how God saves us all through Christ. When put in this perspective, it is naturally easy to see the favorable option.
Verses 16-20: We arrive at a glorious description of the result of God’s plan. Peace and confidence in life are the result of following God’s plan and we are blessed to live under His care. Even if there is danger, God’s people will still live in peace. “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.” Isaiah 32:18-19
This is the promise of spiritual peace and freedom from sin we have in Jesus. The final verse of this chapter shows how we are now blessed to devote our lives to God through good and wholesome pursuits that glorify Him.