The prophet Isaiah, living in the eighth century BC, spoke against the moral decline and idolatry of the people of Judah and those of the northern kingdom of Israel. His tenth chapter begins with a "woe" against those in government—princes, judges, administrators—who use their power to crush the needy, pervert justice, and line their own pockets. God promises shameful and painful judgment as their end.
The next "woe" falls on Assyria (Isaiah 10:5). God calls it "the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation," meaning that He would use Assyria to punish Israel for her terrible sins. God gives Assyria a free hand to slaughter and burn from Dan in the north to the wilderness in the South. However, it is clear that the Assyrians begin making more of themselves than is due them; God describes them as arrogant and boastful, thinking that they had conquered the people of God by their own power. God can take only so much of that kind of pride. So He says, "Therefore it shall come to pass, when the LORD has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, 'I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks'" (Isaiah 10:12).
The chapter goes back and forth, sometimes revealing the thoughts of the "arrogant heart" of the Assyrians, and sometimes predicting how he would punish them and how the remnant of His people would turn to God. As the chapter nears its end, God comforts His people, telling them, "O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. . . . For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will My anger in their destruction" (Isaiah 10:24-25). Yet, Isaiah then records just how much of the land of Israel the Assyrian army will destroy and occupy before it meets God's wrath. (God Himself takes care of it outside the walls of Jerusalem, slaying 185,000 of Sennacherib's troops by disease, and having Sennacherib himself assassinated by his own sons after he returned home; see Isaiah 37:36-38.)
Isaiah 10:32 appears in this section. The "he" is the Assyrian army, perhaps more specifically the headquarters of the king and his staff, shown remaining at Nob, shaking a fist at the capital city just across the valley. Nob, known as a dwelling place for priests, is a city located on the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus opposite the Mount of Olives and just a mile or so northeast of Jerusalem. Isaiah's prophecy shows how close the Assyrians have encroached upon the City of David, treading the houses of the priesthood underfoot, defying the city of the Temple in which they served.
The good news is that the prophecy indicates that the Assyrians will get no further—in other words, to the city walls and no further. While He used them to raze and plunder and kill throughout the whole of the country, God would not allow them to touch Jerusalem and His Temple. Not yet. For their forsaking of God and the covenant, Israel would go into Assyrian captivity (see II Kings 17:1-23), but Judah would be spared for another century or so, when God would raise Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldeans to finish what the Assyrians started.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh