God was going to use the Assyrian superpower (5-11) to punish a ‘‘godless nation” (Judah). Judah was ”full of idols” (2:8; see 11). ”God is going to send the Assyrians to loot and plunder Judah and to trample its people down like mud in the streets! The people of Judah had become like salt that has lost its saltiness and is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men (Matthew 5:13).” Tom Hale: The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.1008. The Assyrians, for their part, were proud and arrogant and did not see themselves as the instruments of God; they did not view themselves as ‘His'(5). They were out to get power and glory for themselves. They planned to conquer as many nations as they could (7) and boasted of their great success (8-10). ”But Assyria has another agenda; he has something else in mind. He’s out to destroy utterly, to stamp out as many nations as he can.” The Message. (7)
So, once Assyria had been used to punish Judah, Assyria itself would be punished (12). God was going to deal with them for the pride that said: ”I’ve done all this by myself. I know more than anyone. I’ve wiped out the boundaries of whole countries. I’ve walked in and taken anything I wanted. I charged in like a bull and toppled their kings from their thrones. I reached out my hand and took all that they treasured as easily as a boy taking a bird’s eggs from a nest. Like a farmer gathering eggs from the henhouse, I gathered the world in my basket, And no one so much as fluttered a wing or squawked or even chirped.” The Message. (13, 14).
Verse 15 is surely the key question in this section. It is folly for a tool to suppose it is greater than the one using it. In fact that would never happen. It’s like a pot thinking it is greater than the potter (Ro.9:20, 21). ”This thought underlays the apostle’s reply to those who magnified him against Apollos or Cephas. What are we, he cries, but ministers through whom ye believed, even as God granted to each of us? We are only instruments of God’s husbandry, implements through which He fulfils his plans (1 Cor.3). It dates an era in the life, when we cease to work for God, and allow God to work through us. Thoughts like these correct alike pride and despondency. Pride, because whatever is the result of our work, we can no more take the credit of it than the pen that wrote the ”Paradise Lost” could take to itself the credit of its production. At the best, it is not you, but the grace of God that was with you. You are only a pipe in the organ, but the breath that educed your music was divine. And in despondency it is very helpful to remember that if we are nothing, God is all-sufficient; if we have failed, it is the more needful for Him to exert more power. Throw back the responsibility of all results on God. Only see to it that you are a polished shaft, an unblunted saw, and leave Him to do through you what He will.” F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.272. If God uses you it doesn’t do to boast.
In (16-19) Isaiah describes the punishment to come to Assyria. A ”wasting disease” will kill his troops (16). This happened. They died of a plague during the siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. King Sennacherib of Assyria later died by the hand of his own sons (2 Kings 19:20, 32-37). In Isaiah’s day flaming torches were used for both light and heat. God is a ‘light’ of salvation’ to those who trust Him, but He is a ‘fire’ of judgment to those who don’t. This is similar to Isaiah’s earlier teaching about God being a rock of protection to some but a stone of stumbling to others (8:13-15). The Assyrian empire was to fall ”in a single day’’ (17). It’s thought likely that Isaiah is referring to the fall of the capital city, Nineveh, in 612 B.C., about a hundred years after Isaiah wrote these words.
Prayer: ‘’I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom.’’