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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 55

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 55:1 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.

Ver. 1. Ho, every one that thirsteth.] Sitit sitiri Dominus, saith Nazianzen, (a) the Lord even thirsteth to be thirsted after; he "seeketh such to worship him as will worship him in spirit and in truth." [John 4:23] Hence this present proclamation, "Ho, every one," of what nation soever, that is duly affected with the preceding discourse of Christ’s all-sufficiency to save, [Isaiah 53:11-12] and the church’s glory and safety. [Isaiah 54:11-17]

That thirsteth.] That, being scorched and parched with the sense of sin and fear of wrath, brayeth and breatheth after true grace and sound comfort, as the hunted hind doth after the waterbrooks; [Psalms 42:1-2] {See Trapp on "Psalms 42:1"} {See Trapp on "Psalms 42:2"} as David did after the water of the well of Bethlehem; [2 Samuel 23:15-16] as the Lamb of God did when roasted in the fire of his Father’s wrath, he cried aloud, Sitio, I thirst. [John 19:28 Psalms 22:11; Psalms 22:16]

Come.] Non passibus sed affectibus itur ad Christum. Repent, and believe the gospel. [Mark 1:15] Repentance is here set out by a word of activity. "Come, buy," &c. The frame of a true repenting heart is in an active coining posture, fitted for any service, when the wicked "pine away in their sin," [Ezekiel 33:10] and so perish eternally. [Psalms 9:17]

To the waters.] To Christ the fountain of living water, upon which you had turned your backs. [Jeremiah 2:13] Ortelius telleth us that in Ireland there is a certain fountain whose water killeth all those beasts that drink thereof, but harms not the people that usually drink it. Christ also is "set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel." [Luke 2:34] His ordinances are a savour of life to some, and of death to others. [2 Corinthians 3:16]

And he that hath no money.] Or, Money’s worth. Many would come to Christ, but they would come with their cost; wherefore they run up and down to borrow money from the creatures or from the ordinances, using the means as mediators, and sharking in every bycorner for comfort; but men may be starved before they buy, if they go this way to work; for these in themselves are broken cisterns, empty granaries, and

Herrea formicae tendunt ad inania nunquam.

In the Lord Christ is all fulness, [John 1:16] not of plenty only, but of bounty also. To this fountain, if we bring but our empty vessels well washed, [Jeremiah 4:14] we shall return well refreshed, and replenished with good things, when the proud self-justiciary shall be sent empty away, and shall not once taste of wisdom’s dainties [Proverbs 9:2-5]

Buy.] Emite, i.e., comparate et comedite, get Christ "with all your gettings"; get him, whatever else you go without; part with all you have to compass this "pearl of price." [Matthew 13:44; Matthew 13:46; Matthew 16:24-25] This gold cannot be too dearly bought. [Revelation 3:18] Heus saeculares, comparate vobis Biblia, animae pharmaca, saith Chrysostom by a like expression.

And eat.] That is, believe; hic enim edere, est credere, and this water, this wine, may be eaten also: nec enim rigat tantum sed et cibat. Christ is to his, water to cool them, wine to comfort them, milk to nourish them, bread to strengthen them; he is all that heart can wish or need require. They who have once "tasted how good the Lord is" cannot but thirst after him, and be unsatisfiable. Optima demonstratio est a sensibus. Eat therefore; it is a virtue here to be a holy glutton.

Yea, come.] Heb., And come; come and come; yea come, come, come; linger not, loiter not, frame not excuse, strain not courtesy, hang not off by a sinful bashfulness; it is good manners to fall to your meat.

Buy wine and milk.] Anything, everything that is good and comfortable, for Christ is all and in all. (b) As the worth and value of many pieces of silver is in one piece of gold, so all the petty excellencies scattered abroad in the creatures are united in Christ. Apollonius writeth, that in the court of Aeta, King of Colchis, were three fountains, which flowed, one with milk, another with wine, and a third with honey. (c) Christ is all this, and more, in one. And of believers it may better be said than Justin (d) doth of the Scythians, Lacte et melle vescuntur: nihil alienum concupiscunt, &c.; they feed upon milk and honey; they desire nothing more than what they have; vines they have none, but gods they have, as they use to glory. Nazianzen and Jerome tell us that anciently in some churches they used to give to those proselytes whom they baptized wine and milk, grounding upon this text by a mistake.

