1. He, 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. Heus sitientes omnes, venite ad aquas; et qui non habetis pecuniam, venite, emite, et comedite. Venite, inquam; emite absque pecunia, et absque ullo pretio vinum et lac.
2. Quare expenditis pecuniam, non in panem? et laborem vestrum, non ad saturitatem? Audite audiendo me, et comedite bonum, et oblectet se pinguedine anima vestra.
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. Inclinate aurem vestram, et venite ad me; audite, et vivet anima vestra. Et percutiam vobiscum foedus deculi, misericordias Davidis fideles.
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 people, a leader and commander to the people.
4. Ecce testem populis dedi eum, ducem et praeceptorem populis.
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.
5. Ecce gentem quam ignoras vocabis; et gens quae to non cognovit current ad to; propter Iehovam Deum tuum, et Sanctum Israel; quia glorificavit to.
6. Quaerite Iehovam, dum invenitur; invocate eum, dum prope est.
6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7. Derelinquat impius viam suam, et vir iniquus cogitationes suas; revertatur ad Iehovam, et miserebitur ejus; ad Deum nostrum, quia multus est ad remittendum.
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.
8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
8. Neque enim cogitationes meae cogitationes vestrae, neque viae vestrae viae meae, dicit Iehova.
9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
9. Nam quanto excelsiores sunt coeli terra, tantum superant viae meae vias vestras, et cogitationes meae cogitationes vestras.
10. Certe, quemadmodum descendit pluvia et nix e coelis, neque illuc revertitur, sed irrigat terram, et eam facit concipere et germinare, ut det semen seminanti et panem comedenti;
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;
11. Sic erit verbum meum quod egredietur ex ore meo; non redibit ad me vacuum, donec faciat quod volo, et successum afterat, quo misi ipsum.
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 field shall clap their hands.
12. Itaque cum laetitia egrediemini, et cum pace deducemini; montes et colles erumpent coram vobis in gaudium, et omnia ligna agri plaudent manu.
13. Instead of the thorn shall come up the firtree, 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.
13. Pro rubo ascendet abies, et pro urtica (vel, spina) myrtus (vel, ulmus) crescet; et erit Iehovae in nomen, in sugnum perpetuum quod non auferetur.
"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." (John 4:10)
And a little after, Christ appears to expound this passage when he says,
"Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give to him shall never thirst; but the water which I shall give to him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up to everlasting life." (John 4:13, 14)
But I have no doubt that under these words, "waters, milk, wine, bread," Isaiah includes all that is necessary for spiritual life; for the metaphors are borrowed from those kinds of food which are in daily use amongst us. As we are nourished by "bread, wine, milk, and water," so in like manner let us know that our souls are fed and supported by the doctrine of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit, and other gifts of Christ.
The Prophet exclaims, as with a voice above the usual pitch, He! for so great is the sluggishness of men that it is very difficult to arouse them. They do not feel their wants, though they are hungry; nor do they desire food, which they greatly need; and therefore that indifference must be shaken off by loud and incessant cries. So much the more base and shameful is the indolence of those who are deaf to this exhortation, and who, even when they are so sharply urged forward, still indulge in their slothfulness. Besides, the invitation is general; for there is no man who is not in want of those "waters," and to whom Christ is not necessary; and therefore he invites all indiscriminately, without any respect of persons. But men are so miserable that, although they know that they are in need of Christ, they contrive methods by which they may be deprived of this benefit, and rather believe the devil, who offers various obstructions, than this kind invitation.
We must therefore inquire what is the true preparation for receiving this grace. The Prophet describes it by the word "thirsty." Those who are puffed up with vain confidence and are satiated, or who, intoxicated by earthly appetites, do not feel thirst of soul, will not receive Christ; because they have no relish for spiritual grace. They resemble those persons who are in want of nourishments, but who, because they are filled and swollen with wind, loathe food, or who, being carried away by their own vain imaginations, feed on their own stupidity, as if they were in want of nothing. The consequence is, that they who are puffed up with pride or a false opinion of their own righteousness, or whom the allurements of the flesh have seized with lethargy, despise or reject the grace of God. It is therefore necessary that we have "thirst," that is, an ardent desire, in order that it may be possible for us to receive so great blessings.
