Isaiah 55 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

Isaiah 55
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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.

(1) Ho, every one that thirsteth . . .—The whole context shows that the water, the wine, the milk are all, symbols of spiritual blessings as distinctly as they are, e.g., in John 4:10; Matthew 26:29; 1 Peter 2:2. The Word “buy” is elsewhere confined to the purchase of corn, and would not rightly have been used of wine and milk. The invitation is addressed, as in a tone of pity, to the bereaved and afflicted one of Isaiah 54:6-7.

Without money and without price.Literally, For not-money and not-price. The prophet had used the word “buy,” but he feels that that word may be misinterpreted. “No silver or gold can buy the blessing which He offers. Something, indeed, is required, and therefore the word” buy “is still the right word; but the “price” is simply the self-surrender that accepts the blessing. Comp. Proverbs 3:14-15; Matthew 13:45-46,

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.
(2) Wherefore do ye spend money . . .—Here again the “bread” is that which sustains the true life of the soul. “Labour”-stands for the “earnings of labour.” Israel had given her money for that which was “not-bread,” she is called to accept the true bread for that which is “not-money,” scil., as the next verse shows, for the simple “hearing of faith.” “Fatness,” as in Isaiah 25:6, and the “fatted calf” of Luke 15:23, represents the exuberance of spiritual joy.

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.
(3) Your soul shall live . . .—Better, revive. The idea is that of waking to a new life.

I will make an everlasting covenant . . .—The words find their explanation in the “new covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31, Luke 22:20, but those which follow show that it is thought of as the expansion and completion of that which had been made with David (2 Samuel 7:12-17; Psalm 89:34-35), as the representative of the true King, whom Isaiah now contemplates as identical with the “servant of the Lord.” For “sure mercies” read the unfailing loving-kindnesses, which were “of David,” as given to him and to his seed by Jehovah.

Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
(4) I have given him . . .—Better, I gave, the words referring primarily to the historic David (Comp. Psalm 78:70-71), though realised fully only in Him who was the “faithful and true witness” (John 18:37; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:14), the “captain” or “leader” of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10).

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.
(5) Thou shalt call a nation.—The calling of the Gentiles and the consequent expansion of the true idea of Israel is again dominant. The words sound like an echo from Psalm 18:43.

Because of the Lord thy God . . .—The words are repeated, as expressing a thought on which the prophet loved to dwell, in Isaiah 60:9.

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
(6) While he may be found . . .—The appeal shows that the promised blessings are not unconditional. There may come a time (as in Matthew 25:11) when “too late will be written on all efforts to gain the inheritance which has been forfeited by neglect (2 Corinthians 6:2).

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.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
(8) My thoughts are not your thoughts . . .—The assertion refers to both the promise and the warning. Men think that the gifts of God can be purchased with money (Acts 8:20). They think that the market in which they are sold is always open, and that they can have them when and how they please (Matthew 25:9-13).

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 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:
(10) For as the rain cometh down . . .—The verse includes well-nigh every element of the parables of agriculture. The “rain” and the “dew” are the gracious influences that prepare the heart; the “seed” is the Divine word, the “sower” is the Servant of the Lord, i.e., the Son of Man (Matthew 13:37); the “bread” the fruits of holiness that in their turn sustain the life of others.

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.
(11) So shall my word be . . .—The point of the comparison is that the predominance of fertility in the natural world, in spite of partial or apparent failures, is the pledge of a like triumph, in the long run, of the purposes of God for man’s good over man’s resistance. It does not exclude the partial, or even total, failure of many; it asserts that the saved are more than the lost. Comp. Isaiah 53:11.

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.
(12) The mountains and the hills . . .—Cheyne aptly compares—

“Ipsi lætitia voces ad sidera jactant

Intonsi montes.” VIRG., Æclog.

(The very hills, no more despoiled of trees,

Shall to the stars break forth in minstrelsies.)

The waving of the branches of the trees is, in the poet’s thoughts, what the clapping of hands is with men, a sign of jubilant exultation (Psalm 96:12).

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.
Courtesy of Open Bible