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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 55

Verses 1-3

Invitation

After the work of the Servant is accomplished (Isaiah 53), the blessings of the new covenant can come richly to Israel (Isaiah 54). The blessings then flow so abundantly that they go beyond the borders of Israel. For Israel, this day is a day of joy. That is why they must not remain silent (cf. 2 Kings 7:9) and must pass on the blessings. They invite others (Isaiah 55:1).

The prophet now makes an invitation to come and participate in the spiritual providence that the LORD has made for those who willingly turn away from their own plans and actions in order to listen diligently to His voice. The invitation begins with the exclamation “Ho!” – Hebrew hoy. This expression is usually used for mourning or judgment, but here it is positive and is an exclamation for those who are spiritually distant. In the call in Isaiah 55:1 the invitation “come” – Hebrew halach, literally “go” – sounds three times.

The first to be called are “every one who thirsts”. This points, as the verses afterwards also show, to everyone, both the still scattered Israelites and all nations in the future. The only condition to be allowed to come is to be thirsty. Thirst is the longing for God (Psalms 42:2). In our time it applies to ourselves.

To the thirsty sounds the invitation: “Come to the waters. To which waters? Where should they go? The answer is: to the Rock, that is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). Now that the Rock has been smitten (Isaiah 53:10), the water flows abundantly and all who are thirsty can go to the Rock to receive water (John 7:37).

The second “come” we hear in the invitation to buy and eat, “come, buy and eat”. How to do that? How to obtain salvation? By buying, which means that there is a personal act involved. That does not mean that one’s own performance and good works have to be done, because the sequel reads buy “without money and without cost”. However, it is not free, because the price has been paid by Another, namely the Servant of the LORD. It is a price so high, that no one but He could pay it (Psalms 49:7-Ruth :).

The third time is “come, buy wine and milk”. What should they buy? Wine and milk. Wine speaks of the joy of salvation. For Israel and the nations in the realm of peace, it is the blessings of the new covenant, including forgiveness of sins and new life. Milk then speaks of spiritual food, which is the Word of God needed by the new life in order to grow (1 Peter 2:2).

It is clear that it is not literally about water, wine and milk. They are pictures of higher things than natural products. The true food and drink are the flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus He gave on the cross for the life of the world (John 6:51). The LORD offers the water of life for free (Revelation 22:17). The spiritual meaning of water is mentioned in Isaiah 44, where reference is made to the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 44:3; cf. John 7:38-Malachi :). Wine has also been mentioned earlier (Isaiah 25:6-Judges :) and is a picture of joy (Psalms 104:15). In the same way we must understand the mention of milk (see the previous paragraph).

You can buy “without money and without cost”. This is all Divine grace. From the point of view of the recipient, the possession of spiritual blessings depends only on the sense of need and a willingness to accept them. Buying without money presupposes spiritual bankruptcy. Nothing more is expected of one’s own effort (Romans 11:6). Israel has invested money and work in idols. Hence the serious appeal expressed at the beginning of the chapter in the exclamation “Ho!”. This exclamation is not just an invitation, but sheds light on the state of affairs of those who pursue their own interests instead of listening to the voice of the LORD.

The LORD continues His call with the gracious words of Isaiah 55:2. The satisfaction of the soul is obtained through the obedience of faith. If we listen diligently to the voice of the Lord and do His will, we can enjoy true spiritual joy. Often we hesitate to obey Him. We then give a lot of time and energy to things that occupy us but are not food for the soul, which are not the true bread for the heart.

What God says here goes beyond meeting our needs. He wants to give us abundant satisfaction. This is “the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Then He asks His people to turn their ear to Him to listen and come to Him, that their souls may live (Isaiah 55:3). Something similar He also says to the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:20).

The call “come” in Isaiah 55:3 is the fourth call to come, after the three times in Isaiah 55:1. It is now: “Come to Me.” Now it is clear. The beaten Rock, from which water comes, and the abundant wine and milk, refer to and are available from a Person, a Seller who sells without money. That Person is the Servant of the LORD, risen from the dead, Whose work is finished, and Who is now the source of all grace, the source of all God’s blessings.

Although in these first three verses there is much that can be applied to the gospel, it is primarily a call to those who are spiritually distant. They are souls in need of revival which can only be experienced by returning to the LORD.

The LORD connects a promise to the conversion of His people. In human affairs a covenant is made that is ratified by each of the parties. Here the LORD shows that He is free to give the blessings of the covenant to those who come to Him. This can happen because Another, namely the Servant of the LORD, has taken upon Himself the obligations of the covenant. Therefore, this covenant is in reality a promise that will surely be fulfilled (cf. Galatians 3:17-Job :).

“The faithful mercies shown to David” are, according to Acts 13, where this verse is quoted from the Septuagint, “THE HOLY [and] SURE [blessings] OF DAVID” (Acts 13:34) which are based on the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ makes the mercies trustworthy. Here the mercies are the abundant blessings of the new covenant. Paul uses this quotation as the second of three Old Testament citations that prove that they have been fulfilled in Christ. The first refers to His birth (Acts 13:33), the second to His resurrection (Acts 13:34) and the third to His imperishableness (Acts 13:35).

