Isaiah 55:1
Ho, every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he that has no money; come you, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
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(1) Ho, every one that thirsteth . . .—The whole context shows that the water, the wine, the milk are all, symbols of spiritual blessings as distinctly as they are, e.g., in John 4:10; Matthew 26:29; 1Peter 2:2. The Word “buy” is elsewhere confined to the purchase of corn, and would not rightly have been used of wine and milk. The invitation is addressed, as in a tone of pity, to the bereaved and afflicted one of Isaiah 54:6-7.

Without money and without price.Literally, For not-money and not-price. The prophet had used the word “buy,” but he feels that that word may be misinterpreted. “No silver or gold can buy the blessing which He offers. Something, indeed, is required, and therefore the word” buy “is still the right word; but the “price” is simply the self-surrender that accepts the blessing. Comp. Proverbs 3:14-15; Matthew 13:45-46,




Isaiah 55:1

The meaning of the word preach is ‘proclaim like a herald’; or, what is perhaps more familiar to most of us, like a town-crier; with a loud voice, clearly and plainly delivering the message. Now, there are other notions of a sermon than that; and there is other work which ministers have to do, of an educational kind. But my business now is to preach. We have ventured to ask others than the members of our own congregation to join us in this service; and I should be ashamed of myself, and have good reason to be so, if I had asked you to come to hear me talk, or to entertain you with more or less eloquent and thoughtful discourses. There is a time for everything; and what this is the time for is to ring out like a bellman the message which I believe God has given me for you. It cannot but suffer in passing through human lips; but I pray that my poor words may not be all unworthy of its stringency, and of the greatness of its blessing. My text is God’s proclamation, and all that the best of us can do is but to reiterate that, more feebly alas, but still earnestly.

Suppose there was an advertisement in to-morrow morning’s papers that any one that liked to go to a certain place might get a fortune for going, what a queue of waiting suppliants there would be at the door! Here is God’s greatest gift going a-begging; and there are no doubt some among you who listen to my text with only the thought, ‘Oh, the old threadbare story is what we have been asked to come and hear!’ Brethren, have you taken the offer? If not, it needs to be pressed upon you once more. So my purpose in this sermon is a very simple one. I wish, as a brother to a brother, to put before you these three things: to whom this offer is made; what it consists of; and how it may be ours.

I. To whom this offer is made.

It is to every one thirsty and penniless. That is a melancholy combination, to be needing something infinitely, and to have not a farthing to get it with. But that is the condition in which we all stand, in regard to the highest and best things. This invitation of my text is as universal as if it had stopped with its third word. ‘Ho, every one’ would have been no broader than is the offer as it stands. For the characteristics named are those which belong, necessarily and universally, to human experience. If my text had said, ‘Ho, every one that breathes human breath,’ it would not have more completely covered the whole race, and enfolded thee and me, and all our brethren, in the amplitude of its promise, than it does when it sets up as the sole qualifications thirst and penury-that we infinitely need, and that we are absolutely unable to acquire, the blessings that it offers.

‘Every one that thirsteth’-that means desire. Yes; but it means need also. And what is every man but a great bundle of yearnings and necessities? None of us carry within ourselves that which suffices for ourselves. We are all dependent upon external things for being and for wellbeing.

There are thirsts which infallibly point to their true objects. If a man is hungry he knows that it is food that he wants. And just as the necessities of the animal life are incapable of being misunderstood, and the objects which will satisfy them incapable of being confused or mistaken, so there are other nobler thirsts, which, in like manner, work automatically, and point to the thing that they need. We have social instincts; we need love; we need friendship; we need somebody to lean upon; we thirst for some heart to rest our heads upon, for hands to clasp ours; and we know where the creatures and the objects are that will satisfy these desires. And there are the higher thirsts of the spirit, that ‘follows knowledge, like a sinking star, beyond the furthest bounds of human thought’; and a man knows where and how to gratify the impulse that drives him to seek after the many forms of knowledge and wisdom.

