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Isaiah Chapter Twenty-two                            


Isaiah 22

Chapter Contents

The siege and taking of Jerusalem. (1-7) The wicked conduct of its inhabitants. (8-14) The displacing of Shebna, and the promotion of Eliakim, applied to the Messiah. (15-25)

Commentary on Isaiah 22:1-7

(Read Isaiah 22:1-7)

Why is Jerusalem in such terror? Her slain men are not slain with the sword, but with famine; or, slain with fear, disheartened. Their rulers fled, but were overtaken. The servants of God, who foresee and warn sinners of coming miseries, are affected by the prospect. But all the horrors of a city taken by storm, faintly shadow forth the terrors of the day of wrath.

Commentary on Isaiah 22:8-14

(Read Isaiah 22:8-14)

The weakness of Judah now appeared more than ever. Now also they discovered their carnal confidence and their carnal security. They looked to the fortifications. They made sure of water for the city. But they were regardless of God in all these preparations. They did not care for his glory in what they did. They did not depend upon him for a blessing on their endeavours. For every creature is to us what God makes it to be; and we must bless him for it, and use it for him. There was great contempt of God's wrath and justice, in contending with them. God's design was to humble them, and bring them to repentance. They walked contrary to this. Actual disbelief of another life after this, is at the bottom of the carnal security and brutish sensuality, which are the sin, the shame, and ruin of so great a part of mankind. God was displeased at this. It is a sin against the remedy, and it is not likely they should ever repent of it. Whether this unbelief works by presumption or despair, it produces the same contempt of God, and is a token that a man will perish wilfully.

Commentary on Isaiah 22:15-25

(Read Isaiah 22:15-25)

This message to Shebna is a reproof of his pride, vanity, and security; what vanity is all earthly grandeur, which death will so soon end! What will it avail, whether we are laid in a magnificent tomb, or covered with the green sod? Those who, when in power, turn and toss others, will be justly turned and tossed themselves. Eliakim should be put into Shebna's place. Those called to places of trust and power, should seek to God for grace to enable them to do their duty. Eliakim's advancement is described. Our Lord Jesus describes his own power as Mediator, Revelation 3:7, that he has the key of David. His power in the kingdom of heaven, and in ordering all the affairs of that kingdom, is absolute. Rulers should be fathers to those under their government; and the honour men bring unto their families, by their piety and usefulness, is more to be valued than what they derive from them by their names and titles. The glory of this world gives a man no real worth or excellence; it is but hung upon him, and it will soon drop from him. Eliakim was compared to a nail in a sure place; all his family are said to depend upon him. In eastern houses, rows of large spikes were built up in the walls. Upon these the moveables and utensils were hung. Our Lord Jesus is as a nail in a sure place. That soul cannot perish, nor that concern fall to the ground, which is by faith hung upon Christ. He will set before the believer an open door, which no man can shut, and bring both body and soul to eternal glory. But those who neglect so great salvation will find, that when he shutteth none can open, whether it be shutting out from heaven, or shutting up in hell for ever.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Isaiah


Isaiah 22

Verse 1

[1] The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?

The valley — Of Judah; and especially of Jerusalem, called a valley, because great part of it flood in a valley; and the valley of vision, because of the many and clear visions or revelations of God's mind, in that place.

House-tops — As they used to do in times of great consternation, that they might look, to and cry to heaven for help.

Verse 2

[2] Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.

Noises — Of joyful shouts.

Tumultuous — Through revelling and jollity.

Battle — But either by famine or pestilence in the siege, or in their flight.

Verse 3

[3] All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.

Rulers — Zedekiah and his chief commanders, whose flight he foretells.

Found — That remain there with Zedekiah in the siege; for those who had fled to the Chaldeans saved their lives and liberties.

Bound — In fetters, Jeremiah 52:11.

Fled — Who fled from Jerusalem, but were pursued and overtaken by their enemies, and bound, as others had been.

Verse 4

[4] Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.

Look away — Take off your eyes and thoughts from me, and leave me alone.

Verse 5

[5] For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.

Treading down — In which my people are trodden under foot by their enemies.

By the Lord — Not only men, but God himself fought against them.

Walls — Of the strong cities of Judah.

Mountains — With such loud and dismal outcries as should reach to the neighbouring mountains.

Verse 6

[6] And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.

Elam — The Persians, who now, and for a long time after, were subject to the Assyrian and Chaldean emperors.

Quiver — Being expert bowmen.

Horsemen — As some fought on foot, so others fought from chariots and horses.

Kir — The Medes, so called from Kir, an eminent city and region of Media.

Uncovered — Prepared it and themselves for the battle.

Verse 7

[7] And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.

Valleys — Valleys were the most proper places for the use of chariots.

Gate — To assist the footmen while they made their assault, and to prevent those who endeavoured to escape.

Verse 8

[8] And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.

He — The enemy.

Covering — He took those fenced cities, which were a covering or safe-guard both to the people of Judah, and to Jerusalem.

The armour — Thy trust was placed in the arm of flesh.

The forest — More fully called the house of the forest of Lebanon, 1 Kings 7:2, not because it was built in Lebanon, for it was in Jerusalem; but because it was built of the trees of Lebanon.

