I'm reading Matt Perman's book What's Best Next and found this interesting:

  1. Knowing how to get things done enables us to fulfill God’s call to make plans for the good of others. This is one of the most exciting reasons to me. The biblical call on our lives is not to do good randomly and haphazardly. Rather, God calls us to be proactive in doing good — even to the point of making plans for the good of others. For example, Isaiah 32: 8 says that “he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands.” We often think of doing good simply as something we are to do when it crosses our path. But Isaiah shows us that we are also to take initiative to conceive, plan, and then execute endeavors for the good of others and the world. (And this requires, of course, actually knowing how to plan and actually make our plans happen!)

Perman, Matthew Aaron (2014-03-04). What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (p. 23). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

In reading through Isaiah 32, there seems to be a kingdom of righteousness being described that sounds really good - but then it is almost immediately followed by a warning of destruction.

Not really knowing Isaiah as well as I should, I'm trying to understand the context from which Perman is making this leap. Is this inference from Perman (that we should be actively planning noble things) directly drawn from the prophetic nature of what Isaiah is preaching here, or is there an eisegesis that is required to make the point?

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    I'll refrain from a full answer because I'm also not as familiar with Isaiah as I should be; but, it seems from the immediate context, that the statements about the deceivers and the noble are more definitional than prophetic: By deceivers I mean this, and by noble I mean that. Isaiah is clearly "just" contrasting these two types. And it seems like Perman is latching on the latter statement out of context (eisegesis). When Isaiah says "plan", I can't conclude from Isaiah alone that he's not just contrasting it with the deceivers' plans.
    – svidgen
    Mar 6, 2014 at 18:45

3 Answers 3


There's obviously a lot going on in the book of Isaiah! He was writing in a time not long before the people of Judah would be taken into exile. The kingdom as it was then was a disappointment, while the state that would exist after the exile would be even worse. So he writes about the time of the coming of the messiah, when the kingdom would not only be re-established, would not only get back to the glory days of David and Solomon, but would even exceed them.

Verses 1-8 describe what that will be like, when all injustices are finally corrected. Then in verses 9-14 he warns the people that the must stop being complacent about their sin because God's judgement would be coming very soon. In verses 15-20 he returns to describe the time of the coming of the messiah. (The messiah isn't directly mentioned here, but it's a straight forward interpretation.)

Perman's interpretation isn't great. What he says isn't wrong, but it's not the point of the passage. The passage is describing and contrasting evil and righteous people. His point is really pretty unnoteworthy - making plans for the good of others is just another way of saying to love people. Of course God calls us to do that.


This is not so much for you as it is for other readers, and for the record this is not to disagree with curiousdannii, but is what I have come to understand from my studies.

Perhaps we can relate the verses of Isaiah 32 to other Scriptures which will help us understand what he is conveying:

(note) All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation.

Isaiah 32:1 Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.

There are two distinct parts of this prophesy; A king in righteousness: and Princes in Judgment. to that end though we must always remember that:

Exodus 15:18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.

but I believe that what he might be referring to here is the millennial reign of Christ described in Revelation chapters 19 and 20:

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Revelation 20:1 through 5 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them:

but it behooves us to remember that things will go on in the World just as they were during the time of the flood:

Matthew 24:37 through 39 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Isaiah 32:2 and 3 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. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.

I believe these two verses are talking about the Christians during that period, since people will not be separated Godly from ungodly until the great white throne judgment:

Revelation 20:11 through 15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Isaiah 32:4 through 8 The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly. The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.

During my research all points to these as being the ungodly and non believers.

Isaiah 32:9 through 14 Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins. They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;

This passage in my mind applies to the great whore of Revelation chapter 17 which is called Babylon.

Isaiah 32:15 through 20 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place. Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.

I see this passage being fulfilled in Revelation chapters 21 and 22.

This is my understanding, but I do not dismiss other interpretations, since I do not consider myself a Bible scholar.


Isaiah 32 already happened, as we can see if we go back just a couple of verses to Isaiah 31:8-9:

Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited. And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.

Here we see the context of chapter 32, remembering that the book was not divided into separate chapters until many centuries after the time of Isaiah. Assyria had recently defeated Israel and was now threatening Judah, but Isaiah was confident that Assyria would be unsuccessful and Assyrians would flee from the sword of Jerusalem.

Chapter 32 consists of three independent oracles:

  • Verses 1-8 speak of a new king. Brevard S. Childs says in Isaiah, page 239, that commentators are divided whether this king should be seen as messianic or non-messianic. If messianic, then verses 1-8 are probably a later editorial insertion, otherwise Isaiah was writing, possibly about King Hezekiah.
  • Throughout his writing, Isaiah displays a puritanical attitude towards women, and verses 9-14 are a complaint against women, whom Isaiah now sees as complacent.
  • Verses 15-20 are once again later editorial insertions, relating to the Return from Exile. The idyllic description is quite at odds with the turmoil that had so far occupied Isaiah, and even verses 32:9-14.

A useful commentary on Isaiah 32 is provided by Studylight.

Matt Perman seems to have read into Isaiah what he hopes to read out of it. Isaiah spoke of a just king and told us what kings and nobles should do, summarised by the wise words of Isaiah 32:8. This scarcely constitute showing us that we are to take initiative to conceive, plan, and then execute endeavours for the good of others and the world. As long as Perman uses verse 32:8 as no more than a useful analogy, then he is on solid ground, but you would be right to believe eisegesis is required to go beyond this.

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