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Isaiah 52:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Thy watchmen lift up the voice "All thy watchmen lift up their voice" - There is a difficulty in the construction of this place which, I think, none of the ancient versions or modern interpreters have cleared up satisfactorily. Rendered word for word it stands thus: "The voice of thy watchmen: they lift up their voice." The sense of the first member, considered as elliptical, is variously supplied by various expositors; by none, as it seems to me, in any way that is easy and natural. I am persuaded there is a mistake in the present text, and that the true reading is צפיך כל col tsophayich, all thy watchmen, instead of צפיך קול kol tsophayich, the voice of thy watchmen. The mistake was easy from the similitude in sound of the two letters כ caph and ק koph . And in one MS. the ק koph is upon a rasure. This correction perfectly rectifies the sense and the construction. - L.

They shall see eye to eye - May not this be applied to the prophets and apostles; the one predicting, and the other discovering in the prediction the truth of the prophecy. The meaning of both Testaments is best understood by bringing them face to face.

When the Lord shall bring again Zion "When Jehovah returneth to Zion" - So the Chaldee: לציון שכנתיה יתיב כד cad yethib shechinteih letsiyon, "when he shall place the shechinah in Zion." God is considered as having deserted his people during the captivity; and at the restoration, as returning himself with them to Zion, his former habitation. See Psalm 60:1; Isaiah 40:9, and note.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Thy watchmen - This language is taken from the custom of placing watchmen on the walls of a city, or on elevated towers, who could see if an enemy approached, and who of course would be the first to discern a messenger at a distance who was coming to announce good news. The idea is, that there would be as great joy at the announcement of the return of the exiles, as if they who were stationed on the wall should see the long-expected herald on the distant hills, coming to announce that they were about to return, and that the city and temple were about to be rebuilt. It was originally applicable to the return from Babylon. But it contains also the general truth that they who are appointed to watch over Zion and its interests, will rejoice at all the tokens of God‘s favor to his people, and especially when he comes to bless them after long times of darkness, depression, and calamity. It is by no means, therefore, departing from the spirit of this passage, to apply it to the joy of the ministers of religion in the visits of divine mercy to a church and people. ‹Shall lift up the voice.‘ That is, with rejoicing.

With the voice together shall they sing - They shall mingle their praises and thanksgivings. The idea is, that all who are appointed to guard Zion, should feel a common interest in her welfare, and rejoice when the Lord comes to visit and bless his people. The Hebrew here is more abrupt and emphatic than our common translation would make it. It is literally, ‹The voice of thy watchmen! They lift up the voice together; they sing‘ - as if the prophet suddenly heard a shout. It is the exultling shout of the watchmen of Zion; and it comes as one voice, with no discord, no jarring.

For they shall see eye to eye - Lowth renders this, ‹For face to face shall they see.‘ Noyes, ‹For with their own eyes shall they behold.‘ Jerome renders it, Oculo ad oculum - ‹Eye to eye.‘ The Septuagint renders it, Ὀφθαλμοὶ πρός ὀφθαλμοὺς, κ.τ.λ. Ophthalmoi pros ophthalmous etc ‹Eyes shall look to eyes when the Lord shall have mercy upon Zion.‘ Interpreters have been divided in regard to its meaning. The sense may be, either that they shall see face to face, that is, distinctly, clearly, as when one is near another; or it may mean that they shall be united - they shall contemplate the same object, or look steadily at the same thing. Rosenmuller, Gesenius, Forerius, Junius. and some others, understand it in the former sense. So the Chaldee, ‹For they shall see with their own eyes the great things which the Lord will do when he shall bring back his own glory to Zion.‘ The phrase in Hebrew occurs in no other place, except in Numbers 14:14, which our translators have rendered, ‹For thou, Lord, art seen face to face.‘ Hebrew, ‹Eye to eye;‘ that is, near, openly, manifestly, without any veil or interposing medium.