But besides all these, besides sense, besides affection, besides emotions, besides the intellectual spur of which we are all more or less conscious, there come in a whole set of other thirsts that do not in themselves carry the intimation of the place where they can be slaked. And so you get men restless, as some of you are; always dissatisfied, as some of you are; feeling that there is something wanting, yet not knowing what, as some of you are. You remember the old story in the Arabian Nights, of the man who had a grand palace, and lived in it quite contentedly, until some one told him that it needed a roc’s egg hanging from the roof to make it complete, and he did not know where to get that, and was miserable accordingly. We build our houses, we fancy that we are satisfied; and then there comes the stinging thought that it is not all complete yet, and we go groping, groping in the dark, to find out where the lacking thing is. Shipwrecked sailors sometimes, in their desperation, drink salt water, and that makes them thirstier than ever, and brings on madness and death. Some publicans drug the vile liquors which they sell, so that they increase thirst. We may make no mistake about how to satisfy the desires of sense or of earthly affections; we may be quite certain that ‘money answereth all things,’ and that it is good to get on in business in Manchester; or may have found a pure and enduring satisfaction in study and in books-yet we have thirsts that some of us know not where to satisfy; and so we have parched lips and swollen tongues, and raging desire that earth can give nothing to fill.

My brother, do you know what it is that you want?

It is God. Nothing else, nothing less. ‘My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.’ The man that knows what it is of which he is in such sore need, is blessed. The man who only feels dimly that he needs something, and does not know that it is God whom he does need, is condemned to wander in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, and where his heart gapes, parched and cracked like the soil upon which he treads. Understand your thirst. Interpret your desires aright. Open your eyes to your need; and be sure of this, that mountains of money and the clearest insight into intellectual problems, and fame, and love, and wife, and children, and a happy home, and abundance of all things that you can desire, will leave a central aching emptiness that nothing and no person but God can ever fill. Oh, that we all knew what these yearnings of our hearts mean!

Aye! but there are dormant thirsts too. It is no proof of superiority that a savage has fewer wants than you and I have, for the want is the open mouth into which supply comes. And it is no proof that you have not, deep in your nature, desires which, unless they are satisfied, will prevent your being blessed, that these desires are all unconscious to yourselves. The business of us preachers is, very largely, to get the people who will listen to us, to recognise the fact that they do want things which they do not wish; and that, for the perfection of their natures, the cherishing of noble longings and thirstings is needful, and that to be without this sense of need is to be without one of the loftiest prerogatives of humanity.

Some of you do not wish forgiveness. Many of you would much rather not have holiness. You do not want to have God. The promises of the Gospel go clean over your heads, and are as impotent to influence you as the wind whistling through a keyhole, because you have never been aware of the wants to which these promises correspond, and do not understand what it is that you truly require.

And yet there is no desire-that is to say, consciousness of necessities-so dormant but that its being un-gratified makes a man restless. You do not wish forgiveness, but you will never be happy till you get it. You do not wish to be good and true and holy men, but you will never be blessed till you are. You do not want to have God, some of you, but you will be restless till you find Him. You fancy you wish heaven when you are dead; you do not want it while you are living. But until your earthly life is like the life of Jesus Christ in heaven, though in an inferior degree, whilst it is on earth, you will never be at rest. You are thirsty enough after these things to be ill at ease without them, when you bethink yourselves and pass out of the region of mere mechanical and habitual existence; but until you get these things that you do not desire, be sure of this: that you will be tortured with vain unrest, and will find that the satisfactions which you do seek turn to ashes in your mouth. ‘Bread of deceit,’ says the Book, ‘is sweet to a man.’ The writer meant by that that there were people to whom it was pleasant to tell profitable lies. But we might widen the meaning, and say that all these lower satisfactions, apart from the loftier ones of forgiveness, acceptance, reconciliation with God, the conscious possession of Him, a well-grounded hope of immortality, the power to live a noble life and to look forward to a glorious heaven, are ‘bread of deceit,’ which promises nourishment and does not give it, but breaks the teeth that try to masticate it; ‘it turneth to gravel.’

‘Ho, every one that thirsteth.’ That designation includes us all. ‘And he that hath no money.’ Who has any? Notice that the persons represented in our text as penniless are, in the next verse, remonstrated with for spending ‘money.’ So then the penniless man had some pence away in some corner of his pocket which he could spend. He had the money that would buy shams, ‘that which is not bread’ but a stone though it looks like a loaf, but he had no money for the true food. Which being translated out of parable into fact, is simply this, that our efforts may and do win for us the lower satisfactions which meet our transitory and superficial necessities, but that no effort of ours can secure for us the loftier blessings which slake the diviner thirsts of immortal souls. A man lands in a far country with English shillings in his pocket, but he finds that no coins go there but thalers, or francs, or dollars, or the like; and his money is only current in his own land, and he must have it changed before he can make his purchases. So though he has a pocketful of it he may as well be penniless.