Verse 9

[9] Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.

Seen — That is, observed in order to the reparation of them.

The waters — That you might both deprive the enemy of water, and supply the city with it.

Verse 10

[10] And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.

Numbered — That they might exactly know their own strength.

The houses — Which stood upon or without the walls, and so gave their enemies advantage, and hindered the fortifying the city.

Verse 11

[11] Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.

Thereof — Of Jerusalem, expressed in the foregoing verse.

Him — God, who made it a city, and the place of his special presence and worship.

Long ago — Which may be added to aggravate their sin, in distrusting that God, who had now for a long time given proof of his care and kindness in defending this city.

Verse 12

[12] And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:

Call — By his providence, and by his precepts requiring these things in such times.

Baldness — By plucking or shaving off the hair of their heads, as was usual in great sorrows.

Verse 13

[13] And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.

Let us, … — A most perverse and desperate conclusion.

Verse 14

[14] And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

'Till ye die — You shall feel the sad effects of this, as long as you live.

Verse 16

[16] What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?

What — What right hast thou to this place and office? Whom - What kindred or relations? For the Jews say, he was a stranger by birth; which is the more probable, because his pedigree is not mentioned in any of those places of scripture where he is named.

On high — In an high and eminent place.

An habitation — He erected a stately house to live in, and a stately sepulchre to receive him when he died. And these two are fitly joined together, because their sepulchres were commonly built in or near their houses.

A rock — A fit place both for strength and state.

Verse 17

[17] Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.

Will carry — Will cause thee to be carried into captivity by a strong hand.

Cover — This may be an allusion to the ancient custom of covering the faces of condemned persons.

Verse 18

[18] He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.

Thy chariots — Thy glorious chariots where thou didst ride in great state at Jerusalem, shall be turned into shame to thyself, and to thy master.

Verse 19

[19] And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.

He — The Lord; such sudden changes of persons being very usual in these writings.

Verse 20

[20] And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:

Call — By my powerful providence.

Verse 21

[21] And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

Girdle — There was a peculiar sort of robe and girdle which was the badge of his office.

A father — He shall govern them with fatherly care and affection.

Verse 22

[22] And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

The key — The government, the power of opening and shutting, of letting men into it, or putting them out of it, whereof a key is a fit emblem.

Shoulder — He mentions the shoulder rather than the hand, in which keys are commonly carried, from some ceremony then in use, of carrying a key upon the shoulder of the officer of state.

Verse 23

[23] And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.

Fasten — I will establish the power in his hands.

Sure place — In the strong walls, or solid timber, in the house.

He shall be — By his prudent and righteous government he shall procure great glory, to all that have any relation to him.

Verse 24

[24] And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.

The glory — Of his own kindred and family, who shall all depend upon him, and receive glory from him; of the house of David, which is called his father's house, because he was of the blood-royal.

The offspring — Great and small, the children and grand-children of his father's house, the meanest of them shall receive a lustre from their relation to him.

All vessels — All sorts of vessels, great or small, mean or precious, may be hanged upon him, without any fear of falling.

Verse 25

[25] In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

The nail — Shebna, who seemed to be so.

The burden — All those wicked officers that were advanced and supported by his power.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Isaiah


22 Chapter 22


Verses 1-25

Verse 1

Isaiah 22:1

The burden of the valley of vision

“The valley of vision”

This expression is applied to Jerusalem, where Jehovah was pleased to give visions concerning His will to His servants.
(B. Blake, B. D.)

The valley of vision

It is quite in place, in so far as round Jerusalem there are mountains, and the very city, which in relation to the country occupied an elevated position, in relation to the mountains of the immediate neighbourhood appeared to stand on a low level. Because of this two-fold aspect Jerusalem is called (Jeremiah 21:13) the “inhabitant of the valley,” and immediately on the back of this the “rock of the plain,” and (Jeremiah 17:3) the “mountain in the fields,” whereas Zephaniah 1:11) not all Jerusalem, but a part of it (probably the ravine of the Tyropaeum) is called the mortar, or as we say, basin. If we add to this that Isaiah’s house was situated in the lower city, and that therefore the point of view from which the epithet was applied was there, the expression is perfectly appropriate. (F. Delitzsch.)

Jerusalem, the valley of vision

Furthermore, the epithet is intended to be more than geographical. A valley is a lonely, quiet depression, shut in and cut off by mountains. Similarly is Jerusalem the sheltered, peaceful place, closed against the world, which Jehovah has chosen in order to show there to His prophets the secrets of His government of the world. (F. Delitzsch.)

The valley of vision spiritualised

Where Bibles and ministers are, there is a valley of vision, from which is expected fruit accordingly. (M. Henry.)

The inexpiable sin of Jerusalem

The key to this passage (Isaiah 22:1-14)--the most lurid and minatory of all Isaiah’s prophecies--is theirreconcilable antagonism between the mood of the prophet and the state of public feeling around him. In a time of universal mirth and festivity he alone is overwhelmed with grief and refuses to be comforted. In the rejoicings of the populace he reads the evidence of their hopeless impenitence and insensibility, and he concludes his discourse by expressing the conviction that at last they have sinned beyond the possibility of pardon. The circumstances recall our Lord’s lamentation over Jerusalem on the day of His triumphal entry. (J. Skinner, D. D.)

