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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Isaiah 32



Verse 2



Isaiah 32:2. A man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

THERE is no greater blessing to a nation than a well-ordered government. The due administration of justice, together with the protection of our person and property, afford to any people a just ground of joy and thankfulness. Such a government did God promise to the Jews under Hezekiah; but a greater than Hezekiah is here. Under the figure of an earthly monarch, Christ is promised; and the text informs us,

I. What blessings we enjoy in and through Christ—

The metaphors, though four in number, suggest but two ideas:

1. Security—

[We have very little conception of winds and tempests in this climate. But the wind that rent the mountains before Elijah [Note: 1 Kings 19:11.], and the tempest that desolated the land of Egypt [Note: Exodus 9:23-25.], may serve to shew us how welcome a secure place must be to one who is exposed to such formidable dangers. Yet no storms on earth can fully paint to us the dangers to which we are exposed by reason of sin [Note: Psalms 11:6.]. But the Lord Jesus Christ affords us perfect security from them all. In him we have a Goshen where no hail can come, a mountain which the wind can never affect. The billows, which shall overwhelm the whole creation besides, shall not be able to destroy us. In Christ, we have an ark that can never perish.]

2. Comfort—

[We, in this quarter of the globe, know as little of excessive drought and heat, as of overwhelming storms and tempests. But the state of the Israelites in the wilderness [Note: Exodus 17:2-3.], and of Jonah at Nineveh [Note: Jonah 4:8.], may aid our conceptions. How delightful was the gourd to him, and how reviving to them were the streams that gushed from the rock! And does not a soul oppressed with sin or persecution, or fainting with desire after righteousness, experience as much distress as they? Behold then the preciousness of Christ! He will be not only as a shade or as water to the weary and thirsting soul, but as “rivers of water” that can never be exhausted, and a “shadow of a great rock” through which the beams of the sun can never penetrate. Many can attest his excellency in these respects. Nor shall any who seek refuge in him be ever disappointed of their hope.]

But as these things are spoken of Christ as “a man,” it will be proper to shew,

II. How we enjoy them in him as “a man”—

Christ is truly and properly God, but he is God manifest in the flesh; and it is to him as incarnate that we stand indebted for these blessings.

1. As man, he died for our sins—

[To his atonement we owe all our hopes of salvation. If he had not expiated our guilt we could never have obtained mercy. If he had not purchased for us the gift of the Holy Ghost, we never could have mortified our inward corruptions. But through his death we are freed from the apprehensions of wrath; and through his Spirit we are filled with righteousness, and peace, and joy [Note: Romans 14:17.]. Hence our song will ever be, To him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and honour [Note: Revelation 1:5.].]

2. As man, he intercedeth for us in heaven—

[As our peace was effected by the death of Christ, so is it maintained by his intercession. Now it is as man that he appears in the presence of God for us; and liveth on purpose to carry on this part of his priestly office. By virtue of this, our persons and services find acceptance with God, pardon is given us for our renewed transgressions, and strength is imparted to surmount our manifold temptations. Hence is our salvation justly ascribed, and that in a very peculiar manner, to his intercession for us [Note: Hebrews 7:25.].]

3. As man, he is our Head and Representative—

[Christ is the second Adam, the Lord from heaven [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47.]. Our life is now treasured up in him, that it may no longer be exposed to the assaults of our great adversary [Note: Colossians 3:3.]. It has pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and that out of his fulness all should receive, who shall ever be partakers of his grace, or of his glory [Note: John 1:16.]. Whether we want wisdom to guide us, righteousness to justify us, or sanctification to make us holy, we must look for all of it in and through Christ. As in Adam, our first covenant-head, all died, so in Christ, our new covenant-head, shall all be made alive [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:22.].]

4. As man, he shall judge the world in the last day—

[All judgment is committed to him because he is the Son of man [Note: John 5:27.]. And what can tend more to our security and comfort than this? Will He, who shed his blood for us, give up what he has so dearly purchased? or He who both interceded for us, and supplied our wants, consign us over to perdition? Will he not rather bear testimony in opposition to our fierce accuser, and own the work he had wrought both for us and in us? Doubtless, if we should feel a degree of security and comfort in having a very dear friend for our judge on earth, much more may we rejoice in having for our judge in the last day, him who bought us with his blood and renewed us by his Spirit.]

We do not mean to exclude his Godhead from this great work of redemption: it is that which gives efficacy to all which he did and suffered as man. But nevertheless it is as man, that is, as the God-man, that we feel our relation to him, and have access unto him as our sympathizing friend.


1. What objects of pity are they who have no interest in Christ!

[They are exposed to all the wrath of a sin-avenging God: And where, where will they flee for safety? Where will they even procure a drop of water in that land of drought and misery, to which they shall be banished? Alas! there is no protection but in this city of refuge; there is no water but in this fountain. O that men would consider what they shall do in the day of their visitation; and flee for refuge to the hope that is now set before them [Note: Hebrews 6:18.]!]