And, in like fashion, you and I, with all our strenuous efforts, which we are bound to make, and which there is joy in making, after these lower good things that correspond to our efforts, find that we have no coinage that will buy the good things of the kingdom of heaven, without which we faint and die. For them our efforts are useless. Can a man by his penitence, by his tears, by his amendment, make it possible for the consequences of his past to be obliterated, or all changed in their character into fatherly chastisement? No! A thousand times, no! The superficial notions of Christianity, which are only too common amongst both educated and uneducated, may say to a man, ‘You need no divine intervention, if only you will get up from the dust, and do your best to keep up when you are up.’ But those who realise more deeply what the significance of sin is, and what the eternal operation of its consequences upon the soul is, and what the awful majesty of a divine righteousness is, learn that the man who has sinned can, by nothing that he can do, obliterate that awful fact, or reduce it to insignificance, in regard to the divine relations to him. It is only God who can do that. We have no money.

So we stand thirsty and penniless-a desperate condition! Ay! brother, it is desperate, and it is the condition of every one of us. I wish I could turn the generalities of my text into the individuality of a personal address. I wish I could bring its wide-flowing beneficence to a sharp point that might touch your conscience, heart, and will. I cannot do that; you must do it for yourself.

‘Ho, every one that thirsteth.’ Will you pause for a moment, and say to yourself, ‘That is I’? ‘And he that hath no money’-that is I. ‘Come ye to the waters’-that is I. The proclamation is for thine ear and for thy heart; and the gift is for thy hand and thy lips.

II. In what this offer consists.

They tell an old story about the rejoicings at the coronation of some great king, when there was set up in the market-place a triple fountain, from each of whose three lips flowed a different kind of rare liquor which any man who chose to bring a pitcher might fill it with, at his choice. Notice my text, ‘come ye to the waters’ . . . ‘buy wine and milk.’ The great fountain is set up in the market-place of the world, and every man may come; and whichever of this glorious triad of effluents he needs most, there his lip may glue itself and there it may drink, be it ‘water’ that refreshes, or ‘wine’ that gladdens, or ‘milk’ that nourishes. They are all contained in this one great gift that flows out from the deep heart of God to the thirsty lips of parched humanity.

And what is that gift? Well, we may say, salvation; or we may use many other words to define the nature of the gifts. I venture to take a shorter one, and say, it means Christ. He, and not merely some truth about Him and His work; He Himself, in the fulness of His being, in the all-sufficiency of His love, in the reality of His presence, in the power of His sacrifice, in the daily derivation, into the heart that waits upon Him, of His life and His spirit, He is the all-sufficient supply of every thirst of every human soul. Do we want happiness? Christ gives us His joy, abiding and full, and not as the world gives. Do we want love? He gathers us to His heart, in which ‘there is no variableness, neither shadow cast by turning,’ and binds us to Himself by bonds that death, the separator, vainly attempts to untie, and which no unworthiness, ingratitude or coldness of ours will ever be able to unloose. Do we want wisdom? He will dwell with us as our light. Do our hearts yearn for companionship? With Him we shall never be solitary. Do we long for a bright hope which shall light up the dark future, and spread a rainbow span over the great gorge and gulf of death? Jesus Christ spans the void, and gives us unfailing and undeceiving hope. For everything that you and I need here or yonder, in heart, in will, in practical life, Jesus Christ Himself is the all-sufficient supply.

‘My life in death, my all in all.’ What is offered in Him may be described by all the glorious and blessed names which men have invented to designate the various aspects of the Good. These are the goodly pearls that men seek, but there is one of great price which is worth them all, and gathers into itself all their clouded and fragmentary splendours. Christ is all, and the soul that has Him shall never thirst.

‘Thou of life the fountain art,

Freely let me take of Thee.’

