Isaiah 55:7
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
55:6-13 Here is a gracious offer of pardon, and peace, and of all happiness. It shall not be in vain to seek God, now his word is calling to us, and his Spirit is striving with us. But there is a day coming when he will not be found. There may come such a time in this life; it is certain that at death and judgment the door will be shut. There must be not only a change of the way, but a change of the mind. We must alter our judgments about persons and things. It is not enough to break off from evil practices, we must strive against evil thoughts. To repent is to return to our Lord, against whom we have rebelled. If we do so, God will multiply to pardon, as we have multiplied to offend. But let none trifle with this plenteous mercy, or use it as an occasion to sin. Men's thoughts concerning sin, Christ, and holiness, concerning this world and the other, vastly differ from God's; but in nothing more than in the matter of pardon. We forgive, and cannot forget; but when God forgives sin, he remembers it no more. The power of his word in the kingdoms of providence and grace, is as certain as in that of nature. Sacred truth produces a spiritual change in the mind of men, which neither rain nor snow can make on the earth. It shall not return to the Lord without producing important effects. If we take a special view of the church, we shall find what great things God has done, and will do for it. The Jews shall come to their own land; this shall represent the blessings promised. Gospel grace will make a great change in men. Delivered from the wrath to come, the converted sinner finds peace in his conscience; and love constrains him to devote himself to the service of his Redeemer. Instead of being profane, contentious, selfish, or sensual, behold him patient, humble, kind, and peaceable. The hope of helping in such a work should urge us to spread the gospel of salvation. And do thou help us, O Spirit of all truth, to have such views of the fulness, freeness, and greatness of the rich mercy in Christ, as may remove from us all narrow views of sovereign grace.Let the wicked ... - In this verse we are told what is necessary in order to seek God and to return to him, and the encouragement which we have to do it. The first step is for the sinner to forsake his way. He must come to a solemn pause, and resolve to abandon all his transgressions. His evil course; his vices; his corrupt practices; and his dissipated companions, must be forsaken.

And the unrighteous man - Margin, "Man of iniquity." This is a literal translation. The address is made to all people, for all are such.

His thoughts - The Hebrew word denotes all that is the object of thought; and the idea is, that the man must abandon his plans and purposes of life. The thoughts, in the sight of a holy God, are not less important than the external deportment; and no man can obtain his favor who is not ready to abandon his erroneous opinions, his pride and vanity, his plans of evil, and his purposes of life that are opposed to God.

And let him return unto the Lord - Man, in the Scriptures, is everywhere described as having wandered away from the true God. Religion consists in returning to him for pardon, for consolation, for protection, for support. The true penitent is desirous of returning to him, as the prodigal son returned to his father's house; the man who loves sin chooses to remain at a distance from God.

And to our God - The God of his people; the God of the speaker here. It is the language of those who have found mercy. The idea is, that he who has bestowed mercy on us, will be ready to bestow it on others. 'We have returned to God. We have had experience of his compassion, and we have such a conviction of his overflowing mercy, that we can assure all others that if they will return to our God, he will abundantly pardon them.' The doctrine is, that they who have found favor have a deep conviction of the abounding compassion of God, and such a sense of the fullness of his mercy, that they are disposed to offer the assurance to all others, that they may also obtain full forgiveness. Compare Revelation 22:17 - 'And let him that heareth say, Come.'

For he will abundantly pardon - Margin, as Hebrew, 'Multiply to pardon.' He abounds in forgiveness. This is the conviction of those who are pardoned; this is the promise of inestimable worth which is made to all who are willing to return to God. On the ground of this promise all may come to him, and none who come shall be sent empty away.

7. unrighteous—Hebrew, "man of iniquity"; true of all men. The "wicked" sins more openly in "his way"; the "unrighteous" refers to the more subtle workings of sin in the "thoughts." All are guilty in the latter respect, thought many fancy themselves safe, because not openly "wicked in ways" (Ps 94:11). The parallelism is that of gradation. The progress of the penitent is to be from negative reformation, "forsaking his way," and a farther step, "his thoughts," to positive repentance, "returning to the Lord" (the only true repentance, Zec 12:10), and making God his God, along with the other children of God (the crowning point; appropriation of God to ourselves: "to our God"). "Return" implies that man originally walked with God, but has apostatized. Isaiah saith, "our God," the God of the believing Israelites; those themselves redeemed desire others to come to their God (Ps 34:8; Re 22:17).

abundantly pardon—Literally, "multiply to pardon," still more than "have mercy"; God's graciousness is felt more and more the longer one knows Him (Ps 130:7).

