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

Isaiah 33:17-18. Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty — Hezekiah, in a more prosperous condition than formerly. Having put off his sackcloth, and all the sadness of his countenance, he shall appear publicly in his beauty, in his royal robes, and with a pleasing aspect, to the great joy of all his loving subjects. Thine eyes shall see the King Messiah, (typified by Hezekiah,) triumphing over all his enemies, and ruling his own people with righteousness. Those that walk uprightly shall not only have bread given them, and their water sure, but they shall see, by faith, the King of kings, in his beauty, the beauty of holiness, and that beauty shall be upon them. They shall behold the land that is very far off — The siege being raised, by which they were kept close within the walls of Jerusalem, they shall be at liberty to go abroad without danger of falling into the enemies’ hands, and they shall visit the utmost corners of the nation, and take a prospect of the adjacent country, which will be the more pleasant after so long a confinement. Bishop Lowth renders it, They (thine eyes) shall see thine own land far extended. We may apply the words to the heavenly Canaan, that land which is very far off, which believers behold by faith, and comfort themselves with the prospect of it in evil times. Thy heart shall meditate terror — Bishop Lowth reads, Thy heart shall reflect on the past terror. Thou shalt call to mind, with delight and thankfulness, the former troubles and distresses in which thou wast involved. Where is the scribe, &c. — Every one shall, with pleasure, reflect on the dangers they have escaped, and shall ask, in a triumphant manner, Where is the scribe, or muster-master, of the Assyrian army? Where is the receiver — Their weigher, or treasurer? Where is he that counted the towers — “That is,” says Bishop Lowth, “The commander of the enemy’s forces, who surveyed the fortifications of the city, and took an account of the height, strength, and situation of the walls and towers; that he might know where to make the assault with the greatest advantage.” Thus understood, the words are considered as containing Jerusalem’s triumph over the vanquished army of the Assyrians; and the rather, because the apostle alludes to them in his triumphs over the learning of this world; when it was baffled by the gospel of Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:20. The virgin, the daughter of Zion, despises all their military preparations. Poole, however, with some others, thinks these words are rather to be considered as the language of the Jews in the time of their distress, and that they are here recorded to give a lively representation of it; the officers here mentioned not seeming to be those of the Assyrian army, but rather those of the Jews, who, upon the approach of the Assyrians, began to be more active in making military preparations for the defence of the city, and to choose such officers as were necessary and useful for that end, such as these, here mentioned were; namely, the scribe, or, muster-master, who was to make and keep a list of the soldiers, and to call them together as occasion required; the receiver, who received and laid out the money for the charges of the war, and he that counted the towers, who surveyed all the parts of the city, and considered what towers or fortifications were to be made or repaired for the security of it. And unto these several officers the people resorted with great distraction and confusion, to acquaint them with all occurrences, or to transact business with them, as occasion required.33:15-24 The true believer watches against all occasions of sin. The Divine power will keep him safe, and his faith in that power will keep him easy. He shall want nothing needful for him. Every blessing of salvation is freely bestowed on all that ask with humble, believing prayer; and the believer is safe in time and for ever. Those that walk uprightly shall not only have bread given, and their water sure, but they shall, by faith, see the King of kings in his beauty, the beauty of holiness. The remembrance of the terror they were in, shall add to the pleasure of their deliverance. It is desirable to be quiet in our own houses, but much more so to be quiet in God's house; and in every age Christ will have a seed to serve him. Jerusalem had no large river running by it, but the presence and power of God make up all wants. We have all in God, all we need, or can desire. By faith we take Christ for our Prince and Saviour; he reigns over his redeemed people. All that refuse to have Him to reign over them, make shipwreck of their souls. Sickness is taken away in mercy, when the fruit of it is the taking away of sin. If iniquity be taken away, we have little reason to complain of outward affliction. This last verse leads our thoughts, not only to the most glorious state of the gospel church on earth, but to heaven, where no sickness or trouble can enter. He that blotteth out our transgressions, will heal our souls.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.

17. Thine—the saints'.

king in … beauty—not as now, Hezekiah in sackcloth, oppressed by the enemy, but King Messiah (Isa 32:1) "in His beauty" (So 5:10, 16; Re 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 (Isa 33:20, &c.), 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 (Isa 65:17-19; Jer 3:17; Re 21:1, 2, 10).

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. 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" (d); 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.

(d) "terram distantiarum", Vatablus, Montanus, Gataker.

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.

17. the (or a) king in his beauty] The reluctance of many expositors to interpret this phrase of the Messiah is incomprehensible. Delitzsch says that “the king of Isaiah 33:17 is no more the Messiah than the Messiah in Micah 5:1 [E.V. Isaiah 33:2] is the same person as the king who is smitten on the cheek in Isa 4:14 [E.V. Isaiah 33:1].” But in Micah the humiliated king is replaced by the Messiah, and surely the same conception would be in place here. That the king is Jehovah (Vitringa) is no doubt a possible alternative in view of Isaiah 33:22, but since whatever be the date of the passage the Messianic hope must have been a living idea of Jewish religion, there seems no reason for trying to evade what seems the most natural explanation. On the “beauty” of the king see Psalm 45:2.

the land that is very far off] Rather as R.V., a far stretching land (lit. “a land of distances”), the spacious and ever-extending dominions of the Messiah. Few verses of the O.T. have been more misapplied than this.

17–24. The idea of the perfect security of the righteous man leads by an easy transition to more positive features of the golden age.Verse 17. - Thine eyes. Another transition. Here from the third person to the second, the prophet now addressing those righteous ones of whom he has been speaking in the two preceding verses. Shall see the King in his beauty. The Messianic King, whoever he might be, and whenever he might make his appearance. It has been said that beauty is not predicated of the heavenly King (Cheyne); but Zechariah 9:17; Psalm 45:2; and Canticles, passim, contradict this assertion. "How great is his beauty;" "Thou art fairer than the children of men;" "His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely." The land that is very far off; literally, the land of far distances. Bishop Lowth renders, "Thine own land far extended," and so Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne. But if "the King" is Messianic, so doubtless is "the land" - the world-wide tract over which Messiah will reign (Revelation 21:1). After the prophet has heard this from Jehovah, he knows how it will fare with them. He therefore cries out to them in triumph (Isaiah 33:11), "Ye are pregnant with hay, ye bring forth stubble! Your snorting is the fire that will devour you." Their vain purpose to destroy Jerusalem comes to nothing; their burning wrath against Jerusalem becomes the fire of wrath, which consumes them (for chashash and qash, see at Isaiah 5:24).
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