Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 33:17

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will behold a far-distant land.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   God;   Heaven;   Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   Righteousness;   Scofield Reference Index - Kingdom;   Thompson Chain Reference - Blindness-Vision;   Heavenly;   Seeing God;   Vision;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ, the King;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Beauty;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - House;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Isaiah;   Remnant;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jacob;   Messiah;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Hezekiah (2);   Isaiah;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Holiness;   Me'asha;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 31;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Thine eyes - The eyes of the righteous, described in Isaiah 33:15.

Shall see the king in his beauty - Some understand this of the Assyrian king. Thus Kimchi understands it, and supposes it means that they shall see him at the walls of Jerusalem; that is, shall see him destroyed. Vitringa supposes it means Yahweh himself as the king of his people, and that they should see him in his glory. Others suppose it relates to the Messiah. But the immediate connection requires us to understand it of Hezekiah (compare the note at Isaiah 32:1-2). The sense is, ‹You shall be defended from the hostile army of the Assyrian. You shall be permitted to live under the peaceful and prosperous reign of your pious monarch, and shall see him, not with diminished territory and resources, but with the appropriate magnificence which becomes a monarch of Israel.‘

The land that is very far off - You shall be permitted to look to the remotest part of the land of Judea as delivered from enemies, and as still under the happy scepter of your king. You shall not be confined by a siege, and straitened within the narrow walls of Jerusalem. The empire of Hezekiah shall be extended over the wide dominions that appropriately belong to him, and you shall be permitted to range freely over the whole land, even over the parts that are now occupied by the forces of the Assyrian. Virgil has a beautiful passage remarkably similar to this:

- jurat ire, et Dorica castra,

Desertosque videre locos, litusque relicturn.

AEn. ii. 28.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-33.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 33:17

Thine eyes shall see the King in ms beauty

The King in His beauty

Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Sennacherib.
The relief gained when Hezekiah paid over the three hundred talents of silver and the thirty talents of gold, emptying thereby the royal treasury and stripping the gold from the doors and pillars of the Temple, had not lasted long. Rabshakeh, the chief envoy of Assyria, had been sent with another army to demand the unconditional surrender of the city. A great change, however, had taken place in the spirit and faith of the people. No further mention was made of an alliance with Egypt. The prophet Isaiah, instead of being ridiculed and despised, was at once appealed to by the king, and his counsel followed. Hope and confidence in Jehovah had been restored, and this second attack of the treacherous Assyrian, instead of plunging the nation into despair, seemed rather to rouse them to defiance. It was God’s forgiveness which had wrought the change. The departure of the Assyrian, at a time when Jerusalem was absolutely in his power, was a manifest proof of God’s forgiving mercy and a striking confirmation of Isaiah’s words. So, though the enemy returned, the prophet’s encouraging and reassuring messages did not fall upon deaf ears. The chapter opens with a plain forecast of the speedy destruction that should overtake the treacherous spoiler of God’s people. Then follows a graphic picture of the disappointment of the ambassadors of peace, and the deserted and downtrodden state of the country districts that had resulted from Sennacherib’s breach of the covenant of peace. But from verse 10 to the end the sufficiency of the championship of Jehovah is unfolded, and the chapter closes with promises of victory and pardon, “the lame shall take the prey,” “the people shall be forgiven their iniquity.” Yes, the presence and leadership of Jehovah would change everything. The glorious Lord would be unto them a place of broad rivers and streams. But as we read these Scriptures, “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty”; “thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation,” we feel that their primary application by no means exhausts their full meaning. A greater than Hezekiah is here. The King in His beauty is for us the very Prince of Peace Himself. Once for our sakes He was covered with shame, mocked and buffeted and handcuffed. Now by faith we see Him crowned with glory and honour, and one day our eyes shall see Him as He is in His beauty. As yet the new Jerusalem is hemmed in by foes. Enemies far more treacherous and destructive than the Assyrians are seeking to enslave and despoil the people of God. But our eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle so peaceful and steadfast that not one of the stakes thereof shall be removed nor any of its cords broken. Yes, the story of the siege of Jerusalem is only a parable of the life of God in the soul of man. “God’s forgiveness is much more than a clean slate.” It brings His people into the joy and strength of a living union with Himself. It gave new national life to Judah. It gives new spiritual life to the pardoned sinner. Once the Divine forgiveness is realised the whole man is born again. But this does not make us free from temptation. The Assyrians will surely return and menace the city. But the Lord is our sure defence.

1. The beauty of the King passes all man’s understanding. There is the beauty of His personal character. It is unfolded to us in the Gospel story. There we see His goodness and truth. His purity is so strong and incandescent with the fire of love that it cannot be marred by the defilements of earth. His sympathy and compassion are so tender and real that the most needy and outcast are attracted to Him. Christ has no beauty in the eyes of the carnal and worldly. He pours contempt on the wisdom of the flesh, the wisdom of this world. Have ye eyes to see the beauty in Jesus? There is the beauty, too, of His perfect sacrifice. This was set forth in the Old Testament Scriptures in the passover lamb, in the brazen serpent, and in all the sacrifices connected with the old covenant. The Lamb without spot or blemish was slain that His atoning blood might cover our sins. The beauty and perfection of the personal character secures the beauty and perfection of the precious sacrifice. Is that blood-stained Cross the most beautiful sight in the world to you? Have you seen the love of God triumphing there over the sin of man, and the Son of God reconciling God and man by the sacrifice of Himself, and laying a righteous foundation for the exercise towards guilty sinners of God’s sovereign mercy and grace? But, again, there is the beauty of His perpetual intercession and His abiding presence in our hearts. Christ is no longer on the Cross--He is on the Throne, seated at the right hand of God. From that vantage ground of infinite power and resource He watches all that transpires here below. And He not only watches from a distance, He is with us to save and succour and defend. Have you seen the King in His beauty as He walks with us along life’s highway? Or are your eyes still holden?

2. To see the King in His beauty is the essence of all true religion. The world cannot understand the things of God. It cannot receive the Comforter because it seeth Him not. The veil of sense shuts out the glories of the unseen world. Have you seen the Son and believed on Him? Or is there still some veil or prejudice or disobedience upon your heart? Is personal religion still a mystery to you? Does conversion seem to you a strange and doubtful experience? Does the earnestness of some Christians seem altogether extravagant and fanatical? When you have truly seen the King you will find it impossible to exaggerate His beauty, and you will find it equally impossible to set a limit to your obedience. The King must have all. Loyalty cannot measure out its service. It delights in sacrifice. As the veil of sense is penetrated by the vision of faith the victory of life begins. This is the object of all the means of grace. They are to help us to see the King. All life becomes worth living when the humblest duty performed aright may be rewarded with a sight of Him whom you love. This gives new zest to worship. For this we pray and study our Bibles, for this we come to church and join in the Lord’s Supper, that we may see the King. This helps us to live a detached and separate life. (F. S. Webster, M. A.)

The heavenly King and the privileges of His subjects

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE KING.

1. The situation of a king is most respectable; he is the head of his people. God is Head of all things; King of kings, and Lord of lords.

2. Kings ought to be wise men, to rule in wisdom. God is all-wise, omniscient.

3. Kings ought to possess power, to be ready to oppose any foe of their people. God is Almighty.

4. Kings should he good men, kind and benevolent. God is good and kind; He feeds, clothes, &c., He is the Fountain of goodness.

5. Kings should be just men, to enforce the laws and punish offenders. God is just, and will not suffer His laws to be infringed, but will punish the guilty.

II. THE EXTENT OF HIS DOMINION.

1. Heaven is His throne; here He manifests His glorious presence; angels, &c., are His servants.

2. Earth is His foot-stool; things animate and inanimate are subject to His control.

3. Hell is His prison, where He confines His foes, and here He is enthroned in vengeance.

4. He has a kingdom among men; this is His universal Church, all who fear God, and work righteousness.

5. He has a kingdom in men; every true believer is a little kingdom in himself, the heart is His throne, and the passions and affections are the subjects.

6. He reigns that He may conquer all, save all.

III. THE PERSONS THIS DECLARATION MAY BE APPLIED TO. “THEY.”

1. Those who have an experimental knowledge of the King’s favour.

2. Such as feel a profound reverence towards Him.

3. Who love Him, from a sense of His love to them.

4. And obey Him from this principle of love.

IV. WHAT IS IMPLIED BY THE DECLARATION, “They shall see the King.”

1. Not with their bodily eye. God is a Spirit.

2. If we could see Him as a Spirit with our bodily eye, yet we could not as God. He is immensity.

3. They shall see Him by the eye of faith--in creation, providence and grace. (John Overton.)

The blessedness of heaven

These words may more immediately refer to the restoration of Hezekiah to his former splendour and dignity, by the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, which would establish peace in the land of Judea, and enable the exiles to return home, without fear or danger. But the Holy Spirit in this passage seems also to refer to the initial happiness of all true believers in this world, and their complete felicity in the world to come.

