Isaiah 31:1-9

Daybreak for Students

Isaiah 31:1-9

Isaiah 31
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! — Isaiah 31:1

For many years, a man in our congregation testified, “I ran around with a preacher’s son. He said if he went to Hell, he would have plenty of company. I couldn’t console myself with the thought of having company in that lake of fire. I didn’t think anyone would walk up to me and say, ‘Bill! Well, we’re here! How about it?’ Everyone would be weeping and wailing.

“I began to count the cost. I said to myself, ‘If I should gain the whole world, live to be a ripe one hundred years of age without an ache or a pain, having everything at my disposal, and then spend all eternity in that lake of fire and brimstone where the Bible says the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, I would still be the loser.’

“I looked at the other side of the picture and thought how much better it would be to have salvation. Then when it came my turn to cross over the Great Divide, I could enter in through the gates into that beautiful city, whose Builder and Maker is God. I decided that Heaven was cheap at any price.”

Bill Cripps weighed the facts and made a choice to trust and serve God. What a contrast to the people of Judah in Isaiah’s time, who had made a decision to abandon God and seek help from man! The focus verse indicates that Judah was fearful of the Assyrians and was looking to the horses and chariots of their enemies in Egypt for help instead of trusting God. Isaiah warned them that seeking help apart from the Lord would not bring success.

Today, people are tempted to put their hope and trust in many things beside God. Material possessions, a successful career, wealth, powerful positions, and their own knowledge are a few that come to mind. Yet, any substitute for looking to God ultimately will be worthless.

God has great power, infinite understanding, and almighty strength, and He wants to be the object of our trust and worship. He notes the smallest details about our lives, and He loves us more than any human possibly could. When we consider who God is, it will be a joy for us to trust Him. Bill Cripps did, and so will we.


Isaiah 31:1 contains another “woe” on Jerusalem. This verse is a summation of the previous woes — the nation of Judah was putting their trust in men and horses, rather than in God. God had warned the Jewish kings not to seek horses and chariots in Egypt (Deuteronomy 17:14-16), yet they seemed uneasy with infantry alone. At this time, Egypt was known for its great cavalry, so it was a strong temptation to solicit their help. Yet Isaiah said that if Judah looked to Egypt for help, both nations would fail.

Warning the people about trusting in man rather than God and making evil alliances was a common theme for Isaiah and other prophets. Jeremiah and Hosea are two others who gave the same admonitions.

In verse 5, Isaiah used the imagery of “birds flying” to remind the Israelites of the turning point in their history — the night of the Passover when their children were protected from death. The words passing over in that verse are from the same root word as passover. God promised to intervene for Jerusalem as He had delivered His people from Egypt so many years before.

Isaiah wanted the people of Judah to understand the futility of trusting in their idols. He called them to turn “unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted” (verse 6). This was the common cry of the prophets throughout the Old Testament era.

Verse 8 predicted that the Assyrians would flee, and this prophecy was fulfilled when the angel of the Lord smote 185,000 of the Assyrian army in one night (see 2 Kings 19:35-36 and Isaiah 37:36).


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
     E.   Prophecies related to unbelievers in Israel and Judah
           3.   Woes against foreign alliances
                 b.   The second woe
                       (1)   The warning against relying on Egypt for protection (31:1-3)
                       (2)   The assurance of Jehovah’s protection (31:4-9)


  1. What did Isaiah prophesy would happen if Judah obtained help from Egypt? 

  2. Why was it wrong for Judah to look to other nations for military help?

  3. How can we be sure that we are not abandoning God in our life’s decisions?


Sometimes it may seem easier to attempt to resolve our problems on our own. However, God would have us place our trust in Him and seek His counsel in our time of need.