III. Lastly, how do we obtain the offered gifts?

The paradox of my text needs little explanation, ‘Buy without money and without price.’ The contradiction on the surface is but intended to make emphatic this blessed truth, which I pray may reach your memories and hearts, that the only conditions are a sense of need, and a willingness to take-nothing less and nothing more. We must recognise our penury and must abandon self, and put away all ideas of having a finger in our own salvation, and be willing-which, strangely and sadly enough, many of us are not-to be under obligations to God’s unhelped and undeserved love for all.

Cheap things are seldom valued. Ask a high price and people think that the commodity is precious. A man goes into a fair, for a wager, and he carries with him a try full of gold watches and offers to sell them for a farthing apiece, and nobody will buy them. It does not, I hope, degrade the subject, if I say Jesus Christ comes into the market-place of the world with His hands full of the gifts which His pierced hands have bought, that He may give them away. He says, ‘Will you take them?’ And you, and you, and you, pass by on the other side, and go away to another merchant, and buy dearly things that are not worth the having.

‘My father, my father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it?’ Would you not? Swing at the end of a pole, with hooks in your back; measure all the way from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas, lying down on your face and rising at each length; do a hundred things which heathens and Roman Catholics and unspiritual Protestants think to be the way to get salvation; deny yourselves things that you would like to do; do things that you do not want to do; give money that you would like to keep; avoid habits that are very sweet, go to church or chapel when you have no heart for worship; and so try to balance the account. If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, thou wouldst have done it. How much rather when he says, ‘Wash, and be clean.’ ‘Nothing in my heart I bring.’ You do not bring anything. ‘Simply to Thy Cross I cling.’ Do you? Do you? Jesus Christ catches up the ‘comes’ of my text, and He says, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.’ Brethren, I lay it on your hearts and consciences to answer Him-never mind about me-to answer Him: ‘Sir, give me this water that I thirst not.’Isaiah 55:1. Ho, every one — Not only Jews, but Gentiles; that thirsteth — For the grace of God, and the blessings of the gospel; that desires them sincerely and earnestly, is active and diligent in the pursuit of them, and cannot be satisfied without enjoying them; come ye to the waters — Where you may drink and be refreshed: come and partake of the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit, frequently compared to water in the Scriptures, and here designed by the other metaphorical expressions which occur in the next clause. And he that hath no money — Even those who are most poor in the world, and those who are most worthless and wicked, if they do but thirst, shall be welcome. Come ye, buy and eat — That is, come and receive that which is freely offered to you, and which you shall as freely partake of, and enjoy as your own, as if you had bought and paid the full price for it. Buy wine and milk — Here put for all sorts of provisions, which are also to be understood of spiritual and gospel blessings, as is evident from the following words: as if he had said, These blessings shall not only refresh you, as water refreshes the thirsty, but they shall cheer you like wine, and nourish you like milk. 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.Ho - (הוי hôy). This word here is designed to call attention to the subject as one of importance.

Every one that thirsteth - The word 'thirst' often indicates intense desire, and is thus applied to the sense of want which sinners often have, and to their anxious wishes for salvation. It is not improbable that the Savior had this passage in his eye when he pronounced the blessing on those who hunger and thirst after righteousness Matthew 5:6. No needs are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as those of hunger and thirst. They occur daily; and when long continued, as in the case of those who are shipwrecked, and doomed to wander months or years over burning sands with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing. Hence, the figure is often used to denote any intense desire for anything, and especially an ardent desire for salvation (see Psalm 42:2; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 143:6; John 7:37). The invitation here is made to all. 'Everyone' (כל kôl) is entreated to come. It is not offered to the elect only, or to the rich, the great, the noble; but it is made to all. It is impossible to conceive of language more universal in its nature than this; and while this stands in the Word of God, the invitation may be made to all, and should be made to all, and must be made to all. It proves that provision is made for all. Can God invite to a salvation which has not been provided? Can he ask a man to partake of a banquet which has no existence? Can he ask a man to drink of waters when there are none? Can he tantalize the hopes and mock the miseries of people by inviting them to enter a heaven where they would be unwelcome, or to dwell in mansions which have never been provided? (compare Matthew 11:28; Mark 16:15; John 7:37; Revelation 22:17).

Come ye to the waters - Water, floods, overflowing streams, or copious showers, are often used in the Scriptures to denote abundant blessings from God, and especially the blessings which would exist under the Messiah (see Isaiah 35:6; Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 44:3).

