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Isaiah 40:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

O Zion, that bringest good tidings "O daughter, that bringest glad tidings to Zion" - That the true construction of the sentence is this, which makes Zion the receiver, not the publisher, of the glad tidings, which latter has been the most prevailing interpretation, will, I think, very clearly appear, if we rightly consider the image itself, and the custom and common practice from which it is taken. I have added the word daughter to express the feminine gender of the Hebrew participle, which I know not how to do otherwise in our language; and this is absolutely necessary in order to ascertain the image. For the office of announcing and celebrating such glad tidings as are here spoken of, belongs peculiarly to the women. On occasion of any great public success, a signal victory, or any other joyful event, it was usual for the women to gather together, and with music, dances, and songs, to publish and celebrate the happy news. Thus after the passage of the Red Sea, Miriam, and all the women, with timbrels in their hands, formed a chorus, and joined the men in their triumphant song, dancing, and throwing in alternately the refrain or burden of the song: -

"Sing ye to Jehovah, for he is greatly exalted;

The horse and his rider hath he cast into the sea."

Exodus 15:20, Exodus 15:21.

So Jephthah's daughter collected a chorus or virgins, and with dances and songs came out to meet her father, and to celebrate his victory, Judges 11:34. After David's conquest of Goliath, "all the women came out of the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music;" and, forming themselves into two choruses, they sang alternately: -

"Saul has slain his thousands:

And David his ten thousands."

1 Samuel 18:6, 1 Samuel 18:7.

And this gives us the true sense of a passage in the sixty-eighth Psalm, which has frequently been misunderstood: -

"Jehovah gave the word, (that is, the joyful news),

The women, who published the glad tidings, were a great company;

The kings of mighty armies did flee, did flee:

And even the matron, who stayed at home, shared the spoil."

The word signifying the publishers of glad tidings is the same, and expressed in the same form by the feminine participle, as in this place, and the last distich is the song which they sang. So in this place, Jehovah having given the word by his prophet, the joyful tidings of the restoration of Zion, and of God's returning to Jerusalem, (see Isaiah 52:8;), the women are exhorted by the prophet to publish the joyful news with a loud voice from eminences, whence they might best be heard all over the country; and the matter and burden of their song was to be, "Behold your God!" See on Psalm 68:11; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

O Zion, that bringest good tidings - This is evidently the continuance of what the ‹voice‘ said, or of the annunciation which was to give joy to an afflicted and oppressed people. There has been, however, much diversity of opinion in regard to the meaning of the passage. The margin renders it, ‹Thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,‘ making Zion the receiver, and not the publisher of the message that was to convey joy. The Vulgate, in a similar way, renders it, ‹Ascend a high mountain, thou who bringest good tidings to Zion‘ (qui evangelizas Zion). So the Chaldee, understanding this as an address to the prophet, as in Isaiah 40:1, ‹Ascend a high mountain, ye prophets, who bring glad tidings to Zion.‘ So Lowth, Noyes, Gesenius. Grotius, and others. The word מבשׂרת mebas'eret from בשׂר bâs'ar means cheering with good tidings; announcing good news; bearing joyful intelligence.

It is a participle in the feminine gender; and is appropriately applicable to some one that bears good tidings to Zion, and not to Zion as appointed to bear glad titlings. Lowth supposes that it is applicable to some female whose office it was to announce glad tidings, and says that it was the common practice for females to engage in the office of proclaiming good news. On an occasion of a public victory or rejoicing, it was customary, says he, for females to assemble together, and to celebrate it with songs, and dances, and rejoicings; and he appeals to the instance of Miriam and the chorus of women Exodus 15:20-21, and to the instance where, after the victory of David over Goliath, ‹all the women came out of the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet Saul‘ 1 Samuel 18:7. But there are objections to this interpretation; first, if this was the sense, the word would bare been in the plural number, since there is no instance in which a female is employed alone in this service; and, secondly, it was not, according to this, the office of the female to announce good tidings, or to communicate a joyful message, but to celebrate some occasion of triumph or victory.

