Though the oracles about Moab and Damascus demonstrate God’s compassion even on those who receive wrathful judgment, I want to focus on the oracle against Philistia. This oracle occurs when Ahaz dies (710 B.C.), after the Assyrian invasion. Philistia mock their former rivals, for Philistia were Israel’s great enemies during the time of Joshua, Judges, and the reign of David. Israel defeated Philistia during David’s reign, so when Isaiah warns against rejoicing over the rod that broke you, he is speaking about Philistia rejoicing over Israel’s recent defeat at the hands of Assyria.
Isaiah warns Philistia: “for from the serpent’s root will come forth an adder, and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent” (Isaiah 14:29). This imagery conveys that Assyria will give birth to a greater foe to Philistia than Israel. God has given Israel over to Assyria, but Isaiah communicates that Philistia should be careful not to delight in the evils faced by another, for Philistia will face similar evils themselves. On the flip side, Isaiah declares that God will continue to care for the afflicted whom Philistia mock through God’s chosen city, Zion (Isaiah 14:32). God will also vindicate His own people, unworthy as they might be of such kindness.
What does this teach us today? Simply, we ought be careful to render ultimate verdicts about God’s favor or delight based on the temporary circumstances in our lives. Our suffering can be vindicated, and our times of peace can give way to times of misery. Ultimately what really matters is God’s favor upon us, and as God’s children united to Him through Jesus, our vindication is ultimate, and our hardships are temporary.