For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough


55:1.  “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.”



There is a spiritual hunger and thirst in every soul, and the desire to satisfy it impels men into the frenzied pursuit of wealth, fame, pleasure, and a host of other things perceived to be the desired panacea; but achievement brings only disappointment, for the innermost longing of the soul can be satisfied with nothing less than the possession of Christ as Savior, and the peace of knowing that every sin has been atoned for by His death.


The “waters” here represent the “water of the Word” which alone can cleanse from sin, and satisfy every desire of the soul, see Eph 5:25-26, “... even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” and John 4:13-14, “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”


As noted in the JFB Commentary “waters” plural denotes abundance.


Wine is a biblical symbol of joy; and milk, of the Word as the universal food that satisfies the oldest man as well as the infant; and the Word which they represent is “without money and without price,” having been made available to men as God’s free gift through the death of His Son who is Himself the Living Word.


But the word “buy” implies the giving up one thing in order to obtain another, and the lesson being taught here is that he who would dine on the soul-satisfying food and drink of the Word must be prepared to give up the world, the Lord Himself warning, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:15-17.


55:2.  “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.”


The money spent on what was not bread is generally understood to have been what was given as offerings in connection with the religious services they attended in the Temple or in the synagogues, the equivalent being what professing Christians place on the offering plates of the “churches” they attend, the unspoken, but silently entertained thought being that God’s favor is secured by such giving.  A further subtle, and usually more impelling inducement however, is the common practice of publishing the amount given by each member of the congregation.



“... that which is not bread” probably refers to the teaching given by the rabbis, Christendom’s equivalent being the instruction given by the clergy, and the sad truth is that most of it is not “bread,” i.e., it does nothing to nourish the souls of the hearers, and small wonder, since all too often its primary purpose it to display the oratorical ability of the preachers, many of whom have never been born again, and who are therefore incapable of presenting spiritual food to their duped congregations.


Peter’s exhortation is, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby,” 1 Pe 2:2, and the further command from Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth ” 2 Tim 2:15. 


55:3. “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.”


Clearly the speaker is God, for only He is capable of making “an everlasting covenant” with anyone, the NEB rendering of the latter half of this verse being, “I will make a covenant with you, this time for ever, to love your faithfully as I loved David.”  Only those who accept Scripture as being the inspired Word of God, and trust in Christ as Savior, will inherit the eternal blessings promised here.


“... the sure mercies of David” are those bestowed by God’s grace.


55:4.  “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.”


The Speaker here is still the Father, and the One spoken of is the Lord Jesus Christ Who came first as God’s witness, and Who, having secured eternal redemption for believers through His death on the cross, will come again to reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords, and  “every knee should (shall) bow ... and that every tongue should (shall) confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father,” Phi 2:10-11. 


His being “a leader” speaks of Him as One whom men should follow, but His being a commander declares His right to command the obedience of all men.  Today obedience to His rule is optional, but the day is fast approaching when it will be compelled, and he is a wise man who chooses to obey the present gracious invitation, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Mt 11:28, rather than being compelled to obey the command, “Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ....” Mt 25:41.



55:5.  “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.”


Addressed to the believing remnant of Israel, this describes her Millennial supremacy and glory; but a superior blessing awaits believers of this present dispensation, for we shall reign eternally over all creation with Christ, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him ....” 2 Tim 2:12.  See also 2 Cor 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”


Nor will our coming glorification depend on our own righteousness, for every believer is clothed in the spotless righteousness of Christ.


55:6.  “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near;”


This command contains the veiled reminder that the day of grace will have an end, as it is written, “... behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor 6:2, added to which is the warning, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr 29:1, and again, “My spirit shall not always strive with man ....” Gen 6:3.  It is the height of folly to disobey the command given in the verse we’re now studying, in view of what is written in Pr 27:1, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth,” or to ignore the solemn warning recorded in Lk 12:20 concerning the rich man, who without knowing it, had come to the last day of his life, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee ....”


It’s unlikely that any unconverted will be reading this material, but should there be one I urge him to consider where his soul will be should God make the same declaration concerning him, “... this night thy soul shall be required of thee ....”


55:7.  “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.”



“... the wicked” here are those who think, speak, and do evil continually, while “the unrighteous” are those who attempt to live moral lives, but who have never been “born again” spiritually by confessing themselves sinners, and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  The one as much as the other needs a Savior, for God has declared all men to be unrighteous, as it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one,” Ro 3:10, but the latter half of the verse declares God’s gracious desire to see all men saved, that assurance being confirmed by 2 Pe 3:9, “The Lord ... is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”


55:8.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

55:9.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”


Unlike man, whose thoughts are “only evil continually,” Gen 6:5, God never thinks anything except good, nor are His ways anything except perfect, for  He is the source of all wisdom, power, and love.


55:10.  “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, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater:”

55:11.  “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 things whereto I sent it.”


As the rain and snow don’t return to the heavens from which they fall, but fulfill their God-given function of fructifying the earth for the blessing of every creature, so is every word He utters: obeyed it brings blessing; but disobeyed, judgment. 


55:12.  “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 field shall clap their hands.”


This points to the millennial blessing, not only of Israel, but of all the nations, the mountains and hills being used here to symbolize the nations great and small, while the trees, as frequently in Scripture, represent men.


55:13.  “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 the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”



In Gen 3:17-18 God pronounced a curse upon the earth because of Adam’s sin, “... cursed is the ground for thy sake ... thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee ....” but in the Millennium the curse will be reversed as described here, and the fruitfulness of the earth will redound to God’s honor and glory not only in the Millennium, but also eternally on the new earth. The believer’s good works are the spiritual counterpart of the millennial earth’s fecundity.  They too will bring eternal honor and glory to God.


[Isaiah 56]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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