Grotius supposes that the word is ‹feminine in its sound, but common in its signification;‘ and thus denotes any whose office it was to communicate glad tidings. Gesenius (Commentary in loc.) says, that the feminine form here is used in a collective sense for מבשׂרים mebas'eriym in the plural; and supposes that it thus refers to the prophets, or others who were to announce the glad tidings to Zion. Vitringa coincides with our translation, and supposes that the sense is, that Zion was to make proclamation to the other cities of Judah of the deliverance; that the news was first to be communicated to Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem was entrusted with the office of announcing this to the other cities of the land; and that the meaning is, that the gospel was to be preached first at Jerusalem, and then from Jerusalem as a center to the ether cities of the land, agreeably to Luke 24:49. In this view, also, Hengstenberg coincides (Christol. vol. i. p. 424). But that the former interpretation, which regards Zion as the receiver, and not the promulgator, of the intelligence, is the true one, is apparent, I think, from the following considerations:

1. It is that which is the obvious and most correct construction of the Hebrew.

2. It is that which is found in the ancient versions.

3. It accords with the design of the passage.

The main scope of the passage is not to call upon Jerusalem to make known the glad tidings, but it is to convey the good news to Jerusalem; to announce to her, lying desolate and waste, that her hard service was at an end, and that she was to be blessed with the return of happier and better times (see Isaiah 40:2). It would be a departure from this, to suppose that the subject was diverted in order to give Jerusalem a command to make the proclamation to the other cities of the land to say nothing of the impropriety of calling on a city to go up into a high mountain, and to lift up its voice. On the meaning of the word ‹Zion,‘ see the note at Isaiah 1:8.

Get thee up into a high mountain - You who make this proclamation to Zion. It was not uncommon in ancient times, when a multitude were to be addressed, or a proclamation to be made, for the crier to go into a mountain, where he could be seen and heard. Thus Jotham, addressing the men of Shechem, is said to have gone and ‹stood on the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice‘ (Judges 9:7; compare Matthew 5:1). The sense is, that the messengers of the joyful news to Zion were to make themselves distinctly heard by all the inhabitants of the city, and of the land.

Lift up thy voice - As with a glad and important message. Do not deliver the message as if you were afraid that it should be heard. It is one of joy; and it should be delivered in a clear, decided, animated manner, as if it were important that it should be heard.

With strength - Aloud; with effort; with power (compare Isaiah 35:3-4).

Lift it up - Lift up the voice. The command is repeated, to denote emphasis. The mind is full of the subject, and the prophet repeats the command, as a man often does when his mind is full of an idea. The command to deliver the message of God with animation, earnestness, and zeal is one that is not unusual in Isaiah. It should be delivered as if it were true, and as if it were believed to be true. This will not justify, however, boisterous preaching, or a loud and unnatural tone of voice - alike offensive to good taste, injurious to the health, and destructive of the life of the preacher. It is to be remarked, also, that this command to lift up the voice, pertains to the glad tidings of the gospel, and not to the terrors of wrath; to the proclamation of mercy, and not to the denunciation of woe. The glad tidings of salvation should be delivered in an animated and ardent manner; the future punishment of the wicked in a tone serious, solemn, subdued.

Say unto the cities of Judah - Not to Jerusalem only, but to all the cities of the land. They were alike to be blessed on the return from the captivity - Mike in the preaching of the gospel.