The historical allusion

It may be regarded as certain that the prophecy belongs to the period of Sennacherib’s invasion (701), although it is difficult to select a moment when all the elements of the highly complex situation with which it deals might have been combined. There is just one incident that seems to meet the requirements of the case, namely, the raising of the blockade of Jerusalem, in consequence of Hezekiah’s ignominious submission to the terms of Sennacherib. It must be noted that this was not the last episode in that memorable campaign. The real crisis came a little later when the Assyrian king endeavoured by threats to extort the entire surrender of the capital. It was only at that juncture that Hezekiah unreservedly accepted the policy of implicit trust in Jehovah which Isaiah had all along urged on him; and it was then that the prophet stepped to the front with an absolute and unconditional assurance that Jerusalem should not be violated. That the earlier deliverance should have caused an outbreak of popular joy is intelligible enough; as it is also intelligible that Isaiah should have kept his eye fixed on the dangers yet ahead. The allusions to the recent blockade are amply accounted for, and the prophet’s expectation of a terrible disaster yet in store is obviously based on his view of the continued and aggravated impenitence of his countrymen. (J. Skinner, D. D.)

What aileth thee now?--

A mad holiday

In these words we can hear the old man addressing his fickle child, whose changefulness by this time he knew so well. We see him standing at his door watching this ghastly holiday. “What are you rejoicing at in such an hour as this, when you have not even the bravery of your soldiers to celebrate, when you are without that pride which has brought songs from the lips of a defeated people as they learned that their sons had fallen with their faces to the foe, and has made even the wounds of the dead borne through the gate lips of triumph, calling to festival?” (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

A new year’s question

I. It specially designates “THEE.” There is an identity in human experience. But there is at the same time an intense personality in each one of us, secrets in our experience--secret struggles, failures, motives, emotions.

II. A SPECIFIC TIME--“NOW.” Not the past--or the future--but the present.


IV. THE QUERY is suggestive, as though the prophet’s inquiries were made with a view to a remedy. What is the specific for the ailment? Wealth, etc.? No! personal salvation. (Preachers Magazine.)

Verse 11

Isaiah 22:11

Ye have not looked unto the Maker thereof

A godless prudence

They take measures to supply the city with water during its siege, and to cut it off, if possible, from the besiegers.
“Why,” as it is written in the history which gives us the fulfilment of this prophecy, “should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” Where this fails everything fails, for water, next to the air we breathe, is the first necessity of human life. There are, it seems, certain streams or pools of water fed with springs outside the city, and these they manage to divert, so that they flow now away from the besiegers and in favour of the besieged. The city has two watts, and between these two--the inner and the outer--a ditch or trench is dug, and the water of the old pool made to flow into it, forming at once as a moat some kind of protection for the inner wall, should the outer be broken down, and also a supply for the use of the inhabitants. All this was right and reasonable, and no blame could be laid upon the authorities for taking these precautions. But there is blame in this, that notwithstanding they are the Lord’s chosen people, and have ever been taught that they owe all they have to Him, yet they do not recognise Him as the bountiful Lord and gracious Giver. (J. W. Lance.)

Man’s use of God’s gifts

We have here a kind of type and pattern of the infirmity so common to human nature, namely, forgetfulness of God in the use and appropriation of those things which He has provided for us.

I. Look, e.g., at the Divine provisions in THE GREAT STOREHOUSES OF NATURE. See how by invention and discovery we turn these to account, perceiving in some instances forces which, though old, are new to us, and in others ingeniously applying old and well-known forces to new purposes in the advancement of civilisation and for the comfort and convenience of life. It is written concerning man in the Book of Psalms, “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands.”

II. Let us take up the more familiar theme of DAILY PROVIDENCE. We can see God in clouds, we can hear Him in the wind; He is sometimes near to us in the earthquake and the fire, as well as in the still small voice; but we often fail to see Him in those common mercies which are yet new every morning and fresh every evening. Consider that loaf of bread on your table. It should be to you a revelation; and that it may be so, find out its genesis. It was flour yesterday or the day before, and it came, perhaps, from France, or Spain, or America, where it was grown as wheat--came to you across the ocean, God’s own highway in the wilderness of waters. Long ago He fashioned those grains of wheat, and put into them such force of life that a handful or less, found in an Egyptian mummy three thousand years old, when planted in English soil, have grown and brought forth thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold. “Givens this day our daily bread,” simplest of all prayers as it seems, is really asking that nature’s forces may continue to be filled and sustained by Him who made them; and that the industries of life may go on working harmoniously with the gracious providence of God, for without these links human and Divine in the great golden chain, our daily bread would cease.

