Notes from Isaiah 55

By Wayne Jackson

In the book of Isaiah (55:1ff) there is a thrilling prophecy of the salvation that was to be made available as a result of the promised Messiah’s victory over death.

  1. 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.
  2. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
  3. 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.
  4. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples.
  5. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not; and a nation that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of Jehovah thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
  6. Seek ye Jehovah while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near:
  7. let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
  8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.
  9. For 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 cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
  11. 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.
  12. 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 fields shall clap their hands.
  13. 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 Jehovah for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Note that the offer was to be potentially available to “every one.” The prophet addresses all who are “thirsty” —a common biblical expression for spiritual deprivation (cf. Mt. 5:6; Jn. 4:14; 6:35; 7:37).

These impoverished people are urged to “buy” sustenance to satiate their souls, though this gift is said to be “without price.” But how can one “buy” that which is “without price”?

This seeming discrepancy is resolved if one understands that though salvation is a free gift (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-10), i.e., no one has the price to earn it for himself, one must nevertheless “buy” it in the sense that he must exercise the personal initiative to obtain it by submitting to the divine plan. Make a note to this effect.

Isaiah then warns of the vanity of pursuing a life which cannot satisfy. Such is the horrible malady of our age —of any age. There is, however, a way to “live” (3) that far transcends anything physical. It is the refreshing life “in Christ.”

It is within this context that the prophet, on behalf of God, announces: “… I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”

Mark the expression “sure mercies of David.” The term “sure” suggests that which is firm, reliable.

“Mercies” speaks of manifold favors. The allusion to “David” reveals that these pledged blessings would come from the lineage of Israel’s great king (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12ff). Make notations concerning these important terms.

But when is this prophecy to be fulfilled? Some apply it to a “millennium,” allegedly to be ushered in at the time of Christ’s return (cf. John Martin, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1110-11). That view is dead wrong. How do we know?

  1. There is no biblical evidence of a “millennial reign” of Christ upon the earth.
  2. Paul, an inspired apostle, connects the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy with Jesus’ first coming (not the second one) —especially the Lord’s resurrection


    “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he hath spoken on this wise, I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David” (Acts 13:34).

Make these important notes in your margin.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.