Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 55

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


Every thing in this wonderful Messianic outlook is now ready. The Gospel is a gift to the entire world. The promises in the preceding chapters are infallible. God so declares by asseverations plain and strong enough, and he commands the acceptance of them in a way quite new to the experience of the old-time Israelites, namely, by a self-appropriation of them through faith. Through faith in whom? The fifty-third chapter, containing the central doctrine of the system, especially gives the answer. Israel’s sin calls for atonement through a self-offered sacrifice of infinitely greater value than “the blood of bulls and goats.” What Can criticism that favours post-exilian authorship do with these chapters? If prophecy, as such criticism holds, is not supernatural, and is not valid except it speaks fittingly to the thoughts of its own times, then this exilian notion of authorship is utterly at discount, for these chapters speak neither to the epoch of Isaiah nor to that of the exile, but to the successively rising planes of Peter, and John, and Paul, and to the far ages of the Church still future.

Verse 1

1. Ho A word summoning quick attention; a word of sad association and of eager joy: for the summoner is in evident sympathy with long-unquenched thirst in the crowds around. So feels God’s minister who anxiously preaches the everlasting good news.

Waters This is a subjectively dear word in itself. We scarcely think of it as a thing by itself, but as relieving ourselves when suffering extreme thirst. So is the Gospel to a long-unrelieved penitent soul. Observe three points: 1) It denotes moral forgiveness, and as its consequent, peace of mind; 2) It implies superlative richness by connexion with the terms milk and wine; 3) And its main point is, its freeness and inexhaustible abundance.

Verses 1-13

Sec. 3. MESSIAH AND THE GOSPEL, Isaiah 52:11 to Isaiah 55:13.

Thus far in this chapter is treated the case of an exalted Church passing, step by step, through suffering and deliverances into the purity of the typical holy Zion; from this point the view is turned again to the “Servant” of Jehovah, through whom the prophet has seen the Church to be redeemed. The portrait of a suffering servant is here filled out in detail, as a side-piece (Delitzsch) to the liberation and deliverance of Zion-Jerusalem already just depicted. He has conducted his people through suffering to glory.

This picture is to show, not only that Messiah’s earthly pathway, as our Mediator, is to be through intense, but voluntary, suffering, but also that it is in his heart also to suffer for and instead of, as well as with, his people.

Verse 2

2. Wherefore do ye spend money There is remonstrance here against earthliness: making much of that which is of the least importance.

Which is not bread Food to spirit, soul, and body.

Delight… in fatness The Jewish idea of spiritual dainties. Psalms 36:8; Psalms 63:5.

Verse 3

3. This invitation is followed by a yearning call upon every one to be a partaker in the whole mass of gospel blessings embraced in the covenant made with David; a covenant made first with Abraham, and renewed with David; a covenant promise of Christ in all his humiliations, and ending with a crowned Christ, a kingly Messiah, exulting in royal victories, and a redeemed, completely redeemed, Church.

Verse 4

4. Behold God continues calling attention to the functions of the great Messiah. He desires the people all people to grasp the full idea of Messiah.

I have given him David, Messiah type and antitype; David in supreme royalty, king over all foes and friends; Christ in ascended majesty, but dispensing to weak and strong, low and high, the rich blessings in full scope and adaptation which in his redemptive work he has secured for all who will take of them. He is a witness to the people Better, a monitor, instructor, in all stages; then a leader, commander, and lawgiver; originating laws and institutions for his “people.” As to the idea of “people,” be it ever kept in mind that no race distinctions are allowed, Jew or Gentile is embraced. This is the era of the Gospel, not wholly of schoolmaster training for the Gospel. 5.

Thou Thou Messiah, or Son of David; the idea of kingly glory in the typical David not being yet dropped.

Shalt call Or, invite and bring together.

A nation that thou knowest not That is, the Gentile world, whom he had not hitherto distinguished by covenants of blessing the Davidic nation being still uppermost in thought.

Nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee Become one with the covenant people; run eagerly, on knowing of thee more particularly; as indeed, in early gospel preaching, they did so run.

Because of the Lord thy God And all this, because agreeing to the spirit of his everlasting covenant. Psalms 2:0; Acts 3:13.

Verses 6-9

6-9. Seek ye the Lord Now. This time of spiritual restoration, when God is more manifestly near than usual, is the best time, because a crisis time.

Let the wicked forsake his… thoughts Man’s thoughts differ from God’s in regard to his own character. He does not see himself a sinner as God does. Repentance is, therefore, an immediate duty. Other reasons are given in Isaiah 55:8-9.

Verses 10-11

10, 11. As the rain… the snow By quick association of ideas, the mention of the heavens, in Isaiah 55:9, suggests the comparison here made. “Rain and snow” fall “from heaven” to water the earth, and so prepare it for its annual growths to feed the bodies of men and beasts. Just so, God’s word falls from his mouth as fertilizing, to produce fruits of righteousness among the millions of Israel and of outlying peoples; and it shall not be void. For every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is bread. Deuteronomy 8:3.

Verses 12-13

12, 13. The comparison just drawn (Isaiah 55:10-11) is truly beautiful, but its chief point is the energy with which the divine word is realized. (Delitzsch.) On receiving the word, or Gospel, ye are as those gladdened by a joyful deliverance.

Ye shall go out with joy Possibly the allusion here is to the exodus from Egypt, or more directly from Babylon, though neither can be the primary thought of the passage. The words are used as simply illustrative of the people of God emancipated from under old Mosaic tutelage into gospel privileges under the Messiah, or Christ. They go forth, bounding with “joy,” for conquest of the whole world to Christ; and all nature all mountains, and hills, and trees take on the happy complexion of the buoyant spirit of the Church. The result shall be the world’s renewal. The regenerating effects of the Gospel shall operate on the masses of mankind. Evil shall be eradicated; a blessed civilization shall be built up: for these are what the prophet means in his favourite figure of exchange from the noxious and the forbidding to the beautiful and the useful in the world’s physical aspect. See chap. 35, ff.; Isaiah 41:18, ff.; Isaiah 44:23, Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 52:9. See also the Hebrew of the word thorn, נעצוצ , na’tsuts, only once before used, (in Isaiah 7:19,) and therefore a genuine Isaiahic word.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 55". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.