Isaiah: Chapter 33 | 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 dirt road in the countryside headed toward a setting sun near a small house. Text overlay quotes Isaiah 33:15.


  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between KJV TLV .
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research Roles of Ancient Israel: Scribes, Receivers, and Tower Counters.
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Memorize Why I chose to memorize Isaiah 33:15.
  6. Cross References Of Isaiah 33:15.
  7. Respond Based on reflections on God's character and my own.

Different Versions

I read Chapter 33 in the King James Version (KJV) and the Tree of Life Version. (TLV). King James is a word-for-word translation and the Tree of Life Version is a thought-for-thought translation.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • Isaiah 33:6
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: And wisdom and knowledge (1) shall be the stability of thy times, and (2) strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
      • TLV: (1) It will be your time of faithfulness, (2) a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge - the fear of ADONAI is his treasure.
    • Discrepancies: 
      1. Are stability (KJV) and faithfulness (TLV) the same? To me, the KJV is saying I will find confidence in wisdom and knowledge, like it is a process whereas the TLV feels like the process is finished: I am faithful at all times because I am living abundantly in the knowledge and wisdom of my salvation.
      2. Regarding salvation, are we assured in it (KJV) or rich because of it (TLV)? How do you have a wealth of salvation (TLV)?
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • From Hebrew, it might also say:  It will come to pass, a time of steadfastness from the storehouse of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. When fear of the Lord is treasured.
      • A message to Hezekiah, a faithful king (See 2 Chronicles 31:20), that the true treasure is God's wisdom instead of silver and gold as he had been led to believe. - Ellicott
      • *The KJV stayed truer to the Hebrew on the first part and the TLV on the second. All in all, the time will be a time of strength for believers. They'll stand firm knowing God is deliverance, assuredness, and understanding.
  • Isaiah 33:8
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.
      • TLV: Highways are desolate; travel has ceased; covenant is broken; cities are despised; there is no regard for humanity.
    • Discrepancies: The wayfaring man is carried throughout the KJV but no subject is present in the TLV.
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • In Hebrew, there is no wayfaring man, no subject, just a description. So the TLV would be closer to the Hebrew. What is interesting, however, is no city is mentioned in Hebrew. The phrase "cities are despised" (TLV) would more accurately be translated "excitement disappears" in Hebrew.
      • Commentators identify the wayfaring man as Sennacherib who broke the treaty of 2 Kings 18:13-14. - Ellicott, Cambridge, and Pulpit.
      • *While the TLV is closer to the original Hebrew, commentators agree a certain man, Sennacherib, is responsible. So, the KJV may be more helpful in grasping the overall context. This was a time of desolation, isolation, lawlessness, sorrow, and cruelty because of Sennacherib.
  • Isaiah 33:16
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
      • TLV: He will dwell on the heights - his refuge will be an impregnable cliff. His bread will be provided, his water assured.
    • Discrepancies: While "an impregnable cliff" (TLV) makes sense, "the munitions of rocks" reminds me of Christ the solid rock. 
    • Clarifications/Conclusions:
      • In Hebrew, it might better be translated: "A craggy rock fortress"
      • Commentators also tie the rock fortress to Jesus. - MacLaren, Cambridge, and Gill
      • *Again, the TLV is closer to the Hebrew translation but the KJV provides connections to Christ the Solid Rock. Both show we are secure. 


