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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Isaiah 55

Verse 1

LV.

(1) Ho, every one that thirsteth . . .—The whole context shows that the water, the wine, the milk are all, symbols of spiritual blessings as distinctly as they are, e.g., in John 4:10; Matthew 26:29; 1 Peter 2:2. The Word “buy” is elsewhere confined to the purchase of corn, and would not rightly have been used of wine and milk. The invitation is addressed, as in a tone of pity, to the bereaved and afflicted one of Isaiah 54:6-23.54.7.

Without money and without price.Literally, For not-money and not-price. The prophet had used the word “buy,” but he feels that that word may be misinterpreted. “No silver or gold can buy the blessing which He offers. Something, indeed, is required, and therefore the word” buy “is still the right word; but the “price” is simply the self-surrender that accepts the blessing. Comp. Proverbs 3:14-20.3.15; Matthew 13:45-40.13.46,

Verse 2

(2) Wherefore do ye spend money . . .—Here again the “bread” is that which sustains the true life of the soul. “Labour”-stands for the “earnings of labour.” Israel had given her money for that which was “not-bread,” she is called to accept the true bread for that which is “not-money,” scil., as the next verse shows, for the simple “hearing of faith.” “Fatness,” as in Isaiah 25:6, and the “fatted calf” of Luke 15:23, represents the exuberance of spiritual joy.

Verse 3

(3) Your soul shall live . . .—Better, revive. The idea is that of waking to a new life.

I will make an everlasting covenant . . .—The words find their explanation in the “new covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31, Luke 22:20, but those which follow show that it is thought of as the expansion and completion of that which had been made with David (2 Samuel 7:12-10.7.17; Psalms 89:34-19.89.35), as the representative of the true King, whom Isaiah now contemplates as identical with the “servant of the Lord.” For “sure mercies” read the unfailing loving-kindnesses, which were “of David,” as given to him and to his seed by Jehovah.

Verse 4

(4) I have given him . . .—Better, I gave, the words referring primarily to the historic David (Comp. Psalms 78:70-19.78.71), though realised fully only in Him who was the “faithful and true witness” (John 18:37; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14), the “captain” or “leader” of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10).

Verse 5

(5) Thou shalt call a nation.—The calling of the Gentiles and the consequent expansion of the true idea of Israel is again dominant. The words sound like an echo from Psalms 18:43.

Because of the Lord thy God . . .—The words are repeated, as expressing a thought on which the prophet loved to dwell, in Isaiah 60:9.

Verse 6

(6) While he may be found . . .—The appeal shows that the promised blessings are not unconditional. There may come a time (as in Matthew 25:11) when “too late will be written on all efforts to gain the inheritance which has been forfeited by neglect (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Verse 8

(8) My thoughts are not your thoughts . . .—The assertion refers to both the promise and the warning. Men think that the gifts of God can be purchased with money (Acts 8:20). They think that the market in which they are sold is always open, and that they can have them when and how they please (Matthew 25:9-40.25.13).

Verse 10

(10) For as the rain cometh down . . .—The verse includes well-nigh every element of the parables of agriculture. The “rain” and the “dew” are the gracious influences that prepare the heart; the “seed” is the Divine word, the “sower” is the Servant of the Lord, i.e., the Son of Man (Matthew 13:37); the “bread” the fruits of holiness that in their turn sustain the life of others.

Verse 11

(11) So shall my word be . . .—The point of the comparison is that the predominance of fertility in the natural world, in spite of partial or apparent failures, is the pledge of a like triumph, in the long run, of the purposes of God for man’s good over man’s resistance. It does not exclude the partial, or even total, failure of many; it asserts that the saved are more than the lost. Comp. Isaiah 53:11.

Verse 12

(12) The mountains and the hills . . .—Cheyne aptly compares—

“Ipsi lætitia voces ad sidera jactant
Intonsi montes.” VIRG., Æclog.

(The very hills, no more despoiled of trees,
Shall to the stars break forth in minstrelsies.)

The waving of the branches of the trees is, in the poet’s thoughts, what the clapping of hands is with men, a sign of jubilant exultation (Psalms 96:12).

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 55". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/isaiah-55.html. 1905.