III. IN RELIGION, too, we may see how the Divine gifts have been used, and, alas! too often abused, in blind forgetfulness of the Divine Giver. Man is a creature who can no more do without “religion” than he can do without money, without clothing, without houses, or without food. But though naturally religious, it does not follow that he is godly. We may make to ourselves a religion without God. One of the charges brought by the apostle Paul against those who had formed the most elaborate and complex religious systems was, that they did not “like to retain God in their knowledge.” The religious faculty, God-given, in some sort they exercised, but they lost sight of Him the Giver. They lost His unity among their myriad gods and goddesses, and so Israel’s mission was to declare, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” They lost sight, too, of His justice; for though they said, “The gods are just,” yet when we read the story of their lives, their vices, and their crimes, every idea of justice is shocked and revolted; and as to these gods, they that make them are like unto them. It may be, too, that in our own theologies we have not been in this respect free from fault. Even in Christian theology the “Theos,” the personal God, may have been too much lost sight of. It may ye, as is sometimes charged upon us, that we think of God as a “bundle of attributes,” rather than as a living Father revealed to us in the Christ.

IV. IN CHRISTIAN ORDINANCES let us always see the Giver. Unless we do so, use in them there is none. (J. W. Lance.)

Verses 12-14

Isaiah 22:12-14

And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping . . . And behold joy and gladness

A call to repentance


1. The day here referred to was a season of abounding iniquity. A day of sore trouble (Isaiah 22:4-5).

II. THE RECEPTION IT MET WITH. (Isaiah 22:13). There is no room to suppose that they had given no attention to the message delivered by the prophet. It would rather appear that they had attended to it with accuracy, nay, studied its meaning on purpose to counteract it; for a contrast so minutely exact, a scheme of contradiction so completely adjusted, could hardly have been stumbled upon by mere accident. And indeed the latter part of the verse puts this beyond all doubt, “Let us eat and drink,” said they, “for tomorrow we shall die.” We are not to imagine that these words were spoken seriously, by one of those presumptuous and boasting rebels. The most daring amongst them must have been conscious that the aspect of the king of terrors, at their most sumptuous entertainments, would leave them no appetite either for flesh or wine. They meant it as a scoff, a witty saying, for turning rote ridicule the warning they had received, but which they did not believe. It is common enough to condemn the same faults in others which we easily forgive, nay, cherish in ourselves.

III. THE ALARMING DENUNCIATION OF WRATH against those perverse and obstinate transgressors (Isaiah 22:14).

IV. IMPROVEMENT. What concern have we in these things? (1 Corinthians 10:11). God is always the same. And therefore, in His past acts of government, as they are explained by His Word, we behold a plan of righteous administration, from whence we may learn, with some degree of certainty, what kind of treatment, in similar circumstances, we ourselves have reason to expect. (H. Blair, D. D.)

God’s call to repentance

The awful state of Jerusalem forces this truth upon our minds--that no privileges, civil or religious, can give immunity to a depraved and guilty people, from the threatened judgments of an angry God. In how many instances do the circumstances and the conduct of the ancient Jews strikingly resemble ours!

I. THE DUTY TO WHICH GOD CALLS US. We are called to “weeping and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth”--these expressions being indicative of the ancient” forms of mourning.” We are called by our calamities to it; we are called by our God.

II. THE CONDUCT WHICH IS DISPLAYED. “And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine: let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”--a sensualist notion, which may be taken here either as the language of despair--“Since we must die tomorrow, let us eat and drink today; or, in the way of sneering--They say we shall die; let us eat and drink then, and enjoy as much as we can of the good things of this life.”

III. THE THREATENING WHICH IS DENOUNCED (Isaiah 22:14). God’s threatenings are not idle declamations. (G. B. Macdonald.)

Judah’s great folly

They were entering on the terrible issues of the struggle with Assyria with as light a heart as the Parisians did on the Franco-German war. They were spending, as it were, the night before the battle in the revelry of drunken mirth, as the Saxons spent the night before the battle of Hastings. (E. H. Plumptre, D. D.)

Verses 15-19

Isaiah 22:15-19



In the councils of Hezekiah there was a strong party favourable to an alliance between Judah and Egypt.
At the head of the party stood Shebna. He occupied a post corresponding to that of our prime minister, and was treasurer, or chief adviser of the king. His tenure of office bode no good to Jerusalem: his pro-Egyptian policy, like the pro-Assyrian policy of Ahaz, was utterly displeasing to Jehovah, and alien to the best traditions of David’s house. Against this policy Isaiah is specially commissioned to raise his voice. In the discharge of this mission he singles out Shebna, a stranger apparently, who had by ambition raised himself to high office, and was devoid of religious principle. He had been securing honour for himself, establishing his family in the land, as he thought, and, as the custom was, hewing out for himself a sepulchre. But from that high office he would soon be disgracefully ousted, when king and people would alike come to see the unworthy Character of an Egyptian alliance. And it is worthy of remark that this prophecy was speedily fulfilled. For when the Rabshakeh is met by Hezekiah’s messengers, Shebna does not occupy the first place. (B. Blake, B. D.)

The prophecy concerning Shebna

This prophecy illustrates the influence wielded by Isaiah in the domestic polities of Judah. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

Shebna a foreigner

To judge from the form of his name he was probably a Syrian. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

Shebna’s vain expectation

In the rock of [the east slope of Zion] from the top downwards, the tombs of the kings were hewn. So high a position, does Shebna occupy, and so great does he think himself, that he hopes after his death to be laid to rest among kings, and by no means far down. (F. Delitzsch.)