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. Defining the Problem (verse 1).
    1. You people think you are getting away with ruining other people's lives and treating them horribly.
    2. You're not. One day you will be treated the way you treated others.
  2. God's People Fear Him (v2-6)
    1. God we, Your people, need you! We're waiting. Be our strength. Save us!
    2. The world responds to Your power.
    3. Your actions are fast and final.
      1. ! As a caterpillar who eats greedily with haste.
    4. In judgement and in righteousness You reign on high.
    5. We stand firmly on Your wisdom and knowledge. Our treasure is found in knowing You.
  3. The World is Abased (v7-9)
    1. Watch as the brave cry and peacekeepers mourn.
      1. ! And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. Isaiah 32:17 KJV
    2. You are forgotten, abandoned, destroyed, betrayed.
      1. ? Who is the wayfaring man? The greedy? Sennacherib. (Bible Hub)
      2. ? What covenant is broken? One between Sennacherib and Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13-14)
      3. ! The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Isaiah 24:5 KJV (See our research on God's laws, statues, and covenant.)
    3. The whole world feels it: the prideful are humbled, the popular abandoned, and the lucrative become desolate.
      1. ! And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled. Isaiah 5:15 KJV
    4. After all are brought low, then God will rise.
      1. *God waits until we realize we need Him. 
      2. ! I will wait for Adonai, who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look eagerly for Him. Isaiah 8:17 TLV
      3. ! For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. Isaiah 18:4 KJV
      4. ! And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. Isaiah 30:18 KJV
    5. Your thoughts, vanity. Your actions, useless. Your words, destructive.
    6. You will be destroyed.
    7. Spread word of My works; see the effects of My power.
  4. The Human Response (v10-20)
    1. Sinners and hypocrites are surprised and terrified. They are certain none can withstand God's holy fire.
    2. But anyone who chooses to walk with God will withstand His fire.
      1. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were joined by one "like the Son of God" in the midst of a fiery furnace. Yet, when they emerged, not a hair was singed and no smell of fire was on them. (Daniel 3:16-28)
      2. 🎵There was another in the fire / Standing next to me 🎶 ("Another in the Fire" performed by Hillsong UNITED)
    3. The one who chooses God will dwell in safety and provision. He'll see King Jesus. He'll glimpse heaven.
      1. ! Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Isaiah 28:16 KJV (See cross-references of Isaiah 28:16.)
      2. ! 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. Isaiah 32:2 KJV
      3. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her servant girls. Proverbs 31:15 TLV
      4. ! And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing. Isaiah 23:18 KJV (See cross references of Isaiah 23:18.)
      5. ! It will be like a hungry man dreaming and behold, he is eating, but awakes with his hunger unsatisfied, or like a thirsty man dreaming and behold, he is drinking, but awakes faint, his soul thirsting. So it will be with the multitude of all the nations warring against Mount Zion. Isaiah 29:8 TLV
      6. ! Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not they manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. Nehemiah 9:20 KJV
      7. ! And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." Isaiah 4:1 KJV (See our thoughts on Isaiah 4:1.)
      8. *This is our hope; the promise we cling to.
    4. While on earth, you agonize over what you thought you knew and you will fail to see your enemy coming.
      1. ? Why are a scribe, a receiver, and a tower-counter mentioned here? Intel collectors?
      2. !  That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled. Isaiah 18:2 KJV (See research on Isaiah 18:2.)
      3. *When your thoughts overwhelm you, focus on how to dwell safely in God's holy fire by following the guidance of verse 15:
        1. Walk righteously.
        2. Speak uprightly.
        3. Despise the gain of oppressors.
        4. Refuse bribery.
        5. Remove yourself from talk of violence.
        6. Hide your eyes from seeing evil.
      4. *When your enemy attacks you, remember the promises of verse 16: you are protected and provided for.
    5. But remember Zion. You've trained for this. God's dwelling place is unshakable, a sure fortress.
      1. *When you doubt, envision verse 17: Behold the beauty of King Jesus in that far and distant land.
      2. 🎶A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing🎵 ("A Mighty Fortress is Our God" performed by Reawaken Hymns)
  5. The Promise (v21-24)
    1. In Zion, God will be our peace and protection. His power and authority will save us.
    2. The weapons of the enemy will not stand. God will share the spoil.
      1. ! No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 KJV
      2. 🎵And nothing formed against me shall stand / You hold the whole world in Your hands / I'm holding on to Your promises / You are faithful / You are faithful🎶("Whom Shall I Fear" performed by Chris Tomlin
    3. We'll be made whole.


*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.
Why would we be worried about the location of the scribe, the receiver, and the one who counts towers? Isaiah 33:18

Role Explanations from Ellicott's commentary at Bible Hub

  • Scribes kept track of how much money each citizen owed as tributed.
  • Receivers made sure the amount paid was equal to the amount due.
  • The tower counter planned siege-laying operations. Tower counting is also mentioned in Psalm 48:13


  • God's people expected to see these dreaded officials, but didn't - because they had been saved - and were thankful. - Ellicott, Cambridge, Pulpit, et al.
  • After glimpsing God's glory, those who do not walk with God experience terror and in panic look around for one who might help them. - Enduring Word
*Conclusions: We'd worry about the location of the scribe, receiver, and tower counter because we're used to seeing them. Why we're looking for them is less certain. It could be because we expect to see them and are thankful we don't; because we are terrified of God's glory and look for people who ease our discomfort; or (my interpretation to help me through today) because we live in the present, sinful reality that is filled with evil and abounds in reasons to worry. All the while, God urges us to look beyond this world to glimpse His beauty in the far and distant land. (Isaiah 33:17)


God turns the tables on those who act against others. The righteous dwell in His safety and comfort.


