Isaiah 55:3
Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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 (2Samuel 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.

55:1-5 All are welcome to the blessings of salvation, to whom those blessings are welcome. In Christ there is enough for all, and enough for each. Those satisfied with the world, that see no need of Christ, do not thirst. They are in no uneasiness about their souls: but where God gives grace, he gives a thirst after it; and where he has given a thirst after it, he will give it. Come to Christ, for he is the Fountain opened, he is the Rock smitten. Come to holy ordinances, to the streams that make glad the city of our God. Come to the healing waters, come to the living waters, Re 22:17. Our Saviour referred to this, Joh 7:37. Come, and buy; make it your own by application of the grace of the gospel to yourselves. Come, and eat; make it still more your own, and enjoy it. The world comes short of our expectations; we promise ourselves, at least, water in it, and we are disappointed; but Christ outdoes our expectations. We come to him, and we find wine and milk. The gifts offered to us are such as no price can be set upon. The things offered are already paid for; for Christ purchased them at the full price of his own blood, 1Pe 1:19. Our wants are beyond number, and we have nothing to supply them; if Christ and heaven are ours, we see ourselves for ever indebted to free grace. Hearken diligently; let the proud heart stoop; not only come, but accept God's offers. All the wealth and pleasure in the world, will not yield solid comfort and content to the soul. They do not satisfy even the appetites of the body; for all is vanity and vexation. Let the disappointments we meet with in the world, help to drive us to Christ, and to seek for satisfaction in him only. Then, and not before, we shall find rest for our souls. Hear, and your soul shall live. On what easy terms is happiness offered us! By the sure mercies of David, we are to understand the Messiah. All his mercies are covenant mercies; they are purchased by him, they are promised in him, and out of his hand they are dispensed to us. We know not how to find the way to the waters, but Christ is given to be a Leader, a Commander, to show us what to do, and enable us to do it. Our business is to obey him, and follow him. And there is no coming to the Father but by him. He is the Holy One of Israel, true to his promises; and he has promised to glorify Christ, by giving him the heathen for his inheritance.Hear, and your soul shall live - That is, if you attend to my command and embrace my promises, you shall live. Religion in the Scriptures is often represented as life John 5:40; John 6:33; John 8:13; John 20:31; Romans 5:17-18; Romans 6:4; Romans 8:6; 1 John 5:12; Revelation 2:7-10. It stands opposed to the death of sin - to spiritual and eternal death.

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you - On the word 'covenant,' see the notes at Isaiah 28:18; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8. Here it means that God would bind himself to be their God, their protector, and their friend. This covenant would be made with all who would come to him. It would not be with the nation of the Jews, as such, or with any community, as such, but it would be with all who should embrace the offers of life and salvation.

Even the sure mercies of David - I will confirm to you, and fulfill in you, the solemn promises made to David. The transaction here referred to is that which is celebrated in Psalm 89:2-4 :

For I have said, mercy shall be built up forever;

Thy faithfulness hast thou established in the very heavens.

I have made a covenant with my chosen,

I have sworn unto David my servant,

Thy seed will I establish forever,

And build up thy throne to all generations.

A kingdom had thus been promised to David, and he had been assured that the true religion should flourish among those who were to succeed him in Israel. The prophet here says that this solemn promise. would be fulfilled in those who should embrace the Messiah, and that God would ratify with them this covenant. The word rendered here 'mercies' (חסד chesed), properly means kindness, goodwill, pity, compassion; then goodness, mercy, grace. The word rendered 'sure,' denotes that which is established, or confirmed; that in which confidence may be placed. The whole expression denotes that the covenant made with David was one which promised great favors, and was one which was not to be abrogated, but which was to be perpetual. With all who embraced the Messiah, God would enter into such an unchanging and unwavering covenant - a covenant which was not to be revoked.

