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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 55

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Ho, every one. After the special privileges of Israel (Isaiah 54:1-17) there follow, as the consequence, the universal invitation to the Gentiles (Luke 24:47; Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15). "Ho" calls the most earnest attention.

That thirsteth - has a keen sense of need (Matthew 5:6).

Come ye to the waters ... wine and milk - a gradation. Not merely water, which is needed to maintain life at all, but wine and milk to strengthen, cheer, and nourish; the spiritual blessings of the Gospel are meant (Isaiah 25:6; Song of Solomon 5:1; John 7:37). "Waters," plural, to denote abundance (Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 44:3).

And he that hath no money. Yet, in Isaiah 55:2, it is said, "ye spend money." A seeming paradox. Ye are really spiritual bankrupts: but thinking yourselves to have money-namely, a devotion of your own making-ye lavish it on that "which is not bread" - i:e., on idols, whether literal or spiritual.

Buy ... without money and without price - another paradox. We are bought, but not with a price paid by ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19.) In a different sense we are to "buy" salvation-namely, by parting with everything which comes between us and Christ, who has bought it for us, and by making it our own (Matthew 13:44; Matthew 13:46; Luke 12:33; Revelation 3:18).

Verse 2

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Wherefore do ye spend money for (that which is) not bread? (Habakkuk 2:13) - cf. "Bread of deceit," Proverbs 20:17. Contrast this with the "bread of life" (John 6:32; John 6:35; also Luke 14:16-20).

And your labour for (that which) satisfieth not? - (Ecclesiastes 1:8; Ecclesiastes 4:8.)

Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye (that which is) good. When two imperatives are joined, the second expresses the consequence of obeying the command in the first (Genesis 42:18, "This do and live" - i:e., and ye shall live). By hearkening ye shall eat. So in Isaiah 55:1, "buy and eat." By buying, and so making it your own, ye shall eat - i:e., experimentally enjoy it (John 6:53). Compare the invitation, Proverbs 9:5-6; Matthew 22:4.

And let your soul delight itself in fatness - (Psalms 36:8; Psalms 63:5.)

Verse 3

Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live. By coming to me ye shall live; because "I am the life" (John 14:6).

And I will make an everlasting covenant - (Jeremiah 32:40; 2 Samuel 23:5.)

With you, (even) the sure mercies of David - God's covenant is with the antitypical David, Messiah (Ezekiel 34:23), and so with us by our identification with Him.

Sure - answering to "everlasting," irrevocable, unfailing, to be relied on (Psalms 89:2-4; Psalms 89:28-29; Psalms 89:34-36; Jeremiah 33:20-21; 2 Samuel 7:15-16; 2 Corinthians 1:18-20).

Mercies of David - the mercies of grace (Isaiah 63:7; John 1:16-17) which I covenanted to give to David, and especially to Messiah, his antitype. Quoted in Acts 13:34 as fulfilled in God's 'raising up Messiah from the dead, now no more to return to corruption.'

Verse 4

Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

Behold, I have given him - the mystical David (Ezekiel 37:24-25; Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5). Given by God (Isaiah 49:6).

For a witness to the people - Hebrew, peoples. He bore witness even unto death for God, to His law, His claims, and His plan of redeeming love (John 18:37; Revelation 1:5, "the Faithful Witness.") Revelation is a "testimony" ('eedah and 'eeduth, from 'eed, a witness); because it is propounded to be received on the authority of the Giver, and not merely because it can be proved by arguments.

A leader - Nagiyd (H5057), Prince [ archeegon (G747)]: Acts 3:15, "the Prince of life:" the same Hebrew term as in Daniel 9:26.

Commander - `preceptor' (Horsley). So Vulgate. But the Chaldaic, Septuagint, Arabic, and Syriac much the same as the English version. Hebrew, uwmtsaweek (H6680), from tsaawah (H6680), to enjoin, or command.

To the people - Hebrew, peoples.

Verse 5

Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.

Behold, thou - Yahweh addresses Messiah.

Shalt call a nation (that) thou knowest not, and nations (that) knew not thee shall run unto thee. God must call, before man can, or will, run (Song of Solomon 1:4; John 6:44). Not merely shall come, but run eagerly.

That thou knowest not - now as thy people (so in Matthew 7:23).

Nation ... nations - gradation; from Israel, one nation, the Gospel spread to many nations, and will do so more fully on Israel's conversion.

That knew not thee - (Isaiah 52:15; Ephesians 2:11-12.)

Because of the Lord thy God ... for He hath glorified thee - (Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:9; Zechariah 8:23), where similar language is directed to Israel, because of the identification of Israel with Messiah, who is the ideal Israel; Matthew 2:15: cf. with Hosea 11:1: see Acts 3:13.)

Verse 6

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found. The condition and limit in the obtaining of the spiritual benefits (Isaiah 55:1-3):

(1) Seek the Lord.

(2) Seek Him while He is to be found (Isaiah 65:1; Psalms 32:6; Matthew 25:1-13; John 7:34; John 8:21; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 3:15).

Call ye upon him - casting yourselves wholly on His mercy (Romans 10:13). Stronger than "seek;" so "near" is more positive than "while He may be found" (Romans 10:8-9).

While he is near - propitious (Psalms 34:18; Psalms 145:18).