And he that hath no money - The poor; they who would be unable to purchase salvation if it were to be sold. The idea here is the absolute freeness of the offer of salvation. No man can excuse himself for not being a Christian because he is poor; no man who is rich can ever boast that he has bought salvation, or that he has obtained it on more easy terms because he had property.

Come ye, buy and eat - (Compare Matthew 13:44-46). That is, procure it without paying a price. The word rendered here 'buy' (שׁבר shâbar), properly means to break, then to purchase etc. (grain), as that which is broken in a mill (Gesenius), or that which breaks hunger; compare Eng. breakfast (Castell.)

Buy wine - (יין yayin). Wine was commonly used in their feasts, and indeed was an article of common drink (see the notes at Isaiah 25:6). Here it is emblematic of the blessings of salvation spoken of as a feast made for people. Wine is usually spoken of as that which exhilarates, or makes glad the heart Judges 9:13; 2 Samuel 13:28; Psalm 104:15, and it is possible that the image here may be designed specifically to denote that the blessings of salvation make people happy, or dissipate the sorrows of life, and cheer them in their troubles and woes.

And milk - Milk, in the Scriptures, is used to denote that which nourishes, or is nutritious Deuteronomy 32:14; Judges 4:1; Judges 5:25; Isaiah 7:22; 1 Corinthians 9:7. It is mentioned as used with wine in Sol 5:1, 'I have drunk my wine with my milk;' and with honey Sol 4:11, 'Honey and milk are under my tongue.' The sense here is, that the blessings of the gospel are suited to nourish and support the soul as well as to make it glad and cheerful.

Without money ... - None are so poor that they cannot procure it; none are so rich that they can purchase it with gold. If obtained at all by the poor or the rich, it must be without money and without price. If the poor are willing to accept of it as a gift, they are welcome; and if the rich will not accept of it as a gift, they cannot obtain it. What a debt of gratitude we owe to God, who has thus placed it within the reach of all: How cheerfully and thankfully should we accept float as a gift which no wealth, however princely, could purchase, and which, being purchased by the merits of the Redeemer, is put within the reach of the humblest child of Adam!


Isa 55:1-13. The Call of the Gentile World to Faith the Result of God's Grace to the Jews First.

1. every one—After the special privileges of Israel (Isa 54:1-17) there follow, as the consequence, the universal invitation to the Gentiles (Lu 24:47; Ro 11:12, 15).

Ho—calls the most earnest attention.

thirsteth—has a keen sense of need (Mt 5:6).

waters … wine and milk—a gradation. Not merely water, which is needed to maintain life at all, but wine and milk to strengthen, cheer, and nourish; the spiritual blessings of the Gospel are meant (Isa 25:6; So 5:1; Joh 7:37). "Waters," plural, to denote abundance (Isa 43:20; 44:3).

no money—Yet, in Isa 55:2, it is said, "ye spend money." A seeming paradox. Ye are really spiritual bankrupts: but thinking yourselves to have money, namely, a devotion of your own making, ye lavish it on that "which is not bread," that is, on idols, whether literal or spiritual.

buy … without money—another paradox. We are bought, but not with a price paid by ourselves (1Co 6:20; 1Pe 1:18, 19). In a different sense we are to "buy" salvation, namely, by parting with everything which comes between us and Christ who has bought it for us and by making it our own (Mt 13:44, 46; Lu 12:33; Re 3:18).An invitation to seek for spiritual blessings from Christ, whom the Father sendeth, Isaiah 55:1-5; to come to him speedily, and by repentance, Isaiah 55:6,7. His grace infinite, Isaiah 55:8,9, His word powerful, Isaiah 55:10,11. The joy of believers, Isaiah 55:12,13.

Ho, every one; not only Jews, but Gentiles. The prophet having largely discoursed of Christ, Isaiah 53, and of the church of Christ, Isaiah 54, doth here invite all persons to come to Christ, and to his church.

That thirsteth for the grace of God, and the blessings of the gospel. This thirst implies a vehement, and active, and restless desire after it, not to be satisfied with any thing short of it.

