Isaiah 32


One of the common Isaiah themes is the contrast between Israel forsaken and Israel redeemed.  He prophesies of times when things are bad and times when things are good.  This chapter is a classic example.  He teaches of the bliss of the Millennium and contrasts it with the despair of being forsaken, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.  In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.” (Isa. 54:7-8)  Chapter 32 emphasizes the positive for 5 verses, then without warning switches to the negative, then switches back to the positive for 6 verses (15-20). 

In summary, that is 12 verses which are positive and Millennial versus 8 verses which are negative. As if to demonstrate that good always overcomes bad, even the number of positive verses is a pattern for God’s dominion over Satan and for Isaiah’s emphasis on millennial redemption over scattered rejection.  

Isaiah 32:1 Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment

Behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction! (Mosiah 29:17), but not in the Millennium.  The king in the Millennium will be Christ, the Holy One of Israel, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New.  He will reign for a thousand years in righteousness.  His princes will rule in judgment.  None of his subjects will be oppressed, discriminated against, treated unfairly, or abused.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel longed for the same millennial bliss as did Isaiah, prophesying of the great leadership to come:

   Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, That I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

   In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer. 23:5-6)

   And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. (Ezek. 34:24)

   …I will… set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

   My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Ezek. 37:26-27)

Isaiah 32:2-5 a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind… as rivers of water in a dry place

In the Millennium, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14)  The effect of that knowledge, coupled with the absence of Satan’s malice, will make even an average man a delight to be around.  Isaiah’s poetic accolades describe someone who is “a breath of fresh air.”  Those individuals are rather rare in mortality.  They will be commonplace in the Millennium.

With Satan’s influence, men have eyes that see but do not perceive; and ears to hear but do not hearken to the Lord. “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not” (Isa 6:9).  In the Millennium, the visual acuity of every man will be as the eagle, speaking both physically and spiritually.  On average, men will hear the voice of the Lord as readily as they hear a pin drop.

Isaiah goes on, the rash will understand, the stammerer won’t stammer, the vile won’t be vile, the churl (mean and wretched) won’t be churlish.  The picture being painted is almost too good to believe.  If we put it in modern language:

  • ·         The proud will be humble
  • ·         The idiot will be smart
  • ·         The rude will be kind
  • ·         The malicious will be benevolent
  • ·         The harsh will be soft

What does that say about the innate goodness of people?  Is it the absence of Satan that brings out the good in people, or is it the presence of Christ? Is there a refining power of knowing the goodness and glory of God? Is it powerful enough to turn the qualities of the rudest, most vile person to a benevolent, pleasant person?  That seems to be the picture that Isaiah is painting for us.  The leaders will execute judgment, and the followers, even the common man, will be uncommonly righteous and pleasant.  Sounds good to me!

Isaiah 32:6 the vile person will… make empty the soul of the hungry

We are not in the Millennium anymore.  Isaiah switches on a dime.  To contrast the goodness of men under the influence of Christ, he reminds us of the most wretched creatures under the influence of Satan, the vile person and the churl.  This is the sort of wickedness we are used to in mortality; the vile person works iniquity, practices hypocrisy, and takes food from the hungry.  The churl is mean for the sake of being mean; he kicks you when you are down.  The best biblical example is Nabal, husband of Abigail (see 1 Sam. 25).  He was so bad that one couldn’t even talk to him without him being a jerk. (1 Sam. 25:17).

Isaiah 32:8 the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand

It’s tempting to think of this phrase in political terms, but that is not how Isaiah means it. Democrats and liberals devise liberal things; Republicans and conservatives devise conservative things.  Both are going to have to stand by those things they have devised.  That is not what Isaiah means.  In politically conservative, Mormon circles being “liberal” is a bad thing; it has a very negative connotation.  Isaiah means “liberal” in a good way.

