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An Invitation to Abundant Life


Ho, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and you that have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.


Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.


Incline your ear, and come to me;

listen, so that you may live.

I will make with you an everlasting covenant,

my steadfast, sure love for David.


See, I made him a witness to the peoples,

a leader and commander for the peoples.


See, you shall call nations that you do not know,

and nations that do not know you shall run to you,

because of the L ord your God, the Holy One of Israel,

for he has glorified you.



Seek the L ord while he may be found,

call upon him while he is near;


let the wicked forsake their way,

and the unrighteous their thoughts;

let them return to the L ord, that he may have mercy on them,

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.


For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

nor are your ways my ways, says the L ord.


For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.



For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,


so 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 succeed in the thing for which I sent it.



For you shall go out in joy,

and be led back in peace;

the mountains and the hills before you

shall burst into song,

and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.


Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;

instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;

and it shall be to the L ord for a memorial,

for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.


1. Ho, all that are thirsty. Here the Prophet describes in lofty terms of commendation the goodness of God, which was to be poured down more copiously and abundantly than before under the reign of Christ, “in whose hand are hid all the treasures” (Colossians 2:3) of the grace of God; for in him God fully explains his mind to us; so that the saying of John is actually fulfilled, “We have all drawn from his fullness, and have received grace for grace.” (John 1:16) The fathers were, indeed, partakers of that divine goodness and spiritual kindness which is here mentioned. “How great,” says David, “is thy goodness, which hath been laid up for them that fear thee!” (Psalm 31:19) But he hath poured it out far more liberally and abundantly in Christ. Thus, it is a remarkable commendation of the grace of God, which is exhibited to us in the kingdom of Christ; for the Prophet does not instruct us what has been done once, but also what is done every day, while the Lord invites us by his doctrine to the enjoyment of all blessings.

Come to the waters. Some view the word “waters” as referring to the doctrine of the Gospel, and others to the Holy Spirit; but neither of these expositions, in my opinion, is correct. They who think that it denotes the doctrine of the Gospel, and who contrast it with the law, (of which the Jewish writers think that the Prophet speaks in this passage,) include only one part of what the Prophet meant. They who expound it as denoting the Holy Spirit have somewhat more plausibility, and quote that passage of John’s Gospel,

“If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (John 4:10)

And a little after, Christ appears to expound this passage when he says,

“Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give to him shall never thirst; but the water which I shall give to him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up to everlasting life.” (John 4:13, 14)

But I have no doubt that under these words, “waters, milk, wine, bread,” Isaiah includes all that is necessary for spiritual life; for the metaphors are borrowed from those kinds of food which are in daily use amongst us. As we are nourished by “bread, wine, milk, and water,” so in like manner let us know that our souls are fed and supported by the doctrine of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, and other gifts of Christ.

The Prophet exclaims, as with a voice above the usual pitch, He! for so great is the sluggishness of men that it is very difficult to arouse them. They do not feel their wants, though they are hungry; nor do they desire food, which they greatly need; and therefore that indifference must be shaken off by loud and incessant cries. So much the more base and shameful is the indolence of those who are deaf to this exhortation, and who, even when they are so sharply urged forward, still indulge in their slothfulness. Besides, the invitation is general; for there is no man who is not in want of those “waters,” and to whom Christ is not necessary; and therefore he invites all indiscriminately, without any respect of persons. But men are so miserable that, although they know that they are in need of Christ, they contrive methods by which they may be deprived of this benefit, and rather believe the devil, who offers various obstructions, than this kind invitation.

We must therefore inquire what is the true preparation for receiving this grace. The Prophet describes it by the word “thirsty.” Those who are puffed up with vain confidence and are satiated, or who, intoxicated by earthly appetites, do not feel thirst of soul, will not receive Christ; because they have no relish for spiritual grace. They resemble those persons who are in want of nourishments, but who, because they are filled and swollen with wind, loathe food, or who, being carried away by their own vain imaginations, feed on their own stupidity, as if they were in want of nothing. The consequence is, that they who are puffed up with pride or a false opinion of their own righteousness, or whom the allurements of the flesh have seized with lethargy, despise or reject the grace of God. It is therefore necessary that we have “thirst,” that is, an ardent desire, in order that it may be possible for us to receive so great blessings.

