The army of a major military power had destroyed a sister nation to the north already. Now it marched into Judah. In the presence of this challenge to the faith of followers of God, the prophet Isaiah pronounced a curse against Assyria, “Woe to you, O destroyer, you who have not been betrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed” (Isaiah 33:1). Isaiah prophesies destruction for Assyria, then prays to the only one who can save him and his people:
“O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. At the thunder of your voice, the peoples flee; when you rise up, the nations scatter” (Isaiah 33:2-3).
He cries out for mercy. Isaiah and Jerusalem crave God’s intervention. He prays the expected request for rescue in desperate times, but introduces that petition with a pleas that God will be their strength every morning. He prays for God’s grace, he asks for salvation, he asks for the protective presence of God each day.
After the prayer Isaiah addresses the Assyrians. Their plunder will disappear, vanishing as if devoured by a swarm of locusts. He prays with confidence in a God who will fight for justice. Isaiah’s next words describe the reason for his (and our) confidence when calling for fire:
“The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:5-6).