Brigham Young

God has blessed me sufficiently that I feed and clothe my scores of poor, independent of the tithing office; and He will bless any man, any family, or any people who is liberal. As it is written in the good book, “The liberal man deviseth liberal things,” and if he deviseth liberal things, by his liberality he shall stand. (Isa. 32:8) The Lord will bless that people that is full of charity, kindness, and good works. When our monthly fast days come round, do we think of the poor? If we do, we should send in our mite, (Mark 12:42-44) no matter what it is. What is it to give ten or twenty pounds of flour, or a hundred pounds of flour? What is it to give a little meat, or sugar, or a little money, or whatever is wanted? Does it impoverish us? It does not. (Journal of Discourses, 13:279)

George Q. Cannon

I know we live in the kingdom of God and serve a liberal Master, and though we may be called upon to make what we may view as sacrifices, if we do so willingly and liberally, God will give to us a liberal reward. “The liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand,” (Isa. 32:8) was said by one of old, and can be said in truth of the day in which we live. If we act upon this principle, God will deal with us in a similar manner. I know this to be true, and that God will reward us with every blessing we need, as a people, if we take the course that is pointed out. There is no circumstance or difficulty we have to contend with but what is for our good; and will ultimately prove so, if we are faithful. No matter what labor we are required to perform, we are in the very position, and doing the very work, God requires at our hands. It is necessary for our development and increase in the faith of the Lord Jesus. This is a glorious consolation to me. (Journal of Discourses, 11:47)

Isaiah 32:9-14 Rise up, ye women that are at ease

Isaiah now switches to the wretched women whom Satan controls.  They are so capable of doing good but do nothing instead.  Latter-day saint women rarely fit this description.

Jedediah M. Grant

I might say to the young men wake up from your sleep, that you may have the blessings of God poured out upon you. And if the women want to know what I think of many of them, let them read the 32nd chapter of Isaiah; I had better read part of it for you. “Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.” (Isa. 32:9-11)

I want to say to many of our old women, and to hundreds and thousands of our young women, that the life of God Almighty is not in you; you are at ease, and careless, and dull, and blind, and you do not understand the rights that God Almighty wishes you to enjoy. I want such women to humble themselves in sackcloth and ashes, until they get the Holy Ghost. I want every mother and daughter in Israel to serve their God, have the light of God in them, instead of pride, foolery, nonsense, and everything that is light and vain. Rise up, ye careless women that are asleep in Zion, and betake yourselves to mourning and lamenting before God, until the light of heaven shall shine upon you, until the light of God shall chase away your pride, and your abomination, and your sins, and be round about you, and until the eye of heaven smiles upon you and blesses you forever. I want you to be blest and saved, that your children may rise up and be blest. I want the women to understand that there is something in Zion for them to do, instead of going to sleep. (Oct. 26, 1856, Journal of Discourses, 4:177-178)

Isaiah 32:15 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high

The Spirit is the transformational agent.  Instead of a vile and churlish man, you get a man that is so pleasant to be around that he is like running water in a dry place.  Because of the Spirit, the lazy and wicked woman is transformed into a benevolent queen, a blessing to all around her.  This is why we seek the Spirit.  It refines us, makes us better, reproves us, etc.  Parley P. Pratt elucidated this idea so well.

Parley P. Pratt

The impure spirit of such a one will repulse the pure element, upon the natural laws of sympathetic affinity, or of attraction and repulsion.

An intelligent being, in the image of God, possesses every organ, attribute, sense, sympathy, affection, of will, wisdom, love, power and gift, which is possessed by God himself.

But these are possessed by man, in his rudimental state, in a subordinate sense of the word. Or, in other words, these attributes are in embryo; and are to be gradually developed. They resemble a bud—a germ, which gradually develops into bloom, and then, by progress, produces the mature fruit, after its own kind.

The gift of the Holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being” (Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. [1965], 101).

Isaiah 32:15-16 the wilderness [shall] be a fruitful field

Orson Pratt

It seems, then, that the Lord had a particular set time in his own mind, when he would again pour out his Spirit from on high upon his people, and more especially upon the house of Israel;  and when that time arrives, there will not only be a great moral reformation among the people, but we are told that the revolution will extend to the land also, for the Prophet says here, that when the Spirit is poured out from on high, the wilderness shall be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be counted for a forest.  What are we to understand by the prediction that the wilderness shall be a fruitful field [p. 145a]when the Spirit is poured out from on high? We are to understand the same as is recorded in the thirty-fifth chapter of this prophecy, a small portion of which I will read. Speaking of the gathering of the Israelites in the latter times, he says—“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” (Isa. 35:1-2) (Journal of Discourses, 18:144-145)

