Isaiah 22:11: You Did Not Depend On Him

For the Lord GOD of hosts has a day of panic, subjugation and confusion...
And He removed the defense of Judah.
In that day you depended on the weapons of the house of the forest,
And you saw that the breaches
In the wall of the city of David were many;
And you collected the waters of the lower pool.
Then you counted the houses of Jerusalem
And tore down houses to fortify the wall.
And you made a reservoir between the two walls
For the waters of the old pool.
But you did not depend on Him who made it,
Nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago.

— Isaiah 22:5, 8-11 (NASB 1995)


The first half of Isaiah 22, up to verse 14, deals with a situation in which Jerusalem is under siege after a crushing military defeat, and there is little hope for the defenders. There is some uncertainty as to which historical event this is referring (see TBKC) but likely it is the attack of the Assyrians against Judah, in the days of King Hezekiah, in which the entire nation was overrun but the capital city narrowly escaped destruction (TBKC, Buksbazen). The first few verses speak of humilating defeats in which soldiers are killed without even putting up a good fight, and leaders are taken captive fleeing to save their own skin.

ʏʜᴡʜ, working through the Assyrians, put Jerusalem in this miserable situation to discipline them, and to call them to humble repentance and to turn back to him. Instead of turning to God, however, the people (with the fortunate exception of Hezekiah) focused only on their own military capabilities and planning. They fixed the weaknesses in the city walls, re-engineered their water supply, and emptied the armory (vv. 8-11). At the same time, however, they recognized their extremely low odds of survival. Instead of penitently calling out to God, they decided to spend what appeared to be their last few days of life in partying and indulgence (vv. 12-13).

Hebrew Insights

The word translated "depend" in verse 8 is the same word translated "depend" in verse 11. It is the word הִבִּיט. Literally it means "to look", but in context here has the idea of looking towards something with confidence (HALOT). In verse 8, they "looked" to the weapons of the "house of the forest", that is to say, they looked to the armaments stored in the cedar palace that Solomon had built, as their hope for deliverance from the Assyrian menace. But they did not look to ʏʜᴡʜ, who should be their real hope and confidence in times of trouble.

In verse 9, they "saw" the breaches in wall. The word for "saw" here is רָאָה, which here means that they perceived or became aware of the vulnerabilities. It is the same word used in verse 11, which NASB 1995 translates as "take into consideration". They saw the weakness in their military defenses, and came up with a plan to address the problem, but they did not see that it was ʏʜᴡʜ who brought about this situation, or understand his purposes.

A third parallel is found in verse 11, where they "made" a reservoir of water, but did not depend on the one who "made it" it long ago — the same Hebrew word for "made" in each case.

One important question to address is what is the thing, in verse 11, that God "made" and that he "planned" long ago? One might, at first, suppose that he is referring the city, the house of the forest, the pool, or other objects just mentioned. But aside from being a bit confusing, this has some grammatical difficulties as many of those words are masculine Hebrew gender but the verbs require objects in the feminine Hebrew gender. It is much better to understand this as referring back to verse 5, specifically the day of "panic, subjugation and confusion". The phrase is three words in Hebrew, מְהוּמָ֨ה וּמְבוּסָ֜ה וּמְבוּכָ֗ה, which make a nice alliteration, and also are all femine Hebrew gender. In short, ʏʜᴡʜ brought about the danger and distress they are in, and so they should have looked to him for forgiveness and deliverance.


Sometimes God puts suffering and trouble into our lives as a way to get our attention, and to lead us back to him. Now, this is not always the cause of our suffering, as in the case of Job, who was being tested as a righteous man. But sometimes it is. If your heart is far from God, and you find suddenly that your life is miserable and falling apart, it might be that God is reaching out to you, trying to wake you up from your pride and your self-centered and vain life. He offers you forgiveness, inner healing, and peace and joy within. But you must be willing to humble yourself, turning away from self-dependency, and looking to God's word, to Christ, and to his Spirit, to give you truth and new life within.

I wish also to reach out here specifically to any of my Jewish friends who might be reading this. As everyone knows — but many wish to forget — it was only a few months ago that Israel towns and villages were brutally attacked and many Israelis were massacred by Hamas terrorists. The Bible teaches that the Jews are God's chosen people, and that Israel is a special nation in his sight. Why then did God allow these horrible attacks to take place? And why does God allow so much hatred and persecution of the Jews to take place in the USA and in other countries?

Only God knows the full answer to that question, but one answer from the Bible is that God loves his people, and he chastens them for their own good. (See Hebrews 12:6.) Israel is blessed with prosperity, a strong military, and good education, and I'm glad for it. But many Israelis are not interested in spiritual things, and place their confidence in their own abilities, or their national strengths, rather than looking to God and following him. Similarly, many Jewish people claim to be religious, but are only following religious traditions, and put their trust in the words of rabbis, rather than seeking God for themselves, and looking to his word. If either of these descriptions fits you, then this time of danger, fear, and uncertainty is a call and an opportunity for you to turn back to God, and to reevaluate what is in your heart — whether you truly love God and what you are putting your hope and trust in.

God calls all men everywhere to put their trust in the One whom he has sent, and to know him.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." — John 8:12 (NASB 1995)

And from verse 19:

If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.

This work © 2024 by Christopher Howard is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

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Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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