Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.An invitation to seek for spiritual blessings from Christ, whom the Father sendeth, Isaiah 55:1-5; to come to him speedily, and by repentance, Isaiah 55:6,7. His grace infinite, Isaiah 55:8,9, His word powerful, Isaiah 55:10,11. The joy of believers, Isaiah 55:12,13.
Ho, every one; not only Jews, but Gentiles. The prophet having largely discoursed of Christ, Isaiah 53, and of the church of Christ, Isaiah 54, doth here invite all persons to come to Christ, and to his church.
That thirsteth for the grace of God, and the blessings of the gospel. This thirst implies a vehement, and active, and restless desire after it, not to be satisfied with any thing short of it.
Come ye to the waters; which are mentioned, either,
1. As the place where they were to buy the following commodities, it being usual to convey provisions to cities’ by rivers. Or rather,
2. As the commodity to be bought, the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit, which are frequently compared to waters, as Isaiah 12:3 35:6,7 Joh 7:37,38, and elsewhere, and which are designed by all these metaphorical expressions of waters, wine, milk, and bread. He that hath no money; even those who are most poor in the world, and those who are most worthless and wicked, if they do but thirst, may be welcome.
Buy, i.e. procure or receive that which is freely offered to you, if you do but come for it, and are willing to take it. Thus buying is used Proverbs 23:23 Revelation 3:18. Nor can this be understood of buying properly, because here is no price paid.
Buy wine and milk; which are synecdochically put for all sorts of provisions; which also are to be understood of spiritual and gospel blessings, as is evident from the following words.
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.Money; all your time, and strength, and cost in seeking it.
For that which is not bread; for those vain or foolish things which can never nourish or satisfy yea, such as worldly goods, or your own inventions, superstitions, and idolatries.
Hearken diligently unto me; unto my doctrine and counsel.
Eat ye that which is good; that which is truly, and solidly, and everlastingly good, and not such things which though they be called and seem to be good, yet really are evil, and most pernicious to men.
In fatness; in this fat and most pleasant food of gospel enjoyments.
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.Hear; hearken attentively and obediently to my counsel; hearing being oft put for obeying, as Deu 18:15 1 Samuel 15:22,23 Psa 95:7, &c.
Your soul shall live, to wit, comfortably and happily; which only is worthy of the name of life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you; that everlasting covenant of grace and peace which I made with Abraham, and his seed the Israelites, I am ready to make it with every one of you thirsting Gentiles.
Even the sure mercies of David; even that covenant which was made first with Abraham, and then with David, concerning the exhibition of those glorious and sure mercies or blessings which God hath promised to his people, one and the chief of which mercies was the giving of Christ to die for their sins, and to rise again for their justification. This exposition may receive light and strength by comparing this place with Acts 13:33,34. He mentions David rather than Abraham, either,
1. Because these promises, and especially that great promise, which is the foundation of the rest, concerning Christ and his eternal kingdom, were far more frequently, and expressly, and fully made and revealed to David than they were to Abraham. Or,
2. Because David was a more evident and illustrious type of Christ than Abraham was, as being raised from a mean condition to the highest honour, being made a great and most victorious and righteous king, and the first king of that throne upon which the Messiah was to sit. Or,
3. Because the name of David is not here put personally for the king of that name, but patronymically for the Messiah, who was to be David’s Son and successor, and who is therefore called David in the prophetical scriptures, as Jeremiah 30:9 Ezekiel 34:23,24 37:24,25 Ho 3:5; as Rehoboam upon the same account is called David, 1 Kings 12:16. And this is the more probable, because the next verse, which hath a manifest relation to this verse, is confessedly understood of Christ.
Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.I have given, I have already appointed, and will in due time actually give,
him; the David last mentioned, even Christ, the Son and successor of David, as is plain and certain from the titles and works ascribed to him in this and the following verse. But of this See Poole "Isaiah 55:3". For a witness; to be a Prophet or Teacher to declare the counsel and will of God concerning the duty and salvation of men; to bear witness unto the truth, as Christ himself affirmeth, John 18:37; to confirm God’s promises, Romans 15:8, and, amongst others, those which respect the calling and reconciliation of the Gentiles; to be a witness for both parties of that covenant made between God and men. To the people; not only to my people of Israel, but to all people, Gentiles no less than Jews, as is evident from the following verse, and from Isaiah 49:6, and divers other places.
A Leader and Commander; a sovereign Prince to give them laws, and exact their obedience, and in case of their obedience to give them protection and rewards.
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.Thou; thou, O Messiah, of whom he now spake, Isaiah 55:4, and to whom he suddenly turneth his speech, as is very common in the prophets;
shalt call a nation, to wit, unto thyself, and to the knowledge of thyself, as appears from the following words, and by thee unto acquaintance and fellowship With God.
That thou knowest not; or rather, didst not know, to wit, with that special knowledge which implies approbation, and tender care and affection, as words of knowledge are most frequently used in Scripture; the Gentiles, to whom in former times thou didst not make known thy law and covenant, and the way of salvation, Acts 14:16 17:30.
Nations that knew not thee, that had but little knowledge of God, and no knowledge of the Messiah,
shall run unto thee; upon thy call shall speedily and readily come to thee, to receive instructions from thee, and to follow thee whithersoever thou shalt lead them.
Because of the Lord thy God; because the Lord shall by many evident and unquestionable tokens manifest himself to be thy God, and thee to be his Son and faithful Servant.