3. me … live—by coming to me ye shall live: for "I am the life" (Joh 14:6).

everlasting covenant—(Jer 32:40; 2Sa 23:5).

with you … David—God's covenant is with the antitypical David, Messiah (Eze 34:23), and so with us by our identification with Him.

sure—answering to "everlasting," irrevocable, unfailing, to be relied on (Ps 89:2-4, 28, 29, 34-36; Jer 33:20, 21; 2Sa 7:15, 16; 2Co 1:18-20).

mercies of David—the mercies of grace (Isa 63:7; Joh 1:16) which I covenanted to give to David, and especially to Messiah, his antitype. Quoted in Ac 13:34.

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. Incline your ear, and come unto me,.... The exhortations are repeated, to show the importance of them, how welcome these persons were to the Lord, and to his house, and his earnest and tender care and concern for them:

hear, and your soul shall live; or, "that your soul may live (f)"; spiritually and eternally. There must be life before hearing; men must be made alive before they can come to Christ spiritually, or hear his word so as to have a spiritual understanding of it, or savingly believe it; but the meaning is, that by coming and hearing the word of the Lord, they should have something to live upon, good, solid, substantial food; and that they should live comfortably and plentifully, and that for ever. It was reckoned a great absurdity in Sunlungus, a Chinese philosopher, who asserted (g) that a man had three ears, one different from the two that are seen; it is true in a spiritual sense.

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you; which is to be understood not of the covenant of works, nor of the covenant of circumcision, nor of the Sinai covenant; but of the covenant of grace, which is an "everlasting one"; it is from everlasting, being founded in the everlasting love of God, is according to his eternal purposes; Christ is the Mediator of it, who as such was set up from everlasting, and the promises and blessings of it were so early put into his hands; and it will continue to everlasting, sure, firm, unalterable, and immovable. This, properly speaking, was made with Christ from all eternity, and his people in him; it is made manifest to them at conversion, when they are shown it, and their interest in it; when God makes himself known to them as their covenant God, and Christ as the Mediator of it is revealed to them; when the Lord puts his Spirit into them, and makes them partakers of the grace of it; shows them their interest in the blessings of it, and opens and applies the promises of it unto them; and these are made manifest in the ministration of the Gospel, and in the administration of ordinances: even "the sure mercies of David"; that is, the Messiah, the son of David, and his antitype, whence he is often called by his name, Ezekiel 34:23, and so Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and others (h), interpret it. The blessings of the covenant are called "mercies", because they spring from the mercy of God, as redemption, pardon of sin, regeneration, salvation, and eternal life; and they are the mercies of David, or of Christ, for the promises of them were made to him, and the things themselves put into his hands, and are ratified and confirmed by his blood, and through him come to his people: and these are "sure", firm, and steadfast, through the faithfulness and holiness of God, who has given them to Christ; through being in a covenant ordered in all things and sure; and also being in the hands of Christ, in whom the promises are yea and amen, and the blessings sure to all the seed; see Acts 13:34, Acts 13:34.

(f) "ut vivat", Junius & Tremellius, Vitringa. (g) Martin. Hist. Sinic. l. 4. p. 170. (h) Abarbinel, Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 26, 1.

Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the {f} sure mercies of David.

(f) The same covenant which through my mercy I ratified and confirmed to David, that it would be eternal, 2Sa 7:13, Ac 13:34.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3–5. The offer of Isaiah 55:1-2 is summed up in the promise of an everlasting covenant. see ch. Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:8; and cf. Isaiah 61:8; Jeremiah 32:40; Jeremiah 31:31-33.

