Isaiah: Chapter 31 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome, Family! We're spending 2024 with the prophet Isaiah. While we claim no expertise, we're excited to sit with you as we both learn at the feet of Jesus. Each month, we offer a calendar that outlines daily exercises (adapted from Jenn Wilkin's Women of the Word Bible study process) to progress through Isaiah. Download June's calendar to begin with us and witness what we uncovered in our weekly "Wolfe Note" postings.

A lion roaring on a mountaintop. Text overlay quotes parts of Isaiah 31:4.


  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between KJV NLV.
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research Fire in Zion. Furnace in Jerusalem
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Memorize Why I chose to memorize Isaiah 31:4.
  6. Cross References Of Isaiah 31:4.
  7. Respond Based on reflections on God's character and my own.

Different Versions

I read Chapter 31 in the King James Version (KJV) and the New Life Version (NLV.). King James is a word-for-word translation and the New Life Version is a thought-for-thought translation.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • Isaiah 31:5
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.
      • NLV: Like flying birds, the Lord of All will keep Jerusalem safe. He will keep it safe and bring it out of trouble. He will pass over and save it.
    • Discrepancy: Three distinctive actions appear in the KJV: defend, deliver, preserve. The NLV seems to repeat the action "deliver" with the word choice "save". 
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • In Hebrew the words are:
        • ganan: to cover, surround, defend
        • natsal: to snatch away, deliver, plunder
        • wehimlit: to rescue, preserve, escape
      • *So, another translation might be: "As birds flying, so will the Lord of Hosts surround Jerusalem; covering it, He will snatch it away; He will pass over and help it escape."
      • *Regarding the noted discrepancy, the NLV translation might be closer to accurate for meaning. Regardless, the message is the same: God circles Jerusalem and saves it from trouble.
  • Isaiah 31:8
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.
      • NLV: And the Assyrian will fall by a sword that is not of man, a sword that man has had no part of will destroy him. He will run from the sword, and his young men will be made to work hard.
    • Discrepancy: Are his young men uneasy and defeated (KJV) or struggling (NLV)?
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • In Hebrew the word lamas means forced labor.
      • *The NLV translation is closer to accurate for meaning. "Discomforted" is vague whereas "made to work hard" is specific. Either way, the young men are clearly not enjoying life.
  • Isaiah 31:9
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
      • NLV: "His safe place will pass away because of fear. And his rulers will be afraid of the flags lifted up," says the Lord, whose fire is in Zion and Whose place of burning is in Jerusalem.
    • Discrepancy: Is the Assyrian running for safety (KJV) or without a safe place (NLV)?
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • In Hebrew the word yaabar means pass over.
      • *So it could be that he is passing by his safe place because he is afraid. He sees it is conquered and keeps running. (Many commentators agree with this interpretation.)


Notes on my process*Denotes my thoughts alone. ! Denotes a connection. Researched quick answers are in italics. *Indicates a topic with more extensive notes under the research heading.
  1. Identifying the Problem (v1-3): Man trusts in the power of men.
    1. Be cautious about where you turn for help. Don't trust in popularity or talent - trust in God.
    2. For God is wise and will cause people who choose evil and do iniquity to fall.
    3. Their strength is flesh. When God moves, both types of men will fall: 1) the man who is trusted in 2) the man who trusts in him.
  2. God Moves (v4-5)
    1. God will fight as a lion for mount Zion.
      1. ? Does a lion fear men when protecting its prey? No. Maclaren imagines a lion standing undaunted with a paw on his prey waiting for the shepherds to take it from him. But none dare do. In the same way, God preserves all of His strength to hold fast to Israel. No one can pluck us from His hands. (John 10:28-30)
      2. ? What does the hill thereof reference? The Gentiles? Ellicott identifies the hill as Jerusalem. *The hill being Jerusalem makes sense as Zion and Jerusalem are frequently mentioned together. See Isaiah 4:3Isaiah 10:32Isaiah 24:23, and Hebrews 12:22-24.
    2. He will defend, deliver, and preserve His people.
  3. Evil Falls (v6-9)
    1. Return to Him, even though you've pushed Him far away.
    2. Remove anything that keeps you from Him.
    3. Then, evil will fall when truth is revealed and those who followed evil will be disheartened.
      1. The Assyrian is literally the king and metaphorically Satan. See Ezekiel 31.
      2. ! And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
    4. Evil will run for safety in fear when they see the power of God.
      1. ? Why is there fire in Zion but a furnace in Jerusalem? *R
      2. ? Why fear the flags/ensign lifted up? Signal of distress? More that their stronghold has been overtaken. - Pulpit & Barnes


    *Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.
    Why is there fire in Zion and a furnace in Jerusalem? (Isaiah 31:9)

    God's Holy Fire

    • Fire, throughout scripture, represents divine glory. - Ellicott
    • "For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29 KJV - Pulpit
    • Fire represents the passionate love of God. - MacLaren
    • Ariel, as Jerusalem is called in Isaiah 30, means the hearth of God: where God lives, comforts, and defends. Now, God's hearth is the church. - MacLaren
    • It is sourced in Zion, but lives in us: the church. Do we project His warmth? - MacLaren