I chose to memorize Isaiah 33:15.
He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despisesth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.

This verse strengthens and convicts me regarding my choices.

Cross References

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

Of Isaiah 33:15.

He that walketh righteously,...
  • Proverbs 10:9 KJV: He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.
  • Psalm 1:1-3 KJV: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
  • II Corinthians 5:21 TLV: He made the One who knew no sin to become a sin offering on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

...and speaketh uprightly...

  • Psalm 15:1-2 TLV: ADONAI, who may dwell in Your tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one who walks with integrity, who does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart
  • I Corinthians 15:33: KJV Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • Proverbs 18:21 KJV: Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
...he that despiseth the gain of oppressions...

  • Isaiah 58:6 KJV: Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
  • Ezekiel 22:13 KJV: Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.
  • Proverbs 14:31 KJV: He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
...that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes...

  • Proverbs 15:27 TLV: One greedy for gain troubles his household, but whoever hates bribes will live.
  • Deuteronomy 16:19 TLV: You are not to twist justice - you must not show partiality or take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:7 TLV: For extortion drives a wise man crazy, and a bribe corrupts the heart.

...that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood...

  • I Samuel 24:5-7 TLV: But afterward, David's conscience bothered him for cutting off the edge of Saul's robe. So he said to his fellow men, "ADONAI forbid that I should do such a thing to my lord, ADONAI'S anointed." So David persuaded his fellow men with these words and did not let them rise against Saul.
  • Psalm 72:14 TLV: From oppression and violence he redeems their soul, for precious is their blood in his sight.
  • Job 31:29-30 TLV: I have not allowed my mouth to sin, by asking for his life with a curse - 

...and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil. 

  • Psalm 119:37 KJV: Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
  • Proverbs 3:7-8 TLV: Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear ADONAI and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
  • Romans 16:17 KJV: Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 

*Conclusion: As a Christian, I believe I am covered in Christ's righteousness through His sacrifice. His love covers my sin. However, that doesn't mean I am free to do whatever I please (I Corinthians 6:12). In response to His love, we must strive to:
  1. Walk along His paths of righteousness by studying and following His word.
  2. Speak truth which brings life.
  3. Seek honest gain, show mercy to the poor, and loose the bonds of the oppressed.
  4. Refuse bribery and favoritism.
  5. Stop violence. Don't choose it as a solution in your own life or condone it as another plans it.
  6. Turn away from evil. Using God's word to define evil, leave anything or anyone that pulls you toward doing evil.


  1. God sees. God sees who is hurting and who is being hurt. He sees who trusts in Him and who trusts in other things. I don't see the truth of who others are or of who I am. I can rest knowing God watches and knows my heart. He hears me when I call and He will act fairly for all.
  2. God waits. I can wait. Because God is not in a hurry and is confident in His power and plans, I can be too. God doesn't need to fight for power; He is power. God doesn't need to strategize; He is victory.  I can wait standing on a firm foundation of faith in Him.
  3. God provides. I lack nothing. I worry about so many things from trivial, like appearance, to significant, like the well-being of others. But God is not worried, so I shouldn't be either. In Him, I have all things. He trains us to seek and notice His provision and provides us refuge and weapons for protection. My job is to notice His provision and use His equipping with faith. Always responding in thankfulness.

In Closing

Father God, You care for us in ways we will never fully understand. You long for our hearts, for all of us at all times. You wait for us to realize that life is only fully lived when it is lived for You. You leave evidence of Your goodness and act continuously on our behalf. Open our eyes, ears, and hearts to You, Lord. Help us realize the fulness of Your beauty, the abundance of Your provision, and the strength of Your protection. We are safe. We are loved. We are Yours. 

Learning with You,

Are you ready for Isaiah 34?

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