Buy without money. He does not mean that there are any persons who have money in abundance, but the words ought to be explained thus. “Although they are poor, although they are sunk in the deepest poverty, yet the way is open for them to come to Christ, through whom these blessings are freely bestowed.” “But how is it possible,” it will be said, “to buy without a price?” I reply, “buying” denotes figuratively the method by which we procure anything; and שבר (shabar) is here put for “procure,” and “price” for labor or industry, or any other method by which men obtain anything, he shows that we are poor and utterly destitute, and that we have nothing by which we can become entitled to God’s favor; but that he kindly invites us, in order that he may freely bestow everything without any recompense.

2. Wherefore do ye spend money? 7676     “Spend. Hebrews Weigh.” (Eng. Ver.) “In the first clause there is reference to the primitive custom of weighing instead of counting money, from which have arisen several of the most familiar denominations, such as the Hebrew ‘shekel,’ the Greek ‘talent,’ the French ‘livre,’ and the English ‘pound.’ The essential idea here is that of paying.” ­ Alexander. He complains of the ingratitude and madness of men, in rejecting or disdaining the kindness of God who offers all things freely, and yet harassing themselves greatly about various trifles which cannot yield them any advantage. Men are so enchanted by the devil, that they choose rather to wander through deserts, and to vex themselves in vain, than to rely on the grace which God offers to them. The experience of the present age abundantly shows that the Prophet not only expostulated with his own nation, but exclaimed against all men, to whatever age they might belong; for all the posterity of Adam have been seized with such madness that, in seeking the road to a heavenly life, 7777     “En cherchant le chemin de vie eternelle.” “In seeking the road to eternal life.” they altogether go astray, and follow their own vain opinions rather than the voice of God.

The Prophet does not complain of the slothfulness of those who, altogether forgetful of themselves and of God, take no concern about the spiritual life of the soul; (there are many such persons;) but of those who desire life, and yet do not understand the method or way of obtaining it, and wander in uncertainty through deserts and untrodden paths. Here, therefore, are condemned all the methods which men contrive, in opposition to the Word of God, for obtaining salvation, and they are pronounced to be useless expenses; for by the word “money” he denotes all the industry, study, or labor which belongs to man. Not that God values a single farthing all our idle attempts to worship him, but because labors foolishly undertaken are reckoned valuable by the judgment of the flesh.

And your labor, not so as to be satisfied. We see that by the word “bread” is here meant the same as was formerly meant by “waters,” and that he gives the name “labor” to that which he formerly called “money.” As if he had said, “Men toil without any advantage; for, when they follow their own inventions, however eagerly they may vex and weary themselves, they have no right to expect any reward.” Thus he affirms that they who labor in an inconsiderate manner cannot “be satisfied;“ for they who forsake God, and attempt new methods of salvation, can never “be satisfied.” “They feed on wind,” as Hosea says. (Hosea 12:1) They may, indeed, imagine that they are full, when they are swelled with vain confidence, but are like persons who, in consequence of being swollen with wind, do not perceive their hunger. Yet it would be better for them to be sore pressed by hunger and thirst, that it might lead them to call on the Lord with earnestness of heart, as it is said in the Psalm, “My soul is as a thirsty land before thee.” (Psalm 143:6) But bread alone, or water alone, would not be enough to “satisfy,” and by neither of them could life be supported; and that is the reason why the Prophet has made use of a variety of terms, in order to show that the Lord abundantly supplies everything that is necessary for life, that we may not think that we ought to seek aid from any other quarter.

Hear ye by hearing me. 7878     “Hearken diligently unto me.” ­ Eng. Ver. Because every person is led into error by his own counsel, and all who neglect God vanish away in wicked imaginations, the Prophet here adds the remedy, which is, that we must depend entirely on the mouth of God. Whoever shall submit to his word will have no reason to fear that he shall spend his strength on things of no value. Here we see the amazing goodness of God, who offers his grace to men, though they are unthankful and unworthy.

But he adds the condition; for there is no way by which we can enter into life but by “hearing” him; and as the cause of our destruction is, that we are deaf to the voice of God, so the road to life is open, if we lend our ears to him. 7979     “Si nons l’escoutons attentivement.” “If we listen to him attentively.” In order to make a deeper impression upon us, he repeats the same admonition, and doubles the same word, “Hear ye by hearing;“ and, in order to draw us more gently, he solemnly declares that it depends entirely on ourselves whether or not he will “delight” us even to fullness with all abundance of blessings.

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