Verse 7

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. "Unrighteous man" - Hebrew, 'iysh (H376) 'aawen (H205), man of iniquity: true of all men. The "wicked" sins, more openly in "his way:" the "unrighteous" refers to the more subtle workings of sin in the "thoughts." All are guilty in the latter respect, though many fancy themselves safe, because not openly 'wicked in ways' (Psalms 94:11, "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity").

And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. The parallelism is that of gradation. The progress of the penitent is to be from negative reformation, 'forsaking his

(1) way,' and

(2) a further step, "his thoughts," to positive repentance,

(a) 'returning to the Lord' (the only true repentance, Zechariah 12:10),

(b) and making God his God, along with the other children of God (the crowning point; appropriation of God to ourselves, in communion with the saints: "to our God").

"Return" implies that man originally walked with God, but has apostatized. Isaiah saith, "our God" - the God of the believing Israelites. Those redeemed themselves desire others to come to their God (Psalms 34:8; Revelation 22:17).

For he will abundantly pardon ( yarbeh (H7235) liclowach (H5545)) - literally, multiply to pardon; still more than "have mercy." God's graciousness is felt more and more the longer one knows Him (Psalms 130:7).

Verse 8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

For my thoughts (are) not your thoughts, neither (are) your ways my ways, saith the Lord - referring to Isaiah 55:7. You need not doubt His willingness 'abundantly to pardon' (cf. Isaiah 55:12); because, though "the wicked" man's "ways," and 'the unrighteous man's thoughts,' are so aggravated as to seem unpardonable. God's "thoughts" and "ways" in pardoning are not regulated by the proportion of man's ways and thoughts, as man's would be toward his fellow-man who offended him (cf. the "for," Psalms 25:11, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great;" Romans 5:19-20).

Verse 9

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For (as) the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways - (Psalms 57:10; Psalms 89:2; Psalms 103:11.) For is repeated from Isaiah 55:8. But Maurer, after the negation, "neither are your ways my ways," translates, 'but.'

Verse 10

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

For as the rain cometh down ... and returneth not there, but watereth the earth. The hearts of men, once barren of spirituality, shall be made, by the outpouring of the Spirit under Messiah, to bear fruits of righteousness (Isaiah 5:6; Deuteronomy 32:2; 2 Samuel 23:4; Psalms 72:6).

And the snow from heaven - which covers plants from frost in winter, and, when melted in spring, waters the earth.

And returneth not there - void, as in Isaiah 55:11: it returns not in the same shade, or without 'accomplishing' the desired end.

And maketh it bring forth and bud - germinate.

Verse 11

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void - (Matthew 24:35.) Rain may to us seem lost when it falls on a desert, but it fulfils some purpose of God. So the Gospel word falling on the hard heart: it sometimes works a change at last; and even if not so, it leaves men without excuse. The full accomplishment of this verse, and Isaiah 55:12-13, is, however, to be at the Jews' final restoration and conversion of the world (Isaiah 11:9-12; Isaiah 60:1-5; Isaiah 60:21).

Verse 12

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

For ye shall go with joy - from the various countries in which ye (the Jews) are scattered, to your own land (Ezekiel 11:17).

And be led forth with peace - by Messiah, your "Leader" (Isaiah 55:4; Isaiah 52:12; Micah 2:12-13).

The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees - images justly used to express the seeming sympathy of nature with the joy of God's people. For when sin is removed the natural world shall be delivered from 'vanity,' and be renewed, so as to be in unison with the regenerated moral world (Isaiah 44:23; Psalms 98:8; Romans 8:19-22).

Verse 13

Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree. "The thorn" - emblem of the wicked (2 Samuel 23:6; Micah 7:4).

Fir tree - the godly (Isaiah 60:13; Psalms 92:12). Compare as to the change worked, Romans 6:19.

Instead of the brier - emblem of uncultivation (Isaiah 5:6).

The myrtle - Hebrew, hªdac (H1918), whence comes Hªdacaah (H1919), the original name of Esther (Esther 2:7). A type of the Christian Church; because it is a lowly, though beautiful, fragrant, and evergreen shrub (Psalms 92:13-14).

It shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign - a perpetual memorial to the glory of Yahweh (Jeremiah 13:11; Jeremiah 33:9).

Remarks: The universal comprehensiveness of the invitation which the Gospel gives constitutes at once its glory and our responsibility. None hereafter can say that provision was not made whereby he might have been saved The Father the Son, and the Spirit invite art with gracious earnestness - "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." Yea, not only are we invited to the elementary necessaries of spiritual life, but to the "wine and milk" of its comforts and joys. And all are to be had "without money and without price." Yet, though "without money," he who would have the Gospel blessings must "buy" them. Christ alone has paid the "price" required for them, even His own precious blood. But we must appropriate them at the cost of ceasing to 'spend our labour for that which satisfieth not.' It is by no more hearing the tempter, and by henceforth 'hearkening diligently' unto the Saviour, we shall 'eat that which is good,' and our 'soul shall delight itself in fatness.' Moreover, these blessings are as permanent as they are delightful and satisfying. For God makes with His people an "everlasting covenant."

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 55". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/isaiah-55.html. 1871-8.
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