See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the Lord ; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just. But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand. – Isaiah 32:1-8
OK so this passage is confusing. It starts out as if it is going to be a prophetic reference to a coming king, perhaps the Messiah, “a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice”. Then it rapidly changes to sound much more like it is referring to earthly kings that will provide “shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land”. In previous passages in Isaiah it seemed like it was God who would fulfill the role of providing “shelter in the storm“.
The passage then continues with what appears to be prophetic references to someone who will give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf: “the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen”. The meaning here seems to be at least partially metaphoric, in that the ones who will receive site and hearing are those that are listening and seeing, i.e seeking and knocking to use the metaphor from the new testament. So there is at least some echoes of Jesus here in Isaiah, although they are layered with references to earthly rulers and kings.
It sounds like there will be a general restoration of the proper order to the world: “The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected”. It sounds like this is describing God winning in the end over a world that has become comfortable with calling bad things good and treating lies like truth. This sounds eerily like much of the relativism that is going on in American Society today.
Perhaps the layering here is to remind us that we are part of the restoration process. Our decisions and actions can be part of the problem or they can contribute to the solution: “But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand”. This is a call to be noble. As a scientist the term “noble” has special meaning. On the periodic table of elements the “noble gases” are those that are stable. Without getting into a lot of details their electrons are configured such that they do not react with other elements and are stable under most conditions.
So what does it mean to be “noble” and to make “noble plans”. I think for us humans it means that we know clearly who we are, and we are “stable” in our beliefs. We have a clear understanding of what is right and wrong from God’s perspective and we act accordingly. Our plans and perspective are consistent with God’s plans.
Prayer: God help us to make noble plans that stand up in our culture so that others may see a clear difference between Your ways and the ways of this world.