I. THE SOURCES OF HAPPINESS PROVIDED FOR TRUE BELIEVERS. These in general are two--

1. The King in His beauty. All that is to be seen of God with joy and satisfaction, is visible only in the Mediator.

2. The land that is very far off. In the present life our chief happiness arises from hope; hereafter it will consist in vision, and in full fruition. The heavenly glory is here compared to the land of promise, which abounded in population, and yet was so fruitful as to be well able to support all its inhabitants.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE SAINTS SHALL ENJOY THE BLISS THAT IS PREPARED FOR THEM. “They shall see and behold it.”

1. This may either refer to the partial view which Christians have of future glory upon earth, or to the beatific vision of heaven. We see something of God in the works of creation and providence, and especially in the great work of human redemption. We have also seen the power and glory of God in the sanctuary, in the Word and ordinances, and have sometimes been filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But these views, however refreshing, are not only transient, but very narrow and contracted, in comparison of what they will be hereafter. Then the powers of perception will be raised to the highest pitch, our contracted minds will be enlarged and rendered more retentive, and we shall be able to “gaze in thought on what all thought transcends.”

2. The sight which believers have of spiritual objects is essentially different from that of the unregenerate, either in this world or that which is to come.

3. There is an intuitive certainty in the knowledge which Christians have of invisible realities, and which is peculiar to themselves only.

4. A sight of the King in His beauty will be attended with a clearness and a comprehension far surpassing all that we have experienced in the present life.

5. The celestial vision will be ardent and intense.

6. Views of heaven will take place immediately after death, and more fully after the resurrection.

7. There will also be a possessive intuition, or such a sight as includes converse and enjoyment.

8. The vision will be perpetual and without end. There is an entrance into heaven, but no exit out of it. (B. Beddome, M. A.)

Christ’s life a poem

There are human lives which are poems, as there are lives which are prose. They give pleasure, as poetry gives it by the expression of the beautiful. Such a life, at its very highest range, was the life of Christ. We seek its poetry to-day, and we weave our thoughts of it round that profound phrase of Milton’s, that poetry must be simple, sensuous, and passionate.

I. That which is SIMPLICITY in art is purity in a perfect character. The beauty of Christ’s purity was in this--

1. That those who saw it saw in it the glory of moral victory.

2. From this purity, so tried and so victorious, arose two other elements of moral beauty--perfect justice and perfect mercy.

II. The word “SENSUOUSNESS,” in Milton’s sense of it, was entirely noble in meaning. As the poet produces beautiful work out of the multitudinous world of images and things which he has received, so the exquisiteness of the parables and of the words of Christ, both in form and expression, was the direct result of the knowledge He had gained from the quality of sensibility.

III. The third element of great poetry is PASSION. We may transfer it directly to a character as an element of beauty. It is best defined as the power of intense feeling capable of perfect expression. It was intense feeling of the weakness and sin of man, and intense joy in His Father’s power to redeem, which produced the story of the “Prodigal Son,” where every word is on fire with tender passion. See how it comes home, even now, to men; see how its profound humanity has made it universal! “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” How that goes home to the deepest want of the race; how deep the passion which generalised that want into a single sentence; how intense, yet how pathetic, the expression of it; how noble the temperance which stayed at the single sentence and felt that it was enough! (Stopford A. Brooke, D. D.)

The beautiful God

The blessed God who infinitely possesses every amiable excellency, and from whom proceeds all that is lovely in the universe, must Himself be adorned with the most exquisite beauty. In Him is concentred the sweetest assemblage of every Divine perfection. In Him, they all shine forth with the brightest lustre, without any superfluity or deficiency. He is consummately righteous, yet full of compassion; He is perfectly holy, yet rich in mercy; He is supreme in majesty, yet infinitely gracious; wisdom, power, and faithfulness, with every glorious attribute that can excite admiration and love, are united in the supreme Lord of heaven and earth. In the various important characters He sustains, He acts with the most endearing condescension and approved fidelity, assiduously performing every office and duty that love can dictate. (R. Macculloch.)

Is beauty ascribed to Jehovah?

“Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.” Cheyne asserts that this king cannot be Jehovah, for beauty is never ascribed to Him. This is a shallow argument. Can an epithet never be given to God once, but must every epithet be repeated in order to be true? But if one sees Jehovah in Jesus there will be no trouble in finding beauty ascribed to the Messiah, and so to Jehovah Jesus is Jehovah, and we find in the Messiah every form of beauty ascribed to Him in the Canticles, which the Church has always cherished as the song of Christ’s love and loveliness to His redeemed people. Again in the forty-fifth Psalm we find the King Messiah described as “fairer than the children of men”; and there is no great difference between assigning beauty to holiness (Psalms 29:2; Psalms 96:9) and assigning beauty to the holy God. Moreover, in Zechariah 9:17 we find Jehovah thus referred to by the prophet, “How great is Hisgoodness, and how great is His beauty.” Here the identical word is used (yephi) that is found in our Isaiah text. In this last passage to refer the singular pronoun to God’s people when they are spoken of with plural pronouns and verbs in the whole context is hardly a fair way to prove the proposition that beauty is never ascribed to Jehovah, But even if beauty is never ascribed to Jehovah anywhere else, is that a substantial reason why it cannot be here so ascribed? (H. Crosby, D. D.)

The beautiful Christ

I cannot but regard it as a great misfortune that in all ages the art, the literature, and the worship of the Churches should not only have fallen so far short of the true ideal of our blessed Lord and Master, but should even have gone so far astray in their conceptions of Him. They have represented Him as a partial Christ, whereas He is the universal Christ; as an ecclesiastical Christ, whereas He is a spiritual Christ; as a Christ of gloom and anguish, whereas He is a Christ of love, and joy, and peace in believing; as a dead Christ, whereas He is the risen, the living, the ascended Saviour; as a distant Christ, a Christ who has gone far away into the dim realms of space, whereas He is a present Christ, with us now, with us always, with us individually, with us as a perpetual comforter, a very present help in trouble, with us even to the end of the world; as a Christ of wrath, and vengeance, and dreadfulness, whereas He is loving, tender, and of infinite compassion. (F. W. Farrar, D. D.)

The King in His beauty

The “King” is probably the Messiah “They shall behold a far-stretching land”--Messiah’s kingdom is from sea to sea. (Prof. A. B. Davidson, LL. D.)

The Jews’ deliverance from the Assyrian invasion

When the Assyrians had invaded Judea with an immense army, and were about to attack Jerusalem, Rabshakeh was sent with a railing message to the king and his people. When Hezekiah heard of the blasphemies of the proud Assyrian, he rent his clothes and put on sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord, and sent the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth to consult with Isaiah the prophet. The people of Jerusalem, therefore, had seen their king in most mournful array, wearing the garments of sorrow, and the weeds of mourning; they were, however, cheered by the promise that there should be so complete a defeat to Sennacherib, that the king should again adorn himself with the robes of state, and appear with a smiling countenance in all the beauty of joy. Moreover, through the invasion of Sennacherib, the people had not been able to travel; they had been cooped up within the walls of Jerusalem like prisoners. No journeys had been made, either in the direction of Dan or Beersheba, even the nearest villages could not be reached; but the promise is given, that so completely should the country be rid of the enemy, that wayfarers should be able to see the whole of their territory, even that part of the land which was very far off; it should be safe for them to make the longest voyages; they should no longer be afraid of the oppressor, but should find the highways, which once lay waste, to be again open and safe for traffic. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ victorious: His people free

We have seen our well-beloved Monarch, in the days of His flesh, humiliated and sore vexed; for He was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” He whose brightness is as the morning, wore the sackcloth of sorrow as His daily dress; shame was His mantle, and reproach was His vesture. None more afflicted and sorrowful than He. Yet now, inasmuch as He has triumphed over all the powers of darkness upon the bloody tree, our faith beholds our King in His beauty, returning with dyed garments from Edom, robed in the splendour of victory. We also, His joyful subjects who were once shut up and could not come forth, are now possessed of boundless Gospel liberty. Now that we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, we freely possess to its utmost bounds the covenant blessings which He has given to us; and we rejoice that if the land of happiness should sometimes seem to be very far off, it is nevertheless our own, and we shall stand in our lot in the end of the days. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The King in His beauty

I. WE HAIL THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AS OUR KING.

1. His right to royalty lies in His exalted nature as the Son of God.

2. Jesus has a right to reign because He is the Creator.

3. The Preserver of all men.

4. He governs by virtue of His Headship of the mediatorial kingdom.

5. He has the rights of Divine designation, for God has made Him King.

6. Certain princes have delighted to call themselves kings by the popular will, and certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is such in His Church. Now it behoves us, since we thus verbally acknowledge Him to be King, distinctly to understand what this involves.

(1) We look upon the Lord Jesus as being to us the fountain of all spiritual legislation. He is a King in His own right--no limited monarch--but an autocrat in the midst of His Church, and in the Church all laws proceed from Christ and Christ only.

