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55. Invitation to the Thirsty

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. 2Wherefore 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. 3Incline 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. 4Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. 5Behold, 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.

6Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7Let 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.

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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. 10For 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: 11So 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. 12For 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. 13Instead 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.

6. Seek ye Jehovah. After having spoken of the good success of the gospel among the Gentiles, who formerly were strangers to the kingdom of God, he urges the Jews to be ashamed of loitering while others run; for since they were the first who were called, it is shameful that they should be last. This exhortation, therefore, relates strictly to the Jews, to whom the example of the Gentiles is held out in order to excite their jealousy; in the same manner as the Lord hath foretold that “he would provoke the Jews to jealousy by a foolish nation.” (Deuteronomy 32:21)

While he is found. “The time of finding” is here used not exactly in the same sense as in Psalm 32:6, 8585     “In a time when thou mayest be found. Heb., in a time of finding.” (Eng. Ver.) Our author’s rendering is, “Therefore shall every one that is meek pray unto thee in the time of finding thee.” In his commentary he makes reference to this passage of Isaiah. ­ Ed. but as the time when God offers himself to us, as in other passages he has limited a fixed day for his good­pleasure and our salvation. (Isaiah 49:8) Yet I readily admit that it likewise denotes the time when necessity prompts us to seek God’s assistance; but we ought chiefly to remember that God is sought at a seasonable time, when of his own accord he advances to meet us; for in vain shall indolent and sluggish persons lament that they had been deprived of that grace which they rejected. The Lord sometimes endures our sluggishness, and bears with us; but if ultimately he do not succeed, he will withdraw, and will bestow his grace on others. For this reason Christ exhorts us to walk while it is day, for the night cometh when the means of pursuing our journey shall be taken from us. (John 12:35) We ought to draw high consolation from being assured that it is not in vain for us to seek God. “Seek,” says Christ, “and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened; ask, and it shall be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

Call upon him while he is near. The word “call” may here be taken in a general sense; but I think that it denotes one description of” seeking” God, which is of more importance than all the others, as if he commanded us to betake ourselves to him by prayers and supplications. He says that he is “near,” when he opens the door and gently invites us to come to him, or when he comes forth publicly, so that we do not need to seek him through long windings. But we must attend to Paul’s definition, who tells us that it denotes the preaching of the gospel. (Romans 10:8) “The Lord is nigh,” (Philippians 4:5) and exhibits himself to us, when the voice of the gospel cries aloud; and we do not need to seek far, or to make long circuits, as unbelievers do; for he exhibits himself to us in his word, that we, on our part, may draw near to him.


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