2. How highly privileged are they who believe in Christ

[They are not exempt from occasional distress either of soul or body, but they have an almighty Friend to whom they can carry their distress: they go to him when heavy-laden; and find rest unto their souls. They feel themselves secure in their blood-sprinkled dwellings. But their privileges will not be fully seen till the last day. Then how happy in having a covert from the wrath that overwhelms the ungodly world! Then to have their Saviour both for their witness and their judge! Let us all cleave to him with full purpose of heart; and desire to know him more and more as “our friend and our beloved.”]

Verse 16-17



Isaiah 32:16-17. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.

THROUGH the introduction of sin into the world, man was altogether despoiled both of holiness and happiness: and the design of God in sending to us his Gospel was, to restore both the one and the other to our fallen race. This in a former chapter is set forth under the image of the brute creation, which, having through the fall of man been reduced to a state of the greatest disorder, shall be restored once more to universal harmony and peace. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox: and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den: they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea [Note: Isai. 116–9.].” In the passage before us the same truth is set forth under a different image, namely, that of the vegetable creation; which, having been reduced to the condition of a wilderness through the curse inflicted on it, shall be rendered fruitful, even beyond the most fertile parts of Palestine in the most fruitful seasons.

That the passage really relates to the times of the Gospel, does not admit of doubt. In the beginning of the chapter it is said, “Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness; and princes shall rule in judgment: and a man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land [Note: ver. 1, 2.].” A season indeed of great desolation should intervene between the prophecy and its accomplishment [Note: ver. 9–11.]: but at the appointed time “the Spirit should be poured out in such abundance from on high, that the wilderness should become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be so productive as to be counted for a forest.”

In my text the metaphor is explained: and we are told in plainer terms what shall be,

I. The character of Gospel times—

By “judgment and righteousness,” I understand not merely that which is called justice between man and man, but universal holiness. And this will certainly characterize the Gospel dispensation—

[This is evident from the very metaphor before us. In other parts of this prophecy the metaphor is yet further opened and explained. Thus in the 35th chapter it is said, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; 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 . . For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert . . And an high-way shall be there, and a way; and it shall be called the way of holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it; but the redeemed shall walk there [Note: Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 35:6; Isaiah 35:8-9.].” The change itself also is described in appropriate terms: “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, and for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off [Note: Isaiah 55:13.].” The works of the flesh are here contrasted with the fruits of the Spirit: and it is declared, that these latter shall abound on the face of the whole earth; and that, “as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations [Note: Isaiah 61:11.].”

This is yet further evident from the universal testimony of Scripture. If we look into the Old Testament, we find the prophet Ezekiel describing that period thus: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh: and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes; and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them [Note: Ezekiel 36:25-27.].” In the New Testament the same thing is continually declared. Even before the birth of our Saviour, Zacharias, speaking of him as about to visit and redeem his people, represents the end of his advent as being to “deliver his people out of the hands of their (spiritual) enemies, that they may serve him without fear in righteousness and holiness before him all the days of their life [Note: Luke 1:67-75.].” And St. Paul assures us, that “the grace of God which bringeth salvation, was designed to teach us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world [Note: Titus 2:11-12.].”]

But it is not the occasional existence, so much as the abiding habit, of holiness, which is to distinguish this day—

[“Judgment is to dwell, and righteousness to remain,” in this our field. At all times, and under all circumstances, piety is to prevail. We are to be “fruitful in every good work [Note: Hebrews 13:21.], and “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God [Note: Philippians 1:11.].” Our blessed Lord told his disciples, that he “had ordained them that they should go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit should remain [Note: John 15:16.]:” and through the whole world are they to be distinguished as “a holy nation [Note: 1 Peter 2:9.],” “a peculiar people zealous of good works [Note: Titus 2:14.].”

Now it is greatly to be desired, that this distinction should be visible amongst us. But, if a heathen were directed by this mark to find the Gospel ministered in its purity, would he fix on us, on us individually, on us collectively, as possessing that inestimable treasure? Would he, if he followed us to our respective places of abode, and beheld the whole of our deportment through the day, and witnessed our spirit and temper under circumstances of trial, would he say, “That is the garden of the Lord, and those are the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, in which he is glorified [Note: Isaiah 58:11; Isaiah 61:3.]?” — — — O Brethren, look well to this matter, and take care that you “shine as lights in a dark world, holding forth the word of life,” not by your profession merely, but by the whole of your conduct and conversation [Note: Philippians 2:15-16.].]

That you may be encouraged to these exertions, consider,

II. The fruit of Gospel experience—

“The fruit of righteousness is peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” To this also the whole Scripture bears witness: and it is confirmed by fact also, that happiness is the inseparable companion of true piety. It is an attendant on piety,

1. As the natural result of holy habits—

[A man cannot commit sin, but he will find it sooner or later productive of pain. He may roll it as a sweet morsel under his tongue for a moment; but it will prove the gall of aspe within him. There is no exception to that truth, “The way of transgressors is hard.” But there is not a grace which can be exercised that does not tranquillize the mind. All imaginable graces, whether towards God or man, may be resolved into the one principle of love: and how sweet that is, we need not to observe: it carries its own evidence along with it. In truth, this is the very thing asserted in our text; “The fruit of righteousness is peace:” peace is the odour which that holy ointment invariably diffuses; as the Psalmist has said, “In keeping God’s commandments there is great reward.”

