Isaiah 10:15

ESV Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
NIV Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up, or a club brandish the one who is not wood!
NASB Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, Or like a rod lifting the one who is not wood.
CSB Does an ax exalt itself above the one who chops with it? Does a saw magnify itself above the one who saws with it? It would be like a rod waving the one who lifts it! It would be like a staff lifting the one who isn’t wood!
NLT But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself?
KJV Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
NKJV Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up, Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!

What does Isaiah 10:15 mean?

Once the Lord is done using the Assyrian war machine to judge His people Israel, He will turn and punish the arrogant speech of king of Assyria (Isaiah 10:12). Isaiah quoted some of that arrogant speech (Isaiah 10:13–14). Official government inscriptions from kings of this era have been found with similar self-declarations of personal greatness. Isaiah emphasizes once again how far from the truth the perspective of these self-glorifying kings is. Instead of being the engineers of their own greatness, they are merely tools in the hand of the living God.

The prophet mocks these kings by asking if the axe ever brags as it is wielded. Or if a saw declares its own glory. Of course not. In the same way, the rod is not using the person who picks it up to accomplish its agenda. A stick has no will. These objects do not make use of the person who brandish it as a tool. How foolish of the king of Assyria, or of any of us, to believe himself to be the ultimate builder. Rather, the Assyrian king is just a tool in the hands of a skilled craftsman: the Lord God of Israel.
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