The Prophet does not complain of the slothfulness of those who, altogether forgetful of themselves and of God, take no concern about the spiritual life of the soul; (there are many such persons;) but of those who desire life, and yet do not understand the method or way of obtaining it, and wander in uncertainty through deserts and untrodden paths. Here, therefore, are condemned all the methods which men contrive, in opposition to the Word of God, for obtaining salvation, and they are pronounced to be useless expenses; for by the word "money" he denotes all the industry, study, or labor which belongs to man. Not that God values a single farthing all our idle attempts to worship him, but because labors foolishly undertaken are reckoned valuable by the judgment of the flesh.
But he adds the condition; for there is no way by which we can enter into life but by "hearing" him; and as the cause of our destruction is, that we are deaf to the voice of God, so the road to life is open, if we lend our ears to him. 4 In order to make a deeper impression upon us, he repeats the same admonition, and doubles the same word, "Hear ye by hearing; " and, in order to draw us more gently, he solemnly declares that it depends entirely on ourselves whether or not he will "delight" us even to fullness with all abundance of blessings.
These repetitions describe the patience of God in calling us; for he does not merely invite us once, but when he sees that we are sluggish, he gives a second and even a third warning, in order to conquer our hardheartedness. Thus he does not all at once reject those who despise him, but after having frequently invited them.
Besides, this is a description of the nature of faith, when he bids us "come to himself." We ought to hear the Lord in such a manner that faith shall follow; for they who by faith receive the word of God have laid aside their desires and despised the world, and may be said to have broken their chains, so that they readily and cheerfully "draw near to God." But faith cannot be formed without hearing, (Romans 10:17 ) that is, without understanding the word of God, and so he bids us "hear" before we "come to him." Thus, whenever faith is mentioned, let us remember that it must be joined to the word, in which it has its foundation.
This is also what he means by
He calls them "the mercies of David," because this covenant, which has now been solemnly confirmed, was made in the land "of David." The Lord indeed entered into a covenant with Abraham, (Genesis 15:5; 17:7) afterwards confirmed it by Moses, (Exodus 2:24; 33:1) and finally ratified this very covenant in the hand of David, that it might be eternal. (2 Samuel 7:12) Whenever, therefore, the Jews thought of a Redeemer, that is, of their salvation, they ought to have remembered "David" as a mediator who represented Christ; for David must not here be regarded as a private individual, but as bearing this title and character. Yet some regard must be had to the time when this prophecy was uttered; for, since the rank of the kingdom had been obliterated, and the name of the royal family had become mean and contemptible during the captivity in Babylon, it might seem as if, through the ruin of that family, the truth of God had fallen into decay; and therefore he bids them contemplate by faith the throne of David, which had been cast down.
By calling him "a witness," he means that the covenant into which he entered shall be ratified and confirmed in Christ. There is a weighty meaning in the word "witness;" for he clearly shows that this covenant shall be proved in Christ, by whom the truth of God shall be made manifest. He will! testify that God is not false. But this testimony consists in doctrine; and if it were not added, we should receive little benefit from Christ's coming, as it is said, "I will publish the command." (Psalm 2:7) In this sense also Isaiah said in another passage, that Christ will have a mouth like a sword or an arrow. (Isaiah 49:2)
He says that they shall be ready to obey, though hitherto they were unknown; not that the Son of God, by whom they were created, did not know them, but because he paid no regard to them 8 until they began to be reckoned as belonging to the Church. God had in a peculiar manner called the Jews; the Gentiles appeared to be excluded as if they did not at all belong to him. But now, addressing Christ, 9 he promises that Christ shall constrain the Gentiles to obey him, though formerly they were opposed to his authority. He expresses this still more plainly in what immediately follows.
Here we have a remarkable testimony of God as to the calling of the Gentiles, for whom, as well as for the Jews, Christ was appointed. Hence also we learn that God takes care of us, if we bow to his authority, and not only such care as he takes of all the creatures, but such care as a father takes of his children.
Yet the word "run" describes more fully the efficacy of this calling, for the object of it is, that we shall obey God, that we shall readily and cheerfully place ourselves before him as teachable, and ready to comply with any expression of his will; in like manner, as Paul shows that obedience is the end of our calling. (Romans 1:5; 16:26) But as the Gentiles were at a great distance from God, it was necessary that they should labor earnestly to surmount every obstacle, that they might draw near to him.
