Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 16

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-4

Moab would plead for shelter from her enemy. Her leaders would send a lamb as a tribute from their hiding place in some wilderness stronghold (possibly Sela in Edom) to the king of Judah requesting help. The Moabite refugees would be as frightened as birds while they hovered on their border. They would seek refuge in Judah. Young believed this refers to a spiritual conversion of the Moabites, but this may be reading too much into these cries for deliverance. [Note: Young, 1:463.]

Verses 4-5

Moab would find security in Zion because extortion and destruction had ceased in Judah, and oppressors would no longer dwell there. A merciful, faithful, just, and righteous Davidic king would judge there. This is clearly a reference to Messiah’s rule during the Millennium (cf. Isaiah 9:1-6; Isaiah 11:1-9). Moab, then, will be one of the nations that comes to the mountain of God to seek His ways (Isaiah 2:1-4). This leap into the eschaton in the oracle extends Moab’s desire to find security in Judah in Isaiah’s day-far into the future.

Verses 6-8

The prophet explained the reason for Moab’s destruction, pride (cf. Isaiah 16:1-4 a), and its result, grief (cf. Isaiah 15:2-4). Her excessive pride, arrogance, and insolence were the reason for her invasion; the invader was but the instrument of God (cf. Isaiah 13:11). There was no basis in reality for her boasting. Moab was covered with grapevines, which the enemy would destroy. As a grapevine, Moab had extended its influence far beyond its borders, but now an enemy had cut back her fruitfulness. This would result in much despair and wailing in Moab. Raisin cakes appear to have been a major export of the nation that the Moabites relished as a delicacy in their homes (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:40; Hosea 3:1).

Verses 9-12

Again the Lord grieved over Moab (cf. Isaiah 15:5-9). Even when He must judge people, the Lord has pity on them and grieves over the destruction that He must send (cf. Hosea 11:1-9). Joy would end because the national product, grapes, would be unavailable due to hostile invaders. God’s heart would break for these proud Moabites. When the Moabites would pray to their idols there would be no response, no help. How foolish, then, it was for the Judeans to trust in Moab for help.

"In Moab everyone went to ’the church of his own choice.’" [Note: Ibid., 1:467.]

Verses 13-14

Isaiah concluded this oracle by announcing Moab’s imminent ruin (cf. Isaiah 15:1). The preceding verses describe an earlier revelation that the prophet received, but now he learned that Moab’s invasion would be within three years. A hired man would count down the three years day by day, and the Judeans would do the same as they anticipated the degrading of Moab’s glory and population. Only a remnant would survive.

The fulfillment came when Assyria invaded Moab sometime between 715 and 713 B.C. or, perhaps, when Sennacherib destroyed it in 701 B.C.

"The grief of the judge of all the earth is one of the two striking truths of this oracle. The other is that all this total loss and suffering arises from the single sin of pride (Isaiah 16:6)." [Note: Motyer, p. 151.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 16". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.