Let the wicked man, any wicked man, either Jew or Gentile, forsake his way; his evil or wicked way, as is evident from the foregoing word, and as it is more fully expressed, Jeremiah 18:11 25:5; which is called his way, because it is natural, and customary, and dear to him, and in opposition to God’s good way; his sinful course or manner of life. Let him cease to do evil, as it is Isaiah 1:16. This he adds, to intimate that men’s seeking and calling upon God will do them no good without reformation of their lives.

His thoughts; the sinful devices and purposes of his mind. Thus he strikes at the root of sinful actions, and showeth that the heart must be purged and changed as well as the outward actions.

Let him return unto the lord; as he hath departed from God by sin, let him turn to him by sincere repentance, and the practice of all God’s precepts; whereby he intimates that a mere abstinence from wicked courses is not sufficient, without the exercise of the contrary graces; that we must not only cease to do evil, but also learn to do well, as it is prescribed, Isaiah 1:16,17.

To our God; to the God of Israel, who is and hath showed himself to be a most merciful and gracious God.

For he will abundantly pardon: he useth so many words and arguments to encourage them to repentance, because the persons here invited were guilty of idolatry, apostacy, and many other gross wickednesses; which he knew, when they came to themselves, and to a serious sense of their sins, and of the just and holy nature and law of God, would be an insupportable burden to their awakened consciences, and make them very prone to conclude that God either could not or would not pardon such horrid delinquencies, and therefore would rather drive them from God, than draw them to him. Let the wicked forsake his way,.... His evil way, as the Targum paraphrases it, his wicked course of life; and which is his own way, of his own choosing, and in which he delights, and a very dangerous one it is; and yet he is bent upon it, and nothing can turn him from it but efficacious grace; nor will he ever forsake it till he sees the evil, danger, and loathsomeness of it; and when he does forsake it, it is so as not to make sin the course of his life, though he does not and cannot live without sin. The word for "wicked" signifies restless, troublesome, and ungodly, and is expressive of the pollution and guilt of sin all are under. Some are notoriously wicked, and all men are wicked in the account of God, though they may think otherwise themselves; and they become so their own apprehensions, when they are thoroughly awakened and convinced of sin, and of the evil of their ways, and are enabled to forsake them: though this may also be understood of "his own way" of saving himself, which is by works of righteousness he has done, in opposition to God's way of saving men by Jesus Christ; which way of his own must be relinquished, and Christ alone must be applied unto, and laid hold on, for salvation:

and the unrighteous man his thoughts: not his natural thoughts, but his sinful ones, his wrong thoughts of religion, righteousness, and salvation; particularly his thoughts of being justified by his own righteousness; which thoughts are to be forsaken, as being contrary to God's way of justifying sinners; and as all men are unrighteous, are destitute of righteousness, and full of unrighteousness, so is the self-righteous person; and he must be divested of all thoughts of his own righteousness, and acknowledge himself an unrighteous man, ere he receives mercy, forgiveness, righteousness and salvation, at the hands of the Lord:

and let him return unto the Lord; from whom he has departed, against whom he has sinned, and who only can save him; and this he does when he comes and acknowledges his sin before the Lord, implores his grace and mercy, and attends his word and worship; all which is the fruit and effect of powerful and efficacious grace, in turning and drawing. The Targum is,

"and let him turn to the worship of the Lord:''

and he will have mercy upon him; which shows that the returning of the sinner to God is not meritorious, it is mercy still to receive him; and which is here mentioned as the motive to return; there is an abundance of it with the Lord, and he has resolved and promised to show it, and he takes delight in it, and many are the instances of it:

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon; God is to be applied unto, not as an absolute God, or out of Christ; but as our God in Christ, in whom he has proclaimed his name, a God gracious and merciful, and so he does abundantly pardon. The promise of pardon is absolute and unconditional, and is here observed as the motive to forsake sin, and not that as the condition of pardon; the design is to comfort those that are distressed with sin; God does and will pardon, and none but he can, and he has declared that he will; forgiveness is with him, and it is published in the Gospel, and there have been many instances of it.