Come ye to the waters; which are mentioned, either,

1. As the place where they were to buy the following commodities, it being usual to convey provisions to cities’ by rivers. Or rather,

2. As the commodity to be bought, the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit, which are frequently compared to waters, as Isaiah 12:3 35:6,7 Joh 7:37,38, and elsewhere, and which are designed by all these metaphorical expressions of waters, wine, milk, and bread. He that hath no money; even those who are most poor in the world, and those who are most worthless and wicked, if they do but thirst, may be welcome.

Buy, i.e. procure or receive that which is freely offered to you, if you do but come for it, and are willing to take it. Thus buying is used Proverbs 23:23 Revelation 3:18. Nor can this be understood of buying properly, because here is no price paid.

Buy wine and milk; which are synecdochically put for all sorts of provisions; which also are to be understood of spiritual and gospel blessings, as is evident from the following words.

Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,.... These are the words not of the prophet, but of the Lord, as what follows throughout the chapter shows; and are directed to the Gentiles, as Aben Ezra thinks: and indeed their conversion is manifestly spoken of in it; and who, Kimchi says, after the war of Gog and Magog, shall know that the Lord reigns, and shall come and be desirous of learning his judgments and laws. The word "ho" is expressive of calling, as the Jewish commentators rightly observe; and carries in it an invitation, in which there seems to be a commiseration of the case of the persons called and it is delivered in indefinite terms, and very openly and publicly; and has in it the nature of a Gospel call or invitation, to persons described as "thirsty"; not in natural, much less in a sinful sense, but in a spiritual one; thirsting after forgiveness of sin by the blood of Christ; after justification by his righteousness; after salvation by him; after more knowledge of him, more communion with him, and more conformity to him; and after the milk of the word, and breasts of ordinances; being sensible of sin and danger, and having a spiritual appetite, and a desire after spiritual things. Such as these are persons made alive; are in distress, and sensible of it; and have desires formed in them after divine things: and these are invited and encouraged to "come to the waters"; by which are meant not Christ, though he is as "rivers of water"; and sensible sinners are directed to come to him, and that as in a starving and famishing condition, and having nothing to help themselves with; and such things are to be had of him, which like water are refreshing and reviving, as his grace, and the blessings of it; and which serve to extinguish thirst, and free from it; yet not he, nor the grace of the spirit, are intended, which is often signified by water in Scripture; but rather the ordinances of the Gospel, which are the means of conveying grace, and of refreshing and comforting distressed minds; in order to which, such may come and hear the word, come and partake of all ordinances. The allusion seems to be to such places by the waterside, where ships, laden with provisions, come and unlade; and where persons, by a public crier, are informed of it, and are called to come and buy. So water means the water side, Judges 7:4. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret them of the law, and the doctrines of it; and so the Targum,

"ho, everyone that would learn, let him come and learn;''

but the Gospel, and the doctrines and ordinances of that, seem rather designed:

and he that hath no money; not in a natural, but in a spiritual sense: unconverted persons have nothing to support themselves or pay off their debts with, though they fancy they have, and that they are rich, and stand in need of nothing; but sensible souls know they have none, and that they are poor and needy; yet these are invited to come where provisions are to be had, since they are to be had at free cost:

come ye, buy and eat; come to the ordinances, partake of them freely, and feed upon the provisions therein made:

come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price; by wine and milk are meant the Gospel and its doctrines, compared to good old generous wine, for the antiquity of them, and for their being of a reviving and refreshing nature; and to "milk", for its purity and sweetness, and for its cooling and nourishing nature, and because easy of digestion; these are to be bought, and not to be sold. Proverbs 23:23, but not in a proper sense; no valuable consideration can be given for them, for they are of more worth than thousands of gold and silver; nor have we anything to give to God for them, and the blessings of grace conveyed by them, which is not his own, or can be profitable to him; but in an improper sense, when something thought valuable is parted with for them, as sinful and righteous self, and even everything in life, when called for, and that itself; these are bought without any money or price on our part; they are freely given and received; and on this basis may men expect them, and have them. The Targum is,

"he that hath no silver, come, hear and learn; come, hear and learn, without price and money, doctrine better than wine and milk.''

Ho, every one that {a} thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath {b} no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy {c} wine and milk without money and without price.

(a) Christ by proposing his graces and gifts to his Church, exempts the hypocrites who are full with their imagined works, and the Epicureans who are full with their worldly lusts, and so do not thirst after these waters.

