Isaiah 55:5
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.
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(5) Thou shalt call a nation.—The calling of the Gentiles and the consequent expansion of the true idea of Israel is again dominant. The words sound like an echo from Psalm 18:43.

Because of the Lord thy God . . .—The words are repeated, as expressing a thought on which the prophet loved to dwell, in Isaiah 60:9.

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.Behold, thou shalt call ... - This is evidently an address to the Messiah, and is a promise that the Gentiles should be called by him to the fellowship of the gospel.

That thou knowest not - The phrase 'thou knowest not,' means a nation that had not been regarded as his own people.

And nations that knew not thee - The pagan nations that were strangers to thee.

Shall run unto thee - Indicating the haste and anxiety which they would have to partake of the benefits of the true religion.

Because of the Lord thy God - From respect to the God who had appointed the Messiah, and who had organized the Church.

For he hath glorified thee - John 16:5. God had glorified him by appointing him to be the Messiah; and he would glorify him in the future triumphs of the gospel, in the day of judgment, and in the eternal splendors of heaven.

5. thou—Jehovah addresses Messiah.

call … run—God must call, before man can, or will, run (So 1:4; Joh 6:44). Not merely come, but run eagerly.

thou knowest not—now as thy people (so in Mt 7:23).

nation … nations—gradation; from Israel, one nation, the Gospel spread to many nations, and will do so more fully on Israel's conversion.

knew not thee—(Isa 52:15; Eph 2:11, 12).

because of … thy God … glorified thee—(Isa 60:5, 9; Zec 8:23); where similar language is directed to Israel, because of the identification of Israel with Messiah, who is the ideal Israel (Mt 2:15; compare with Ho 11:1; see Ac 3:13).

Thou; thou, O Messiah, of whom he now spake, Isaiah 55:4, and to whom he suddenly turneth his speech, as is very common in the prophets;

shalt call a nation, to wit, unto thyself, and to the knowledge of thyself, as appears from the following words, and by thee unto acquaintance and fellowship With God.

That thou knowest not; or rather, didst not know, to wit, with that special knowledge which implies approbation, and tender care and affection, as words of knowledge are most frequently used in Scripture; the Gentiles, to whom in former times thou didst not make known thy law and covenant, and the way of salvation, Acts 14:16 17:30.

Nations that knew not thee, that had but little knowledge of God, and no knowledge of the Messiah,

shall run unto thee; upon thy call shall speedily and readily come to thee, to receive instructions from thee, and to follow thee whithersoever thou shalt lead them.

Because of the Lord thy God; because the Lord shall by many evident and unquestionable tokens manifest himself to be thy God, and thee to be his Son and faithful Servant.

For he hath glorified thee; because the God of Israel, who is the only true God, will highly honour thee, by his singular presence with thee, by his almighty power accompanying thy word, and making it wonderfully effectual for the conversion of an innumerable company, both of Jews and Gentiles, and by confirming thy word with illustrious signs and miracles, and particularly by thy resurrection and glorious ascension. These and other like considerations were the motives which convinced the Gentiles that Christ was the true Messiah, and the religion which he taught was the true religion.

Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not,.... And even nations, as in the next clause; not all the individuals of them, though the Gospel is sent to all nations; and in the latter day the kingdoms of this world shall be the Lord's, and all nations shall serve him. It denotes a great concourse of people to Christ, even such as were not known by him: he knows all mankind as he is the omniscient God, and especially them that are his, these he has a special and peculiar knowledge of; he knows them as his beloved, chosen, and redeemed ones, even before conversion; and yet, in a sense, they are unknown to him before calling; they are not taken notice of by him in an open way; they are not owned and acknowledged to be his; there is no intimacy between them; they are not admitted to fellowship and communion with him. The phrase denotes them to be a foreign people, and so properly describes the Gentiles, who were without Christ, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. These, Jehovah the Father says, for these are his words to his Son, he shall "call"; not merely with an external call, by the ministry of the word, though this is Christ's call, and is the means of bringing souls to him; but sometimes this is a call of persons who are not chosen and saved, and is of no effect; but with the internal call, by his Spirit and grace, which is according to the purpose of God, and is peculiar to his elect; is the fruit of love, and by special grace, and to special blessings; is by the power of God, and is irresistible, unfrustrable, and irreversible: hence the following effect,