II. WE DELIGHT TO KNOW THAT OUR KING POSSESSES SUPERLATIVE BEAUTY.

III. THERE ARE SEASONS WHEN WE SEE THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY.

1. We saw Him in that day when He pardoned all our sins.

2. Jesus Christ was in His beauty seen by us more fully, when, after being pardoned, we found how much He had done for us.

3. There are times when, in our contemplations, we see His beauty.

4. It is very probable that we shall have such a sight of our glorious King as we never had before, when we come to die.

IV. THE EXCEEDING GLORY OF THIS SIGHT.

V. THIS SIGHT OF CHRIST EMINENTLY AFFORDS LIBERTY TO THE SOUL. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Seeing the King in His beauty

These words plainly promise to every follower of Christ, if he shall persevere unto the end, that in the resurrection he shall see the Lord Jesus Christ in His beauty, and in the glory of His kingdom. What, then, is this beauty which shall be revealed to all who attain that world and the resurrection of the holy dead?

I. It would seem to be THE BEAUTY OF HIS HEAVENLY COURT. About Him and before Him are the companies of heaven, the hosts and hierarchies of the blessed, and the saintly multitude of God’s new creation. Armies of martyrs, companies of prophets, the majesty of patriarchs, the glory of apostles, each one in the full transfigured beauty of his own perfect spirit, and all revealing the warfare of faith, the triumph of the Church, the power of the Cross, the election of God,--these are the degrees and ascents leading upward to the throne of bliss.

II. But if such be the beauty of the King’s court, what is THE BEAUTY OF THE KING HIMSELF? We shall not be dangerously out of the way if we believe that He who is the brightness of His Father’s glory and the express image of His person, did take unto Himself our manhood as His revealed presence for ever, in its most perfect image and likeness; that in Him two natures were united, and both were perfect, both were beautiful. There is a beauty we know Him to possess in fulness--the beauty of perfect love. In His face will be revealed all the love of His holy incarnation, of His life of sorrow, of His agony and passion, of His cross and death. The wounds of His hands and feet and of His pierced side are eternal seals and countersigns of the love which has redeemed us for Himself.

1. The King whose beauty is the bliss of heaven is ever drawing and preparing us for His presence by all the mysteries of His Church.

2. By a special and particular discipline, varied and measured for the necessities of every faithful soul, He is making us ready for the vision of His presence. (H. E. Manning, D. D.)

The beautiful King and the far-off land

I. THE SUPREME OBJECT OF VISION. “The King in His beauty.”

II. THE ULTIMATE POSSESSION. “The land that is very far off.” (F. Ferguson, D. D.)

The King in His beauty

It is astonishing how much comfort can be packed up in a few words. If one were asked to put into a single sentence the entire body of Scriptural prophecy, of Old and New Testament prophecy combined, he could not easily find a more complete condensation of the whole than in the text. There are two points of view from which we may look at the text.

I. THE OBJECTIVE ASPECT, or the vision as it is set before us; the moral and spiritual ideal yet to be realised.

1. The text is a prediction as to a glorious Person and a far-off land, both of them entirely beyond the calculations of men. “The King in His beauty” is Jesus Christ, The words are striking. It is not exactly the King in His majesty, or grandeur, or glory, or power, but “the King in His beauty.” We speak of the good and the beautiful and the true. And there is a singular accordance between those three super-excellent realities. We think of them in connection with the Persons in the Godhead. While it is true that all glory and power of the one aspect of the Divine Being belongs to the other, still we are permitted to make a distinction in our thoughts, and we think of the Father as that One in whom we see pre-eminently the good; and the Son as that One in whom we see specifically the beautiful; and the Spirit as that One in whom we see pre-eminently the true.

2. When we turn our thoughts to the beautiful alone, we are met by this conception--that the beautiful is but another word for the becoming. A beautiful action is an action which it becomes one to do. A beautiful character is one, all the elements of which are in sweet accordance; when part is adapted to part, as the colours of the rainbow blend together; when one line of the form gracefully runs into another; when one sound is the harmonious concomitant and perfect sequel of another--there you have beauty, the beauty as a spirit breathing through the whole and informing all its parts--such a whole that one part may become the other, and pass and repass into the other. The beauty is translucent, elastic, perfect. Now apply this conception to Jesus Christ, and you will see with what amazing propriety the beautiful in Him is the same as the becoming. Consider the harmony of the Divine Being as the eternal source of all the beauty we can ever know. Consider the essential beauty of our human nature as made in the image and after the likeness of God; consider, further, the absolutely harmonious combination and indissoluble union of those two natures in

Christ with the amazing self-sacrifice of the Son of God for our redemption, and the adaptation of His work to all the wants of our case, and you have such a conception of the becoming--of all that it becomes both God and man to do--as explains to us the emphasis and the propriety with which Christ is spoken of as “the King in His beauty.” No one can be beautiful apart from Him.

3. Society is at present a hideous discord, at least to a very large extent. We cannot say that it is beautiful. But it is not more certain that Jesus Christ is King; it is not more certain that He is the centre of heaven’s harmony, than it is certain that the far-off land will yet be brought nigh and made visible upon the earth; and that God’s will shall be done upon the earth, even as it is done in heaven.

II. THE SUBJECTIVE ASPECT, or what is implied in seeing the vision, in realising the ideal. The time is coming when every human being shall actually look upon Jesus Christ. But to look is not always to see all that can be seen. To see the King in His beauty implies a deeper seeing than that of merely looking upon Him. It implies a being made like Him. In order to see the kingdom of God, or to enter into it, we must actually be born again. We must ourselves (in other words) be a part of that which we truly see. We shall see Him at last because we shall have been made like Him. It is the pure in heart who see God This seeing of God is our heaven in its highest and most complete form; and it is by faith in Christ that we are brought to this perception. As faith grows and develops, as it passes into the life, it turns the abstract ideal into the concrete reality. On the other hand, the result is certain from the Divine side. It is secured by the fact that the King in His beauty is there. The heavenly Bridegroom is waiting for the perfection of His Bride. And as He waits He works, tie rules over all things for the accomplishment of the Divine purpose. Make, then, the goal of your life quite clear, and lay down all your lines of thought and action directly for that goal. Let us thank God that such is the Christianity of Jesus Christ. (F. Ferguson, D. D.)

Reverence, a belief in God’s presence

1. Though Moses was not permitted to enter the land of promise, he was vouchsafed a sight of it from a distance. We too, though as yet we are not admitted to heavenly glory, yet are given to see much, in preparation for seeing more. Christ dwells among us in His Church really though invisibly, and through its Ordinances fulfils towards us, in a true and sufficient sense, the promise of the text. We are even now permitted to “see the King in His beauty,” to “behold the land that is very far off.” The words of the Prophet relate to our present state as well as to the state of saints hereafter. Of the future glory it is said by St. John, “They shall see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads.” And of the present, Isaiah himself speaks in passages which may be taken in explanation of the text: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together”; and again, “They shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God.”

2. Such a view is strange to most men; they do not realise the presence of Christ, nor admit the duty of realising it. Even those who are not without habits of seriousness, have almost or quite forgotten the duty. This is plain at once: for, unless they had, they would not be so very deficient in reverence as they are. There are two classes of men who are deficient in awe and fear, and, lamentable to say, taken together, they go far to make up the religious portion of the community. It is not wonderful that sinners should live without the fear of God; but what shall we say of an age or country in which even the more serious classes maintain, or at least act as if they maintained, that “the spirit of God’s holy fear” is no part of religion?

The land that is very far off

“The land that is very far off”

“A far-stretching land,” i.e., a land no longer “diminished” (to use Sennacherib’s own expression) by spoliation or hemmed in by foes. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

The distant land

As it is in the margin, “the land of far distances.” A land cleared of enemies as far as the eye can reach and the foot carry.

I. THIS WILL APPLY TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, WHICH THE REDEEMED SOUL SHALL POSSESS IN HEAVEN. Here we know but little of the great Father of our spirits. But in heaven we shall know God more fully. Know Him not in His essence, but in the glorified human nature of Christ; in His relation to ourselves and the universe.

II. THIS WILL APPLY TO THE VIEWS WHICH HEAVEN WILL GIVE US OF THE REDEEMING WORK OF CHRIST. At present there are many questions which the devout soul proposes in relation to this mighty work, but no response is given. What disclosures will heaven make on these points!

III. THIS WILL APPLY TO THE EXPLANATIONS WHICH HEAVEN WILL AFFORD OF THE SECRETS OF NATURE. Nature, like the fabled traveller, has given the casket to the highwayman, but kept the jewels. She has given us names, but kept the power.

IV. THIS WILL APPLY TO THE SOLUTION WHICH HEAVEN WILL GIVE OF THE MYSTERIES OF PROVIDENCE.

V. THIS WILL APPLY TO OUR EXPERIENCE OF DIVINE GOODNESS. Here the vessel is narrowed by its conditions. It cannot receive much, it cannot bear much. Here we sip of the river of God, there we shall drink of its fulness.

