What does Isaiah 10:5 mean?
ESV: Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!
NIV: Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
NASB: Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hands is My indignation,
CSB: Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger -- the staff in their hands is my wrath.
NLT: 'What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger. I use it as a club to express my anger.
KJV: O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
Verse Commentary:
Israel has been receiving a warning about the coming judgement of the Lord (Isaiah 10:3–4). The Assyrian army was powerful, brutal, and greatly feared all over the Near East. Assyrian kings were ambitious to take possession of all the nations within their reach. Now, the Lord makes clear that Assyria is not His chosen people. Despite Isaiah's prophecy that Assyria will succeed in conquering Israel and bringing destruction to Judah, he proclaims "woe" upon them, as well. After they have served God's purpose as an instrument of punishment, the Assyrians, too, will be punished.

For now, the Lord calls them the rod of His anger. Their weapons are the extension of His fury. Two things leap out from these statements. First, the power of the nations are nothing compared to the Lord. He raises them up and tears them down for His own purposes. While Judah quakes at the coming of Assyria, they should be trembling at the power of the Lord. Instead of trying to make alliances with Assyria's king, as Judah's King Ahaz did, the people of Judah should be trying to renew their full dependence on the Lord (2 Kings 16:7–9).

The other thing made obvious by Isaiah's quotation from the Lord here is that God is more than annoyed with Israel. He is furious. He is livid with rage. He will wield the destructive power of the Assyrian empire against Israel and Judah due to their ongoing unfaithfulness to Him.
Verse Context:
Isaiah 10:5–19 describes Assyria as a weapon of the Lord's anger directed at His own people. The king of Assyria imagines himself to be the source of his own strength. He also images that he will keep conquering one nation after another. However, when the Lord has finished using Assyria, He will turn and judge the king for his arrogance. Does the axe boast over the one who uses it? Or does the staff lift the one who holds it? The Lord will consume Assyria as fire consumes a forest.
Chapter Summary:
Isaiah declares woe on those in Israel and Judah who use the law to take advantage of the poor. These people will not escape the Lord's judgment. He next describes the Assyrians as the Lord's staff of judgment against the godless nation that is His people. When He is done punishing His people, the Lord will turn His anger on the Assyrians, nearly destroying them. Eventually, a remnant of Israelites will return to faith in the Lord. Destruction will come, but it will not consume everything. The Lord will triumph over Assyria.
Chapter Context:
Isaiah 10 follows prophecies about God's judgment on Israel for the nation's sins. It begins pronouncing sorrow for those who oppress the poor and needy. He also declares woe on the Assyrians, whom the Lord is using to judge His people Israel. Soon, the Lord will direct His anger against the Assyrians for the arrogance of their king. He will burn them down as a forest. A remnant of Israel will survive the Assyrian judgment and trust the Lord again. His anger will turn from Israel to Assyria. The Assyrian oppression of Israel will be ended.
Book Summary:
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
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