Project 119: Isaiah 33

 |  Project 119  |  Dr. Wayne Splawn

Here in Isaiah 33, Isaiah’s message turns to a message of hope. In verse 1, Isaiah writes that the one (the Assyrians) who sought to destroy Israel would one day themselves be destroyed. Then, in verse 2, Isaiah records a prayer that represents the perspective of those in Israel who know that their only hope is in the Lord.

Isaiah writes:

“O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. 
Be our arm every morning,
our salvation in the time of trouble.” (Isaiah 33:2)

This prayer is a meaningful prayer that any of us would do well to pray. First, the prayer begins by addressing the Lord using the term for God that signifies His covenant relationship with His people. As a member of God’s people, we need to regularly be reminded that God is in a covenant relationship with us. It is not a contract that will only be upheld if we keep our end of the bargain well enough. Instead, God loves us with a steadfast love and we can be confident of His love not because we have earned it, but because it is a part of God’s character to be faithful to us. Second, the prayer rightly acknowledges that the believer constantly stands in need of God’s gracious work in his or her life. This petition is not based on the belief that God owes the believer anything. When we come to the Lord and ask for him to be at work in our lives, we are asking Him to once again extend us grace. Third, the prayer acknowledges that God is our only hope. When we face a situation that is obviously too difficult for us to overcome in our own power, our most faithful option is to acknowledge that the Lord is our only hope and to wait patiently for Him.

Today, I would encourage you to pray this same prayer throughout the day. As you do, remember the character of God, reflect on your need for His gracious work in your life, and walk in dependence upon Him.

Isaiah 33 (ESV):

Ah, you destroyer,
    who yourself have not been destroyed,
you traitor,
    whom none has betrayed!
When you have ceased to destroy,
    you will be destroyed;
and when you have finished betraying,
    they will betray you.

2 O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
    Be our arm every morning,
    our salvation in the time of trouble.
3 At the tumultuous noise peoples flee;
    when you lift yourself up, nations are scattered,
4 and your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers;
    as locusts leap, it is leapt upon.

5 The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
6 and he will be the stability of your times,
    abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure.

7 Behold, their heroes cry in the streets;
    the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
8 The highways lie waste;
    the traveler ceases.
Covenants are broken;
    cities are despised;
    there is no regard for man.
9 The land mourns and languishes;
    Lebanon is confounded and withers away;
Sharon is like a desert,
    and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.

10 “Now I will arise,” says the Lord,
    “now I will lift myself up;
    now I will be exalted.
11 You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble;
    your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime,
    like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”

13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
    and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
    trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
    Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
    who despises the gain of oppressions,
who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
    who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
    and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16 he will dwell on the heights;
    his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
    his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.

17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;
    they will see a land that stretches afar.
18 Your heart will muse on the terror:
    “Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute?
    Where is he who counted the towers?”
19 You will see no more the insolent people,
    the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend,
    stammering in a tongue that you cannot understand.
20 Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts!
    Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
    an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent,
whose stakes will never be plucked up,
    nor will any of its cords be broken.
21 But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
    a place of broad rivers and streams,
where no galley with oars can go,
    nor majestic ship can pass.
22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver;
    the Lord is our king; he will save us.

23 Your cords hang loose;
    they cannot hold the mast firm in its place
    or keep the sail spread out.
Then prey and spoil in abundance will be divided;
    even the lame will take the prey.
24 And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”;
    the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.