Context: Chapter 52 is one of several in which the poet foretells, or seems to foretell, the coming of the Messiah. Early Christian scholars were convinced that this coming is the proper interpretation of the lines and that Isaiah prophesied accurately the life and ministry of Jesus and the growth of the Church. Later scholarship puzzled over these passages and considered several Jewish leaders of the period, to whom Isaiah might have assigned the role of deliverer. More recently scholarship has tended to the opinion that a true Messiah, as later exemplified by Christ, is what Isaiah does refer to. Chapter 40 serves as a prelude, announcing that the suffering of Israel will presently end and that at last the glory of God will descend upon its people. In Chapter 42 Isaiah describes one he calls the Servant, who has been prepared by the Lord, and who will bring God's religion to the people that it may be spread abroad in the world; his coming will be quiet and without fanfare; his teaching will be gentle. In Chapter 49 another of these evangelistic hymns announces the Servant and portrays him speaking to the nations and explaining his mission to them; in the following chapter he describes his own suffering and the strength that upholds him in it. Chapter 52 begins with Isaiah's jubilant announcement that Babylonian oppression is at an end; Jerusalem the holy city will no longer be defiled by the unclean. In the words of the Lord, the people have sold themselves into captivity for nothing, and will be redeemed in the same way; for they have been oppressed without just cause in the past. Past suffering has paid for present folly. The people return from exile and Jerusalem, in celebration, arrays itself as a bride. A herald now proclaims that God is king and that His kingdom will endure forever.
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.
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.
Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.
For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.