Isaiah 32:17 the work of righteousness shall be peace

Charles W. Penrose

Brethren and sisters, that time is coming and the work in which you and I are engaged is to prepare the way, and the spirit that must be in our hearts is the spirit of righteousness, for that is what will bring peace. There will never be peace to rule in the world until righteousness is established; righteous knowledge, righteous living, righteous acts, righteous aims, righteous union, united faith. When that day shall dawn, Christ shall come and be our king, and we read that the "effect of righteousness shall be peace." (Conference Report, April 1917, First Day—Morning Session 22)

Isaiah 32:17 the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever

“Isaiah taught almost thirty centuries ago: ‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever’ (Isa. 32:17). Those in this life who conduct themselves with fidelity and devotion to God and his laws shall eventually know the peace ‘which passeth all understanding’ (Philip. 4:7), the calming but powerful assurance that they have successfully met the challenges of mortality. These are they who as disciples of the Christ have lived by every word of God.” (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 121)

Thomas S. Monson

May we realize that our greatest happiness in this life will come as we follow God’s commandments and obey His laws! I love the words found in Isaiah chapter 32, verse 17: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Such peace, such assurance can come only through righteousness. (Conference Report, Oct. 2015, 83)

Isaiah 32:17-18 my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation… in quiet resting places

Orson Pratt

Was that the way we dwelt in Missouri or Illinois? Did we live in quietness and with assurance continually in those States? Oh, no, we were tossed about; as Isaiah says—tossed too and fro and not comforted." That was the case with Zion while down in the States, and that was in accordance with a modern revelation, in which, speaking of Zion, the Lord says—"You shall be persecuted from city to city and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive their inheritance." But when the time should come for Zion to go up into the wilderness things would be changed; then my people shall dwell in peaceable habitations, in sure dwelling places, and in quietness and assurance." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 18: 149)

Isaiah 32:19 hail, coming down on the forest

There is a phrase along the Wasatch Front, we want “rain in the valleys and snow in the mountains.” This is usually said by those who hate shoveling snow off their driveways, who hate slipping and sliding in their cars, and who hate falling and breaking their hips.  Verse 19 says the same thing.  If it is going to hail, let the hail fall in the forest where it won’t hit us in the head, dent our cars, and break our windows.  If we live in the valleys, we want rain to water our grass and drench our flowers.  That is the blessing of the Millennium, the rain comes when you need it and where you need it.  The hail only causes destruction, so keep it in the forest.

Orson Pratt

We see all the rigors of an arctic winter on our eastern ranges of mountains, while at the same time here are deep valleys in which there is a comparatively warm climate, which makes me think of that which was spoken by the mouth of Isaiah the Prophet in referring to the latter-day work. He says that, “When it shall hail, coming down upon the forests; the city shall be low in a low place,” Isa. 32:19 where the climate is warm. (Journal of Discourses, 18:26)

Isaiah 32:20 ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth… the ox and the ass

Orson Pratt

We will now return to our text, the 32nd of Isaiah—“Blessed are ye that sow by the side of all waters, and send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.” Why did Isaiah say that a blessing should be given to a certain people that should happen to sow by the side of streams of water? Why did he not bless the others who lived on the hills and mountains, as they do all over our States and many other countries of the globe? Because he saw, in looking at this people, that they, in their location, were to go into a desert, and the redeemed of the Lord would be under the necessity of getting along the sides of streams; they could not go out several miles from a stream or spring and trust to the rains of heaven; no, the rains do not come here, or did not when we first located, so as to bless those who would naturally desire to reside far from a stream of water, but we were all under the necessity of getting down close to the side of some stream of water. What for? That it would be handy to build little canals to get water out to throw over the land. “Blessed are they who sow by the side of all waters, and send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.”

We have read these words of the ancient Prophet, in order that the Latter-day Saints may call to mind how completely the Lord is fulfilling every jot and every tittle, (Matt. 5:18) so far as time will permit, of that which he caused to be spoken, by the power of the Holy Ghost, through his ancient Prophets. (Journal of Discourses, 18:153)