We also see here a reference to God’s favors regarding His promises to David (2 Samuel 7:12-Nehemiah :). The covenant of Moses is no longer mentioned, but the covenant with David. It is as if the LORD wants to point here to the covenant which is based on the work of the Servant, Who is also the Son of David.

Verses 4-5

Dominion of David

What David was, the true David will be. In Isaiah 55:4 David is a type of Christ, of Him Who is more than David, the Son of David. Christ is the God-given “witness to the peoples” and their “leader and commander” (cf. Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24). David was “leader and commander”, but the Son of David is also “witness to the peoples”. This is not so much a witness in a trial, but a Witness Who reveals the truth of God to the peoples (John 18:37).

When Christ will have world domination, He will call a nation that did not know Him, which is what the nations in general characterized (Isaiah 55:5). The nations will run to Him because of “the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel”, for what He has done to His people. He deserves all honor for that.

This makes clear that the Son of David is also the Son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1), to whom it is said: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). In the present time, the time that Israel has fallen, salvation has already come to the nations. How much more the fulness of Israel – and that is what these verses are about – will be the salvation of the nations (Romans 11:11-2 Kings :).

Verses 6-9

Call to Seek the LORD

In Isaiah 55:6 there is a general call to the astray to seek the LORD while He is still to be found. There comes a moment when the time of grace will be over. Then they will seek, but will not find Him. Already in the days of Cyrus that call sounds. For all those who do not answer and remain in Babylon, the LORD becomes the forgotten God. Also for the Jews and the nations in the great tribulation, this message is a last call, before it is too late. God’s patience comes to an end. The door of the ark closes once. This applies to the world, it also applies to every person in his or her life.

The one who has gone astray is called to forsake “his way” and “his thoughts” and to return to the LORD (Isaiah 55:7). On his return he is awaited by a God Who has compassion and abundantly pardons – literally ‘He multiplies forgiveness’. These are the voluntariness and fullness of Divine grace for the truly repentant sinner.

The thoughts and ways of the one who has gone astray form a great contrast with the thoughts and ways of the LORD (Isaiah 55:8-1 Samuel :). The whole of this magnificent prophecy concerning the death and resurrection of Christ and the glorious results thereof are completely above all human thoughts and ways (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Verses 10-11

God’s Word Accomplishes What He Desires

His words are now added to His thoughts and His ways, through which He reveals and makes known His thoughts and His ways. Just as He has absolute control over the rain and the snow and what the earth produces and to which man is utterly powerless to change anything, so His word will be coming out of His mouth (Isaiah 55:10-1 Kings :). Thus His thoughts will be fulfilled, in grace! Let us remember that God’s thoughts are too numerous to count (Psalms 40:5) and that His thoughts are always full of peace and a blessed future (Jeremiah 29:11).

It is with His word as with the rain and the snow that He cultivates fertility. When they have done that work, they rise again as vapor. Likewise, His word will not return without having done what He sent it for. He who opens his heart as fertile ground and receives and absorbs the Word will show its effect in his life. It does its work there. His Word is fruitful and powerful, which will never fail in the purpose to which God sends it, either in grace or in judgment (cf. Hebrews 6:7-Ruth :).

His word is His messenger (Isaiah 9:8; Psalms 107:20; Psalms 147:15Psalms 147:18). His word is presented here as a person. It runs like a quick messenger and fulfills God’s will with all the vibrant power, both in nature and in the midst of people.

A word is the expression of a thought. Christ is called the Word of God. He has declared God (John 1:18). Through the word that emanates from God, one lives (Deuteronomy 8:3). Just as what comes out of the soil of the earth was produced by rain and snow, so it is with the soil of the heart of man and the word of God.

Verses 12-13

Joy, Peace and Prosperity

In Isaiah 55:12 the LORD graciously applies the principles related to His Word to the promise of the ineffable blessing for Israel in the coming day. He makes His Word true to a remnant according to His gracious choice that He will bring back to the land. This will take place when “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) are over. All activities of life will be carried out through this remnant in peace without fearful haste. They will never again have to make their way through enemy armies or flee from them.

Not only mankind, but also nature will have been brought into harmony with God’s gracious intentions. There will be harmony between nature rejoicing (Psalms 98:8) and the hearts of God’s redeemed rejoicing. Instead of that jubilation, creation now sighs because of the curse that has come upon it through sin (Romans 8:22). What reminds us of sin, the “thorn bush” and the “nettle” resulting from the fall of man in sin (Genesis 3:18), will give way to the mighty, imperishable cypress and the humble, sweet-smelling, evergreen myrtle (Isaiah 55:13). These trees will be a remembrance of all the goodness of the LORD. The whole of the realm of peace will be an eternal remembrance of the LORD. His glory and His features and acts of grace and power constitute the blessing of the realm of peace.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 55". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/isaiah-55.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.