Without money and without price.] All things for nothing, gratis. This is doubled and trebled for the comfort of poor trembling consciences. Christ is "rich to all that call upon his name"; [Romans 10:12] none giveth to him; [Romans 11:35] but he to all his freely, [Isaiah 43:25] for the praise of his glorious grace. [Ephesians 1:6] It is his good pleasure to do so. [Luke 12:32] And if so, what can man, devil, or any distrustful heart, say against it?


Verse 2

Isaiah 55:2 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.

Ver. 2. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?] Heb., For not bread; for that which can no more feed you than those husks could the hungry prodigal. [Luke 15:16]

Turpe est difficiles habere nugas:

Et stultus labor est ineptiarum. ” - Martial.

The saying of the Roman general to the soldier that kept the tents, when he should have been fighting in the field, Non amo nimium diligentes, I love not those that are too diligent, will be used of God, if, when he calleth us to the care of higher things, we busy ourselves only about matters of an inferior alloy. Surely, as Domitian the emperor spent his time in catching flies, and Artaxerxes in making hafts for knives, so do most men in trifles and lying vanities, neglecting the one thing necessary (with Martha), and preferring, as those Gergesites in the Gospel, haram domesticam arae Dominicae, a swine sty before a sanctuary. Between such and true believers there is as much difference as is between substantial merchants who deal in rich commodities, and those nugivenduli Agyrtae, who sell gaudes, rattles, and trangums; as is between spiders that catch flies, and eagles that hunt after hares and herons; as is between fowlers that follow after quails, and children that run after butterflies. Had men but tasted of God’s bread, they would never set such a price upon dove’s dung. Had they drunk of Christ’s wine, (which is beyond the best nectar or ambrosia), they would never thirst again after the world’s delights; [John 4:14] which are such as whereof a man may break his neck before his fast. [Ecclesiastes 1:8]

Clitorio quicunque sitim de fonte levarit,

Vina fugit, gaudetque meris abstemius undis. ”

- Ovid. Metam., lib. xv.

And your labour for that which satisfieth not.] The world is full of pomp and pleasure, [1 John 2:15] and yet it satisfieth not, because it is full of nothing but of emptiness; the creature is now, ever since the fall, as the husk without the grain, the shell without the kernel; yea, "the world passeth away and the lusts thereof," [1 John 2:17] for a man cannot make his heart long to delight in the same things, but ipsa etiam vota, post usum, fastidio sunt, we loathe after a while what we greatly lusted after, as Amnon did Tamar. Therefore "love not the world," [1 John 2:15] "labour not for the meat that perisheth," [John 6:27] but hasten heavenward, saying, as that pilgrim did, who, travelling to Jerusalem, and by the way visiting many brave cities, with their rare monuments, and meeting with many friendly entertainments, would say eftsoons, I must not stay here, this is not Jerusalem.

Hearken diligently unto me.] Heb., Hearing, hear - i.e., Hear as for life, with utmost attention of body, intention of mind, and retention of memory.

And eat ye that which is good.] Not only hear the word of God, but eat it; turn it in succum et sanguinem, into juice and blood, digest it, incorporate it into your souls, [James 1:21] for it is the heavenly manna that hath all manner of good tastes in it, and properties with it. [2 Timothy 3:16]

And let your soul delight itself in fatness.] Talis est doctrina et gratis evangelica quae mentem saginat et impinguat, A good soul feedeth on the fat, and drinketh of the sweet, that is found in the precious promises. [Psalms 36:8; Psalms 63:5]


Verse 3

Isaiah 55:3 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.

Ver. 3. Incline your ear.] Hear with all your might. Alphonsus, King of Arragon, is renowned for his attentive hearing; so is our King Edward VI, who usually stood and took notes on all the sermon. Origen chideth his hearers for nothing so much as for their seldom coming to hear God’s Word, and for their careless and heedless hearing it when they did come; whence their slow growth in godliness.