For he hath glorified thee; because the God of Israel, who is the only true God, will highly honour thee, by his singular presence with thee, by his almighty power accompanying thy word, and making it wonderfully effectual for the conversion of an innumerable company, both of Jews and Gentiles, and by confirming thy word with illustrious signs and miracles, and particularly by thy resurrection and glorious ascension. These and other like considerations were the motives which convinced the Gentiles that Christ was the true Messiah, and the religion which he taught was the true religion.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:Seek ye the Lord: having discoursed of the office and work of Christ, and showed that he should call people and nations to himself, and to God, he now endeavours to persuade the people to hearken to his call, and to seek the Lord, i.e. to labour to get the knowledge of God’s will, and to obtain his grace and favour; neither of which things were to be done but in and through Christ. And this invitation or exhortation is general, like that Isaiah 55:1, reaching to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, implying that both of them had lost him and his favour, and were gone astray from him. Seek him, ye Gentiles, whom he now inviteth so to do, and will assist in finding him. And seeing the Gentiles seek him earnestly, let their example provoke you Jews to imitate them therein, and take heed that you do not reject him, whom they will receive and own.
While he may be found; in this day of grace, whilst he offereth mercy and reconciliation to you; which he will not always do. Compare Proverbs 1:24, &c.; Luke 19:44 2 Corinthians 6:2. While he is near; near to you by his gracious presence and offers in his ordinances, ready and desirous to receive you to mercy upon the following conditions.
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.Let the wicked man, any wicked man, either Jew or Gentile, forsake his way; his evil or wicked way, as is evident from the foregoing word, and as it is more fully expressed, Jeremiah 18:11 25:5; which is called his way, because it is natural, and customary, and dear to him, and in opposition to God’s good way; his sinful course or manner of life. Let him cease to do evil, as it is Isaiah 1:16. This he adds, to intimate that men’s seeking and calling upon God will do them no good without reformation of their lives.
His thoughts; the sinful devices and purposes of his mind. Thus he strikes at the root of sinful actions, and showeth that the heart must be purged and changed as well as the outward actions.
Let him return unto the lord; as he hath departed from God by sin, let him turn to him by sincere repentance, and the practice of all God’s precepts; whereby he intimates that a mere abstinence from wicked courses is not sufficient, without the exercise of the contrary graces; that we must not only cease to do evil, but also learn to do well, as it is prescribed, Isaiah 1:16,17.
To our God; to the God of Israel, who is and hath showed himself to be a most merciful and gracious God.
For he will abundantly pardon: he useth so many words and arguments to encourage them to repentance, because the persons here invited were guilty of idolatry, apostacy, and many other gross wickednesses; which he knew, when they came to themselves, and to a serious sense of their sins, and of the just and holy nature and law of God, would be an insupportable burden to their awakened consciences, and make them very prone to conclude that God either could not or would not pardon such horrid delinquencies, and therefore would rather drive them from God, than draw them to him.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.My disposition and carriage is vastly differing from yours. If any man provoke or injure you, especially if he do it greatly, and frequently, and maliciously, you are very slow and backward to forgive him; and if you do or seem to forgive, and promise to forget, and pass it by, yet you retain a secret grudge in your hearts, and upon the least occasion and slight offence you forget your promise, and you are soon weary with forgiving, and prone to revenge yourselves upon him: but it is not so with me; for I am slow to anger, and ready to forgive all true penitents, how many, and great, and numberless soever their sins be; and my promises of mercy and pardon shall be infallibly made good to them. And therefore you need not fear to come to me, or to find mercy and acceptance with me.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.Higher than the earth; inexpressibly and infinitely; for the distance between the earth and the highest heavens is unmeasurable by any man upon earth.
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:And the snow, which in its season contributes to the fruitfulness of the earth as well as the rain.
Returneth not thither, to wit, void, or without effect, as it is expressed in the next verse; or immediately; it is not drawn up again as soon as it is come down, but abides for a convenient time upon the earth, until it do that work for which it was sent.
That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; that it may bring forth store of bread corn, both for men’s present supplies, and for seed for the next year.
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.So shall my word; my promises before recited concerning the sending of the Messiah, and the blessing of his labours with such wonderful success, and concerning the reconciliation and pardon of the greatest sinners, and concerning the redemption and salvation of his people.
It shall not return unto me void; without success. It is an allusion to an ambassador who returns without despatching that business for which he was sent.
It shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it; it shall have that effect which I intended; it shall certainly be fulfilled in manner before expressed.
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.For; or, Therefore; because God hath promised it, and therefore will effect it.
Ye shall go out; ye shall be released from the place and state of your bondage. He alludes to their going out of Egypt, which was a type of their succeeding deliverances, and especially of their redemption by Christ from the power of sin and of the devil.
Be led forth; or, be led along; be conducted by the gracious and powerful presence of God, as you were in the wilderness. With peace; safely and triumphantly, without fear of being retaken and brought back into slavery by your enemies.
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands; there shall be a great and general rejoicing at your deliverance, so that even the senseless creatures shall seem to rejoice with you and for you.
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.Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; whereas your land was filled with thorns and briers, as was foretold, Isaiah 7:24, they shall be rooted out, and it shall be planted with fir trees and myrtle trees, and such other trees which are useful either for fruit or for delight. Or this promise may be answerable to that Ezekiel 28:24, There shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn, &c., but instead of them shall be such trees as shall yield shade and refreshment. The meaning is, The church shall be delivered from pernicious men and things, and replenished with sincere and serious believers, and with all sorts of Divine graces and blessings.
It shall be to the Lord for a name; this wonderful change shall bring much honour to that God by whom it is wrought.
For an everlasting sign; for a monument or evident and glorious token of God’s infinite power, and faithfulness, and love to his people unto all succeeding generations.
That shall not be cut off; which shall never be abolished, but shall always live and flourish in the minds and mouths of men.