Shebna’s tomb

The mention of the height of Shebna’s new tomb is supposed to indicate his extreme pretension to pomp and dignity. The ancients, not excepting the Jews, attached much more importance than we do to everything connected with the burial of the dead, because they were so much less able to distinguish the human person from the earthly body, or to apprehend the substantial reality of the former a part from the latter. Our burials symbolise, and express our faith in, immortality and a resurrection; but the Jews shared more or less the common feeling of antiquity that there was some real connection between a man’s due obsequies and his state after death. Still their faith, though obscure, was in me main spiritual and elevating, when held as it was by David, Hezekiah, or Job. But the worldly and sense-bound man then, as indeed he does now, contemplated the costly preparations for his burial, and for the preservation of his embalmed and entombed body, as the last possible act of regard for that sensual existence which he alone cared for. It was but the consistent maintenance to the last of his sensual creed, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (Sir E. Strachey, Bart)

Verse 18

Isaiah 22:18

He will surely violently turn and toss the like a ball

Shebna’s doom

To this unfamilied intruder, who had sought to establish himself in Jerusalem, after the manner of those days, by hewing himself a great sepulchre, Isaiah brought sentence of violent banishment: “Behold, Jehovah will be hurling, hurling thee away, thou big man, and crumpling, crumpling thee together.
He will roll, roll thee on, thou rolling stone, like a ball thrown out On broad, level ground; there shalt thou die, and there shall be the chariots of thy glory, thou shame of the house of thy lord. And I thrust thee from thy post, and from thy station do they pull thee down.” This vagabond was not to die in his bed, nor to be gathered in his big tomb to the people on whom he had foisted himself. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

Shebna’s doom

For him, like Cain, there was a land of Nod; and upon it he was to find a vagabond’s death. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

Shebna’s ejection

The ideas suggested are those of violence, rapidity, and distance. (J. A. Alexander.)


Those that, when they are in power, turn and toss others, will be justly turned and tossed themselves when their day shall come to fall. Many that have thought themselves fastened like a nail may come to be tossed like a ball, for here have we no continuing city. Shebna thought his place too strait for him, he had no room to thrive; God will, therefore, send him into “a large country,” where he shall have room to wander, but never find the way back again. (M. Henry.)

The irresistibleness of God’s judgments



II. THE UTTER USELESSNESS OF ANY RESISTANCE TO THE DIVINE JUDGMENTS. As surely as a ball must follow the line of projection, so surely must we go whither the judgments of God carry us.


Verses 20-25

Isaiah 22:20-25

My servant Eliakim

“My servant Eliakim”

Who was he?
Nobody can tell. Where else is he referred to in Holy Writ? Probably nowhere. Was he then a man without renown? That depends upon what you mean by renown, for he is indicated in the text by terms which imply infinite fame, Say “Eliakim,” and nobody knows him; say “My servant Eliakim,” and obscurity rises up into eminence unrivalled and never to be surpassed. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Renown, nominal and moral

Renown, then, may be nominal, or it may be moral. Nominal renown is a thing that comes and goes, a coloured cloud, a bubble on the river, a noise in the air, nothing that is substantial, nothing that is beneficent in itself; but moral renown, the renown of goodness, the fame of character, the reputation associated with deeds of sacrifice or valour--that is a renown which lives in heaven. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Eliakim and Christ

The language here used about Eliakim finds its perfect fulfilment only in Him whose supreme prerogative it is so to open that no man can shut, even Jesus Christ. (B. Blake, B. D.)

The power of the keys

(Isaiah 22:22) consists not merely in supervision of the royal chambers, but also in the decision as to who was and who was not to be received into the king’s service. (F. Delitzsch.)

Eliakim: the nail and the throne

A nation’s rulers (Zechariah 10:4) stand in the same relation to the community as a tent peg to the tent which it holds firmly and keeps up. As the tent peg is driven into the ground in such a way that a person can, if necessary, sit on it, so by development of the metaphor the peg is changed into a seat of honour. As a splendid chair adorns a room, so Eliakim graces his hitherto undistinguished family. The closely connected thought, that the members of his family in order to attain to honours would sit on this chair, is expressed by a different figure. Eliakim is once more presented to us as a “nail,” now, however, as a high one, somewhat like a pole on which coats are hung up, or as a peg driven into the wall at a distance from the ground. On this pole or peg they hang--i.e., one hangs or there hangs--the whole heavy lot (as in chap. 8:7) of the family of Eliakim. The prophet proceeds to split up this family into its male and female components, as the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine nouns shows. (F. Delitzsch.)

The kingdom and government of the glorious Messiah typified by Eliakim’s preferment and promotion

I. ELIAKIM’S CALL unto his honourable employment, whereby is represented Christ’s call unto His mediatory work and office (Isaiah 22:20). Christ did not run unsent.

II. THE BADGES OF HONOUR bestowed upon Him in consequence of His call (Isaiah 22:21-22).

1. He is clothed with a royal robe. So Christ is clothed (Revelation 1:1-20) with a garment down to the foot, that serves to cover and adorn Himself and all His members.

2. He is strengthened with a girdle, a girdle of truth and faithfulness; He is always ready girded for the execution of His work.