and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee; knew not even God himself, as the Gentiles did not, much less the Messiah; they knew neither his person nor his offices, nor the way of peace, life, and salvation by him; were in a state of gross darkness; and to whom the Gospel was not known, which is a revelation of Christ, and of good things by him. Now the promise is, that, upon the above call, such persons should "run" unto Christ; light goes along with that call, directing to the object, where all grace and salvation be; life is infused, by which they are quickened, and move; and strength is given, by which they stand upon their feet, walk and run; efficacious grace, then exerted, draws them; and under a sense of danger, and in a view of safety in Christ, they run with all readiness and cheerfulness to him, and lay hold on him the hope set before them. The Targum adds,

"to bring tribute unto thee.''

Because of the Lord thy God; because of the love of God, with which they are drawn; and because of his power, which is put forth upon them; because of his grace, and the proclamations of it in Christ, and the declaration of his will, that whoever believes in him shall have everlasting life; and because he has appointed Christ, and him only, to be their Saviour and Redeemer; and because there is no coming to God but by him:

for the Holy One of Israel; or, "and" or "even to the Holy One of Israel" (i); that is, Christ, who is holy in his natures and offices, and the sanctifier of his people; to him shall they run, for the cleansing of their filthy souls in the fountain of his blood; and for the expiation of their sin and guilt, by his atoning sacrifice; and for righteousness and strength; for grace, and all the supplies of it; for peace, pardon, and eternal life:

for he hath glorified thee; that is, God the Father has glorified his Son, through the miracles wrought by him in his state of humiliation; by supporting him, as man, in his work, and under all his sufferings; and by raising him from the dead, and at his ascension to heaven; and by bestowing on him the gifts of the Spirit without measure, to give to others; which, with the reasons before suggested, induce, engage, and encourage sons to run to Christ, when called by his grace. Some understand all this of the first Christian church, consisting of believing Jews, who should call the Gentiles by her ministers unto Christ, by the conversion and accession of which she would be glorified. These nations are those the apostles were sent and preached unto, after the resurrection of Christ, all the nations of the world, even most distant and remote; and particularly those the Apostle Paul preached unto from Jerusalem, round about to Illyricum; and which the ministers of the word preached unto, in the first ages of the Gospel; such as those mentioned by Tertullian (k) in his time, as the Parthians, Medea, Elamites; the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Armenia, Phrygia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, and Pamphylia; the Egyptians, Africans, Romans, Getulians, Moors, Spaniards, Gauls, Britons, Sarmatians, Dacians, Germans, and Sythians; besides many other nations, provinces, and isles unknown, too many to enumerate, who professed the name of Christ; and yet more, when the whole Roman empire became Christian, in the times of Constantine; to which may be added the various kingdoms in Europe, which cast off the Romish yoke at the Reformation; together with many of the American nations, or new found world, who now embrace and profess the Christian religion.

(i) "et ad Sanctum Israel", Montanus, Cocceius. (k) Adversus Judaeos, c. 7.

Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, {h} and nations that knew not thee shall run to thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.

(h) That is, the Gentiles, who before you did not receive to be your people.

5. thou (Israel) shalt call a nation &c.] i.e. many a nation (see on ch. Isaiah 25:3) hitherto unknown to thee.

because of the Lord &c.] Cf. ch. Isaiah 49:7.

glorified thee] Cf. Isaiah 44:23, Isaiah 49:3.

Verse 5. - Thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not (comp. Psalm 18:43). The object of address in this verse appears to be the Messiah. He, at his coming, will "call" into his kingdom "a nation," or rather, "people," with whom he has had no covenant hitherto; and they will readily and gladly obey the call. Thus God's kingdom will be enlarged, and Israel's glory will be increased, Because of the Lord... for he hath glorified thee. The great cause of the attraction will be the "glory" which God the Father has bestowed upon his Son, by raising him from the dead, and exalting him to a seat at his right hand in heaven (Acts 2:32-35; Acts 3:13-15). Isaiah 55:5And 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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