Yet we ought to keep in remembrance what we have frequently seen as to the union of the Head and the members; for what is now said concerning Christ relates to the whole body, and therefore the glorifying is common to the whole Church. Yet Christ always holds the highest rank; for, being raised on high, he is exalted above the whole world, that to him there may be a concourse of all nations. In a word, he shows that men obey Christ and submit to his doctrine, because God hath exalted him, and hath determined to make his pre-eminence known to all men; for otherwise the preaching of the gospel would be of little use, if God did not give power and efficacy to his doctrine by the Spirit.
By three forms of expression he describes the nature of repentance, -- first, "Let the wicked man forsake, his way;" secondly, "The unrighteous man his thoughts;" thirdly, "Let him return to the Lord." Under the word way he includes the whole course of life, and accordingly demands that they bring forth the fruits of righteousness as witnesses of their newness of life. By adding the word thoughts he intimates that we must not only correct outward actions, but must begin with the heart; for although in the opinion of men we appear to change our manner of life for the better, yet we shall have made little proficiency if the heart be not changed.
Thus repentance embraces a change of the whole man; for in man we view inclinations, purposes, and then works. The works of men are visible, but the root within is concealed. This must first be changed, that it may afterwards yield fruitful works. We must first wash away from the mind all uncleanness, and conquer wicked inclinations, that outward testimonies may afterwards be added. And if any man boast that he has been changed, and yet live as he was wont to do, it will be vain-boasting; for both are requisite, conversion of the heart, and change of life.
Besides, God does not command us to return to him before he has applied a remedy to revolt; for hypocrites will willingly endure that we praise what is good and right, provided that they be at liberty to crouch amidst their filth. But we can have nothing to do with God if we do not withdraw from ourselves, especially when we have been alienated by wicked variance; and therefore self-denial goes before, that it may lead us to God.
"What ranks high among men is abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15)
But the Prophet's meaning, I think, is different, and is more correctly explained, according to my judgment, by other commentators, who think that he draws a distinction between God's disposition and man's disposition. Men are wont to judge and measure God from themselves; for their hearts are moved by angry passions, and are very difficult to be appeased; and therefore they think that they cannot be reconciled to God, when they have once offended him. But the Lord shows that he is far from resembling men. As if he had said, "I am not a mortal man, that I should show myself to be harsh and irreconcilable to you. 12 My thoughts are very different from yours. If you are implacable, and can with difficulty be brought back to a state of friendship with those from whom you have received an injury, I am not like you, that I should treat you so cruelly."
There is nothing that troubles our consciences more than when we think that God is like ourselves; for the consequence is, that we do not venture to approach to him, and flee from him as an enemy, and are never at rest. But they who measure God by themselves as a standard form a false idea and altogether contrary to his nature; and indeed they cannot do him a greater injury than this. Are men, who are corrupted and debased by sinful desires, not ashamed to compare God's lofty and uncorrupted nature with their own, and to confine what is infinite within those narrow limits by which they feel themselves to be wretchedly restrained? In what prison could any of us be more straightly shut up than in our own unbelief?
This appears to me to be the plain and simple meaning of the Prophet. And yet I do not deny that he alludes, at the same time, to the life of men such as he formerly described it to be. In a word, he means that men must forget themselves, when they wish to be converted to God, and that no obstacle can be greater or more destructive than when we think that God is irreconcilable. We must therefore root out of our minds this false imagination.
Moreover, we learn from it how widely they err who abuse the mercy of God, so as to draw from it greater encouragement to sin. The Prophet reasons thus, "Repent, forsake your ways; for the mercy of God is infinite." When men despair or doubt as to obtaining pardon, they usually become more hardened and obstinate; but when they feel that God is merciful, this draws and converts them. It follows, therefore, that they who do not cease to live wickedly, and who are not changed in heart, have no share in this mercy.
He employs a comparison drawn from daily experience and wonderfully appropriate; for, if we see great efficacy in the rain, which waters and fertilizes the earth, much greater efficacy will God display in his word. The rain is transitory and liable to corruption; but the word is eternal, unchangeable, and incorruptible, and cannot, like the rain, vanish away.