1. Learn the limitations of this life. We know in part. It doth not yet appear what we shall be.

2. The boundless wisdom and goodness of God. The best things are yet in store.

3. See here the encouragements to a life of faith (J. Hoyle.)

Glances at the future

Do you ask what are the waving outlines of this “land of far distances” that begins directly a man begins to live a Christly life, and that stretches away after death into the Infinite? I answer--

I. UNENDING EXISTENCE.

II. UNDECAYING ACTIVITY. Our work here is bounded by many things.

1. There is the finishing of the enterprise.

2. There is the failure of our powers.

3. There is the ceasing of inclination.

Sometimes fuel has not been added to fire of flickering motive; sometimes fellow-workers have been cold, unwelcome, or harshly discouraging; sometimes repeated failure and mocking disappointments have driven a man back from seeking his own higher education or the world’s welfare, and “desire ceases,” and there is an end of work. But in contrast with all this that is of the earth earthy, the true worker for himself and for others, yearns after and will inherit “a land of far distances.” There the work will never be completed, for a universe is the sphere of labour, eternity is the period, and the infinite the problem. Labour--the putting forth of power: sacrificial labour--the putting forth of power in the spirit of the Lamb, who is the central life of the heavenly world; this is the far-reaching hope of every Christly soul. And this without the decay of powers, for then will be fulfilled the promise of perpetual morning dew, immortal youth, a world without pain, and never needing a night. Nor will want of inclination bring these occupations to an end, for there is realised the full power of the quenchless inspiration of love to the Lamb who was slain. So, for our highest, noblest labours, there is a limitless hope.

III. UNFETTERED THOUGHT. For the inquirer this human life is not “a land of far distances.” Thinkers often weep in their sense of mental poverty. But we are to believe in the lifting of veil after veil as we go on through the ages, till the fair face of Truth shall be seen in Divinest beauty.

IV. UNBOUNDED AFFECTIONS. (U. R. Thomas, B. A.)

The King in His beauty

I. Our first concern is with THE HISTORICAL SETTING of this verse.

II. THE SPIRITUAL PARALLEL. To see the King,--Jesus, I mean,--is one of the best blessings of His people. There is a further promise, “Thine eyes shall behold the land that is very far off,” i.e., “a far-stretching tract of country.” We must abide by the metaphor; this stands, I think, for the great multitude of exceeding great and precious privileges which God has given us in Jesus Christ.

III. THE FINAL FULFILMENT OR THIS PROMISE. All the things God’s people know on earth are but feeble foretastes of the joys of heaven. (Thos. Spurgeon.)

Heaven anticipated

It is recorded of the celebrated John Howe, that in his latter days he greatly desired to attain such a knowledge of Christ, and feel such a sense of His love, as might be a foretaste of the joys of heaven. After his death, a paper was found in his Bible recording how God had answered his prayer. One morning (and he noted the day) he awoke, with his eyes swimming with tears, overwhelmed with a sense of God’s goodness in shedding down His grace into the hearts of men. He never could forget the joy of these moments: they made him long still more ardently for that heaven which, from his youth, he had panted to behold. (Light in the Dwelling.)

Samuel Rutherford’s dying utterances

Some days before he died, he said: “I shall shine, I shall see Him as He is, I shall see Him reign, and all His fair company with Him; and I shall have my large share, my eyes shall see my Redeemer, these very eyes of mine, and no other for me; this may seem a wide word, but it is no fancy or delusion; it is true, it is true; let my Lord’s name be exalted, and if He will, let my name be grinded to pieces, that He may be all in all. If He should slay me ten thousand times ten thousand times, I’ll trust.” One of his friends, Mr. Robert Blair, who stood by, his bed, said to him: “What think ye now of Christ?” To this he replied: I shall live and adore Him; glory, glory, to my Creator, and to my Redeemer for ever; glory shines in Immanuel’s land.” In the afternoon of the same day he said: “Oh, that all my brethren in the public may know what a Master I have served, and what peace I have this day; I shall sleep in Christ, and when I awake I shall be satisfied with His likeness. This night shall close the door, and put my anchor within the veil, and I shall go away in a sleep by five of the clock in the morning.” Words which received their exact fulfilment. His soul was filled with rapture as he lay dying, and he cried, “Oh, for arms to embrace Him! Oh, for a well-tuned harp!” So he passed away, declaring as he went that in the love and presence of his Lord he had found heaven before he entered within the gates. (King’s Highway.)

“Not all over"

When a medical man visited a young woman who was on her death-bed, he uttered the common thought of the world when he said to her weeping mother as he grasped her hand, “It will soon be all over with your daughter.” She who was about to depart heard the announcement, and, raising herself on her arm, drew aside the curtain, and looking into the face of the doctor with that peculiar look that characterises those who are being loosened from the hither side of existence said, “All over, sir! all over--no, mother, believe him not. When I die, it will not be all over with your daughter, it will only be all beginning. For this present span of existence is not worthy of being compared with the life which shall thrill my whole being in the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and the Lamb.” (W. Adamson, D. D.)

Death a mean, of vision

One Sunday morning a friend--a deacon of my church--came to me and said, speaking of his father, a dear old minister and a blind man, “My father can see this morning.” “I congratulate you!” I exclaimed; “I am glad and surprised to hear it.” “Ah,” he replied, “you misunderstand me. My father is dead.” (R. J. Campbell, M. A.)

The beautiful God

“How beautiful it is to be with God!” Miss Willard whispered as she died.

Miss Havergal’s experience

A most interesting chapter in the biography describes her visit to Switzerland. On her return home she had typhoid fever, and was laid aside for a long time. This is how she talked of her experience during her illness: F. “Sometimes I could not quite see His face; yet there was His promise, ‘I will never leave thee.’ I knew He said it, and that He was there.” M. “Had you any fear at all to die?” F. “Oh no, not a shadow. It was on the first day of this illness I dictated to Constance, ‘Just as Thou wilt, O Master, call!’” M. “Then was it delightful to think you were going home, dear Fan?” F. “No, it was not the idea of going home, but that He was coming for me, and that I should see my King. I never thought of death as going through the dark valley or down to the river; it often seemed to me a going up to the golden gates and lying there in the brightness, just waiting for the gate to open for me.” She was brought back, in answer to many prayers, from the gates of the grave. (King’s Highway.)

The Delectable Mountain

Then they went on till they came to the Delectable Mountains, which belong to the Lord of the country towards which they were journeying. So they went up the mountains to behold the gardens and orchards, the vineyards and fountains of water. Now there were on the top of these mountains shepherds feeding their flocks. The pilgrims, therefore, went to them and asked: “Whose Delectable Mountains are these? and whose sheep be they that feed on them?” And the shepherds answered “These mountains are Emmanuel’s Land: and they are within sight of His city; the sheep are His. ‘He laid down His life for them.’” Then said the shepherds one to another, “Let us show the pilgrims the gates to the celestial city, if they have skill to look through our perspective-glass.” Then the pilgrims lovingly accepted the motion; so they led them to the top of a hill called Clear, and gave them the glass to look through. Then they tried to look; but the remembrance of the last things that the shepherds had showed them made their hands shake; by means of which impediment they could not look steadily through the glass: yet they thought they saw something like the gate, and also some of the glory of the place. (Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 33:17". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-33.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold a land that reacheth afar. Thy heart shall muse on the terror: Where is he that counted, where is he that weighed the tribute? where is he that counted the towers? Thou shalt not see the fierce people, a people of a deep speech that thou canst not comprehend. Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem, a quiet habitation, a tent that shall not be removed, the stakes thereof shall never be plucked up, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there will Jehovah be with us in majesty, a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For Jehovah is our judge, Jehovah is our lawgiver, Jehovah is our king; he will save us. Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not strengthen the foot of their mast, they could not spread the sail: then was the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame took the prey. And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."

"The king in his beauty ..." (Isaiah 33:17). Who is this? Some three different opinions are sustained by scholars. On account of the mention of Jehovah as the judge, lawgiver, and king in Isaiah 33:22, some believe the "king in his beauty" is a reference to Jehovah. Others suppose that the reference is to Hezekiah; and still others believe the reference is to the Messiah. We prefer the third interpretation; because (1) the Jerusalem of this passage is the capital of a worldwide land (Isaiah 33:17). (Palestine is not so), (2) she is a "quiet habitation" and inviolable (Isaiah 33:20), (3) God is the acknowledged ruler there (not so of the literal Jerusalem who officially declared that, "We have no king but Caesar" - John 19:15), (4) the Jerusalem of this passage was situated in a land of broad rivers and streams (Isaiah 33:21), which was never true of the literal Jerusalem, (5) The Jerusalem-Zion here spoken of was inviolable. Spoken of as a tent whose stakes could never be plucked up nor have any of its cords broken, the literal Jerusalem would last little more than a century before it would be utterly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and its peoples made captive for seventy years. (6) Finally, the citizens of the Jerusalem-Zion in view here would even have their sins forgiven (Isaiah 33:24), a blessing which is limited, absolutely, to the New Covenant.

