Isaiah: Chapter 32 | 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.

Farmland at sunrise with text overlay quoting Isaiah 32:17.


  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between KJV NLT.
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research On sending out the ox and ass.
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Memorize Why I chose to memorize Isaiah 32:17.
  6. Cross References Of Isaiah 32:17.
  7. Respond Based on reflections on God's character and my own.

Different Versions

I read Chapter 32 in the King James Version (KJV) and the New Living Translation. (NLT). King James is a word-for-word translation and the New Living Translation is a thought-for-thought translation.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • Isaiah 32:5
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: The vile person shall be no more called (1) liberal, nor the churl said to be (2) bountiful.
      • NLT: In that day ungodly fools will not be (1) heroes. Scoundrels will not be (2) respected.
    • Discrepancies: 
      1. Was the ungodly, vile person once considered liberal (KJV) or heroic (NLT)?
      2. Were the churls (scoundrels) considered bountiful (KJV) or respected (NLT)?
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • In Hebrew, it might better be translated: No more will the foolish be called generous, nor the rascal elite.
      • *In the end, the message remains the same: We'll see people for who they are and evil will no more be celebrated. 
  • Isaiah 32:19
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: (1) When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city (2) shall be low in a low place.
      • NLT: Even if the forest (1) should be destroyed and the city (2) torn down.
    • Discrepancies: 
      1. Would hail (KJV) destroy a forest (NLT)? 
      2. Is the city protected by the trees (KJV) or completely destroyed (NLT)?
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • In Hebrew, it might better be translated: Hail descends upon the forest, the city is abased in humiliation.
      • Ellicott enlightens us: 
      • *This verse is sandwiched between promises of blessing, protection, and peace. So, it seems to contrast what happens to God's people with what happens to those who don't choose God. God's people receiving protection and peace; the others destruction and shame. I originally read the King James to depict God's protection of His city. The forest protecting His people from the hail. 


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. The Promise (v 1-2)
    1. Righteousness and justice will rule.
      1. ? Is this the 1000-year reign?
      2. ? Is the man Jesus?
      3. ! I know there's a song with the lyrics..."in a dry and weary land" but I can't find the one that is playing in my head to link it.
    2. Relief will come.
  2. What to Look For (v 3-8)
    1. If you're watching and listening, you'll notice it.
    2. Knowledge and truth will emerge from those who once blustered and hedged.
    3. You'll see the truth about others:
      1. That the ungodly are actually working against God and people 
        1. *They take away God's provision of food and drink, leaving people hopeless. (Nehemiah 9:20 NLT: You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst.)
      2. The greedy knowingly mistreat the poor. 
        1. ? What is a "churl"? A stingy, morose person according to Merriam-Webster.
      3. The generous are consistently generous.
        1.  Ellicott directs us back to Isaiah 5:20 NLT: What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
        2. ? Does liberal mean generous? Yes, based both on the NLT and Merriam-Webster.
  3. Wake Up! (v 9-12)
    1. Cease complacency. Pay attention to the warnings.
      1. Why women? Different doctrines? (See Bible Study Tools' article that explains how women symbolize systems of belief.)
    2. Trouble and famine are coming. Act like you believe it.
      1. *They were God's vineyard, but now it's failed. (See notes on Isaiah 5.)
      2. *The harvest they waited for - perhaps the return to God, or rapture, will not come. (Harvest is often symbolic of the rapture. See notes on Isaiah 17 and 28.)
    3. You will long for abundance. 
      1. *Instead they spend their days in mourning for what they lost, longing to return to Him. 
      2. *They lament Eden. 
  4. God Moves (v 13-20)
    1. The Fall: But your abundance will be replaced by thorns and briars and animals will overtake your cities.
      1. ! Genesis 3:17-18 NLT: ..."Since you listened to your wife...the ground is cursed because of you...It will grow thorns and thistles for you.
      2. ! Genesis 1:26 NLT: "...They will reign over the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground."
    2. Redemption: Until God's spirit moves. Then abundance will return, the wicked will face judgement, the righteous will remain fruitful.
      1. ! Isaiah 26:9 NLT: In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right.
      2. ! Isaiah 32:1 KJV: Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
    3. Restoration: My people will dwell under the hedge of God's protection in perfect peace. Their days well-spent in fulfilling labor. 
      1. ? What is the meaning of a city dwelling low under a forest and when hail comes down? Prideful cities are humbled to prepare them to be exalted. - Ellicott
      2. ! Psalm 23:2 KJV: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
      3. ? Is there symbolism behind sending the ox and ass out or is it a picture of quiet, yet purposeful, rest? *R


