Isaiah 55:1-13 . THE CALL OF THE GENTILE WORLD TO FAITH THE RESULT OF GOD'S GRACE TO THE JEWS FIRST.
1. 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.
thirsteth--has a keen sense of need ( Matthew 5:6 ).
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 , Solomon 5:1 , John 7:37 ). "Waters," plural, to denote abundance ( Isaiah 43:20 , 44:3 ).
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," that is, on idols, whether literal or spiritual.
buy . . . without money--another paradox. We are bought, but not with a price paid by ourselves ( 1 Corinthians 6:20 , 1 Peter 1:18 1 Peter 1:19 ). 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 ).
2. not bread--( Habakkuk 2:13 ). "Bread of deceit" ( Proverbs 20:17 ). Contrast this with the "bread of life" ( John 6:32 John 6:35 ; also Luke 14:16-20 ).
satisfieth not--( Ecclesiastes 1:8 , 4:8 ).
hearken . . . and eat--When two imperatives are joined, the second expresses the consequence of obeying the command in the first ( Genesis 42:18 ). By hearkening ye shall eat. So in Isaiah 55:1 , "buy and eat." By buying, and so making it your own, ye shall eat, that is, experimentally enjoy it ( John 6:53 ). Compare the invitation ( Proverbs 9:5 Proverbs 9:6 , Matthew 22:4 ).
fatness--( Psalms 36:8 , 63:5 ).
3. me . . . live--by coming to me ye shall live: for "I am the life" ( John 14:6 ).
everlasting covenant--( Jeremiah 32:40 , 2 Samuel 23:5 ).
with you . . . 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 Psalms 89:29 Psalms 89:34-36 Jeremiah 33:20 Jeremiah 33:21 2 Samuel 7:15 2 Samuel 7:16 2 Corinthians 1:18-20 ).
mercies of David--the mercies of grace ( Isaiah 63:7 , John 1:16 ) which I covenanted to give to David, and especially to Messiah, his antitype. Quoted in Acts 13:34 .
4. him--the mystical David ( Ezekiel 37:24 Ezekiel 37:25 , Jeremiah 30:9 , Hosea 3:5 ). Given by God ( Isaiah 49:6 ).
witness--He bore witness even unto death for God, to His law, claims, and plan of redeeming love ( John 18:37 , Revelation 1:5 ). Revelation is a "testimony"; because it is propounded to be received on the authority of the Giver, and not merely because it can be proved by arguments.
commander--"preceptor" [HORSLEY]; "lawgiver" [BARNES].
to the people--rather, "peoples."
5. thou--Jehovah addresses Messiah.
call . . . run--God must call, before man can, or will, run ( Solomon 1:4 , John 6:44 ). Not merely come, but run eagerly.
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.
knew not thee--( Isaiah 52:15 , Ephesians 2:11 Ephesians 2:12 ).
because of . . . thy God . . . 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 ; compare with Hosea 11:1 ; see Acts 3:13 ).
6. 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 , 8:21 , 2 Corinthians 6:2 , Hebrews 2:3 , Hebrews 3:13 Hebrews 3:15 ).
call--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 Romans 10:9 ).
near--propitious ( Psalms 34:18 , 145:18 ).
7. unrighteous--Hebrew, "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, thought many fancy themselves safe, because not openly "wicked in ways" ( Psalms 94:11 ). The parallelism is that of gradation. The progress of the penitent is to be from negative reformation, "forsaking his way," and a farther step, "his thoughts," to positive repentance, "returning to the Lord" (the only true repentance, Zechariah 12:10 ), and making God his God, along with the other children of God (the crowning point; appropriation of God to ourselves: "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 themselves redeemed desire others to come to their God ( Psalms 34:8 , Revelation 22:17 ).
abundantly pardon--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 ).
8. For--referring to Isaiah 55:7 . You need not doubt His willingness "abundantly to pardon" (compare Isaiah 55:12 ); for, 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 the former, as man's would be towards his fellow man who offended him; compare the "for" ( Psalms 25:11 , Romans 5:19 ).
10. 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 ).
snow--which covers plants from frost in winter; and, when melted in spring, waters the earth.
returneth not--void; as in Isaiah 55:11 ; it returns not in the same shape, or without "accomplishing" the desired end.
11. ( 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 so, it leaves men without excuse. The full accomplishment of this verse, and Isaiah 55:12 Isaiah 55:13 , 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 ).
12. go out--from the various countries in which ye (the Jews) are scattered, to your own land ( Ezekiel 11:17 ).
led--by Messiah, your "Leader" ( Isaiah 55:4 , Isaiah 52:12 , Micah 2:12 Micah 2:13 ).
mountains . . . trees, &c.--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 ).
13. 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 wrought, Romans 6:19 .
brier--emblem of uncultivation ( Isaiah 5:6 ).
myrtle--Hebrew, Hedes, from which comes Hedassah, the original name of Esther. Type of the Christian Church; for it is a lowly, though beautiful, fragrant, and evergreen shrub ( Psalms 92:13 Psalms 92:14 ).
for a name . . . everlasting sign--a perpetual memorial to the glory of Jehovah ( Jeremiah 13:11 , 33:9 ).