"Therefore, the king of Isaiah 33:17 must be the Christ in his regal splendor, reigning over a worldwide domain."[12] The New Testament confirmation of this is: "In the regeneration (that is, in the times when people are being born again, in this present dispensation of the Lord Jesus Christ) when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory (Christ is now ruling over all things, Matthew 28:18-20), ye also (the Twelve) shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).

Hailey, it appears to us, is correct in his declaration that, "The total context of this passage (Isaiah 33:17-24) points to the Messiah."[13] Another statement in this paragraph which should be noted as more evidence that it was the times of the Messiah to which the passage points is the reference to the absence of any galley with oars or any gallant ship (Isaiah 33:21). These ships were obviously instruments of war; and their absence in that future Jerusalem-Zion shows that war shall not be a policy of Messiah's holy Church. It will not even have any "Swiss Guards." The thought here is parallel to the statement about beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4).

Despite this, there are vivid remembrances by the saints of God in all generations of the great deliverances and the mighty interpositions of God in human affairs for the protection and blessing of his people. Isaiah 33:18 in this passage is just such a remembrance by God's people of God's interposition in the case of Sennacherib.

"Where is he that counted?...that weighed the tribute? ... that counted the towers? ..." (Isaiah 33:18). He that counted refers to the clerk who marked off the 300 talents of silver and the 30 talents of gold on the tally sheets when Hezekiah's ambassadors delivered all of that tribute to the servants of Sennacherib. The one who weighed the tribute was the one who weighed the silver and gold; and the one who counted the towers was the chief engineer who surveyed the walls and towers of Jerusalem as preliminary to their assault on the city, which they confidently expected to begin immediately. What a glorious thought that such hated and obnoxious characters, in the scene presented here, were no longer in existence! God's people would not even see the fierce people.

Also, the harsh and brutal language with which God had threatened to speak to this people (Isaiah 28:11), a language they could not comprehend, could no longer be heard blaspheming the true God and demanding the surrender of their city.

"The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick ..." (Isaiah 33:24) The scholars have little to say about this; and some have admitted the difficulty; and we must confess that we cannot tell exactly what it means. However, there is an interesting speculation about this, the origin of which this writer does not know, and therefore it must remain merely a speculation without any proof at all, repeated here merely because it is interesting. The destruction of Sennacherib's army was due to a fatal sickness that struck instantly and was immediately fatal; and there were some of the "sinners in Zion" (perhaps those who sought the alliance with Egypt) who were also destroyed simultaneously with the invading army. If there was any truth in this, it would account for the fear and trembling mentioned in Isaiah 33:14. "I am not sick" would thus be a reference to the safety of the righteous.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/isaiah-33.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty,.... Not merely Hezekiah in his royal robes, and with a cheerful countenance, having put off his sackcloth and his sadness, upon the breaking up of the siege; but a greater than he, even the King Messiah, in the glory of his person and office, especially as a King reigning gloriously before his ancients in Jerusalem: the apostles saw him in his glory, in the days of his flesh, corporeally and spiritually; believers now see him by faith, crowded with glory and honour, as well as see his beauty, fulness, and suitableness, as a Saviour; and, before long, their eyes shall see him personally in his own and his Father's glory. This is to be understood of the eyes of good men, before described. The Targum is,

"thine eyes shall see the glory of the Majesty of the King of worlds in his praise;'

and Jarchi interprets it of the glory of the Majesty of God; so, according to both, a divine Person is meant, and indeed no other than Christ:

they shall behold the land that is very far off; not the land of hell, as the Targum, which paraphrases it thus;

"thou shalt behold and see those that go down into the land of hell;'

but rather the heavenly country, the better one, the land of uprightness, typified by the land of Canaan; and may be said to be "a land afar off", with respect to the earth on which the saints now are, and with regard to the present sight of it, which is a distant one, and will be always afar off to wicked men; this now the saints have at times a view of by faith, which is very delightful, and greatly supports them under their present trials: though it may be that an enlargement of Christ's kingdom all over the world, to the distant parts of it, may be here meant; which may be called, as the words may be rendered, "a land of distances", or "of far distances"F4ארץ מרחקים "terram distantiarum", Vatablus, Montanus, Gataker. ; that reaches far and near, from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth; which will be the case when the kingdoms of this world shall become Christ's, and the kingdom, and the greatness of it under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints of the most High; a glorious sight this will be. And this sense agrees with the context, and declares what will be after the destruction of antichrist.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-33.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Thy eyes shall u see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the x land that is very far off.

(u) They will see Hezekiah delivered from his enemies and restored to honour and glory.

(x) They will be no more shut in as they were by Sennacherib, but go where it pleases them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-33.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Thine — the saints‘.

king in  …  beauty — not as now, Hezekiah in sackcloth, oppressed by the enemy, but King Messiah (Isaiah 32:1) “in His beauty” (Song of Solomon 5:10, Song of Solomon 5:16; Revelation 4:3).

land  …  very far off — rather, “the land in its remotest extent” (no longer pent up as Hezekiah was with the siege); see Margin. For Jerusalem is made the scene of the king‘s glory (Isaiah 33:20, etc.), and it could not be said to be “very far off,” unless the far-off land be heaven, the Jerusalem above, which is to follow the earthly reign of Messiah at literal Jerusalem (Isaiah 65:17-19; Jeremiah 3:17; Revelation 21:1, Revelation 21:2, Revelation 21:10).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-33.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Over this picture the prophet forgets the sinners in Zion, and greets with words of promise the thriving church of the future. “Thine eyes will see the king in his beauty, will see a land that is very far off.” The king of Judah, hitherto so deeply humbled, and, as Micah instances by way of example, “smitten upon the cheeks,” is then glorified by the victory of his God; and the nation, constituted as described in Isaiah 33:15, Isaiah 33:16, will see him in his God-given beauty, and see the land of promise, cleared of enemies as far as the eye can reach and the foot carry, restored to Israel without reserve, and under the dominion of this sovereign enjoying all the blessedness of peace.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/isaiah-33.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.

The king — First Hezekiah, and then Christ, triumphing over all enemies, and ruling his own people with righteousness.

Very far — Thou shalt not be shut up in Jerusalem, but shalt have free liberty to go abroad with honour and safety.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-33.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 33:17 Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.

Ver. 17. Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty.] Hezekiah in his pristine state and lustre; yea, more glorious and renowned than ever before. Jerome understandeth it of Christ reigning gloriously in heaven, and the saints looking from thence should see the earth afar off as little and contemptible, and say,

O quam angusti sunt mortalium termini!

O quam angusti sunt mortalium animi! ”

Augustine wished that he might have seen these three things, Romam in flore, Paulum in ore, Christum in corpore, Rome in the flourish, Paul in the pulpit, Christ in the body of flesh. Venerable Bede came after him, and wished rather that he might see his King, Christ, in his beauty, as he is now at the right hand of his Father, far outshining the brightest cherub in heaven.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-33.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Isaiah 33:17

These words plainly promise to every follower of Christ, if he shall persevere unto the end, that in the resurrection he shall see the Lord Jesus Christ in His beauty, and in the glory of His kingdom. What then is this beauty which shall be revealed to all who attain that world and the resurrection of the holy dead?

I. First, it would seem to be the beauty of His heavenly court. About Him and before Him are the companies of heaven, the hosts and hierarchies of the blessed, the nine orders of seraphic and angelic ministers, and the saintly multitude of God's new creation. Armies of martyrs, companies of prophets, the majesty of patriarchs, the glory of apostles, each one in the full transfigured beauty of his own perfect spirit, and all revealing the warfare of faith, the triumph of the Church, the power of the Cross, the election of God,—these are the degrees and ascents leading upward to the throne of bliss.

II. But if such be the beauty of the King's court, what is the beauty of the King Himself? of His glorious person as very God and very man? We shall not be dangerously out of the way, if we believe that He who is the brightness of His Father's glory and the express image of His person, did take unto Himself our manhood as His revealed presence for ever, in its most perfect image and likeness; that in Him two natures were united and both were perfect, both were beautiful. Our minds are full of lights and hues, with which we array the objects of our hearts. Let each do as he will. Only let us first love Him, and then weigh these thoughts. Till then, it is all too soon. But be this as it may, there is a beauty we know Him to possess in fulness—the beauty of perfect love. In His face will be revealed all the love of His holy incarnation, of His life of sorrow, of His agony and passion, of His cross and death. The wounds of His hands and feet and of His pierced side are eternal seals and countersigns of the love which has redeemed us for Himself. (1) The King whose beauty is the bliss of heaven is ever drawing and preparing us for His presence by all the mysteries of His Church. (2) By a special and particular discipline, varied and measured for the necessities of every faithful soul, He is making us ready for the vision of His presence.

H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 431.


The sensibility of Christ's character. Sensibility includes sensitiveness. Sensitiveness is the power of receiving impressions, whether from nature or man, vividly, intensely, and yet delicately. Sensibility is this passive quality of sensitiveness with activity of soul in addition exercised upon the impressions received. The more perfect the manhood, the more perfect is this sensibility. When we talk of the perfect manhood of Christ, and never consider this side of His nature, we must be making a grave omission—an omission which removes from our view half of the more subtle beauty of His character.