Behold your God! - Lo! your God returns to the city, the temple, and the land! Lo! he comes (note, Isaiah 40:3), conducting his people as a king to their land! Lo! he will come - under the Messiah in future times - to redeem and save! What a glad announcement was this to the desolate and forsaken cities of Judah! What a glad announcement to the wide world, ‹Lo! God has come to redeem and save; and the desolate world shall be visited with his salvation and smile, in his mercy through the Messiah!‘

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always. Troubles are removed in love, when sin is pardoned. In the great atonement of the death of Christ, the mercy of God is exercised to the glory of his justice. In Christ, and his sufferings, true penitents receive of the Lord's hand double for all their sins; for the satisfaction Christ made by his death was of infinite value. The prophet had some reference to the return of the Jews from Babylon. But this is a small event, compared with that pointed out by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament, when John the Baptist proclaimed the approach of Christ. When eastern princes marched through desert countries, ways were prepared for them, and hinderances removed. And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hinderance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. What are all that belongs to fallen man, or all that he does, but as the grass and the flower thereof! And what will all the titles and possessions of a dying sinner avail, when they leave him under condemnation! The word of the Lord can do that for us, which all flesh cannot. The glad tidings of the coming of Christ were to be sent forth to the ends of the earth. Satan is the strong man armed; but our Lord Jesus is stronger; and he shall proceed, and do all that he purposes. Christ is the good Shepherd; he shows tender care for young converts, weak believers, and those of a sorrowful spirit. By his word he requires no more service, and by his providence he inflicts no more trouble, than he will strengthen them for. May we know our Shepherd's voice, and follow him, proving ourselves his sheep.
Ellen G. White
Counsels to Writers and Editors, 93

To Editors of Our Periodicals—I am warned that the less our ministers handle the subject of pantheism, the less they will help Satan to present his theories to the people. Let the truth for this time be kept before them. Never, never repeat the spiritualistic sentiments, the strange, misleading theories, which have for years been coming in. CW 93.1

The Lord has a message for our ministers to bear, but He does not call them to speak on the subjects upon which the minds of some have been dwelling. Those who do this place in minds seeds that will germinate and spring up to bear fruit. Thus people are educated to catch up the sentiments of Satan, and give them publicity. CW 93.2

Let the repetition of Satan's falsehoods be kept out of our papers. What we need in our papers is the gospel message that will save souls. “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God.” CW 93.3

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 315

The God whom they had been claiming to serve, but whose character they had misunderstood, was set before them as the great Healer of spiritual disease. What though the whole head was sick and the whole heart faint? what though from the sole of the foot even unto the crown of the head there was no soundness, but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores? See Isaiah 1:6. He who had been walking frowardly in the way of his heart might find healing by turning to the Lord. “I have seen his ways,” the Lord declared, “and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him.... Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:18, 19. PK 315.1

The prophet exalted God as Creator of all. His message to the cities of Judah was, “Behold your God!” Isaiah 40:9. “Thus saith God the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it;” “I am the Lord that maketh all things;” “I form the light, and create darkness;” “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; Isaiah 45:7, 12. “To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth.” Isaiah 40:25, 26. PK 315.2

To those who feared they would not be received if they should return to God, the prophet declared: PK 316.1

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 415

He causes “the light to shine out of darkness.” 2 Corinthians 4:6. When “the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.” Genesis 1:2, 3. So in the night of spiritual darkness, God's word goes forth, “Let there be light.” To His people He says, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:1. COL 415.1

“Behold,” says the Scripture, “the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:2. COL 415.2

It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth. COL 415.3

This is the work outlined by the prophet Isaiah in the words, “O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.” Isaiah 40:9, 10. COL 415.4

Those who wait for the Bridegroom's coming are to say to the people, “Behold your God.” The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them. COL 415.5

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 476

This chapter is based on John 10:1-30.

“I am the Good Shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.” DA 476.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 826

In the commission to His disciples, Christ not only outlined their work, but gave them their message. Teach the people, He said, “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man's theories and conclusions, or for church legislation. No laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority are included in the commission. None of these are Christ's servants to teach. “The law and the prophets,” with the record of His own words and deeds, are the treasure committed to the disciples to be given to the world. Christ's name is their watchword, their badge of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing that does not bear His superscription is to be recognized in His kingdom. DA 826.1

