Summary: Once again we come to judgment. What brings this doom is the same sin that was prominent in the second half of chapter two and is to bring the general doom on mankind – pride.
Isaiah 3:16-4:1 Arrogance’s Reward
9/10/00e D. Marion Clark
Once again we come to judgment. This time it is embodied by the pronouncement made against the women of Jerusalem, though it will also include the men as well. What brings this doom is the same sin that was prominent in the second half of chapter two and is to bring the general doom on mankind – pride.
12 The LORD Almighty has a day in store
for all the proud and lofty,
for all that is exalted
(and they will be humbled),
13 for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty,
and all the oaks of Bashan,
14 for all the towering mountains
and all the high hills,
15 for every lofty tower
and every fortified wall,
16 for every trading ship
and every stately vessel.
17 The arrogance of man will be brought low
and the pride of men humbled…
Isaiah gives his attention to the women, who by their manner and dress express the same pride of the men. Whereas he referred to the arrogance of men; he now refers to the haughtiness of women.
You can see it in their manner. The walk with outstretched necks. It is a figure of speech that corresponds with our saying that a person has his nose in the air. They are flirting with their eyes drawing attention to themselves. They are the opposite of the modest woman with her eyes diverted down. They trip along with mincing steps – they walk in such a way as to make the jewelry around their ankles jingle, again to draw attention to themselves. By their manner, they are saying, “Look at me. See how beautiful or rich or glamorous I am.”
“That day” is the day of judgment which is to come on Jerusalem and Judah. In verses 18-23 Isaiah lists the jewelry and clothing that the women are wearing to parade themselves. The very length of the list shows the great expense and effort spent to glorify oneself. The commentators I read are quick to explain that these items themselves were not bad; it was the prideful spirit of the women that Isaiah was condemning. I suppose that is true. It is a bit difficult, though, to imagine how a woman adorns herself with all these things with a humble spirit. I think Isaiah is portraying the woman for whom these things are her life. She lives each day to adorn herself so as to draw everyone’s attention to her.
The consequence of this pride is shame. Sores will appear on their heads. Their hair, which is their glory, will fall out replaced with sores. Verse 24 contrasts the beautiful adornments with the shameful replacements that will come. Instead of the fragrance of the costly perfumes, they will bear a stench; instead of the decorative sashes, they will wear the ropes that are used by slaves; instead of the well-dress hair adornments, they will experience baldness; instead of fine, costly clothing, they will wear the sackcloth of mourning; instead of drawing attention with their beauty, they will draw shameful attention with the branding given to slaves. The attention they crave will be fulfilled in such a way that brings them shame rather than glory.
This judgment is not isolated to the women; it falls on all of Jerusalem. The men are killed in battle as the city is conquered by outside invaders. In verse 26, Jerusalem is personified as a woman widowed and made destitute. She sits on the ground in mourning and shame. After the invasion, so many men are killed that the women, who are now widowed, become desperate to find husbands. They are so desperate that they forsake all the appropriate conventions of becoming betrothed. Instead of being approached, they approach the men. Instead of the men having to provide a dowry and prove that they can provide for their wives, the women offer to do that work. What they need is the name that the man can provide and the opportunity to bear children. There was no greater disgrace than to remain single and not bear children who carry on a lineage. So they humiliate themselves going after men shamelessly that they not bear even greater disgrace.
The Bane of Pride
Why does God hate pride so much? Why is he so bothered by vain women or by men deluded by false power? Why come down so hard on what we think is best not even to give attention to? Let’s turn to other scripture that helps us put pride in perspective.
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.