I. It does not seem wrong to say that there was in Him the sensibility to natural beauty. We know that He had watched the tall lilies arrayed more gloriously than Solomon; that He had marked the reed shaken in the wind, and the tender green of the first shoot of the fig-tree. We find His common teaching employed about the vineyard and the wandering sheep, the whitening corn and the living well, the summer rain and the wintry flood and storm. These and many more would not have been so often connected with His action and so ready on His lips had not He loved them well, and received their impressions vividly.

II. But still higher in Him was that intense sensibility to human feeling, which made Him by instinct know, without the necessity of speech, the feelings of those He met. He saw Nathanael in the early days coming to Him from the garden and the fig-tree. He looked upon the simple and earnest face, and recognised the long effort of the man to be true. In a moment He frankly granted the meed of praise: "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile." A few words more, in which Christ went home to the secret trials of the man, and Nathaneal was His for ever. Men, women, and children, all who were natural, unconventional, simple in love and powerful in faith, ran to Him as a child to its mother. They felt the beauty of character which was born of sensibility to human feeling and spiritual wants, and they were bound to Him for ever.

S. A. Brooke, Christ in Modern Life, p. 89.


I. Consider how the sensibility of Christ to the beauty of nature became active as sympathy with nature. (1) You remember that passage when, as He walked silently along, He suddenly lifted up His eyes and saw the fields whitening already to harvest. He received the impression in a passive mood. It changed the whole current of His thoughts, and the whole state of his soul. Immediately thought seized on the change worked within Him by the impression, and expressed it in words. It marks a beautiful character to be so rapidly and delicately impressed; but the beauty of the character becomes vital beauty when the man, through utter sympathy with and love of what he feels, becomes himself creative of new thought. (2) The poet's sensibility to nature becomes active as personal sympathy with the living soul of nature. This also we find in the character of Christ [cf. parable of the sower]. All the impressions were carried into the spiritual mould. They were shaped into a picture of human life, with its temptations and its struggle and its end. (3) The true sensibility, becoming sympathy, sympathises with the distinct nature of each thing it feels, divides each thing from all the rest, gives to each a different praise, feels for each a different feeling, and harmonises itself with the tone of each impression. This is to be found in the character of Christ, and it gives to it a peculiar and delicate beauty. We find it suggested (a) in the perfect appositeness of the illustrations He drew from nature to the thoughts He desired to illustrate (b) in the choice of certain places for certain moods of the mind.

II. If it be true that sensibility to natural impressions ceases to be a beautiful thing unless it become active through sympathy, it is still more plainly true of sensibility to human feeling. The extraordinary sensibility of Christ to human feeling became operative at once as sympathy, was at once translated into action. His sympathy was given to all the world; but it was not given in a like manner to all, nor at all times. Christ sanctified distinctiveness in friendship and love.

S. A. Brooke, Christ in Modern Life, p. 102.


There are human lives which are poems, as there are lives which are prose. They give pleasure as poetry gives it, by the expression of the beautiful. Such a life, at its very highest range, was the life of Christ. We seek its poetry today, and we weave our thoughts of it round that profound phrase of Milton's, that poetry must be simple, sensuous, and passionate.

I. That which is simplicity in art is purity in a perfect character. The beauty of Christ's purity was (1) in this, that those who saw it saw in it the glory of moral victory. (2) From this purity, so tried and so victorious, arose two other elements of moral beauty—perfect justice and perfect mercy.

II. The word "sensuousness," in Milton's sense of it, was entirely noble in meaning. Of its representative in a character I have already spoken in speaking of the sensibility of the character of the Saviour to impressions received from nature and from man. But I may add that as the poet produces beautiful work out of the multitudinous world of images and things which he has received, so the exquisiteness of the parables and of the words of Christ, both in form and expression, was the direct result of the knowledge He had gained from this quality of sensibility.

III. The third element of great poetry is passion. We may transfer it directly to a character as an element of beauty. It is best defined as the power of intense feeling capable of perfect expression. It was intense feeling of the weakness and sin of man, and intense joy in His Father's power to redeem, which produced the story of the "Prodigal Son," where every word is on fire with tender passion. See how it comes home, even now, to men; see how its profound humanity has made it universal! "Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." How that goes home to the deepest want of the race; how deep the passion which generalised that want into a single sentence; how intense, yet how pathetic, the expression of it; how noble the temperance which stayed at the single sentence and felt that it was enough!

S. A. Brooke, Christ in Modern Life, p. 117.


Shrinking from Christ's coming.

Before Christ came, the faithful remnant of Israel were consoled with the promise that their eyes should see Him who was to be their salvation. Yet it is observable that the prophecy, though cheering and encouraging, had with it something of an awful character too. "Who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? "We too are looking out for Christ's coming,—we are bid look out, we are bid pray for it; and yet it is to be a time of judgment. If it is to be the deliverance of the saints from sin and sorrow for ever, yet they, every one of them, must undergo an awful trial. How then can any look forward to it with joy, not knowing (for no one knows) the certainty of his own salvation? It is a seeming inconsistency how we can pray for Christ's coming, yet wish then to "work out our own salvation," and "make our calling and election sure." It was a seeming contradiction how good men were to desire His first coming, yet be unable to abide it; how the Apostles feared, yet rejoiced after His resurrection. Such seeming contradictions arise from the want of depth in our minds to master the whole truth. We have not eyes keen enough to follow out the lines of God's providence and will, which meet at length, though at first sight they seem parallel. Consider how we can pray for the coming of Christ with sincerity.

I. Though we could not at all reconcile our feelings about ourselves with the command given us, still it is our duty to obey the latter on faith. If Abraham could lift up his knife to slay his son, we may well so far subdue our fears as to pray for what nevertheless is terrible.

II. When we pray for the coming of Christ, we do but pray, in the Church's words, that He would "accomplish the number of His elect, and would hasten His kingdom." When then we pray that He would come, we pray also that we may be ready; that all things may converge and meet in Him; that He may draw us while He draws near us, and make us the holier the closer He comes.

III. You dare not pray for Christ's presence now;—would you pray for it had you lived Methuselah's years? I trow not, You will never be good enough to desire it; no one in the whole Church prays for it except on conditions implied. What Christ asks of you is not sinlessness, but diligence.

IV. Consider what you mean by praying, and you will see that at that very time that you are asking for the coming of His kingdom, you are anticipating that coming, and accomplishing the thing you fear. We shall come before Him at last, as now we come to pray—with profound abasement, with awe, with self-renunciation, still as relying upon the spirit He has given us, with our faculties about us, with a collected and determined mind, and with hope. He who cannot pray for Christ's coming, ought not in consistency to pray at all.

V. In that solemn hour we shall have, if we be His, the inward support of His Spirit, carrying us on towards Him, and "witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God."

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. v., p. 46.


Unreal words.

I. The prophet tells us that, under the Gospel covenant, God's servants will have the privilege of seeing those heavenly sights which were but shadowed out in the law. Before Christ came was the time of shadows; but when He came He brought truth as welt as grace; and as He who is the truth has come to us, so does He in return require that we should be true and sincere in our dealings with Him. To be true and sincere is really to see with our minds those great wonders which He has wrought in order that we might see them. And yet it need scarcely be said nothing is so rare as honesty and singleness of mind; so much so, that a person who is really honest is already perfect. Insincerity was an evil which sprang up within the Church from the first. Ananias and Simon were not open opposers of the Apostles, but false brethren. And as foreseeing what was to be, our Saviour is remarkable in His ministry for nothing more than the earnestness of the dissuasions which He addressed to those who came to Him, against taking up religion lightly, or making promises which they were likely to break.

II. And what is said of discipleship applies undoubtedly in its degree to all profession. To make professions is to play with edged tools, unless we attend to what we are saying. Words have a meaning, whether we mean that meaning or not; and they are imputed to us in their real meaning, when our not meaning it is our own fault. This consideration needs especially to be pressed upon Christians at this day; for this is especially a day of professions. This is a day in which there is (rightly or wrongly) so much of private judgment, so much of separation and difference, so much of preaching and teaching, so much of authorship, that it involves individual profession, responsibility, and recompense in a way peculiarly its own.

III. The mere fact of our saying more than we feel is not necessarily sinful. We ever promise things greater than we master, and we wait on God to enable us to perform them. Our promising involves a prayer for light and strength. Persons are culpably unreal in their way of speaking, not when they say more than they feel, but when they say things different from what they feel. Be in earnest, and you will speak of religion where and when and how you should. Aim at things, and your words will be right without aiming. Aim at looking at this life as God looks at it. Aim at looking at the life to come and the world unseen as God does. Aim at "seeing the King in His beauty." All things that we see are but shadows to us and delusions, unless we mean what we say.

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. v., p. 29.


Reverence, a belief in God's presence.

