Isaiah 30 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Isaiah 30)

Verse 1

[1] Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:

The rebellious — The Jews.

Take counsel — That consult together.

Cover — That seek protection.

But not — Not such as by my spirit, speaking in my word, I have required them to do.

That they may add — That unto all their sins, they may add distrust of my power and mercy, and put confidence in an arm of flesh.

Verse 2

[2] That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

Asked — Either by the priests or prophets.

Verse 4

[4] For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.

His princes — The princes of Judah.

Hanes — An eminent city of Egypt.

Verse 5

[5] They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.

They — Both the messengers, and they who sent them.

Verse 6

[6] The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.

The burden — The treasures, which were carried upon asses or camels, into Egypt, which lay southward from Judea.

The land of trouble — Egypt, so called prophetically.

From whence — This may be understood properly, but withal, seems to design the craft and cruelty of that people.

They — The Jews.

Their riches — To procure their assistance.

Bunches — Upon the backs.

Verse 7

[7] For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.

To her — To Jerusalem or Judah.

Sit still — It is safer and better for them to sit quietly at home, seeking to me for help.

Verse 8

[8] Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:

Write — This warning.

Before — In their presence.

Note it — So this was to be written twice over, once in a table, to be hanged up in some public place, that all present might read it; and again, in a book, that it might be kept for the use of posterity.

The time to come — As a witness for me and against them.

Verse 11

[11] Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.

Cause, … — Do not trouble us with harsh messages from God.

Verse 12

[12] Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:

And trust — In the wealth which you have gotten by oppression, and in your perverse course of sending to Egypt for help.

Verse 13

[13] Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.

This iniquity — Of trusting to Egypt, shall be like a wall which is high, but swelling forth in some parts, which, upon the least accident, falls down suddenly.

Verse 14

[14] And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.

He — God.

Verse 15

[15] For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

In returning — To God.

Quietness — In sitting still, and quieting your minds.

Confidence — Placed upon me, and my promises.

Verse 17

[17] One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.

'Till — 'Till you be destroyed, and but a few of you left.

Verse 18

[18] And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

Wait — Patiently expect your repentance.

Exalted — He will work gloriously.

Judgment — Or mercy.

That wait — In his way, with faith and patience.

Verse 19

[19] For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.

Shall dwell — After a set time, they shall return to Jerusalem, and have a fixed abode. This was in part accomplished upon their return from Babylon; but more fully in the times of the gospel, when many of them were, and the whole body of them shall be brought into Christ's church.

Verse 21

[21] And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Shall hear — Thou shalt hear the voice of God's word and spirit.

Behind thee — A metaphor borrowed from shepherds, who use to follow their sheep, and recall them when they go out of the way.

Verse 22

[22] Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.

Defile — To shew your contempt of it.

Covering — The leaves or plates wherewith their images were frequently covered.

Ornament — It was a costly and glorious robe.

Verse 23

[23] Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.

Bread — Which shall be the fruit of thy own land and labour: and excellent for quality, which is called, fat, Deuteronomy 32:14, and abundant for quantity.

Verse 24

[24] The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.

Clean provender — There should be such plenty of corn, that the very beasts, instead of straw, should eat corn; and that not in the ear, or with the straw, but the pure grain.

Verse 25

[25] And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.

Hill — Which is commonly dry and barren.

In the day — When God shall destroy the enemies of his people.

The towers — The mighty potentates, who fought against God's people.

Verse 26

[26] Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.

Sevenfold — As if the light of seven days were combined together in one.

Healeth — When God shall effectually cure the wounds of his people, making Israel and Judah to be one, and making Jew and Gentile to be one fold under one shepherd.

Verse 27

[27] Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:

Behold — Here he gives them an earnest of those greater mercies in times to come, by assuring them of the approaching destruction of the Assyrian forces.

The name — The Lord himself.

From far — From a remote place: even from heaven.

Heavy — He will inflict heavy judgments upon them.

Indignation — He hath pronounced a severe sentence against them, and will give command for the execution of it.

Verse 28

[28] And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.

His breath — God's anger.

A stream — Coming from him as vehemently, as a mighty torrent of waters.

To sift — To shake and scatter, as it were with a sieve.

The nations — The Assyrian army, which was made up of several nations.

With — Not with an ordinary sieve, which casteth away the chaff only, but with a sieve, which should shake them so long and so vehemently, as to cast away altogether.

A bridle — God will over-rule them by his powerful providence.

To err — Whereas other bridles guide into the right way, this shall turn them out of the way, by giving them up to their own foolish counsels, which shall bring them to certain ruin.

Verse 29

[29] Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.

A song — You shall have songs of praise.

The night — He seems to have a particular respect to the solemnity of the passover, in which they spent some considerable part of the night in rejoicing, and singing psalms before the Lord.

As when — Like the joy of one that is going up to the solemn feasts with musick.

Verse 30

[30] And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.

His voice — His thunder, metaphorically taken for some terrible judgment.

The lightning — Upon the Assyrian.

With — With great wrath; which is signified by heaping so many words of the same signification together.

Verse 32

[32] And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.

The rod — Heb. the founded rod, the judgment of God, called a founded rod, because it was firmly established, by God's immutable purpose.

Him — Upon the Assyrian.

With harps — Their destruction shall be celebrated by God's people, with joy and musick, and songs of praise.

Of shaking — Or, shaking of the hand, of which kind of shaking this Hebrew word is constantly used. God will fight against them, and destroy them by his own hand.

With it — With the army of the Assyrians.

Verse 33

[33] For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

Tophet — This was a place near Jerusalem, in which the idolatrous Israelites used to offer up their children to Moloch. It may be put, for any place of torment; and particularly it is put for hell.

For the king — For the king of Assyria.

Fire — He alludes to the ancient custom, of burning sacrifices, and particularly of burning children to Moloch.

The breath — The immediate hand of God, or his word of anger.

Brimstone — He seems to allude to that shower of fire and brimstone, Genesis 19:24.