What had life been like for the people of God in Isaiah’s day? They had a ruler named Ahaz, who imitated the nations around him. In 2 Kings 16, he worshiped idols and offered his son as a sacrifice. The faithful in Judah had to endure his poor leadership. On top of this, there were looming geopolitical threats. Syria and Israel had tried to coerce Ahaz into joining a collation opposite Assyria. When he refused, members of the alliance came against the southern kingdom. To make matters worse, during this time, Assyria was on the move, invading Judah. What was life like? It was marked by stress, struggle, and sorrow. In some ways, it was much like ours today: filled with troubles.

The Pressures of Life

For us, ungodliness pervades our culture. There are wars and rumors of wars. Social tension continues to be high. And at a micro level, even though people are connected through social media, loneliness has set in for many. For others, relationships are breaking, health is deteriorating, and bank accounts are dwindling. Life is tough.

What are we to do amid all these pressures? What did Isaiah do as he faced difficult conditions? He praised the Lord. And as Christians, we know that is to be our response as well. We understand our reaction is to be one of worship and that we ought to say with Job, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). But the question is, How do we praise God amid the pressures of life? How do we sincerely sing to God’s glory when being squeezed? The answer is a rather simple yet profound truth from Isaiah 25:9–12: We turn our attention to the Lord.

It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill. And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, but the Lord will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands. And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.

The Judgment of God

We know that Isaiah’s times were trying. There were stressors not only on the whole nation but also on individuals. Many rejected the prophet’s message to turn from sin and to the Savior. It’s not a stretch, then, to conclude that Isaiah faced personal attacks (tradition teaches that he was eventually sawn in half). Today, few would have liked his posts or shared his videos on social media. Isaiah was spurned and ill-treated. Given the derision he faced, what did Isaiah want most? We might be tempted to think the prophet first desired what we find in Isaiah 25:10–12, which is directed to the judgment of God. From these verses, it would be easy to assume that Isaiah primarily wanted justice to be exercised so that the enemies coming against him and other faithful Judahites would be made into a dunghill (Isa. 25:10), that God would force them to swim in human waste neck down and that their pride would give way to putridness (Isa. 25:11).

It’s only by being enraptured with Jesus that we can praise God amidst the pressures of life.

We might assume that Isaiah sought more than anything for God to bring judgment, as He did to Sisera in Judges 4. The Canaanite general died at the hands of a woman, Jael, who hammered a tent peg through his skull while he slept. If we focused only on Isaiah 25:10–12, one might determine that Isaiah’s chief desire was for God to humble the proud. Who would blame the prophet for wanting justice? Receiving it would have alleviated the pressure he felt from his foes.

There are moments when we desire relief in this way. And truth be told, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting deliverance from adverse circumstances and for wrongs to be righted. Still, we can imitate our Savior and entrust ourselves into the hands of Him who judges justly when we suffer the reproach of others for the sake of Christ (1 Peter 2:23).

The Primacy of the Lord

However, in considering Isaiah’s ministry in full, we should conclude that the prophet had a desire that dwarfed all others. He had a deeper longing for justice or for relief from trouble. In the face of difficulties, the prophet declared, “It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him’” (Isa. 25:9).

Much can be said about Isaiah’s words. But what do they communicate regarding his primary pursuit? What did he want above all? The Lord Himself. Deliverance was important to him. Victory over enemies was key. Yet it was not the desire for rescue from his circumstances that drove him. Two times Isaiah said, “We have waited for him.” Above all, the prophet sought the promise-making, promise-keeping God. He sought the Lord, whose steadfast love extends to the heavens and reaches to the clouds (Ps. 36:5).

What do we learn here? We get a window into how to face the pressures of life. It’s not by first wanting circumstances to be changed. Instead, it’s wanting the God who changes our circumstances. It’s going after Christ first and not what Christ can do for us. The question is, Do we seek only what God can do for us? Or do we first seek Him? The difference is subtle. But it’s the key to praising God amid the pressures of life.

In his book The God You Can Know, the writer Dan DeHaan tells the story of a young man who came to see him. He was weeping uncontrollably. DeHaan thought he must have a big problem—sexual sin, bad news about a loved one, or a lost relationship. What would grip this young man so much that tears would flow down his cheeks? When asked about his issue, the young man simply said, “I am here because I long to know God.”1

That is instructive for us because no matter the sorrows we deal with east of Eden, we are to preeminently hunger for the Lord. Our chief pursuit is to be Jesus, and not just what Jesus can do for us. We are to have a heart that blesses God regardless of burdens. How is it possible to delight in Christ despite our doldrums? We must understand that our worship is fueled by our wants. What do we principally want? Is it the Lord?

What do we do if Christ is not our hearts’ desire? Isaiah 25:9 helps us. It tells us to behold God. It calls us to meditate again on our Redeemer, who made the cross His crown and the grave His footstool. The way to sing to the Lord, when being squeezed, is to listen to the Puritan Richard Sibbes, “Come and have your heart warmed at the fire of Christ’s love and mercy.”2 Repeatedly return to the loveliness of Christ. It’s only by being enraptured with Jesus that we can praise God amidst the pressures of life.


  1. Dan DeHaan, The God You Can Know (Chicago: Moody, 1982), 15.
  2. See Michael Reeves’ Ligonier teaching series The English Reformation and the Puritans.

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