Incline your ear &c.] The condition imposed is simply the consent and submission of the heart to the divine will.

an everlasting covenant … the sure mercies of David] i.e. the mercies (lovingkindnesses) irrevocably promised to David and his house. Comp. the “Last Words of David,” 2 Samuel 23:5 (“an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and secured”), Psalm 18:50 (“shewing lovingkindness … to David and to his seed for ever”), Psalm 89:28 (“for ever will I keep my lovingkindness to him, and my covenant is sure to him”), and Psalm 89:49; and the great promise to which all these passages point, 2 Samuel 7:8-16. The comparison of the everlasting covenant to these Davidic “mercies” cannot mean simply that the one is as sure as the other. It is identity rather than comparison that is implied, the idea being that the contents of the covenant are the same as the mercies promised to David, and that it will be the fulfilment of the hopes that clustered round the Davidic dynasty. But an intricate question arises with respect to the sense in which this fulfilment is to be understood in the next two verses.Verse 3. - Come unto me (comp. ver. 1, "Come ye to the waters"). God dispenses the waters (see Isaiah 44:3). I will make an everlasting covenant with you. That the "everlasting covenant" once made between God and man had been broken by man, and by Israel especially, is a part of the teaching contained in the earlier portion of Isaiah (Isaiah 24:5). We find the same asserted in the prophecies of his contemporary, Hosea (Hosea 6:7). It would naturally follow from this that, unless God gave up man altogether, he would enter into a new covenant with him. Accordingly, this new covenant is announced, both in Hosea (Hosea 2:18-20) and in the later chapters of Isaiah, repeatedly (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 54:10; Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 56:4, 6; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 61:8). Having been thus set before the nation, it is further enlarged upon by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Jeremiah 32:40; Jeremiah 11:5) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:60-62; Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 37:26-28). Almost all commentators allow that the Christian covenant is intended - that "new covenant" (Hebrews 9:15) under which man obtains pardon and salvation through the Mediatorship of Christ. Even the sure mercies of David. The "sure mercies of David" are the loving and merciful promises which God made to him. These included the promise that the Messiah should come of his seed, and sit on his throne, and establish an everlasting kingdom (Psalm 89:2-5, 19-37), and triumph over death and hell (Psalm 16:9, 10), and give peace and happiness to Israel (Psalm 132:15-18). The promises made to David, rightly understood, involve all the essential points of the Christian covenant. In perfect keeping with this grace through righteousness, Jerusalem will then stand firm and impregnable. "Through righteousness wilt thou be fortified: be far from anxiety, for thou hast nothing to fear; and from terror, for it will not come near thee. Behold, men crowd together in crowds; my will is not there. Who crowd together against thee? - he shall fall by thee." Both the thought and action of Jerusalem will be righteousness then, and it will thereby acquire strength; תּכּונני is a pausal future hithpalel, with the ת of the reflective opening syllable assimilated (Ges. 53, 2, b). With this reciprocal influence of its moral character and imparted glory, it can, and is to keep far away from all thought of oppression and terror; for, through divine grace and a corresponding divine nature, it has nothing to fear. הן (Isaiah 54:15), when pointing to any transaction as possible (as, for example, in Job 12:14; Job 23:8), acquires almost the significance of a conditional particle (Ewald, 103, g). The equally hypothetical parallel clause is clothed in the form of an interrogative. For the verb gūr, the meaning "to gather together" (related to אגר), more especially to join together with hostile intention (cf., συνάγεσθαι, Revelation 19:19; Revelation 20:8), is sustained by Psalm 56:7; Psalm 59:4; and with גּרה, lacessere, it has nothing to do (Hitzig and Ewald). אתּך has the force of contra te, as in the case of verbs of combat. The first apodosis is this: "but it takes place entirely away from me," i.e., without and against my will; מאותי equals מאתּי (as in Isaiah 59:21), and אותם equals אתּם, are no sure signs of a later usage; for this alternation of the two forms of את is met with as early as Joshua 14:12. The second apodosis is, "he will fall upon (or against) thee," or, as we should say, "founder," or "be wrecked." It is far more likely that this is the meaning of the words, than that they mean "he will fall to thy lot" (על נפל, like ל נפל elsewhere, to fall to a person); for the context here is a totally different one from Isaiah 45:14, and we look for nothing more than a declaration of the utter failure and ruin of the undertaking.
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