3. He hath the keys of the house committed to Him, and the sole government; He opens, and none shuts, etc. The keys of the heart, and the keys of hell and death are in His hand.

III. HIS CONFIRMATION IN HIS HONOURABLE OFFICE AND STATION. He is “fastened as a nail in a sure place.” Christ is nailed in His mediatory work and office by an eternal decree (Psalms 2:7), and by the oath of God Psalms 110:4); and all the powers of hell and earth shall never loose this nail.

IV. We are here told TO WHAT ADVANTAGE HE SHOULD DISCHARGE HIS TRUST. “He shall be for a glorious throne to His Father’s house.” God manifested in the flesh is the throne of grace to which we are called to come with boldness; and this may well be called a glorious throne,” because there is, in this dispensation of grace, the brightest display of the glory of God. Christ is the ornament of His Father’s house, the brightness of His glory, and the brightest crown that ever adorned the human nature.

V. CHRIST’S PREEMINENCE IN GOD’S FAMILY, and the dependence of all the domestics upon Him (verse 24).

1. The designation given unto the Church of God; “the house of the God and Father of Christ.”

2. The nature and quality of the house; there is “glory” in it.

3. The high and honourable station that Christ hath in His Father’s house; He is the great Master household, and the whole family is committed to Him, and is said to “hang upon Him as a nail fastened in a sure place.”

4. The common consent of the whole family unto His management; they shall hang upon Him all the glory, etc.; i.e., the Father of the family, and the whole offspring of the house, concur amicably that He should have the sole management.

5. Some account of the furniture of the house, committed to the management of the great New Testament Eliakim.

By which we are to understand believers, for they are the children of God, and the seed of Christ by regeneration; and likewise called “vessels,” because they are the recipient subjects of Divine grace, which is the wine, milk, and honey of the house. (E. Erskine.)

Verse 23

Isaiah 22:23

And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place

The fastening hold of Christ

The fastening force of Christ upon the soul of humanity is seen--

IN HIS HOLD UPON THE GENERAL MIND OF THE WORLD. Who, throughout the history of the ages, have laid such a firm grip upon mankind as Christ has? It is true that Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Mohammed, have had--and still have--a firm hold on millions of souls. Some of them have afar wider influence than that of Christ, but they are not fastened so firmly.

1. Philosophy shows this. Their systems--if systems they can be called--only appeal to certain faculties in human nature; Christ grasps the entire man--intellect, imagination, conscience, hope, fear, love.

2. History shows this. Heathenism does not encroach upon Christianity. Christians are not converted to Zoroaster, Confucius, etc., but their followers are converted to Christianity every day. Heathendom is contracting, Christendom is extending on all hands. Its language, its literature, its institutions, are pushing themselves everywhere. The “nail” is made so fast, that to extract it would be to tear the world to pieces.

II. IN HIS HOLD UPON THE CONSECRATED MIND OF HIS DISCIPLES. His hold here is far firmer than His hold on the general mind. He goes deeper into humanity, He takes hold of the entire soul, and makes it captive. Or, to change the figure, He strikes His roots into every faculty of the soul. He becomes to the human spirit in this case what the sap is to the tree. You must tear the soul to pieces--nay, you must annihilate it--before you can extract his “nail.” (Homilist.)

A nail in a sure place

I. THE LESSON OF THE NAIL that little things may be very important things. We read when David prepared for the building of the temple, “he prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates.” So all preparation for training, for education, for the formation of character, is a kind of holy iron, hereafter to be fashioned into nails for the “sure place.” And if you turn to Ezra 9:8, you will find the good man even makes this a matter of prayer, that “God would give him a nail in His holy place”--that is, that he and his might have a place of security, howeverinsignificant it might be; for a nail, small as it is, speaks of security, it fastens things. There is an old proverb which says how, “for want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost.”

II. THE SURE PLACE. From which you learn, that even things good in themselves must be in a good place, in order that they may be of any good. For instance--

1. Good words, in order that they may do good, need good memories; and the good memory is the “sure place.”

2. A good example in a fruitful life is “a nail in a sure place.”

3. Faith fixed on a good object is “a nail in a sure place.” Faith is not always good; people may believe lies. If you look to Christ and trust in Him there will be the “nail in the sure place.”


1. In order to the fastening a nail needs guiding. You will need strength, help, and guidance from God.

2. Fastened. Some things, once fixed, are fixed forever. What a dreadful thing it is, to think that this applies, so far as we are able to say and to see, to bad things! Habit fixes a man like “a nail in a sure place,” fixes his ways of thought and life so that it seems as if he is immovable; for every time we repeat a wrong thing, it is driven farther and farther into our life. See to it, as you value your happiness for time and eternity, that, if you are fastened as “a nail in a sure place,” it shall be a good place.

3. In a good place, fastened. “Be steadfast, unmovable”: act in such a manner that the bad people shall never have any hopes of getting you over on their side, or of drawing you out of your sure place. (Homilist.)

Nails in Eastern houses

These nails, or pegs, when employed in houses, were not driven into the walls after the building was finished, but were worked in while the building was going up. The strong hooks, or spikes, thus secured in the mortar answered the double purpose of clamp irons to hold the walls together, and of nails on which anything could be hung. (J. N. Norton.)

