As a pastor who looks for great ideas to develop sermon points in commentaries, I have found this commentary to be the very best one I have for Isaiah. As the NIVAC series does so well, this commentary gives some exegetical information, contextual bridging from ancient to contemporary settings, and then wrestles with contemporary issues and real life needs.
For example, Oswalt deals with several theological ramifications from Hezekiah's story in Isaiah 38-39. (Hezekiah's life was extended by 15 years after crying out to God in prayer). Oswalts exegetical comments are careful, insightful and lead to practical and powerful application. In this passage he points out that Hezekiah's illness was not necessarily a result of sin, and deals with the issue that sin is often a result of sin but not always. He brings in both concepts with multiple scripture references.
Then he swings to the issue of God's sovereignty, man's freewill and the Open Theism debate and it's potential support from an overly simplistic interpretation of this passage. He clearly and without a lot of fluff deals accurately with that issue. He leaves no room for an over emphasis on God's sovereignty in light of the multiple references to human freewill, yet fully embraces a biblical concept of sovereignty. He also explains with a minimum of verbage (something I always appreciate by a technical scholar) why Open Theism is an over simplistic conclusion from this passage. He shows why this passage does not warrant a conclusion that has too much of an emphasis on the 'freewill of man' or an over emphasis on the Sovereignty of God. The points are pretty hard to reject if one welcomes all the data involved and comes without a blinding bias.
This particular volume in the NIVAC series may be the very best one that exists. It certainly is my best one, and I have several. It is also a 'Gold Medallion Book' sporting the coveted award on the front cover. So it has been widely embraced by a variety of editors, scholars and pastor/teachers. In fact I will say this much...I stopped using this commentary series after finding several of them promoting applications that I thought were way out of touch with the people I minister to. This commentary has completely reversed that general thought in my mind.
As I work through Isaiah, I find myself turning to this volume more and more. It's a great companion to the more technical and less practical 'The Prophecy of Isaiah' by Motyer, and to the NICOT 2 volume series by this same author, Oswalt.
It's my recommendation that you buy this volume first unless you are only doing a more critical exegetical paper. In that case I recommend Oswalt's NICOT and Motyer's volumes instead. I went ahead and got all four books and am not sorry at all. They are all fantastic tools.
I am grateful for great scholars who provide so many helpful insights to the text.