Isaiah 3:16-26 tells a sad tale of the daughters of Zion going astray and the subsequent unfortunate downfall that took place as a result of their straying from God. The daughters of Zion refer to a whole generation (possible two or three generations) of women from the nation of Israel/Judah who did not follow the commands of the Lord. Their disobedience led to harsh punishment which not only negatively affected them, but also negatively affected their young men and warriors.
Historically, Zion is considered the Jewish people or religion; more specifically, the hill of Jerusalem on which the city of David was built. But in general Christian thought, Zion is the kingdom of heaven. Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” As believers in Christ, this world is not our home. Our citizenship is in Heaven and we belong to a heavenly city. We are, therefore, sons and daughters of Zion and of God.
Lessons (on how not to act) abound from the ancient daughters of Zion for us modern daughters of Zion today. Shall we count the ways?
1. The daughters of Zion were haughty. Verse 16 of this passage says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks.” Haughty means to be arrogantly superior and disdainful. It’s another word for proud. The daughters of Zion were conceited and snobbish; they thought that they were better than everyone else around them. And just like Scripture warns us, their haughtiness brought about their downfall.
As daughters of God, we are commanded to walk humbly, not proudly. If we want wisdom (Proverbs 11:2) and grace (James 4:6) from God, we are to be humble. Perhaps the daughters of Zion were haughty because they believed that they were “extra” special to God or more loved by God because they were a part of His chosen people.
It is easy for Christian girls to think this way too, but this kind of thinking is dangerous. God doesn’t love a girl who is in church every Sunday any more than He loves a girl who has never set foot in a church and has no interest in doing so. Each saint and every sinner are equally special in His sight. We are chosen by God, we are children of God, we are friends of God, we are forgiven, redeemed, celebrated, treasured, holy, blameless, blessed, and all that jazz. Should this wonderful knowledge make us stick out our necks and act uppish toward those who are still in darkness? Absolutely not. This knowledge should leave us speechless in humble adoration that so great and perfect a Savior would dare to call such lowly and imperfect people His very own daughters and sons.
2. The daughters of Zion flirted with their eyes. Verse 16 of this passage continues, “flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.” These daughters were sexually promiscuous women who had wandering eyes. They actively sought out romantic partners and wore things that would attract men to them.
As daughters of God, we are not to seek the attention of others. Flirtatious eyes signify a flirtatious heart. God is attentive to our every need and want, and His awareness of us should more than satisfy us. Proverbs 4:25-27 should take root in our hearts Let our eyes look straight ahead. May our gaze remain fixed directly before us.
3. The daughters of Zion were obsessed with their outward appearance. The daughters of Zion were more focused on their physical image before people than they were focused on their spiritual image before God. Genuine beauty does not come from what we wear or how we fix our hair, but from having a heart that is right with the One Who made us.
Jean Vanier said, “To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth and their importance.” Clothes, shoes, make-up, and jewelry are incapable of loving us. God, however, loves us the best; and only in His love, do we find our beauty, our worth, and our importance.
4. The daughters of Zion were judged for their behavior. Because He is holy, God cannot abide sin – especially when His own people are doing it. The latter part of this passage describes how the daughters of Zion will be judged for their displeasing behavior. They will have all their finery snatched away. The bangles, headbands and necklaces, the earrings, bracelets and veils, the headdresses, anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles, charms and rings, the fine robes, capes and cloaks, the purses, mirrors, and linen garments, the tiaras and shawls – all of it will be taken away.
Instead of the fragrance of sweet perfume, there will be a stench. Instead of well-dressed hair, there will be baldness. Instead of fine clothing, there will be sackcloth. Instead of beauty, there will be branding. The young men warriors of the daughters of Zion will be killed in battle on account of their displeasing behavior. These daughters will sit on the ground, stripped of everything; lamenting and mourning.
If we do not honor Him with our ways and acknowledge Him in our thoughts, God will also judge us. All the things that we glory and take pride in, God will take away, in order to get our minds back on what and Who matters most. It is best for us to avoid unfortunate punishment altogether by reading, believing, and obeying the Word of God.
Regarding haughtiness, Proverbs 16:5 says, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”
Regarding flirting, Titus 2:5 tells us “to be self-controlled and pure…so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Regarding our outward appearance, 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”