Isaiah 2 provides us with a detailed overview of the immorality that existed in Judah a few years before they fell to the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Isaiah reports what he witnessed the people being involved in, and he also foresaw the conclusion if no repentance occurred. It was a time not far different from what we observe in America today.
God is illustrating in His own picturesque way that pride (loftiness and haughtiness), emanating from within man and triggering his conduct, is heavily involved in human life—perhaps it is even the basis and foundation of all sin. He mentions the accumulation of wealth in the form of treasures, silver, gold, chariots, and horses. He speaks of manufacturing (the works of their own hands) and of religion (creating idols). He portrays things of sturdy power (oaks of Bashan) and things of grace and beauty (cedars of Lebanon). He mentions military power (high towers and fortified walls), large nations (high mountains) and small nations (hills that are lifted up), and commerce (beautiful sloops).
John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride
Isaiah 2:5-20 mentions a number of idolatries that are just as present in our society today as they were Isaiah's time. Enslaved by the superstition of astrology, they were more concerned about what the omens read than the judgment of God (verse 6). They craved the power of money and the recognition and influence it drew, and took enormous pride in their military, political, and economic sway in the world (verse 7). They worshipped "the work of their own hands" (verse 8).
The underlying motivation for these idolatries is exposed in verses 11: "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down" (see verses 12, 17). Pride brings forth idolatry, and its destruction is idolatry's cure. Pride elevates its owner to find God and His ways as unnecessary, too restrictive, boring, or beneath his intelligence, station, or needs. It leads him to choose his own way, be his own man, and do his own thing according to his judgment. In short, even if a person of pride knows of God's way, he will not submit to worship God in the way He wants.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)