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The Compassion of the Lord

1“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

6“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”


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Isa 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 (Isa 54:1-17) there follow, as the consequence, the universal invitation to the Gentiles (Lu 24:47; Ro 11:12, 15).

Ho—calls the most earnest attention.

thirsteth—has a keen sense of need (Mt 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 (Isa 25:6; So 5:1; Joh 7:37). "Waters," plural, to denote abundance (Isa 43:20; 44:3).

no money—Yet, in Isa 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 (1Co 6:20; 1Pe 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 (Mt 13:44, 46; Lu 12:33; Re 3:18).

2. not bread—(Hab 2:13). "Bread of deceit" (Pr 20:17). Contrast this with the "bread of life" (Joh 6:32, 35; also Lu 14:16-20).

satisfieth not—(Ec 1:8; 4:8).

hearken … and eat—When two imperatives are joined, the second expresses the consequence of obeying the command in the first (Ge 42:18). By hearkening ye shall eat. So in Isa 55:1, "buy and eat." By buying, and so making it your own, ye shall eat, that is, experimentally enjoy it (Joh 6:53). Compare the invitation (Pr 9:5, 6; Mt 22:4).

fatness—(Ps 36:8; 63:5).

3. me … live—by coming to me ye shall live: for "I am the life" (Joh 14:6).

everlasting covenant—(Jer 32:40; 2Sa 23:5).

with you … David—God's covenant is with the antitypical David, Messiah (Eze 34:23), and so with us by our identification with Him.

sure—answering to "everlasting," irrevocable, unfailing, to be relied on (Ps 89:2-4, 28, 29, 34-36; Jer 33:20, 21; 2Sa 7:15, 16; 2Co 1:18-20).

mercies of David—the mercies of grace (Isa 63:7; Joh 1:16) which I covenanted to give to David, and especially to Messiah, his antitype. Quoted in Ac 13:34.

4. him—the mystical David (Eze 37:24, 25; Jer 30:9; Ho 3:5). Given by God (Isa 49:6).

witness—He bore witness even unto death for God, to His law, claims, and plan of redeeming love (Joh 18:37; Re 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 (So 1:4; Joh 6:44). Not merely come, but run eagerly.

thou knowest not—now as thy people (so in Mt 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—(Isa 52:15; Eph 2:11, 12).

because of … thy God … glorified thee—(Isa 60:5, 9; Zec 8:23); where similar language is directed to Israel, because of the identification of Israel with Messiah, who is the ideal Israel (Mt 2:15; compare with Ho 11:1; see Ac 3:13).

6. The condition and limit in the obtaining of the spiritual benefits (Isa 55:1-3): (1) Seek the Lord. (2) Seek Him while He is to be found (Isa 65:1; Ps 32:6; Mt 25:1-13; Joh 7:34; 8:21; 2Co 6:2; Heb 2:3; 3:13, 15).

call—casting yourselves wholly on His mercy (Ro 10:13). Stronger than "seek"; so "near" is more positive than "while He may be found" (Ro 10:8, 9).

near—propitious (Ps 34:18; 145:18).

7. unrighteousHebrew, "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" (Ps 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, Zec 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 (Ps 34:8; Re 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 (Ps 130:7).

8. For—referring to Isa 55:7. You need not doubt His willingness "abundantly to pardon" (compare Isa 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" (Ps 25:11; Ro 5:19).

9. (Ps 57:10; 89:2; 103:11). "For" is repeated from Isa 55:8. But Maurer, after the negation, translates, "but."

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 (Isa 5:6; De 32:2; 2Sa 23:4; Ps 72:6).

snow—which covers plants from frost in winter; and, when melted in spring, waters the earth.

returneth not—void; as in Isa 55:11; it returns not in the same shape, or without "accomplishing" the desired end.

bud—germinate.

11. (Mt 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 Isa 55:12, 13, is, however, to be at the Jews' final restoration and conversion of the world (Isa 11:9-12; 60:1-5, 21).

12. go out—from the various countries in which ye (the Jews) are scattered, to your own land (Eze 11:17).

led—by Messiah, your "Leader" (Isa 55:4; Isa 52:12; Mic 2:12, 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 (Isa 44:23; Ps 98:8; Ro 8:19-22).

13. thorn—emblem of the wicked (2Sa 23:6; Mic 7:4).

fir tree—the godly (Isa 60:13; Ps 92:12). Compare as to the change wrought, Ro 6:19.

brier—emblem of uncultivation (Isa 5:6).

myrtleHebrew, 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 (Ps 92:13, 14).

for a name … everlasting sign—a perpetual memorial to the glory of Jehovah (Jer 13:11; 33:9).




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