The nail in a sure place

The promise concerning Eliakim amounts to this: “I will so build him up into My spiritual temple (so the Almighty may be supposed to say), that he himself may be securely fixed in it, and that others also may safely depend on him for help and counsel.” As Eliakim was a type of Christ, we have in this similitude an instructive lesson, both of our duty and our happiness. On Him we must hang our hopes and interests, both with respect to our own salvation, and to the peace and prosperity of the Church.

I. Eliakim was a type of Christ IN BEING THE SUCCESSOR OF ONE WHO HAD PROVED HIMSELF UNWORTHY OF HIS OFFICE. As the haughty and unprincipled Shebna gave place to a man whom no selfish interests could possibly influence, so were the corrupt and evil-minded rulers of the Jewish nation to be set aside at the appearance of the Messiah who was to govern the world in righteousness.

II. Again, Eliakim was a type of Christ, IN THE AUTHORITY ENTRUSTED TO HIM. As the successor of the faithless Shebna was honoured by having “the key of the house of David laid upon his shoulder,” in token of the unlimited authority which he was thenceforth to exercise, so was the Lord Jesus to be entrusted with “all power in heaven and earth;” and we find Him adopting the same lofty terms to describe His own regal attributes Revelation 3:7).

III. A third particular in which Eliakim may be considered as a type of Christ, is IN THE BENEFITS AND BLESSINGS SECURED BY HIS RIGHTEOUS RULE. Eliakim, we are told, was “a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah,” but the benefits of the wisest administration of man are few and insignificant, when compared with those which are secured to the world by the glorious reign of the Prince of Peace. (J. N. Norton.)

Verse 24

Isaiah 22:24

And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house

Eliakim’s family

The vessels, large and small, are figures of the various members of Eliakim’s family.
As vessels of every kind are suspended upon a nail, so will Eliakim’s connections, rich and poor alike, support themselves upon his new dignity. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

Oriental display of wealth

A large part of the wealth of the ancients consisted of gold and silver vessels, and in changes of showy raiment, of which they made an ostentatious display, by hanging them on the spikes along the walls. It was also common to suspend in houses and temples, suits of armour, swords, shields, and helmets; the spoils of war, or the heirlooms of honoured ancestors (Song of Solomon 4:4). (J. N. Norton.)

Christ the sole Manager of the Church

I. THE CHURCH IS THE HOUSE OF GOD (Isaiah 2:2-3; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5).

1. He is the Founder of the house.

2. The Purchaser.

3. The sole Proprietor.

4. Here He hath His abode.

Hence, it must be a very glorious structure. The plan of it was laid by infinite wisdom from all eternity (Proverbs 9:1).


1. In the council of peace, from eternity, He was chosen to be the Builder of the house (Zechariah 6:12-13).

2. He is the everlasting Father of the family (Isaiah 9:6).

3. The great Oracle and Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6).

4. The great Priest (Hebrews 10:21).

5. The great Lord-Treasurer, yea, the treasury (Colossians 1:19; John 1:16).

6. The great Lord-Steward or Dispenser.

7. The Lawgiver.


1. There is an irreversible decree passed in heaven that He should be the sole Manager and Governor of the house (Psalms 2:6-7).

2. He is fixed in the administration of the house with the solemnity of a covenant transaction (Psalms 89:3).

3. With the solemnity of an oath taken by the great Jehovah.

4. In His oath He pledges the most dazzling perfection of His nature. He will as soon cease to be a holy God, as suffer His Son’s authority in His house to be overturned.

5. He is fixed in the management by a solemn call and investiture.

6. By an actual possession of the throne (Philippians 2:9-11).

7. By a complete victory over all His and His Church’s enemies, so that none of them are capable to give Him the least disturbance.


1. All the glory of the house hangs upon our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. The offspring and issue of the house are also said to hang upon Christ. By the offspring and issue I understand all true believers.

8. The vessels of the house hang upon this nail fastened in a sure place, from vessels of cups to vessels of flagons.

V. REASONS OF THE DOCTRINE. Why is Christ constituted sole Manager of His Father’s house? why doth He hang the offspring and issue, and all the vessels, upon Him, as upon a nail fastened in a sure place?

1. He only had ability for bearing such a weight.

2. Christ voluntarily undertook it.

3. Hereby a new revenue of glory is brought in to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Hereby all men are brought to honour the Son, as they honour the Father.

5. This was for the safety and comfort of the saints and children of God.


“Vessels of cups”

A word to weak believers who are designated “vessels of cups.”

1. It is a high privilege to occupy the least room in the house of our God.

2. God has service for the least vessel of His house, as well as for the largest.

3. The least vessel is God’s property, and He will not disown, but maintain His property, and own it before men and angels, saying, “They are Mine,” in the day when He makes up His jewels.

4. The bands, by which you hang upon the nail fastened in a sure place, are as strong as those by which the vessels of flagons are secured; for He has said as to both, “They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.”

5. The weakest measure of grace is a pledge of more; for “to him that hath be given.”

6. Although you are not to envy or grudge at God’s bounty liberality to others, in making them vessels of flagons, yet you may and ought earnestly to covet more grace than you have yet received. (E. Erskine.)