Hear, and your souls shall live.] God hath ordained - as it were to cross the devil - that as death entered into the world through the ear, by our first parents listening to that old man-slayer, so should life enter into the soul by the same door, as it were. "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." [John 5:25] The Romanists hold not hearing so absolutely needful - the mass only they make a work of duty, but the going to sermons but a matter of convenience, and such as is left free to men’s leisures and opportunities without imputation of sin. (a)

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you.] Heb., I will cut out unto them a covenant of perpetuity. A covenant is a cluster of promises solemnly made over.

Even the sure mercies of David.] Or, Firm, faithful. The Greek [Acts 13:34] hath it, "The holy things," or the "venerable things of David," that is, of Christ, for the ratifying and assuring whereof it was necessary that Christ should rise from death and enter into glory; for which purpose Paul allegeth this text. See Acts 13:34.


Verse 4

Isaiah 55:4 Behold, I have given him [for] a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

Ver. 4. Behold, I have given him,] i.e., Christ, called David, [Isaiah 55:3] because typed out by David, promised to him, and sprang of him.

For a witness.] To teach and testify his Father’s will and counsel, (a) at which, being his eternal wisdom, he had been present. See Revelation 3:14.

A leader and commander to the people.] Of Christ’s priestly office had been spoken in Isaiah 53:12, here of his prophetical and princely. These were frequently set forth even in the Old Testament; by the crown or golden plate on the high priest’s head was signified Christ’s kingly office; by the breastplate, his priestly; and by the bells, his prophetic.


Verse 5

Isaiah 55:5 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.

Ver. 5. Behold, thou shalt call a nation.] Yea, all nations that yet dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death, being utterly ignorant of God and his will, of themselves and their duties; but now, when they "shall know God, or rather be known of him," they shall run to Christ, yea, and "fly as a cloud," and flock into the church, as doves scour into their columbaries, rushing into the windows. [Isaiah 60:8]

Because of the Lord thy God.] Through the mighty operation of his Spirit by the preaching of his Word. The philosophers, though never so able, could hardly persuade some few to embrace their tenets. Plato went thrice into Sicily to convert Dionysius, but could not do it; Socrates could not work upon Alcibiades, nor Cicero upon his own son, because God was not with them, nor was willing to glorify his Son Christ by them, as he did afterwards by his holy apostles.


Verse 6

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Ver. 6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found.] Seek not his omnipresence - for that ye need not do, since he is not far from any one of us [Acts 17:27] - but his gracious presence, his face and favour; seek to be in the fear of the Lord and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, in communion with him, and conformity unto him, and give not over till you find it. Seek him seriously, seek him seasonably. There is a time when men shall seek the Lord with their flocks and herds, and yet not find him, when once he hath withdrawn himself from them. [Hosea 5:6]

Call ye upon him while he is near.] In a time of acceptance, [Psalms 32:6] before he hath sworn that he will not be spoken with. [Psalms 95:11] God is but a while with men in the opportunities of grace. [Proverbs 1:24; Proverbs 1:28]


Verse 7

Isaiah 55:7 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.

Ver. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way.] Or else never think of finding favour with God, or of calling upon him to any purpose. The leper’s lips should be covered according to the law: a good motion from an ill mouth will never take with God.

Pura Deus mens est, pura vult mente vocari:

Et puras iussit pondus habere preces. ”

And the unrighteous man his thoughts.] See James 4:8. {See Trapp on "James 4:8"} A Pilate may wash his hands, a Pharisee cleanse the outside of the platter. Castae manus sunt, sed mens habet piacula, said a heathen, who saw by the light of nature that clean hands and foul hearts did not suit well.

And let him return unto the Lord.] {See Trapp on "Zechariah 1:2"} {See Trapp on "Joel 2:12"} {See Trapp on "Joel 2:13"}