If it be thought that the duties of penitence and self-denial are rather of a painful nature, we appeal to all who know what penitence and self-denial are, Whether they have not found an exquisite joy in penitential sorrow, and a more lively satisfaction in the exercise of self-denial, than in all the gratifications which sin could possibly administer? We say again, without fear of contradiction, that there is no exception to this rule.]

2. As bringing with it the testimony of a good conscience—

[This is a source of unspeakable comfort: “Our rejoicing is this,” says the Apostle, “the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:12.].” It will not unfrequently happen that our principles and conduct may be misinterpreted; so that we may incur blame on account of those very things, which, if rightly viewed, would have entitled us to applause: but, if we have a consciousness that we have really endeavoured to fulfil the will of God, we shall not lay much to heart the obloquy that is cast upon us, but shall say with the Apostle, “It is a small matter to be judged of you or of man’s judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self: but he that judgeth me is the Lord [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:3-4.].” In the hour of death more especially will peace and assurance fill the soul of one who has truly and unreservedly devoted himself to God. Not that he will be trusting in a well-spent life as meritorious in the sight of God, or as able to justify him at the bar of judgment: no man who knows any thing of the Gospel can entertain such a delusive hope as that; for the whole Scriptures testify that Christ alone is the foundation of a sinner’s hope, and that no man can be accepted of God but through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus: but still a consciousness that we have truly lived to God and for God, in holy obedience to his commands, will be to us an evidence of the truth of our faith, and the sincerity of our love; and will inspire us with confidence in reference to the future judgment: for St. John says, “Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him: for if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things: but if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God [Note: 1 John 3:18-20.].” And hence we may say to the whole world, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace [Note: Psalms 37:37.].”]

3. As being honoured with tokens of God’s special approbation—

[God will “manifest himself unto his people as he does not unto the world.” He will “shed abroad his love in their hearts;” and by the immediate influences of “his Spirit bear witness to, and with, their spirits, that they are his children.” He will “seal, as it were, their souls unto the day of redemption,” and give them already “the earnest and foretaste of their eternal inheritance.” But who are these favoured people? Are they those who live in a neglect of holy duties, and in the commission of any known sin? No: “If any man regard iniquity in his heart, the Lord will not hear him [Note: Psalms 66:18.];” much less will he favour him with such communications as these. But “of his children, who keep his law, great shall be the peace [Note: Isaiah 54:13. Psalms 119:165.],” even “a peace that passeth all understanding:” “they shall go forthwith joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before them into singing; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands [Note: Isaiah 55:12.].”]

Learn then from hence, Brethren,

1. How to approve yourselves Christians indeed—

[“By their fruits ye shall know them,” says our blessed Lord: and again, “Bring forth much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples:” “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” You well know that it is in this way that you form your estimate of a field, or of a tree: and this is the only true way of estimating your own character. Your professions are of no value, any further than the truth of them is attested by your practice. You may say, Lord, Lord, with as much confidence as you will: but, if you do not the will of your heavenly Father, Christ will disown you, and cast you from him at the last day. You may now so resemble the wheat amongst which you grow, as not to admit of being easily distinguished from it by a human eye, or separated from it by a human hand. But in the last day the tares and the wheat will be infallibly separated from each other; the one for the fire of hell, the other for the granary of heaven [Note: Matthew 13:28-30; Matthew 13:40-43.]. I say then, bring yourselves to this test: and never be satisfied with any faith or any profession, that does not approve itself genuine according to the standard of God’s unerring word.]

2. How to be happy in your own souls—

[It is not any earthly gratification that can make you happy. Our Lord does not say, Blessed are the rich, the gay, the respected; but, “Blessed are the humble, the pure, the meek, and those who are even persecuted for righteousness’ sake [Note: Matthew 5:3-12. Luke 6:20-26.].” We grant, that this is far from according with the sentiments of the world at large; but it is not the less true on that account. They who have never sought for happiness in God, can have no idea of the happiness that is to be found in him. But the more any one knows of the world, the more will he see that “Vanity and vexation of spirit” is written upon every thing that is in it. Seek not then your happiness, beloved, in “broken cisterns that can hold no water, but seek it in the Fountain of living waters [Note: Jeremiah 2:13.],” even in Him who is a source of blessedness to all his people [Note: Psalms 36:9.]. Then shall you here enjoy “a full assurance of hope,” whilst you live [Note: Hebrews 6:11.]; “have an abundant entrance into heaven” when you die [Note: 2 Peter 1:10-11.]; and sit down for ever “at the right hand of your God, where there is fulness of joy for evermore [Note: Psalms 16:11.].”]


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Isaiah 32:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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