(32) And in every place where the staff of punishment passes,
Which the LORD lays on him,
It will be with tambourines and harps;
And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it.
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Isaiah 30 contains dichotomies that bear investigation. One is the dichotomy of destruction and restoration alluded to in verses 25-26. It is echoed by the contrast, or distinction, between destruction and rejoicing in verse 32. These two dichotomies, destruction-restoration and destruction-rejoicing, appear to be historically and conceptually coupled. Notice Isaiah 30:32 in the Lexham English Bible: “And every stroke of the staff of foundation that Yahweh lays will be on it [in context, on Assyria, . . . ] with timbrels and lyres, and He will fight against it with battles of brandishing.”
Somebody will be making music in the midst of this destructive warfare!
The Lexham translation is one of the few that handles this passage adequately. The Hebrew word for the noun “foundation” is a hapax legomenon—it appears nowhere else in the Old Testament. However, it is related to another word also translated “foundation” in reference to Solomon's Temple in IIChronicles 8:16, and to yet a third word translated “foundation” in reference to the Millennial Temple in Ezekiel 41:8. The root also appears in Isaiah 28:16: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.”
So, an accurate paraphrase of Isaiah 30:32 might read: “And every stroke of His foundational rod that the LORDbrings down. . . .” Ironically, the rod of correction is foundational. This is something every good parent understands. The parent's ultimate objective in using corrective punishment is in fact not to hurt but to build—build character. In Hebrews 12:10 (ESV), Paul informs us that the punishments God sends are “for our good, that we may share His holiness.”
In this vein, the blows He ultimately delivers to the Babylonish system on the Day of the Lord will lay the groundwork for a better civilization; His destruction of the environment and of the infrastructure, of mankind's governments and his perverse religious systems, will permit the creation of far superior counterparts—and that in short order. The old has to go before the new can come. In this sense, these blows are an affirmation of God's commitment to building a new structure. We can be encouraged that His every blow is aimed at producing, ultimately, a new and better world.
While it does not strictly cause restoration, God's “staff of foundation” or His “staff of discipline,” as some translations render it, is curative, even creative. Just as a paddle may not actually cause or create good character in a child, properly used, it can certainly become an agent in character development. Likewise, God's sagaciously administered discipline in His Day will facilitate restoration. This is why destruction is so closely associated with restoration; this is why the correction of the Day of the Lord is attended with rejoicing. Better things are coming soon.
— Charles Whitaker