Isaiah 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.
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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.For as the heavens ... - This verse is designed merely to illustrate the idea in the former. There is as great a difference between the plans of God and those of people, as between the heavens and the earth. A similar comparison occurs in Psalm 103:11 -

For as the heaven is high alcove the earth,

So great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

Compare Psalm 57:10 -

For thy mercy is great unto the heavens,

And thy truth unto the clouds.

Also Psalm 89:2 -

Mercy shall be built up forever,

Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

The idea in all these passages is substantially the same - that the mercy and compassion of God are illimitable.

9. (Ps 57:10; 89:2; 103:11). "For" is repeated from Isa 55:8. But Maurer, after the negation, translates, "but." Higher than the earth; inexpressibly and infinitely; for the distance between the earth and the highest heavens is unmeasurable by any man upon earth. For as the heavens, are higher than the earth,.... Than which there cannot be conceived a greater distance:

so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts; which may denote the heavenliness of the ways and thoughts of God, the eternity and unsearchableness of them, and their excellency and preciousness; as well as the very great distance between his ways and thoughts and men's which this is designed to illustrate.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
And in this way it is possible to obtain not only the satisfaction of absolute need, but a superabundant enjoyment, and an overflowing fulfilment of the promise. "Incline your ear, and come to me: hear, and let your soul revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the true mercies of David. Behold, I have set him as a witness for nations, a prince and commander of nations. Behold, thou wilt call a mass of people that thou knowest not; and a mass of people that knoweth thee not will hasten to thee, for the sake of Jehovah thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel, that He hath made thee glorious." The expression "make a covenant" (kârath berı̄th) is not always applied to a superior in relation to an inferior (compare, on the contrary, Ezra 10:3); but here the double-sided idea implied in pactio is confined to one side alone, in the sense of a spontaneous sponsio having all the force of a covenant (Isaiah 61:8; compare 2 Chronicles 7:18, where kârath by itself signifies "to promise with the force of a covenant"), and also of the offer of a covenant or anticipated conclusion of a covenant, as in Ezekiel 34:25, and in the case before us, where "the true mercies of David" are attached to the idea of offering or granting involved in the expression, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you," as a more precise definition of the object. All that is required on the part of Israel is hearing, and coming, and taking: let it do this, and it will be pervaded by new life; and Jehovah will meet with with an everlasting covenant, viz., the unchangeable mercies of David. Our interpretation of this must be dependent chiefly upon whether Isaiah 55:4 is regarded as looking back to the history of David, or looking forward to something future. In the latter case we are either to understand by "David" the second David (according to Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:24), so that the allusion is to the mercies granted in the Messiah, and according to Isaiah 9:7, enduring "from henceforth even for ever;" or else David is the son of Jesse, and "the mercies of David" are the mercies bestowed upon him, which are called "the true mercies" as mercies promised and running into the future (Psalm 89:50; 2 Chronicles 6:42), in which case Isaiah 55:4 explains what David will become in the person of his antitype the second David. The directly Messianic application of the name "David" is to be objected to, on the ground that the Messiah is never so called without further remark; whilst the following objections may be adduced to the indirectly Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 55:4 (David in the Messiah). (1.) The change of the tense in Isaiah 55:4, Isaiah 55:5, which requires that we should assume that Isaiah 55:4 points backwards into the past, and Isaiah 55:5 forwards into the future.

(Note: F. Philippi observes that הן, which refers to the future in Isaiah 55:5 at any rate, must be taken as referring to the same sphere of time as that which immediately precedes. But hēn in Isaiah points sometimes backwards (Isaiah 50:1; Isaiah 64:4), sometimes forwards; and where two follow one another, of which the one points backwards and the other forwards, the former is followed by the perfect, the latter by the future (Isaiah 50:1-2). But if they both point to the future, the future tense is used in both instances (Isaiah 50:9). A better argument in favour of the prophetic interpretation of Isaiah 55:4 might be drawn from the fact that נתתּי הן may mean "I give (set, lay, or make) even now" (e.g., Jeremiah 1:9). But what we have said above is sufficient proof that this is not the meaning here (if this were the meaning, we should rather expect נתתּיו הן).)

(2.) That the choice of the expression in Isaiah 55:4, Isaiah 55:5 is designed to represent what Israel has to look for in the future as going beyond what was historically realized in David; for in Isaiah 55:5 the mass of the heathen world, which has hitherto stood out of all relation to Israel, answers to the לאמּים. (3.) That the juxtaposition of the Messiah and Israel would be altogether without parallel in these prophecies (chapters 40-66), and contrary to their peculiar character; for the earlier stereotype idea of the Messiah is here resolved into the idea of the "servant of Jehovah," from which it returns again to its primary use, i.e., from the national basis to the individual, by means of the ascending variations through which this expression passes, and thus reaches a more comprehensive, spiritual, and glorified form. The personal "servant of Jehovah" is undoubtedly no other than the "Son of David" of the earlier prophecy; but the premises, from which we arrive at this conclusion in connection with our prophet, are not that the "servant of Jehovah" is of the seed of David and the final personal realization of the promise of a future king, but that he is of the nation of Israel, and the final personal realization of the idea of Israel, both in its inward nature, and in its calling in relation to the whole world of nations.

Consequently Isaiah 55:4 and Isaiah 55:5 stand to one another in the relation of type and antitype, and the "mercies of David" are called "the true mercies" (Probably with an allusion to 2 Samuel 7:16; cf., Psalm 89:29-30), as being inviolable-mercies which had both been realized in the case of David himself, and would be realized still further, inasmuch as they must endure for an everlasting future, and therefore be further and further fulfilled, until they have reached that lofty height, on the summit of which they will remain unchangeable for ever. It is of David the son of Jesse that Jehovah says in Isaiah 55:4, "I have given him for a witness to peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples." So far as the sense is concerned, נגיד is as much a construct as מצוּה. In the application to David of the term עד, which never means anything but testis, witness, in these prophecies, we may clearly see the bent of the prophet's mind towards what is spiritual. David had subdued nations by the force of arms, but his true and loftiest greatness consisted in the fact that he was a witness of the nations - a witness by the victorious power of his word, the conquering might of his Psalms, the attractive force of his typical life. What he expresses so frequently in the Psalms as a resolution and a vow, viz., that he will proclaim the name of Jehovah among the nations (Psalm 18:50; Psalm 57:10), he has really fulfilled: he has not only overcome them by bloody warfare, but by the might of his testimony, more especially as "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Samuel 23:1). What David himself was able to say in Psalm 18:43, "People that I did not know served me," will be fulfilled to a still wider extent in the experience of Israel. Having been presented with the promised "inviolable mercies of David," it will effect a spiritual conquest over the heathen world, even over that portion which has hitherto stood in no reciprocal relation to it, and gain possession of it for itself for the sake of Jehovah, whom it has for its God, and to the Holy One of Israel (ל of the object, in relation to which, or at the instigation of which, anything is done), because He hath glorified it (His people: פארך is not a pausal form for פארך, cf., Isaiah 54:6, but for פארך, פארך, hence equals פארך, cf., ענך, Isaiah 30:19); so that joining themselves to Israel is the same as joining themselves to God and to the church of the God of revelation (cf., Isaiah 60:9, where Isaiah 55:5 is repeated almost word for word).

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