The Lord does abundantly pardon, or "multiply to pardon" (m); he pardons all sorts of sinners, and all sorts of sins; original sin, actual sins and transgressions; all backslidings and revoltings; all but the sin against the Holy Ghost.

(m) "multiplicabit ad parcendum vel ut parcat", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "multiplicabit condonare", Cocceius; "multus erit ut proritietur": Munster.

Let the wicked {k} forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

(k) By this he shows that repentance must be joined with faith, and how we cannot call on God correctly, unless the fruits of our faith appear.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. the unrighteous man] lit., “the man of evil” or falsehood.Verse 7. - Let the wicked forsake his way; i.e. his mode of life. A general promise of forgiveness of sin upon repentance and amendment of life was first given to Israel through Solomon (2 Chronicles 7:14). The doctrine is largely preached by the prophets; but is nowhere more distinctly and emphatically laid down than in this place. God's will is to "multiply pardon," if man will only turn to him. All things are ready; the guests are invited; and nothing is required of them except to come. "Alas, all ye thirsty ones, come ye to the water; and ye that have no silver, come ye, buy, and eat! Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without payment! Wherefore do ye weigh silver for that which is not bread, and the result of your labour for that which satisfieth not? O hearken ye to me, and eat the good, and let your soul delight itself in fat." Hitzig and Knobel understand by water, wine, and milk, the rich material blessings which awaited the exiles on their return to their fatherland, whereas they were now paying tribute and performing service inf Babylon without receiving anything in return. But the prophet was acquainted with something higher than either natural water (Isaiah 54:3, cf., Isaiah 41:17) or natural wine (Isaiah 25:6). He knew of an eating and drinking which reached beyond the mere material enjoyment (Isaiah 65:13); and the expression ה טּוּב, whilst it includes material blessings (Jeremiah 31:12), is not exhausted by them (Isaiah 63:7, cf., Psalm 27:13), just as התענּג in Isaiah 58:14 (cf., Psalm 37:4, Psalm 37:11) does not denote a feeling or worldly, but of spiritual joy. Water, wine, and milk, as the fact that water is placed first clearly shows, are not the produce of the Holy Land, but figurative representations of spiritual revival, recreation, and nourishment (cf., 1 Peter 2:2, "the sincere milk of the word"). The whole appeal is framed accordingly. When Jehovah summons the thirsty ones of His people to come to the water, the summons must have reference to something more than the water to which a shepherd leads his flock. And as buying without money or any other medium of exchange is an idea which neutralizes itself in the sphere of natural objects, wine and ilk are here blessings and gifts of divine grace, which are obtained by grace (χάριτι, gratis), their reception being dependent upon nothing but a sense of need, and a readiness to accept the blessings offered. Again, the use of the verb שׁברוּ, which is confined in other passages to the purchase of cereals, is a sufficient proof that the reference is not to natural objects, but to such objects as could properly be compared to cereals. The bread and other provisions, which Israel obtained in its present state of punishment, are called "not bread," and "not serving to satisfy," because that which truly satisfies the soul comes from above, and being of no earthly nature, is to be obtained by those who are the most destitute of earthly supplies. Can any Christian reader fail to recall, when reading the invitation in Isaiah 55:1, the words of the parable in Matthew 22:4, "All things are now ready?" And does not Isaiah 55:2 equally suggest the words of Paul in Romans 11:6, "If by grace, then is it no more of works?" Even the exclamation hoi (alas! see Isaiah 18:1), with which the passage commences, expresses deep sorrow on account of the unsatisfied thirst, and the toilsome labour which affords nothing but seeming satisfaction. The way to true satisfaction is indicated in the words, "Hearken unto me:" it is the way of the obedience of faith. In this way alone can the satisfaction of the soul be obtained.
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