In Isaiah 52:7, the prophet Isaiah announces, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”
In this passage, Isaiah is looking forward in time to the Babylonian Captivity, when Jerusalem would be lying desolate. Isaiah speaks urgently to the Jews, telling them to wake up (Isaiah 52:1–2). As in the past, as captives in Egypt, they had known God’s punishment (verses 3–6). But soon they would know His salvation.
Isaiah prophetically sees the messengers bringing their joyous good news to a sad and forsaken land: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.” After a long, weary time of seeing Jerusalem in ruins, news would finally come of Judah’s redemption. The prophet could even now see the bearers of the news running on the Judean mountainsides! Peace and salvation were on the way! God was going to set His people free from captivity through the defeat of Babylon by the Persian king Cyrus. The Jews would be able to rebuild their fallen city and restore the temple.
Isaiah used poetic language to describe the messengers’ feet as “beautiful” or “lovely.” The word beautiful carries the idea of “the time of full bloom” or “mature development” and “vigor.” These feet were vigorous, leaping over the mountains of Jerusalem with the swiftness of gazelles or young stags (cf. Song of Solomon 2:17; 8:14). The beauty of the feet emphasizes the rapid approach of the messenger. What a breathtakingly beautiful sight it was for Judah to see these feet springing toward them across the mountains! These feet carried messengers of good tidings of joy, proclaiming peace, salvation, and the announcement that God reigns!
One hundred years after Isaiah’s time, this same imagery was used by Nahum in a prophecy concerning Judah’s imminent victory over Assyria: “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed” (Nahum 1:15).
Nearly one thousand years later, the apostle Paul described a similar messenger proclaiming the good news of peace and salvation in Jesus Christ: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14–15). Just as Judah celebrated the good news of deliverance from their enemies in the Old Testament, so we today rejoice in the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, who sets us free from captivity to sin.
The statement how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news refers not to the appearance of the feet, but to their action. The coming of the swift-footed messengers of the gospel of the kingdom of God is beautiful. The advent of the runner seen on distant mountains dashing closer with long-expected good news is lovely to the sight. These feet are appealing because they are close at hand with good news of peace, salvation, and God’s sovereign rule.
The apostle Paul taught Christians to put on the full armor of God as a spiritual defense against the dark forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10–13). He described one piece of the armor “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, ESV). Paul most likely had the words of Isaiah in mind here. To be appropriately equipped with God’s armor means being ready and willing to share the gospel of peace with those who need salvation. The good news of the gospel brings God’s peace through Jesus Christ, proclaims His great love for us, and awakens us to His gifts of grace and mercy (John 3:16; Romans 3:24; 5:1, 15; Ephesians 2:4).