I. It is scarcely too much to say that awe and fear are at the present day all but discarded from religion. There are two classes of men who are deficient in this respect: (1) those who think that they never were greatly under God's displeasure; (2) those who think that, though they were once, they are not at all now, for all sin has been forgiven them;—those, on the one hand, who consider that sin is no great evil in itself; those, on the other, who consider that it is no great evil in them, because their persons are accepted in Christ for their faith's sake. What they agree in is this: in considering God as simply a God of love, not of awe and reverence also—the one meaning by love benevolence, and the other mercy; and in consequence neither the one nor the other regard Almighty God with fear.

II. The signs of want of fear in such are the following: (1) They have no scruple or misgiving in speaking freely of Almighty God. (2) They speak boldly of the Holy Trinity and the mystery of the Divine nature. (3) They speak confidently of their having been converted, pardoned, and sanctified, as if they knew their own state as well as God knows it. (4) Another sign of irreverence is the familiarity with which many persons address our Lord in prayer, applying epithets to Him and adopting a strain of language which does not beseem creatures, not to say sinners.

III. In proportion as we believe that God is present, we shall have feelings of awe and fear; and not to have them is not to realise, not to believe, that He is present. There is a peculiar feeling with which we regard the dead. What does this arise from—that he is absent? No; for we do not feel the same towards one who is merely distant, though he be at the other end of the earth. Surely it is the passing into another state which impresses itself upon us, and makes us speak of him as we do,—I mean, with a sort of awe. We cannot tell what he is now—what his relations to us—what he knows of us. We do not understand him; we do not see him. He is passed into the land that is very far off; but it is not at all certain that he has not some mysterious hold over us. Apply this to the subject before us, and you will perceive that there is a sense, and a true sense, in which the invisible presence of God is more awful and overpowering than if we saw it. The thought of our Saviour, absent yet present, is like that of a friend taken from us, but, as it were, in dream returned to us, though in this case not in dreams, but in reality and truth. As some precious fruits of the earth are said to taste like all others at once, not as not being really distinct from all others, but as being thus best described, so the state of mind which they are in who believe that the Son of God is here, yet away—is at the right hand of God, yet in His very flesh and blood among us—is one both of joy and praise, or rather one far above either; a feeling of awe, wonder, and praise, which cannot be more suitably expressed than by the Scripture word "fear."

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. v., p. 13.


Worship, a preparation for Christ's coming.

I. What may be the destiny of other orders of being we know not; but this we know to be our own fearful lot—that before us lies a time when we must have the sight of our Lord and Maker face to face. We know not what is reserved for other beings; there may be some which, knowing nothing of their Maker, are never to be brought before Him. For what we can tell, this may be the case with the brute creation. It may be the law of their nature that they should live and die, or live on an indefinite period, upon the very outskirts of His government, sustained by Him, but never permitted to know or approach Him. But this is not our case. We are destined to come before Him; nay, and to come before Him in judgment, and that on our first meeting; and suddenly we have to stand before His righteous presence, and that one by one. At present we are in a world of shadows. What we see is not substantial. Suddenly it will be rent in twain and vanish away, and our Maker will appear. And then that first appearance will be nothing less than a personal intercourse between the Creator and every creature. He will look on us, while we look on Him.

II. Surely it is our plain wisdom, our bounden duty, to prepare for this great change; and if so, are any directions, hints, or rules given us how we are to prepare? Scripture tells us that the Gospel covenant is intended, among its other purposes, to prepare us for this future glorious and wonderful destiny—the sight of God; a destiny which, if not most glorious, will be most terrible. And in the worship and service of Almighty God, which Christ and His Apostles have left to us, we are vouchsafed means, both moral and mystical, of approaching God, and gradually learning to bear the sight of Him. Religious service is "going out to meet the Bridegroom," who, if not "seen in His beauty," will appear in consuming fire.

III. When Moses came down from the mount, and the people were dazzled at his countenance, he put a veil over it. That veil is so far removed in the Gospel, that we are in a state of preparation for its being altogether removed. He who is Judge to us prepares us to be judged,—He who is to glorify us prepares us to be glorified, that He may not take us unawares; but that, when the voice of the archangel sounds, and we are called to meet the Bridegroom, we may be ready.

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. v., p. 1.


References: Isaiah 33:17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 752; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 323. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 325.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/isaiah-33.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Shall see the king; first Hezekiah, and then Christ, as before.

In his beauty; triumphing over all enemies, and ruling his own people with righteousness; in which two things the beauty and glory of a king and kingdom doth chiefly consist.

They shall behold the land that is very far off; thou shalt not be shut up in Jerusalem, and confined to thine own narrow borders, as thou hast been; but thou shalt have free liberty to go abroad with honour and safety, where thou pleasest, even into the remotest countries, because of the great renown of thy king, and the enlargement of his dominions.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-33.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.The good king, Hezekiah, hitherto so depressed by apparently inevitable destruction before him, puts on an aspect humble, yet cheerful and gladsome, and thine eyes — all eyes in Jerusalem — shall see him thus elevated to grander faith through Jehovah’s victory wrought for him and the people.

The land that is very far off — Possibly a typical view, this, of the future oppressed Messiah’s victory and of the glorious land of promise yet to be seen extended over all lands, all cleared of enemies, and the sovereignty of Messiah remaining undisputed.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-33.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The prophet now assumed that his audience was righteous. Not only will the righteous be with God in the future ( Isaiah 33:16), but they will even see the excellent king (cf. Psalm 45:3). They will also see a broad land in which there can be freedom of movement. An amillennial interpretation follows.

"It is the Messiah in the glory of His wondrous reign over His Church that is here in view." [Note: Young, 2:421.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-33.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

King Ezechias, or he shall be one of his courtiers. --- Off. Their limits shall be extended. Those who believe in Christ, shall cast their eyes up towards their heavenly country, Hebrews ix. 13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-33.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the king. See Isaiah 33:22.

far off = far stretching.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-33.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.

Thine eyes - the saints' eyes.

Shall see the king in his beauty - not as now, Hezekiah in sackcloth, oppressed by the enemy, but King Messiah (Isaiah 32:1) "in His beauty" (Song of Solomon 5:10; Song of Solomon 5:16; Revelation 4:3).

The land that is very far off - rather, the land in its remotest extent (no longer pent up as Hezekiah was by the siege). See margin, 'the land of far distances:' 'erets (Hebrew #776) marchaqiym (Hebrew #4801). For Jerusalem is made the scene of the king's glory (Isaiah 33:20, etc.), and it could not be said to be "very far off," unless the far-off land be heaven, the Jerusalem above, which is to follow the earthly reign of Messiah at literal Jerusalem, (Isaiah 65:17-19; Jeremiah 3:17; Revelation 21:1-2; Revelation 21:10 : cf. Revelation 20:1-15.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-33.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty . . .—Torn from their context, the words have been not unfitly used to describe the beatific vision of the saints of God in the far-off land of heaven. So the Targum gives “Thine eyes shall see the Shekinah of the King of Ages.” Their primary meaning is, however, obviously historical. The “king” is Hezekiah, who shall be seen no longer in sackcloth and ashes, and with downcast eyes (Isaiah 37:1), but in all the “beauty” of triumph and of majesty, of a youth and health renewed like the eagle; and the “land that is very far off” is the whole land of Israel, all prosperous and peaceful, as contrasted with the narrow range of view which the people had had during the siege, pent up within the walls of Jerusalem. (Comp. Genesis 13:14-15.) Comp. as to form, Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 30:20.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-33.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.
eyes
32:1,2; 37:1; 2 Chronicles 32:23; Psalms 45:2; Song of Solomon 5:10; Zechariah 9:17; Matthew 17:2; John 1:14; 14:21; 17:24; 1 John 3:2
that is very far off
Heb. of far distances.
Psalms 31:8; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:13-15
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 32:49 - and behold;  Isaiah 6:5 - mine eyes;  Matthew 17:4 - it is;  Mark 9:2 - transfigured;  Luke 9:29 - GeneralRevelation 22:4 - they

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-33.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

THE PROSPECT OF THE GODLY

Isa . Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.

The literal application of this prophecy is generally supposed to have reference to the deliverance of the Jews from the Assyrian army. They would then have the joy of seeing Hezekiah in his goodly apparel, and, freed from the presence of the invader, would be left at liberty to enjoy their own pleasant and goodly land. The deliverance was accomplished (2Ch ). But there is another application of the text—to the beatific vision of the King of kings in the heavenly land. Let us then consider—

I. THE GLORIOUS PROSPECT BEFORE THE CHILDREN OF GOD. "Thine eyes," &c. The prospect respects—

1. The vision of Christ. Christ is King. Of Him Melchisedec, David, and Solomon were types (Psa, &c.; Joh 18:36; Heb 2:9; Rev 1:5; 1Ti 6:10). Patriarchs and prophets saw Him in human form. The Jews saw Him in His humiliation, as "a man of sorrows," &c. The apostles and disciples saw Him in His risen glory. John saw Him in the vision of Patmos (Rev 1:13, &c.) Hereafter all His people shall see Him "in His beauty," in all His regal splendour and magnificence. They shall see Him clearly, fully, eternally.