That we may more fully understand the Prophet's words, we must keep in view the end at which he aims. Men doubt if God will actually perform what he promises in his word; for we look upon the word, as if it were suspended in the air and had no effect. How shocking this is, he demonstrates from the very course of nature; for it is in the highest degree unreasonable to ascribe less to the word than to a dumb creature; and therefore he teaches us, that his word never fails of its effect. Some understand this to mean that the preaching of the Gospel is never unprofitable, but always produces some fruit. This is true in itself; for the Lord worketh by his Spirit, and "giveth increase," (1 Corinthians 3:7) so that the labor of his servants is not unproductive. But the Prophet's meaning was different; namely, that God does not speak in vain or scatter his promises into the air, but that we shall actually receive the fruit of them, provided that we do not prevent it by our unbelief.
This doctrine must be frequently repeated and inculcated, that we may know that God will do what. he hath once spoken. For this reason, when we hear the promises of God, we ought to consider what is his design in them; so that, when he promises the free pardon of our sins, we may be fully assured that we are reconciled through Christ. But, as the word of God is efficacious for the salvation of believers, so it is abundantly efficacious for condemning the wicked; as Christ also teacheth, "The word which I have spoken, that shall judge him at the last day."
1 "Spend. Hebrews Weigh." (Eng. Ver.) "In the first clause there is reference to the primitive custom of weighing instead of counting money, from which have arisen several of the most familiar denominations, such as the Hebrew 'shekel,' the Greek 'talent,' the French 'livre,' and the English 'pound.' The essential idea here is that of paying." Alexander.
2 "En cherchant le chemin de vie eternelle." "In seeking the road to eternal life."
3 "Hearken diligently unto me." Eng. Ver.
4 Si nons l'escoutons attentivement." "If we listen to him attentively."
5 "De nons amener a salut." "To lead us to salvation."
6 "Hors du pays qui leur avoit este promis et donne." "Out of the country, that had been promised and given to them."
7 "The sure mercies of David." Eng. Ver.
8 "Pource qu'elles ont este mesprisees et rejettees." "Because they were despised and rejected."
9 "The question which has chiefly divided interpreters, in reference to this verse, is, whether the object of address is the Messiah or the Church. The former opinion is maintained by Calvin, Sanctus, and others; the latter by Grotins and Vitringa. The masculine forms prove nothing either way, because the Church is sometimes presented in the person of Israel, and sometimes personified as a woman. The most natural supposition is, that after speaking of the Messiah, he now turns to him and addresses him directly." Alexander.
10 " 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.
11 "Par une obstination mechante."
12 "Pour vous estre rude et ennemi a jamais." "So as to be harsh and an enemy to you for ever."
13 "Do not think," saith God, "that what I promise is difficult, and let it not seem incredible to you, that a wicked and unjust man, or the people of the Jews, or all who among the Gentiles knew not God, can be saved. Consider this, that there is a wide difference between your purposes and mine, and that the difference of will is as great as the difference of nature; for there are many thoughts in the heart of a man, but the purpose of the Lord endureth for ever. You, like men who often repent of what they have promised, have thrown down the ancient will, and have set up in its place a modern will. But the thoughts of his heart are from generation to generation, and whatever he hath decreed cannot be changed." Jerome.
14 "Lesquels desirent (s'ils veulent dire la verite) estre certains de leur salut, et que ce qu'ils deviendront." "Who desire (if they are willing to tell the truth) to be certain about their salvation, and what shall become of them."
15 "These words depend on what goes before, and their meaning may thus be briefly stated. Let not the people refuse to believe that a wicked man, after having committed great crimes, shall suddenly be saved. For my thoughts are not as the thoughts of men; and as far as heaven is distant from the earth, so hr are my thoughts separated from the thoughts of men. I am most merciful and ready to forgive. Would you wish to have another metaphor? As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return thither, but water and refresh the earth, and cause it to bring forth various productions, that the corn-fields may produce abundance of bread for the use of men; so the word of my promise, which I have promised once and again, and which hath gone out of my mouth, shall not be void, but all shall be actually falfilled." Jerome.
16 Instead of the thorn." Eng. Ver.
17 "Au service de leur maistre."
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