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Isaiah Chapter Sixteen                            


Isaiah 16

Chapter Contents

Moab is exhorted to yield obedience. (1-5) The pride and the judgments of Moab. (6-14)

Commentary on Isaiah 16:1-5

(Read Isaiah 16:1-5)

God tells sinners what they may do to prevent ruin; so he does to Moab. Let them send the tribute they formerly engaged to pay to Judah. Take it as good advice. Break off thy sins by righteousness, it may lengthen thy quiet. And this may be applied to the great gospel duty of submission to Christ. Send him the lamb, the best you have, yourselves a living sacrifice. When you come to God, the great Ruler, come in the name of the Lamb, the Lamb of God. Those who will not submit to Christ, shall be as a bird that wanders from her nest, which shall be snatched up by the next bird of prey. Those who will not yield to the fear of God, shall be made to yield to the fear of every thing else. He advises them to be kind to the seed of Israel. Those that expect to find favour when in trouble themselves, must show favour to those in trouble. What is here said concerning the throne of Hezekiah, also belongs, in a much higher sense, to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Though by subjection to Him we may not enjoy worldly riches or honours, but may be exposed to poverty and contempt, we shall have peace of conscience and eternal life.

Commentary on Isaiah 16:6-14

(Read Isaiah 16:6-14)

Those who will not be counselled, cannot be helped. More souls are ruined by pride than by any other sin whatever. Also, the very proud are commonly very passionate. With lies many seek to gain the gratification of pride and passion, but they shall not compass proud and angry projects. Moab was famous for fields and vineyards; but they shall be laid waste by the invading army. God can soon turn laughter into mourning, and joy into heaviness. In God let us always rejoice with holy triumph; in earthly things let us always rejoice with holy trembling. The prophet looks with concern on the desolations of such a pleasant country; it causes inward grief. The false gods of Moab are unable to help; and the God of Israel, the only true God, can and will make good what he has spoken. Let Moab know her ruin is very near, and prepare. The most awful declarations of Divine wrath, discover the way of escape to those who take warning. There is no escape, but by submission to the Son of David, and devoting ourselves to him. And, at length, when the appointed time comes, all the glory, prosperity, and multitude of the wicked shall perish.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Isaiah


Isaiah 16

Verse 1

[1] Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness, unto the mount of the daughter of Zion.

Send — The prophet continues his prophecy against Moab, and gives them counsel what to do, to prevent, if possible, the desolation. Make your peace with God, by sacrifice, for all your injuries done to him, and to his people.

Sela — An eminent city of Moab, seated upon a rock.

Unto the mount — Unto the temple upon mount Zion.

Verse 2

[2] For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon.

Cast out — Which knows not whither to go.

Arnon — Which was the border of the land of Moab, where they were, with design to flee out of their land, tho' they knew not whither.

Verse 3

[3] Take counsel, execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth.

Take counsel — Consider seriously what course to take.

Shadow — Or, as the shadow of the night, large and dark, as the shadow of the earth is in the night-season. Conceal and protect my people in the time of their distress.

The out-casts — Those of my people who are driven out of their land.

Wandereth — Unto their enemies.

Verse 4

[4] Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.

Mine out-casts — Whom tho' I have sorely chastened, yet I own for my people.

At an end — Shall shortly be destroyed, and then thou wilt not lose the fruit of thy kindness. The present tense is put for the future.

Verse 5

[5] And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.

In mercy — By my mercy. I am now punishing their sins, yet I will deliver them for my own mercy's sake.

The throne — The kingdom of Judah.

He — Their king.

In truth — That is, firmly and constantly; for truth is often put for the stability and certainty of a thing, as 2 Chronicles 32:1; Proverbs 11:18.

Tabernacle — ln the house, or palace, which is called a tent, or tabernacle, with respect to the unsettledness of David's house, which now indeed was more like a tabernacle than a strong palace.

Seeking — Searching out the truth of things with care and diligence.

Hasting — Neither denying, nor yet delaying justice.

Verse 6

[6] We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so.

We — The prophet having spoken to the Moabites, now turns his speech to God's people. The sense is, I do not expect that my counsels will have any good effect upon Moab; they will still carry themselves insolently and outrageously.

His lies — His vain imaginations, and false and crafty counsels, shall not take effect.

Verse 7

[7] Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl: for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn; surely they are stricken.