*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.
Is there symbolism behind the ox and ass being sent out? (Isaiah 32:20)

Literal Meaning

  • Sending the ox and ass out indicate the abundant pasture land was easily tilled. - Ellicott & Pulpit
  • Perhaps a yoke was not even needed, just the animals wandering about would ready the land. - Barnes
  • "The idea of the verse is, that there would be a state of security succeeding the destruction of their enemies; and that they would be permitted to pursue the cultivation of the soil, unannoyed and undisturbed." - Barnes

Spiritual Meaning

  • Indicates a time when what was once disallowed (See Deuteronomy 22:10) is now allowed: 
    • The law is abolished.
    • Messiah arrives.
    • The Jews and Gentiles work together. - Gill
  • "The good seed of the word shall be sown in all places, and watered by Divine grace; and laborious, patient labourer's shall be sent forth into God's husbandry." - Henry *The labourer's here being the ox and the ass.
*Conclusions: The ox and ass literally represent leisurely labor, an easy yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). Spiritually, it shows Jews and Gentiles working together to ready the earth for the seed of the Gospel.


Relief will come. So will truth. Hard times will fall, then my Spirit will bring quietness, assurance, peace, and productivity.


I chose to memorize Isaiah 32:17.
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

Quietness. Assurance. Peace. These are words I can use right now as chaos assaults my brain. How to find it? Working peace through righteousness. Doing the right thing is peace. My work is to bring peace by practicing righteousness. By living in God and letting Him work through me. Only God can bring peace. So, if quietness and assurance are what I seek, I must live in God.

Cross References

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

Of Isaiah 32:17.

And the work of righteousness shall be peace;...
*To sow peace I must:
  1. Keep my thoughts fixed on God.
    • Isaiah 26:3 NLT: You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
    • Psalm 85:10 KJV: Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
  2. Obey His commandments.
    • Isaiah 48:18 NLT: Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
    • James 3:18 NLT: And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
  3. Accept His instruction.
    • Isaiah 54:13-14 KJV: And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
    • Hebrews 12:11 NLT: No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

...and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

*The yield being:

  • Quietness: Isaiah 11:6-9, 13 NLT: In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all...Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord...They will not be rivals anymore.
  • and Assurance: Isaiah 30:15 NLT: This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.
  • Forever: Isaiah 9:7 NLT: His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven's Armies will make this happen!
*Conclusion: When I live the way I was designed to live, my rest is eternal and certain.


  1. God is righteousness. I think that I don't need God to do what is right. I can do it on my own.  But I don't even know how to judge what is truly right. Only God has that measure. To do what is truly right, I must walk constantly with God by obeying His commandments and learning from His instruction.  
  2. God is truth. I believe lies and explain away uncomfortable ideas found in His word. I want to please the people around me, fit into the culture I live in, and appease my own desires, so I come to accept ideology that is contrary to God's word. I must look constantly to God, not to others and not to myself for truth and accept what His word says, even when it's uncomfortable.
  3. God is faithful. I grow complacent and forget I'm made for His purpose. Or I doubt His goodness. I must remember that He will do what He says He will. Judgment will come. I must wake up to truth and follow His ways. Blessing will follow. 

In Closing

Father God, in the middle of this mess we're in, it's often hard to determine what is true. People are cunningly deceptive and my own thoughts pull me away from You. Awaken me in righteousness. Fill me with Your Spirit of quietness and assurance, so that all day long my hands will sow the Your peace.

Learning with You,

Are you ready for Isaiah 33?

Sample these related posts:
To seek peace.

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Image Credit: Spacious Landscape shared by torstensimon at Pixabay.


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