Question: Did Isaiah expose himself totally when the Lord commanded him to go naked before Israel? If so, this really concerns us. We can hardly imagine the Lord approving of a man or a woman completely exposed for three years! This is just mind boggling.
Response: The Hebrew word translated “naked” in our English translations can speak of a partial nudity or full nudity. In the context we read: “At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia.”
“Sackcloth” was an outer garment that went over what they wore as undergarments. They may not have had jockey shorts or briefs, but they did have garments that covered their private parts. Yet, it was regarded as nakedness when individuals humbled themselves by removing their outer garments. David’s wife Michal criticized him when he danced in a linen ephod during the return of the Ark to Jerusalem: “Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour” (2 Samuel:6:20-22, our emphasis).
Michal said David had “shamelessly uncovered himself,” but it is clear that he had set aside his kingly robes and was wearing a linen ephod. “And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod” (2 Samuel:6:14).
How many times have we heard some pastors preach that David exposed himself totally? He did not, yet in putting aside his normal attire he did show his own humility and desire to please the Lord as much as Isaiah desired to show the “nakedness” of Israel before its enemies.