(b) Signifying that God's benefits cannot be bought for money.

(c) By waters, wine, milk and bread, he means all things necessary to the spiritual life, as these are necessary to this corporal life.

1. every one that thirsteth] in a figurative sense, primarily of the weariness and discontent of exile (cf. Isaiah 41:17, Isaiah 44:3), but also of conscious need in general.

come (lit. “go” and so throughout) ye to the waters] The image is probably connected with Isaiah 41:18, the miraculous fountain opened by Jehovah for the relief of His people (“wells of salvation,” ch. Isaiah 12:3). A reference to the cry of the water-sellers in the streets of an Oriental city is less natural.

and he that hath no money] In the East access to a well has often to be paid for. According to the Heb. accents this clause should be joined to the preceding,—“even he that hath no money”—in apposition with “thirsty.” The word for buy is connected with a noun meaning “grain” and is only used of buying corn. It should probably be so understood in both cases here, although in the second its government extends over two similar objects. The last clause must then be rendered, buy corn without money, and without price wine and milk.

1, 2. The invitation. The message of the Gospel—its freeness, its appeal to the individual, its answer to the cravings of the heart—is nowhere in the O.T. more clearly foreshadowed than in this truly evangelical passage (cf. John 4:10 ff; John 6:35 ff; John 7:37 f.; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:17; also Proverbs 9:1 ff.; Sir 15:3). The promises are of course not to be materialised, as if water, bread, wine, milk were meant literally, or merely as symbols of comfortable earthly existence in Palestine. At the same time when we seek to recover the original historical sense of the words, there is a possibility of spiritualising over-much. The images used do, indeed, typify the blessings of salvation; but salvation itself in the O.T. is never without a national and therefore earthly element. Those here addressed are exiles (see Isaiah 55:12), many of whom had doubtless carried out only too thoroughly the injunction of Jeremiah to “build houses and dwell in them; to plant gardens and eat the fruit of them; to take wives &c.” in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:6). They were in danger of losing their nationality, and with it their religion and their own souls through devotion to selfish and material aims. This is the fate against which the prophet warns them in Isaiah 55:2; and the salvation he offers is a personal interest in the new covenant, or membership in the kingdom of God. To this they are freely invited, with the assurance that there they shall find the satisfaction and blessedness that a life of worldliness can never yield.Verses 1-7. - AN EXHORTATION TO SPIRITUALITY AND REPENTANCE. The prophet passes from the ideal to the actual, from the glorious future to the unsatisfactory present. The people are not ripe for the blessings of the Messianic kingdom - they do not sufficiently value them. Hence a tender exhortation is addressed to them by God himself, inviting them to become more spiritually minded (vers. 1-3), and fresh promises are held out to the obedient (vers. 3-5). The disobedient are then somewhat sternly exhorted to turn from their evil ways and repent (vers. 6, 7). Verse 1. - Ho, every one that thirsteth! Though the mass are gross and carnally minded, there will ever be some who have higher aspirations - who hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6), and desire spiritual blessings. These are invited, first of all, to come and partake of the good things provided for them in Messiah's kingdom. Come ye to the waters (on the spiritual symbolism of water, see the homiletics on Isaiah 44:3, 4). Here the "peace" and "righteousness" of the Messianic kingdom (Isaiah 54:13, 14) are especially intended. Our Lord's cry on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:7) is clearly an echo of this. Wine and milk. These are not symbols of temporal blessings, as many have thought. "Wine, water, and milk are," as Delitzsch says, "figurative representations of spiritual revival, re-creation, and nourishment." Without money and without price. God's spiritual gifts are freely given to men; they cannot be purchased. Being in their own nature "more precious than rubies," their value transcends human means of payment. They cannot even be earned by man's best works; for man's best works are comprised in his duty to God, and have, therefore, no purchasing power. God may choose to reward them; but if he does it is of his free grace. "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, not comforted, behold, I lay thy stones in stibium, and lay thy foundations with sapphires; and make thy minarets of ruby, and thy gates into carbuncles, and all thy boundary into jewels." At the present time the church, of which Jerusalem is the metropolis, is sunk in misery, driven with tempest like chaff of the threshing-floor (Hosea 13:3), without comfort; because till now it has waited in vain for any act of consolation on the part of God, and has been scorned rather than comforted by man (סערה is a part. kal, not pual; and נחמה 3rd pers. praet. like נעזבה, Isaiah 62:12, and רחמה, Hosea 1:6; Hosea 2:3). But this will be altered; Jerusalem will rise again from the dust, like a glorious building of God. Jerome makes the following apt remark on Isaiah 54:11: "in stibio, i.e., in the likeness of an elegant woman, who paints her eyes with stibium; referring to the beauty of the city." Pūkh is eye-black (kohl, cf., kâchal, Ezekiel 23:40), i.e., a sooty compound, the chief component of which was powdered antimony, or else manganese or lead, and with which oriental women coloured their eyebrows, and more particularly the eyelids both above and below the eyes, that the beauty of the latter might be all the more conspicuous (2 Kings 9:30). The classic φῦκος, fucus, has a meaning foreign to the Hebrew word, viz., that of rouge for the cheeks. If, then, stibium (antimony), or any blackening collyrium generally, served the purpose of mortar in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the stones of its walls (not its foundation-stones, אדניך, which is the reading adopted by Ewald, but, on the contrary, the visible stones of its towering walls) would look like the eyes of a woman shining forth from the black framework of their painted lids, i.e., they would stand out in splendour from their dark ground. The Beth in bassappı̄rı̄m indicates the means employed. Sapphires serve as foundation-stones, for the foundation of Jerusalem stands as immoveably firm as the covenant of God. The sapphire blue is the colour of the heaven, of revelation, and of the covenant. The shemâshōth, however, i.e., the minarets which stand out like rays of the sun, and also the gates, have a red appearance. Red is the colour of blood, and hence of life and of imperishableness; also the colour of fire and of lightning, and hence of wrath and victory. Jehovah makes the minarets of "ruby." The Sept. and Jerome adopt the rendering iaspidem (a jasper); at any rate, כּדכד (which is the proper way of writing the word: Ewald, 48, c)