For he will abundantly pardon.] He will multiply to pardon: as we multiply sins, he will multiply pardons. God in Christ mollis est el misericors, not an "austere man," implacable, inexorable, but multis ad ignoscendum, as the Vulgate here rendereth it; and Fulgentius (a) thus descanteth upon it, In hoc multo nihil deest, in quo est omnipotens misericordia et omnipotentia miserecors, &c. In this much nothing is wanting - how can there? say - since there is in it omnipotent mercy and merciful omnipotence. A pardon, of course, he giveth us for involuntary and unavoidable infirmities; this we have included in that general pardon which we have upon our general repentance. And for other sins - be they blasphemies [Matthew 12:13] - God hath all plasters and pardons at hand, and ready made and sealed, for else we might die in our sins while the pardon is in providing. He hath also hanged out his tables, as I may say, in the holy Scriptures, showing what great sinners he hath pardoned, as Adam, that arch-rebel, Manasseh, who was all manner of naughts, David, Peter, Paul, Magdalene, &c. The Lord Hungerford of Hatesby was beheaded in Henry VIII’s time. The Lord Thomas Cromwell, a better man, but executed together with him, cheered him up and bade him be of good comfort; For, said he, if you repent, and be heartily sorry for that you have done, there is for you also mercy with the Lord, who, for Christ’s sake, will forgive you; therefore be not dismayed. (b) God seemeth to say to sinners, as once the French King Francis I did to one that begged pardon for some ill words spoken against his majesty, Do thou learn to speak little, so to sin no more, and I will not fail to pardon much; I can remit whatsoever you can commit, never doubt it.


Verse 8

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Ver. 8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts,] q.d., You may think it impossible, likely, that such great and grievous sinners as you have been should ever be received to mercy. But what talk you of your thoughts? Mine are infinitely above them, neither may you measure my mercies by your own models. Bring broken and bleeding hearts to my mercy seat, and I shall soon think all the meritorious sufferings of my Son, all the promises in my book, all the comforts of my Spirit, all the pleasures of my kingdom, but enough for you.


Verse 9

Isaiah 55:9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Ver. 9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth.] And that is no small deal; see the note on Psalms 103:11-12. Lo, such is the proportion that my mercy beareth to your mercy, even the very best of you, that the heaven doth to the earth - i.e., that a most vast circumference doth to one little point or centre.


Verse 10

Isaiah 55:10 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:

Ver. 10. For as the rain cometh down.] Simile omnium elegantissimum pariter et notissimum. Of the use and efficacy of fit similitudes: {See Trapp on "Hosea 12:10"}


Verse 11

Isaiah 55:11 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.

Ver. 11. So shall the word be that goeth out of my mouth.] The Word in general, but especially the word of promise, it shall surely give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, comforts of all sorts both for the present and for the future. Only we must see that we be good ground, and then pray "that the heaven may hear the earth." {as Hosea 2:21}

But it shall accomplish that which I please.] It shall produce the sweet fruits of righteousness. [Romans 8:13-14] There is, saith a good author, a certain shell fish that lieth always open towards heaven, as it were looking upward and begging one fruitful drop of dew, which being fallen, it shutteth presently, and keepeth the door close against all outward things till it hath made a pearl of it. In reading or hearing the promises, if we open our shells, our souls, the heaven will drop the fruitful dew of grace to be employed worthily in making pearls of good works and solid virtues. "Who is she that cometh out of the wilderness to join herself to her well beloved?" [Song of Solomon 6:9]


Verse 12

Isaiah 55:12 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.

Ver. 12. For ye shall go out with joy,] sc., Out of your spiritual bondage, worse than that of Babylon.

The mountains and the hills.] The mute and brute creatures, as they seem to groan together with the faithful, [Romans 8:21-22] so here, by a prosopopeia, they are brought in as congratulating and applauding their deliverance.


Verse 13

Isaiah 55:13 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.

Ver. 13. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree.] There shall be a blessed change of men and of manners. Those who before were stark naught, or good for naught, yea, vexatious and mischievous, (a) shall become fruitful and beneficial. The fir tree is good for many uses; the myrtle brings berries of excellent taste, as Pliny tells us. The Chaldee thus paraphraseth here, Just men shall rise up instead of sinners, and such as fear the Lord in the room of the unrighteous. Sed cave ne hic somnies, saith Oecolampadius, but be warned you dream not, as some do, that in this world and before the day of judgment the wicked shall all be rooted out, for there will always be Cains to persecute Abels, &c.

And it shall be to the Lord for a name,] i.e., For an honour: it shall be much for his glory, which is the end that he propoundeth to himself in all that he doeth. And well he may, since - (1.) He is not in danger of doing anything through vain glory; (2.) He hath none higher than himself to whom to have respect.

For an everlasting sign.] In monumentum non momentaneum; Heb., For a sign of perpetuity or eternity.

That shall not be cut off.] Or, That it, the Church, shall not be cut off.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 55:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-55.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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