Isaiah 33

Sorrows Awaiting Assyria

Yahweh Sought (1-6)

Isaiah now turns to Assyria and describes the woes awaiting them. He refers to them as a "destroyer" and paints the picture of their end; their end seen as reaping all the destruction their traitorous actions had sown toward others (1).

Isaiah's prophecy changes here and takes on a more Psalm-like tone; no doubt, a song written for worship. Isaiah envisions future mercy, so he crafts a song to be sung by a righteous remnant who were crying out for Yahweh's grace and salvation in their troubling times during the Assyrian invasion (2). A remnant of faithful Jews were seeing all their trouble and yet consciously placing their trust in Yahweh through song. They were calling on Yahweh to scatter the Assyrian nation. They were viewing His power by viewing His ownership and mastery over all things of the earth—even what the caterpillar gathered was His.

The people continue in their praise of Yahweh and confess Him as their exalted King (5a), as their Judge (5b), as their security and foundation in troubling times (6a), and as the all-knowing, all-wise Savior of the world who they were revering as their true treasure (6b).

Judah's Lament (7-9)

We come now to verses of lament over what is taking place in the national crisis which has occasioned the use of this “psalm.” The people are brought to mourning and bitter weeping. The heroes are no longer seen fighting but have given themselves over to all that is left to do: call on Yahweh (7). The economy had become so bad that tourism had ceased. Covenants and contracts were broken, cities were despised, and no one was trusted for they could not keep their financial commitments. Most of all, Egypt was not coming to their aid (8). The most fertile places of their land were wilting—the legendary cedar forests of Lebanon, the spectacular blooming of Sharon turned brown, and the fertile regions of Bashan and Carmel were barren (7-9).

Yahweh Arises (10-24)

The song shifts drastically in verse 10 as Yahweh responds to the prayer of the righteous remnant praying for help.

This is still part of the “psalm” and reminds the people of the trustworthiness of Yahweh to always come through and rightly judge the situation. The key element to note about verses 10-24 is that the Lord speaks in a balanced manner of His judgment on the wicked and mercy shown to the righteous and repentant.

Yahweh arises and exalts Himself above the entire mess (10).

Isaiah sees Assyria as conceiving chaff and thus giving birth to what was fit only for fire and burning judgment (11-12).

The far-off sinners and godless inhabitants would be consumed by the fires of judgment, while the near righteous ones are shown the mercy of salvation and provision. All were called upon to watch and learn and ask the question if any people could ever dwell in rebellion before the consuming fire of Yahweh forever (13-14).

Those who walk apart from greed and false promises, those who can't be bought with money and who are tender of heart, not able to bear the oppression of others (15), would ultimately be given security and lavish provision (16). They would see the King; they would see a restored land (17). In all their seeing, there would come a day when they would no longer see those who terrorize for greed and power in their land (18). There would be a day when the culture of greed would no longer rule the land (19). Instead, they would see the city of Zion unmoved, stable, and unassailable (20). In that city, in the New Heaven and New Earth, the Lord would provide great rivers but those rivers would be no place for warships (21). In that city, Yahweh would reign as King and Judge over salvation (22).

Isaiah then pulls back to the present and predicts Assyria's fall would be like a great shipwreck where people would board her hull and pillage her spoils. Even the lame would enter the ship and get their share and no one would anymore feel sick or helpless, for the Lord will have forgiven their sins (23).