The gospel is to be presented, not as a lifeless theory, but as a living force to change the life. God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to its power. Those whose course has been most offensive to Him He freely accepts; when they repent, He imparts to them His divine Spirit, places them in the highest positions of trust, and sends them forth into the camp of the disloyal to proclaim His boundless mercy. He would have His servants bear testimony to the fact that through His grace men may possess Christlikeness of character, and may rejoice in the assurance of His great love. He would have us bear testimony to the fact that He cannot be satisfied until the human race are reclaimed and reinstated in their holy privileges as His sons and daughters. DA 826.2

In Christ is the tenderness of the shepherd, the affection of the parent, and the matchless grace of the compassionate Saviour. His blessings He presents in the most alluring terms. He is not content merely to announce these blessings; He presents them in the most attractive way, to excite a desire to possess them. So His servants are to present the riches of the glory of the unspeakable Gift. The wonderful love of Christ will melt and subdue hearts, when the mere reiteration of doctrines would accomplish nothing. “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God.” “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! ... He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom.” Isaiah 40:1, 9-11. Tell the people of Him who is “the Chiefest among ten thousand,” and the One “altogether lovely.” The Song of Solomon 5:10, 16. Words alone cannot tell it. Let it be reflected in the character and manifested in the life. Christ is sitting for His portrait in every disciple. Every one God has predestinated to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Romans 8:29. In every one Christ's long-suffering love, His holiness, meekness, mercy, and truth are to be manifested to the world. DA 826.3

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 696-7

“Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,
And he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat;
Yea, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
PK 696.1

“Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?
And your labor for that which satisfieth not?
Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good,
And let your soul delight itself in fatness.
PK 696.2

“Incline your ear, and come unto Me:
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
Even the sure mercies of David.”
PK 696.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1144-5

15. Usefulness Not Proved by Noise and Bustle—We need a calm waiting upon God. The need of this is imperious. It is not the noise and bustle we make in the world which proves our usefulness. See how silently God works. We do not hear the noise of His steps, and yet He is walking about us, laboring for our good. Jesus did not seek for notoriety; His life-giving virtue was going out to the needy and the afflicted through silent actions, whose influence extended far into all countries and was felt and expressed in the life of millions of human beings. Those who desire to labor with God have need of His Spirit every day; they need to walk and labor in meekness and humility of spirit, without seeking to accomplish extraordinary things, satisfied to do the work before them and doing it faithfully. Men may not see or appreciate their efforts, but the names of these faithful children of God are written in heaven among His noblest workers, as scattering His seed in view of a glorious harvest. “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Manuscript 24, 1887). 4BC 1144.1

Take Time to Rest, Think, Appreciate—The Lord wants human beings to take time to rest, time to think of and appreciate heavenly things. Those who do not value the things of heaven sufficiently to give time to them will at last lose all (Letter 181, 1903). 4BC 1144.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 20

*****

The truths of the third angel's message have been presented by some as a dry theory; but in this message is to be presented Christ the Living One. He is to be revealed as the first and the last, as the I AM, the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star. Through this message the character of God in Christ is to be manifested to the world. The call is to be sounded: “O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom.” Isaiah 40:9-11. 6T 20.1

Now, with John the Baptist, we are to point men to Jesus, saying: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. Now as never before is to be sounded the invitation: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” John 7:37; Revelation 22:17. 6T 20.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 478-9

In my earlier experiences in the message, I was called to meet this evil. During my labors in Europe and Australia, and more recently at the San Jose camp meeting in 1905, I had to bear my testimony of warning against it, because souls were being led to look to man for wisdom, instead of looking to God, who is our wisdom, our sanctification, and our righteousness. And now the same message has again been given me, more definite and decisive, because there has been a deeper offense to the Spirit of God. TM 478.1

God is the Teacher of His people. All who humble their hearts before Him will be taught of God. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” The Lord wants every church member to pray earnestly for wisdom, that he may know what the Lord would have him do. It is the privilege of every believer to obtain an individual experience, learning to carry his cares and perplexities to God. It is written, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” TM 478.2

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