The vessels of flagons,

The vessels of flagons, i.e., believers of a higher stature.

1. Be not proud of grace received, but walk humbly with your God. “What hast thou that thou hast not received?”

2. Instead of despising others that are not come your length, study to be helpful and serviceable unto them. The vessels of cups are ordinarily filled out of the flagons; so study to impart and communicate of your grace, of your faith, love, hope, knowledge, and other graces, unto those that are weak ingrate. The strong children in a family are helpful to the young and weak.

3. Whatever grace you have received, be not confident therein, like Peter; but be strong in the that is in Christ Jesus, sad let the life you live be by faith in the Son of God. (E. Erskine.)

Christ the glory of His Father’s house

By Christ’s Father’s house is meant His Church.


II. ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF THE INSTRUCTION OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE. There is a two gold light which the Lord Jesus imparts to the members of His Father’s house. There is the light of His Word, those Scriptures which testify of Him as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The Scriptures, however, are not, of themselves, sufficient for spiritual illumination. The light of the Spirit must accompany the truth revealed in the Word, that it may become effectual for salvation. The Holy Spirit is the fruit of the Redeemer’s purchase. It is His glorious office to take of the things of Christ and show these to the soul. It is in the light of the Divine Word and Spirit that we discern aright the way of acceptance and the path of duty.

III. ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF THE RENOVATION OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE. When He ascended on high, He received gifts for men; even the seven Spirits before the throne--the Holy Ghost, in His quickening, renewing, and sanctifying grace. These gifts are bestowed, let it be carefully noted, in virtue of the believer’s union with the Lord Jesus Christ, through the instrumentality of living faith.

IV. ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE. They are under law to Christ as the sole Ruler of the house. We must take order from Him; for “One is our Master, even Christ.”

V. ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF THE VICTORIES OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE. The Christian Church, both collectively and in its individual members, is in an enemy’s country on this side heaven. It is the Christian’s solace to be assured that he has not been sent a warfare on his own charges. Apart from the clear and full revelations of Scripture, no subject of human contemplation is so saddening as death. He, on whom hangs all the glory of His Father’s house, is Himself the Resurrection and the Life. Conclusion--Let us seriously inquire whether we are members of that house. Mere external relationship to it will avail us nothing. We must be united in the bonds of faith and love to the Lord Jesus. (J. Smyth, D. D.)

The glory of the Mediator

The idea in the text seems to embrace this statement: That every attribute belonging to God is concentrated in the Saviour, as “God manifest in the flesh,” and that the Father is most glorified when we give in our services all the glory to His Son.

I. UPON HIM HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE OF CREATION. “By Him were all things made, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

II. UPON HIM HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE OF PROVIDENCE. And what is providence but creation continued, in upholding, governing, and guiding all things to accomplish their predestined end? Jesus Christ is on the throne; every painful feeling is anticipated, every tear is bottled, every anxiety alleviated, every distress sanctified. He is our Saviour, our Friend, our Refuge and Strength.

III. UPON HIM HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE OF GRACE. Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual one, set up within the believer’s soul.

IV. UPON HIM HANGS ALL THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER’S HOUSE OF HEAVEN. “I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing”; and thus the ransomed and renewed universe will “hang upon Him all the glory of His Father’s house.” (F. Newman, D. D.)

Verse 25

Isaiah 22:25

In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed

Elevation is only held on good character

Even God who drove in the nail can take it out again.
No nail once driven in can do without God, saying, I am driven in now, so I care not what may happen. The highest lives in obedience; the strongest man becomes weaker than the weakest when he ceases to pray. Genius cannot keep a man in a high moral elevation. His genius will soon be discovered to be but cleverness, not the blooming out of a life that is hidden in the very mystery of God. Leader of the people! even thou mayest be dispossessed of thy leadership. Great statesmen are in the hands of God. Journalists, thinkers, the advance guard of every name, all these hold their position on their good conduct. Let them be good and faithful servants; let there be no selfishness in their ambition, no vain conceit because of the influence with which God hath clothed them; even the nail that is fastened in the sure place may be removed, the very beam in which it finds a place may be cut in two and burned in unquenchable fire. So, then, we are nothing but in God. (J. Parker, D. D.)


Eliakim comes to ruin in the exorcise of the plenary power attaching to his office by giving way to nepotism. His family makes a wrong use of him, and with an unwarrantable amount of good nature he makes a wrong use of his official position for their benefit. He therefore comes down headlong, and with him all the heavy burden which the peg sustains, i.e., all his relations, who, by being far too eager to make the most of their good fortune, have brought him to ruin. (F. Delitzsch.)

Eliakim and Shebna: a couple of tragedies

We have not one, but a couple of tragedies. Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, follows Shebna, the son of Nobody. The fate of the overburdened nail is as grievous as that of the rolling stone. It is easy to pass this prophecy over as a trivial incident; but when we have carefully analysed each verse, restored to the words their exact shade of signification, and set them in their proper contrasts, we perceive the outlines of two social dramas, which it requires very little imagination to invest with engrossing moral interest. (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

──The Biblical Illustrator