Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 55

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5



Whereas chapter 54 set forth the benefits of Messiah’s sufferings for the covenant nation, this chapter reveals the extension of its vast benefits to the ends of the earth. Herein is revealed the great, benevolent heart of the Almighty - and the riches of divine grace which He freely offers to all men!


1. In verse 1 there is a hearty invitation to find and partake of that which is sufficient for every human need through the abundant provision made by the Suffering Servant.

a. Only two conditions are attached: thirst, and the recognition of inability, within one’s own self, To quench that thirst, (John 7:37; Revelation 22:17; John 4:14).

b. The provision, metaphorically set forth, is of "water, milk and wine" - suggesting: refreshment, nourishment and spiritual exhilaration, (Isaiah 41:17; Isaiah 44:3; Psalms 42:1-2; 1 Peter 2:2; Isaiah 25:6).

c. Such as are thirsting (Matthew 5:6), and know the bankruptcy of their own ability to satisfy that deep yearning, may freely drink -without money!

1) No price tag is attached.

2) Satisfaction has been fully made through the unbounded gift of divine love! (John 3:16; 1 Peter 1:18-20).

2. God asks "WHY"? and it is still a reasonable inquiry, (vs. 2).

a. Why waste your resources on that which gives no nourishment? (Ecclesiastes 6:7).

b. Why labor for that which can never satisfy? (John 6:27; John 6:35).

c. Why not, rather, hearken to the voice of the Lord - feasting abundantly on His gracious provision? (comp. Isaiah 1:19; Isaiah 58:14; Isaiah 62:8-9).

d. Why all this disappointing waste, when your life may be filled to overflowing with the abundance of spiritual joy that He so liberally, freely and lovingly offers? (Jeremiah 31:12-14).

3. Then follows an extension of the divine invitation -accompanied by a far-reaching promise, (vs. 3).

a. "Come to me", says the Lord; come with your ear inclined to hear, and with your heart consenting to walk in God’s will, (Isaiah 51:4; Matthew 11:28-29; comp. Romans 10:4-13).

b. So hearkening, "your soul shall live" - be revived. As Maclaren expresses it:

"The true life of the soul lies in that listening receptiveness which takes for one’s own God’s great gift of Christ, and yields glad obedience to His every word."

c. Then the Lord promises to establish, with His obedient people, "an everlasting covenant" - even the "sure mercies" of the Messianic DAVID, (Acts 13:32-34; comp. Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-28).

4. He who is given as a "covenant" to the people (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8) - that is, the Messiah - is also to be their divine witness (Deuteronomy 8:3; John 1:18; John 18:37; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14), prince (Daniel 9:25; Acts 3:15), and commander, (vs. 4; comp. Micah 5:2; Hebrews 2:10).

5. As the covenant people yield themselves to God’s order, they will be enabled to reach previously unknown nations with the message of divine love for all - as manifested in the Suffering Servant.

a. Because the Lord God of Israel blesses this "testimony of Jesus" which is "the spirit of prophecy" Revelation 19:10), the Gentiles will believe.

. Thus, the Lord glorifies His people, through the enablement of divine grace, to be effective witnesses of His saving strength, (Acts 1:8).

c. What the covenant nation fails to do, the Lord accomplishes through the New Testament church "which is his body", and through which is manifested "the fullness of him that filleth all in all", (Ephesians 1:23).

Verses 6-11


1. It is still the voice of the Almighty Who stresses the urgency of SEEKING THE LORD, (vs. 6-7; comp. Zephaniah 2:2-3; Hebrews 3:12-19).

a. It was because of their failure to HEED the voice of the Lord that His people were exiled in a strange and foreign land; but He had not forgotten them, nor ceased to care for their welfare: restoration was still possible.

b. If they would SEEK HIM (with their whole hearts), and CALL UPON HIM (in sincerity and truth), they would find Him NEAR -gracious, merciful, and ready to pardon.

c. But genuine repentance will involve more than crying out for God’s help in time of one’s desperation; it also requires a FORSAKING of one’s wicked rebellion, neglect, and wrong attitudes!

d. Once Israel has earnestly, willingly, and joyfully yielded herself to His loving lordship, she will find. His mercies to be abundant; His pardon to be full and free.

e. Such is the divine response to ALL (Jew and Gentile) who, with contrite hearts, cast themselves upon His mercies!

2. The thoughts and ways of God are far more holy, loving, and lofty than those of erring men, (vs. 8-9; Isaiah 40:27-31).

a. In the despondency of her exile, Judah considered herself abandoned, forsaken, and forgotten of Jehovah, her God, (Isaiah 49:14-15).

1) Thus, she gave no witness of His righteousness, faithfullness, love, and praise.

2) Even when urged by her captors to sing one of Zion’s songs, she refused.

3) Hanging her harps upon the willows, she complained, in her desponding self-pity, "How can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?" (Psalms 137:1-4). Yet, Daniel found it possible to serve the Lord, with joyful effectiveness, under five successive Gentile monarchs!

4) In Israel’s mind, the Lord had FAILED her - ceasing to love and care for her needs! WHAT INEXCUSABLE BLINDNESS!!

b. Yet, the Lord’s thoughts toward her were thoughts of LOVE; His attitude was that of faithful care - ever concerned for her good.

c. God’s thoughts were spiritual and heavenly; hers earth-bound and wholly of the flesh.

3. The far-reaching purpose of the Lord will never fail, (vs. 10-11).

a. He illustrates by the rain and snow which fall from heaven -causing seed to sprout, fruit to mature, and the hunger of men to be satisfied, (vs. 10; Isaiah 30:23; comp. 2 Corinthians 9:10).

b. In like manner, HIS WORD (personified as a messenger) will not return to Him void (Isaiah 9:8; Psalms 107:20; Psalms 147:15-19); it will Accomplish His purpose - ultimately bringing glory to His name -whether it is to men a savor of LIFE (through the response of faith)„ or of DEATH (because they reject it in their stubborn rebellion and unbelief), (vs. 11; Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 54:9-10; 2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

Verses 12-13


1. The word of the Lord will ultimately triumph in effecting the redemption of the covenant-nation, (vs. 12) - empires, nations, and the whole creation uniting to celebrate her deliverance, and to exult in her Redeemer.

2. Israel is not only to be redeemed, but also EXALTED and HONORED.

3. These last two verses surely look forward to the joy of God’s redeemed people in the age to come - the millennial era - which is vital to His redemptive purpose.

a. The Lord will yet be glorified on earth - the very locale wherein His word has been so universally despised, disobeyed, and rejected.

b. And the Suffering Servant, Who suffered and died on-(and in behalf of) this earth, will yet RULE OVER IT! Luke 1:31-32.

c. The joy of redemption is very real - involving such blessedness as our present language cannot adequately convey, (see Isaiah 12; Psalms 46; Psalms 72; Psalms 98; Romans 8:21. etc.).

4. The greatness, majesty, and joy of the coming kingdom will show forth the glory of God, and will be a constant reminder of the eternal "riches of His grace"!

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 55". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.