Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 33:1To thee - Sennacherib, who wasted the land of Judah.
isa 33:2O Lord - The prophet contemplating the judgment which was now coming upon God's people, directs his prayer to God for them. Their arm - Our arm or strength. The change of persons is frequent in prophetical writings. Every morning - When we offer the morning sacrifice, and call upon thee: which yet is not meant exclusively, as if he did not desire God's help at other times; but comprehensively, the morning being put for the whole day. The sense is, help us speedily and continually.
isa 33:3The noise - Which the angel shall make in destroying the army. The people - Those of the army, who escaped that stroke. The nations - The people of divers nations, which made up this army.
isa 33:4Your spoil - That treasure which you have raked together, by spoiling divers people. Gathered - By the Jews at Jerusalem, when you flee away. Like the caterpillar - As caterpillars gather and devour the fruits of the earth. As locusts - As locusts, especially when they are armed by commission from God, come with great force, and run hither and thither.
isa 33:5Exalted - By the destruction of so potent an army; and by the defence of this people.
isa 33:6Thy times - He turns his speech to Hezekiah. Thy throne shall be established upon the sure foundations of wisdom and justice. And strength - Thy strong salvation. The fear - Thy chief treasure is in promoting the fear and worship of God.
isa 33:7Behold - That the mercy promised might be duly magnified, he makes a lively representation of their great danger and distress. The ambassadors - Whom he shall send to beg peace of the Assyrian. Shall weep - Because they cannot obtain their desires.
isa 33:8The covenant - Sennacherib broke his faith, given to Hezekiah, of departing for a sum of money, Kg2 18:14, Kg2 18:17. Cities - The defenced cities of Judah, which he contemned, and easily took.
isa 33:9Mourneth - Being desolate and neglected. Hewn - By the Assyrians. Bashan - Two places eminent for fertility, are spoiled of their fruits.
isa 33:11Stubble - Instead of solid corn. Your great hopes and designs, shall be utterly disappointed. Your breath - Your rage against my people shall bring ruin upon yourselves.
isa 33:12The people - Shall be burnt as easily and effectually as chalk is burned to lime.
isa 33:14The sinners - This is spoken of the Jews. The prophet having foretold the deliverance of God's people, and the destruction of their enemies, gives a lively representation of the unbelieving condition, in which the Jews were, before their deliverance came. Who - How shall we be able to endure, or avoid the wrath of that God, who is a consuming fire; who is now about to destroy us utterly by the Assyrians, and will afterwards burn us with unquenchable fire?
isa 33:15He - Who is just in all his dealings. From hearing - Who will not hearken to any counsels, tending to shed innocent blood. From seeing - That abhors the very sight of sin committed by others, and guards his eyes from beholding occasions of sin.
isa 33:16On high - Out of the reach of danger. His waters - God will furnish him with all necessaries.
isa 33:17The king - First Hezekiah, and then Christ, triumphing over all enemies, and ruling his own people with righteousness. Very far - Thou shalt not be shut up in Jerusalem, but shalt have free liberty to go abroad with honour and safety.
isa 33:18Thine heart - This is a thankful acknowledgment of deliverance from their former terrors and miseries. Where - These words they spoke in the time of their distress. The scribe, whom we call muster - master, was to make and keep a list of the soldiers, and to call them together as occasion required: the receiver, received and laid out the money for the charges of the war; and he that counted the towers, surveyed all the parts of the city, and considered what towers or fortifications were to be made or repaired. And unto these several officers the people resorted, with great distraction and confusion.
isa 33:19A fierce - That fierce and warlike people, whom thou hast seen with terror, near the walls of Jerusalem, thou shalt see no more. A people - A foreign nation, whose language is unknown to thee.
isa 33:20Look upon - Contemplate Zion's glorious and peculiar privileges. Solemnities - This was the chief part of Zion's glory, that God was solemnly worshipped, and the solemn assemblies and feasts kept in her. Quiet - This was but imperfectly fulfilled in the literal Zion; but clearly and fully in the mystical Zion, the church of God, in the times of the gospel.
isa 33:21There - In and about Zion. Rivers - Tho' we have nothing but a small and contemptible brook to defend us; yet God will be as sure a defence to us, as if we were surrounded with great rivers. No galley - No ships of the enemies shall be able to come into this river to annoy them.
isa 33:22Is judge - To plead our cause against our enemies. Lawgiver - Our chief governor, to whom it belongs, to give laws, and to defend his people.
isa 33:23Tacklings - He directs his speech to the Assyrians; and having designed their army under the notion of a gallant ship, Isa 33:21, he here represents their undone condition, by the metaphor of a ship, tossed in a tempestuous sea, having her cables broke, and all her tacklings loose, so that she could have no benefit of her masts and sails; and therefore is quickly swallowed up. The lame - They shall leave so many spoils behind them, that there shall be enough left for the lame, who come last to the spoil.
isa 33:24The inhabitant - Of Jerusalem. Sick - Shall have no cause to complain of any sickness or calamity. Forgiven - They shall not only receive from me a glorious temporal deliverance; but, which is infinitely better, the pardon of all their sins, and all those spiritual and everlasting blessings, which attend upon that mercy.