(Note: The first כ is dagessatum, the second raphatum: see Norzi. The word forms one of the eighteen which have a dagesh after a word ending with a vowel sound (בלא מבטל בתר יה וא דגשין): see Masora Magna on Daniel 5:11, and Heidenheim's הטעמים משפטי, 41a. The object is to secure greater euphony, as in ככרכמישׁ (הלא), Isaiah 10:9, which is one of the eighteen words.)

is a red sparkling jewel (from kidkēd; cf., kı̄dōd, scintilla). The arches of the gates He forms of אקדּח אבני, stones of fiery splendour (from qâdach, to burn: hence qaddachath, πυρετός), that is to say, or carbuncle stones (from carbunculus, a small red-hot coal), like ruby, garnet, etc. Jerome has adopted the false rendering lapides sculptos, after Symm. λίθοι γλυφῆς (from קדח equals קדד, findere?). The accusative of the predicate כדכד is interchanged with עקדח לבני, and then with לאבני־חפץ, to denote the materia ex qua. The whole territory (precinct) of Jerusalem is turned by Jehovah into precious stones, that is to say, it appears to be paved with such stones, just as in Tobit 13:17 the streets are said to be "paved with beryl, and carbuncle, and stones of Ophir," i.e., to be covered with a mosaic formed of precious stones. It is upon the passage before us that Tobit 13:16, 17, and Revelation 21:18-21, are founded. The motley colours of the precious stones, with which the new Jerusalem is adorned, are something more than a mere childish fancy. Whence, then, do the precious stones derive their charm? The ultimate ground of this charm is the fact, that in universal nature everything presses to the light, and that in the mineral world the jewels represent the highest stage of this ascending process. It is the self-unfolding process of the divine glory itself, which is reflected typologically in the several gradations of the manifold play of colours and the transparency of the precious stones. For this reason, the high priest wore a breastplate with twelve precious stones, upon which were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; and for this same reason, the author of the Apocalypse carries out into detail in chapter 21 the picture of the new Jerusalem, which is here sketched by the prophet of the Old Testament (without distinguishing time from eternity), adding crystals and pearls to the precious stones which he there mentions one by one. How can all this be explained, except on the ground that even the mineral world reflects the glory of those eternal lights from which God is called the "Father of lights," or except on the assumption that the saints in light will one day be able to translate these stony types into the words of God, out of which they have their being?

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