2. The vision of heaven. "The land," &c. Of heaven Canaan was a type. It was a land of beauty and abundance; of freedom, after the slavery of Egypt; of triumph, after warfare; of rest, after the toils of the desert. Its crowning distinction was the Temple, which God filled with His presence and glory. But heaven is all temple.

II. THE CERTAINTY OF ITS REALISATION. "Thine eyes shall," &c.

1. This was contemplated by Christ in our redemption. He designed our emancipation from the dominion of sin, our deliverance from this present evil world, and also our elevation to His glorious kingdom (Heb ; Joh 17:24).

2. This is repeatedly the subject of the Divine promises (Luk ; Luk 12:32; Joh 14:2-3, &c.)

3. To this tends the work of grace in all its influences on the soul. See what our calling is (1Pe ); to what we are begotten (1Pe 1:3-4); why we are sanctified (Rev 3:4).

4. A goodly number are now enjoying the fulfilment of these promises (Rev ; Rev 7:14).

5. The glory and joy of Christ would not be complete without the eternal salvation of His people (Isa ).

III. THE PREPARATION NECESSARY FOR ITS ENJOYMENT. Nothing is necessary in the way of merit, price, or self-righteousness. But if we would see the King, we must make Him the object of our believing, affectionate regard now.

2. If we would see "the land," &c., we must seek and labour for its attainment (Heb ; Heb 4:10).—Jabez Burns, D.D.: Pulpit Cyclopædia, vol. ii. pp. 154-157).

THE BEAUTY OF CHRIST'S CHARACTER

Isa . Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.

There is a difference between the worthiness and the beauty of a character. A poetic beauty adorns the worth of Christ's character.

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF THE SUPREMELY BEAUTIFUL CHARACTER OF CHRIST?

I. Sensibility. This is a word to be preferred to sensitiveness, for it includes sensitiveness; it has the passive quality of sensitiveness with activity of soul in addition exercised upon the impressions received. The more perfect the manhood, the more perfect is this sensibility. The total absence of it is the essence of vulgarity. The presence of it in its several degrees endows its possessor, according to the proportion of it, with what Chaucer meant by "gentilness."

(1.) It does not seem wrong to say that there was in Christ the sensibility to natural beauty. He also, like us, wished and sought that Nature should send "its own deep quiet to restore His heart." We find His common teaching employed about the vineyard and the wandering sheep, the whitening corn and the living well, the summer rain and the wintry flood and storm.

(2.) Still higher in Him was an intense sensibility to human feeling. He saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and in a moment frankly granted the meed of praise (Joh ); when the malefactor on the cross appealed to Him, Christ saw at once that the fountain of a noble life had begun to flow (Luk 23:43). It was the same with bodies of men as with men; He wove into one instrument of work the various characters of the Apostles; day by day He held together vast multitudes by feeling their hearts within His own; He shamed and confuted His enemies by an instinct of their objections and their whispers; men, women, and children ran to Him, as a child to its mother.

How did the sensibility of Christ become active?—

1. As sympathy with Nature. There are many who never employ either intellect or imagination on the impressions which they receive. Remaining passive, they only permit the tide of the world's beauty to flow in and out of their mind; they do nothing with it. In Wordsworth, each feeling took form as a poem. As Christ walked silently along, He lifted up His eyes and saw the fields whitening already to harvest; and immediately He seized on the impression and expressed it in words. It marks a beautiful character to be so rapidly and delicately impressed; but the beauty becomes vital beauty when, through sympathy with and love of what is felt, one becomes himself creative of new thought. Sometimes such sympathy is shown through the imagination, as when Christ, seeing the cornfield by the shore of the lake while He was teaching, looked on the whole career of the field, and combined impressions taken up by the imagination into the Parable of the Sower. Sensibility becoming sympathy is discriminating. Praise without distinctiveness is wearisome. We find perfect discrimination in the illustrations Christ drew from Nature. How exquisite the passage beginning, "Consider the lilies!" This distinctiveness appears still more in the choice of places for certain moods of mind,—the temptation in the wilderness, the hill-side for prayer. In all this, Christ recognises natural religion as His own, and bids us believe in its beauty, and add it to the spiritual.

2. As sympathy with human feeling. Examples of this are numerous. His tenderness stayed Him on the wayside to satisfy the mother's heart and to bless the children; touched by the widow's weeping, He gave her back her son. "Jesus wept" even at the moment when He was about to give back the lost, because those He loved were weeping. How discriminating the sympathy which gave to Martha and Mary their several meed of praise! How unspeakably beautiful the words, "Woman, behold thy son!" Friend, "behold thy mother!"

This, then, is loveliness of character.

Remember, we have no right to boast of our sensibility to the feelings of others; nay, it is hateful in us till we lift it into the beauty of sympathising action. Remember, too, its wise discrimination. Christ, while feeling with all the world, sanctified distinctiveness in friendship and love.

II. Simplicity. Milton tells us that poetry must be "simple." The beautiful character must also possess this quality. But by simplicity is not meant here the simplicity of Christ's teaching. What is meant is the quality in His character which corresponds to that which we call simplicity in poetry; and that which is simplicity in art is purity in a perfect character. The beauty of Christ's purity was first in this, that those who saw it saw in it the glory of moral victory. His purity was not the beauty of innocence in a child; it was purity which had been subject to the storm, which had known evil and overcome it. And from this purity, so tried and victorious, arose two other elements of moral beauty—perfect justice and perfect mercy. Innocence cannot be just, nor is the untempted saint fit to judge; but Christ is able to be just and yet merciful, because He is entirely pure.

III. Passion, defined as the power of intense feeling capable of perfect expression. Milton tells us that poetry must be "passionate." We may transfer it directly to character as an element of beauty. It was intense feeling of the weakness and sin of man, and intense joy in His Father's power to redeem, that produced the story of the "Prodigal Son." "Come unto Me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." How that goes home! How deep the passion which generalised that want into a single sentence! It is a beauty of character, whether seen in words or action, which passes into and assumes the diadem of sublimity. Christ's words to the Pharisees have all the marks of indignation and none of the marks of anger. Passion and energy limited by temperance imply repose of character. Activity in repose, calm in the heart of passion, these things are of the essence of beauty. And in Him in whom we have found the King in His beauty, this peacefulness was profound. This is the final touch of beauty, which gathers into itself and harmonises all the others, and hence no words are so beautiful as those in which Christ bestows it as His dying legacy on men, "Peace I leave with you," and repeats it as His resurrection gift, "Peace be unto you." All moral and spiritual loveliness lies in knowing what He meant when He said, "Come unto Me … and I will give you rest."—Rev. Stopford A. Brooke, M.A.: Christ in Modern Life (Three Sermons, pp. 89-131).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-33.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17.The king in his beauty. Although the Prophet changes the person, yet this verse must be connected with the preceding verse; for he addresses the sincere worshippers of God, to whom he promises this additional blessing, Thou shalt see the king in his beauty This promise was highly necessary for supporting the hearts of believers, when the state of affairs in Judea was so lamentable and so desperate. When Jerusalem was besieged, the king shut up within the city and surrounded by treacherous counsellors, the people unsteady and seditious, and everything hastening to ruin, there appeared to be no hope left. Still the royal authority in the family of David was a remarkable pledge of the love of God. Isaiah, therefore, meets this danger by saying, that though they behold their king covered with filthy garments, yet he shall be restored to his former rank and splendor.

First, it ought to be observed how invaluable is the kindness of God, when the commonwealth is at peace, and enjoys good princes, by whom everthing is administered justly and faithfully; for by their agency God rules over us. Since, therefore, this happiness is not inconsiderable, the Prophet was unwilling to leave out this part, in promising prosperity to the worshippers of God. Yet it, ought also to be observed, that that kingdom was a type of the kingdom of Christ, whose image Hezekiah bore; for there would be a slight fulfillment of this promise, if we did not trace it to Christ, to whom all these things must be understood to refer. Let no man imagine that I am here pursuing allegories, to which I am averse, and that this is the reason why I do not interpret the passage as relating directly to Christ; but, because in Christ alone is found the stability of that frail kingdom, the likeness which Hezekiah bore leads us to Christ, as it were, by the hand. I am, therefore, disposed to view Hezekiah as a figure of Christ, that we may learn how great will be his beauty. In a word, Isaiah here promises the restoration of the Church.

The land very far off. The restoration of the Church consists of two parts; first, that “the king shall be seen in his beauty;” and secondly, that the boundaries of the kingdom shall be extended. We know that the appearance of Christ is so disfigured as to be contemptible in the eyes of the world, because “no beauty or loveliness” (Isaiah 53:2) is seen in him; but at length, his majesty and splendor and beauty shall be openly displayed, his kingdom shall flourish and be extended far and. wide. Although at present wicked men have everything in their power, and oppress the true servants of God, so that they scarcely have a spot on which they can plant their foot in safety, yet. with firm hope we ought to look for our King, who will at length sit down on his bright and magnificent throne, and will gloriously enrich his people.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 33:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-33.html. 1840-57.