The expression, ‹face to face,‘ meaning openly, plainly, manifestly, as one sees who is close to another, occurs frequently in the Bible (see Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11; Deuteronomy 5:4; Deuteronomy 34:10; Judges 6:22; Proverbs 27:19; Ezekiel 20:35; Acts 25:16; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:14). So the phrase, ‹mouth to mouth,‘ occurs in a similar sense Numbers 12:8. And there can be but little doubt, it seems to me, that this is the sense here, and that the prophet means to say, that the great and marvelous doings of Yahweh would be seen openly and manifestly, and that the watchmen would thence have occasion to rejoice. Another reason for this opinion, besides the fact that it accords with the common usage, is, that the phrase, ‹to see eye to eye,‘ in the sense of being united and harmonious, is not very intelligible. It is not easy to form an image or conception of the watchman in this attitude as denoting harmony. To look into the eyes of each other does not of necessity denote harmony, for people oftentimes do this for other purposes. The idea therefore is, that when Yahweh should bring back and bless his people, the watchmen would have a full and glorious exhibition of his mercy and goodness, and the result would be, that they would greatly rejoice, and unitedly celebrate his name. According to this interpretation, it does not mean that the ministers of religion would have the same precise views, or embrace the same doctrines, however true this may be, or however desirable in itself, but that they would have an open, clear, and bright manifestation of the presence of God, and would lift up their voices together with exultation and praise.

When the Lord shall bring again Zion - Zion here denotes the people who dwelt in Jerusalem; and the idea is, when the Lord shall again restore them to their own land. It is not a departure from the sense of the passage, however, to apply it in a more general manner, and to use it as demonstrating that any signal interposition of God in favor of his people should be the occasion of joy, and shall lead the ministers of religion to exult in God, and to praise his name.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The gospel proclaims liberty to those bound with fears. Let those weary and heavy laden under the burden of sin, find relief in Christ, shake themselves from the dust of their doubts and fears, and loose themselves from those bands. The price paid by the Redeemer for our salvation, was not silver or gold, or corruptible things, but his own precious blood. Considering the freeness of this salvation, and how hurtful to temporal comfort sins are, we shall more value the redemption which is in Christ. Do we seek victory over every sin, recollecting that the glory of God requires holiness in every follower of Christ? The good news is, that the Lord Jesus reigns. Christ himself brought these tidings first. His ministers proclaim these good tidings: keeping themselves clean from the pollutions of the world, they are beautiful to those to whom they are sent. Zion's watchmen could scarcely discern any thing of God's favour through the dark cloud of their afflictions; but now the cloud is scattered, they shall plainly see the performance. Zion's waste places shall then rejoice; all the world will have the benefit. This is applied to our salvation by Christ. Babylon is no place for Israelites. And it is a call to all in the bondage of sin and Satan, to use the liberty Christ has proclaimed. They were to go with diligent haste, not to lose time nor linger; but they were not to go with distrustful haste. Those in the way of duty, are under God's special protection; and he that believes this, will not hasten for fear.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 914

“It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me”—not through confessionals or priests or popes, but through Me, your Saviour. “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” This is the absolute Godhead. The mightiest created intellect cannot comprehend Him; words from the most eloquent tongue fail to describe Him. Silence is eloquence. 7BC 914.1

Christ represented His Father to the world, and He represents before God the chosen ones in whom He has restored the moral image of God. They are His heritage. To them He says, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” “No man knoweth ... the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” No priest, no religionist, can reveal the Father to any son or daughter of Adam. 7BC 914.2

Men have only one Advocate, one Intercessor, who is able to pardon transgression. Shall not our hearts swell with gratitude to Him who gave Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins? Think deeply upon the love the Father has manifested in our behalf, the love that He has expressed for us. We cannot measure this love. Measurement there is none. We can only point to Calvary, to the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is an infinite sacrifice. Can we comprehend and measure infinity? ... 7BC 914.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 361

The history of the Israelites presents before us the great danger of deception. Many do not have a sense of the sinfulness of their own natures nor of the grace of forgiveness. They are in nature's darkness, subject to temptations and to great deception. They are far from God; yet they take great satisfaction in their lives, when their conduct is abhorred of God. This class will ever be at war with the leadings of the Spirit of God, especially with reproof. They do not wish to be disturbed. Occasionally they have selfish fears and good purposes, and sometimes anxious thoughts and convictions; but they have not a depth of experience, because they are not riveted to the eternal Rock. This class never see the necessity of the plain testimony. Sin does not appear so exceedingly sinful to them for the very reason that they are not walking in the light as Christ is in the light. 3T 361.1

There is still another class who have had great light and special conviction, and a genuine experience in the workings of the Spirit of God; but the manifold temptations of Satan have overcome them. They do not appreciate the light that God has given them. They do not heed the warnings and reproofs from the Spirit of God. They are under condemnation. These will ever be at variance with the straight testimony because it condemns them. 3T 361.2

God designs that His people shall be a unit, that they shall see eye to eye and be of the same mind and of the same judgment. This cannot be accomplished without a clear, pointed, living testimony in the church. The prayer of Christ was that His disciples might be one as He was one with His Father. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” 3T 361.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 108

Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the Holy City.... How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. 9T 108.1

Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:1-10. 9T 108.2

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