Moab — One Moabite shall howl or lament to or for another.

Kirhareseth — An ancient and eminent city of Moab, which was preserved when their other cities were ruined, and therefore the destruction of it was more lamented.

Stricken — Or, broken, overthrown or destroyed.

Verse 8

[8] For the fields of Heshbon languish, and the vine of Sibmah: the lords of the heathen have broken down the principal plants thereof, they are come even unto Jazer, they wandered through the wilderness: her branches are stretched out, they are gone over the sea.

The lords — The Assyrians or Chaldeans, the great rulers of the eastern nations.

Plants — The choicest vines. Under which one particular he seems to understand, not only all other fruits and goods, but even their choicest people.

They — The lords of the heathen are come as far as Jazer, which is the utmost border of Moab. Wandered - The Moabites fled for their lives, and wandered hither and thither in the wilderness of Moab.

Branches — Her people, called plants before.

Stretched — Driven from their own homes, and dispersed into several countries.

The sea — Over the Dead-sea, which was the border of Moab. They were forced to flee out of their own country to save their lives.

Verse 9

[9] Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer the vine of Sibmah: I will water thee with my tears, O Heshbon, and Elealeh: for the shouting for thy summer fruits and for thy harvest is fallen.

Sibmah — I will bewail Sibmah, as I did bewail Jazer, which was destroyed before Sibmah.

Fallen — Those joyful shouts which were customary in the time of harvest and vintage, shall cease.

Verse 10

[10] And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.

Treaders — In those times they used to squeeze out the juice of their grapes by treading them with their feet.

Verse 11

[11] Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.

My bowels — Thro' compassion. In excessive grief, the bowels are sometimes rolled together, so as to make an audible noise.

Verse 12

[12] And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray; but he shall not prevail.

When — When it shall appear that all their other devotions are vain.

His sanctuary — To the temple of his great god Chemosh.

But — His god can neither hear nor help him.

Verse 13

[13] This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning Moab since that time.

Since — Since the beginning of God's revelation to me concerning Moab, hitherto.

Verse 14

[14] But now the LORD hath spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned, with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and feeble.

The Lord — Hath made this farther discovery of his mind to me.

Three years — This may well be understood of some great blow given to the Moabites, either by Sennacherib, or his son Esarhaddon, from which notwithstanding they recovered and flourished again 'till Nebuchadnezzar compleated their destruction.

Hireling — Within three years precisely counted; for hirelings are very punctual in observing the time for which they are hired.

The glory — Their strength, and wealth, and other things in which they glory, shall be made contemptible to those who formerly admired them.

With — With the great numbers of their people, of which they boasted.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Isaiah


16 Chapter 16


Verses 1-14

Verse 1

Isaiah 16:1

Send ye the lamb to the ruler of the land

A message to Moab

The fugitives are supposed to have found a temporary home in Edom.
The verse may be spoken by the prophet, or (as Prof. Cheyne suggests) it may proceed from the Moabite chiefs themselves, exhorting one another to take this step. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

Tribute demanded of Moab

A very terrible humiliation had already been inflicted on Moab in the reign of Jehoram, King of Israel (2 Kings 3:4; 2 Kings 3:25). During Ahab’s reign, Moab had been compelled to pay a very heavy annual tribute, even 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams. Refusal to pay led to war from time to time; war resulting, however, invariably in the defeat of the Moabites. In such circumstances the prophet urges upon Moab the wisdom of paying this tribute without trouble or demur. (Buchanan Blake, B. D.)

Gospel submission

It is applicable to the great Gospel duty of submission to Christ, as the Ruler of the land and our Ruler.

1. Send Him the lamb, the best you have, yourselves a living sacrifice.

2. When you come to God, the great Ruler, come in the name of the Lamb, the Lamb of God.

3. Those that will not submit to Christ, nor be gathered unto the shadow of His wings, shall be as a bird that wanders from her nest (Isaiah 16:2), that shall either be snatched up by the next bird of prey, or shall wander endlessly in continual frights. Those that will not yield to the fear of God shall be made to yield to the fear of everything else. (M. Henry.)

Verse 2

Isaiah 16:2

As a wandering bird, cast out of the nest

The unrest of the sinner

The picture represents the distress and bewilderment of the wrong-doer.
He does not know whether to go back to the old door and knock at it in the hope that it may be opened to him again by some kindly hand, or to flee away into the land of darkness and silence. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” (J. Parker, D. D.)