    • Provides light and warmth to the faithful. - Ellicott & Pulpit
    • Quickens and gladdens all who walk in it. Thaws coldness. - MacLaren
    • Purifies us within and throughout, unlike a water baptism that cleanses the outside. - MacLaren
    • Transforms. All that fire touches becomes fire. "He shall plunge you into the life-giving furnace, and so 'make His ministers like a flame of fire,' (Hebrews 1:7) like the Lord whom they serve." - MacLaren


    • God stands before every man: "be quickened by fire or consumed by it". Build your stronghold with consumables and be burned or with precious stones and be saved. Experience God as a daily purifying flame and ultimately assimilate with Him or know terror and destruction. - MacLaren

    *Conclusions: Zion's fire resides in Jerusalem's furnace. God dwells in us! In so doing, we are comforted, purified, transformed. But those who reject God, are consumed. 🎵I give You all, give You all of my worship. Fall, fire fall, fire fall come consume it.🎶("Living Sacrifice" performed by Brandon Lake)


    You trust in man's power, but God is greater. His fire saves or destroys. The choice is yours.


    I chose to memorize Isaiah 31:4.
    For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.

    This verse portrays how God fights for us - fearlessly, relentlessly, confidently.

    Cross References

    *Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.

    Of Isaiah 31:4.

    For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me,...
    • Genesis 1:3 KJV: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
    • Psalm 62:11 NLV: God has spoken once. I have heard this twice: Power belongs to God.
    • Ezekiel 24:14 KJV: I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God.

    ...Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey,...

    • Revelation 10:3 KJV: And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
    • Numbers 24:9 KJV: He crouched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.
    • Isaiah 42:13 KJV: The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, ye, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.
    ...when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him,...

    • Jeremiah 50:44 NLV: "One will come up like a lion from the trees by the Jordan to rich grass fields. All at once I will make the people run away from Babylon. And I will make whoever I choose to rule over it. For who is like Me? Who will call Me into court? What shepherd can stand before Me?"
    • Ezekiel 34:9 NLV: So, you shepherds, hear the Word of the Lord. The Lord God says, "I am against the shepherds, and I will ask them for My sheep. I will stop them from feeding the sheep, so they will no longer be able to feed themselves. I will save my sheep from their mouths, so that they will no longer be able to feed them."
    • Jeremiah 23:1 NLV: "It is bad for the shepherds who are destroying and dividing the sheep of My field!" says the Lord.

    ... he will not be afraid of their voice,...

    • Deuteronomy 1:21 NLV: See, the Lord your God has set the land in front of you. Go and take it for your own, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not be afraid or troubled.'
    • Genesis 3:8-10 KJV: And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
    • Genesis 3:17 NLV: Then He said to Adam, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I told you, "Do not eat from it," the ground is cursed because of you. By hard work you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
    • *Voices persuade. But we need not fear or follow anyone's voice but God's.
    ...nor abase himself for the noise of them:...

    • Hebrews 10:39 NLV: We are not of those people who turn back and are lost. Instead, we have faith to be saved from the punishment of sin.
    • Daniel 4:35 NLV: All the people of the earth are thought of as nothing. He does as He pleases with the angels of heaven and the people of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?"
    • Isaiah 14:27 KJV:  For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
    • *Because our God does not back down, neither do we. We trust Him. shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion,...

    • Zechariah 12:8 NLV On that day the Lord will fight for the people of Jerusalem. The one who is weak among them on that day will be like David. And the family of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord leading them.
    • Isaiah 37:35 KJV: For I will defend this city to save it for my own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
    • Deuteronomy 3:22 NLV: Do not be afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the One fighting for you.
    ...and for the hill thereof.

    • Genesis 49:26 NLV: More good has come to your father than to my fathers before me, as lasting as the hills that last forever. May this good be on the head of Joseph, on the crown of him who was divided from his brothers.
    • Exodus 17:9 KJV: And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
    • Numbers 23:9 NLV: I see Israel from the top of the rocks. I look at them from the hills. See, the people live apart. They will not be thought of as one of the nations.
    • *Hills seem to be a position of God's blessing. A place He shares His power with His people

    *Conclusion: God's power is mighty, fearless, unstoppable - and that power, fights for us!


    1. God is trustworthy. I do not compare. The things of men do not compare. God is the only solid rock. I can practice trusting Him and faithfully and test everything against what He says.
    2. God fights for us. I try to fight in my own power, but to no avail. Unless I rely on God, my fight is hollow. I can lay my weapons down and trust the fight He's fighting because I know He will save me triumphantly. 
    3. God transforms us. Either we become like Him, or we're destroyed by Him. I do not transform, only God does. I can entrust myself and others into His capable hands accepting that transformation is not my job, but His. My job is intercession and openness to change.

    In Closing

    Holy Father, let your fire fall. Consume evil in this world and in this heart. Comfort us in Your warmth as You fight for us. Purify us in Your fire as You transform us. Embolden us with Your blazing Spirit so we can lead others to You, the trustworthy One.

    Learning with You,

    Are you ready for Isaiah 32?

    Sample these related posts:
    To read about Isaiah's purification with fire.

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    Image Credit: Lion shared by Denexbro at Pixabay.


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