Verse 4

Isaiah 16:4

Let Mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab

God’s outcasts in Moab

An injunction is given to Moab to shelter the Jewish fugitives.

I. GOD OWNS HIS PEOPLE WHEN ALL THE WORLD FORSAKES OR OPPOSES THEM. No doubt Sennacherib thought the “outcasts” to be his victims, his prey; but God claims a personal interest in them, watches over them when they wander, supplies them in their need, and protects them by His guardian providence. They are His: His as the subjects of His government; His as the objects of His regard; His as the children of His grace.

II. GOD RAISES UP FRIENDS AND COMFORTERS FOR HIS CHURCH IN STRANGE AND UNEXPECTED QUARTERS. Here He provides for them a shelter before the storm comes on, and makes Moab, one of the most powerful of the Church’s enemies, a near and a present friend. God proves to Moab that it was their interest to do so, because the Jews would soon be in a condition to requite the favour, when their country should be invaded, and their daughters should wander without a home (Isaiah 16:2). The providence of God often makes the hostile feelings of bad men the occasion of good to the righteous.

III. GOD CAN OVERRULE CALAMITIES, WHICH THREATEN NOTHING BUT DISASTER TO HIS CHURCH, INTO THE MEANS OF CONFIRMING FAITH AND HOPE. God’s outcasts in Moab learned many a useful lesson there, and when they returned it was to uphold the government of Hezekiah, and to promote the welfare of the people with whom they had sojourned. “And the throne shall be established in mercy, and He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David” (Isaiah 16:5). Sennacherib’s invasion, which scattered his subjects in exile, threatened the overthrow of Hezekiah, but it really tended to establish him, for never was his kingdom more secure than after the overthrow of the Assyrian army. The same thing obtains in the experience of the Christian. As the birds sing most sweetly after a tempest; as torches shine brighter for shaking; as the flowers shed forth their fragrance at the close of a troubled day, so the graces of a Christian, his faith, his patience, and his hope, are matured by the trials that threatened their utter extinction. In the kingdom of Christ, a kingdom which is established in mercy, you find perpetual progress amidst perpetual storm, and a noontide of brightness often succeeds the darkest night.

IV. AMIDST ALL WANDERINGS GOD WOULD HAVE HIS PEOPLE REMEMBER THEIR DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER AND PREPARE FOR RETURN. They were to dwell in Moab, but only for a season, and always to bear the heart of a stranger. It is a great thing in days of worldly compliance and conformity, when everyone seems to live as if he were to live here always, to have in exercise a better hope, and for Christians to preserve the distinctness of their character. The Divine hand that created our frame and put life into it, has provided us with other resources than are found in feeble self, or in creatures feeble as ourselves. Besides this earth and these lower skies, there is an invisible world, and a kingdom of spirits. Let Christians seek to be in the world, but not of it. (Homiletic Magazine.)

Verse 5

Isaiah 16:5

In mercy shall the throne be established

The moral purpose of judgment

The moral purpose of judgment is never concealed in the Divine writings.
God is always seeking to bring about the time when in mercy His throne shall be established, and when there shall sit upon it in truth one who will represent the ideal judgment and blessing of God. The fifth verse might be rendered, “In mercy shall a throne be established, and One shall sit upon it in truth.” The prophet has constantly kept before his mind the image of an ideal king. The ideal was partially fulfilled in Hezekiah, yet only partially; the prophet was sure One was coming who would fulfil it in its utmost meaning, and he steadfastly kept his eye on the bright day when God’s throne should be established among the nations, and His sceptre should be extended over all. God does not exist merely to destroy, nor does He rule only in order that He may humble and crush; His purpose is one of equity, righteousness, blessing, cultivation. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Verse 12

Isaiah 16:12

He shall come to his sanctuary to pray

Fruitless supplications

This line in this dark picture reminds us of two fasts in the life of the men of our own time, who see clearly the folly of idolatry.



1. Many of the suppliants have little or no faith, and faith is the essential condition of blessing.

2. Many of the suppliants are not really in earnest, and lukewarmness is an offence to the Divine Being.

3. Many of the suppliants are not really penitent. (W. Manning.)

──The Biblical Illustrator