Isaiah 55

Study the Inner Meaning

           

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

2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

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

4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

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.

6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

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

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

  
   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Isaiah 55      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 55

(Note: Rev. Smithson's translation of the Isaiah text is appended below the explanation.)

1. Ho! everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters! and he who has no silver: come you, buy, and eat! yea, come, buy you without silver, and without price, wine and milk.

VERSE 1. That "wine" and "milk", which were to be bought without silver, are not here understood, but things spiritual, to which they correspond, must be obvious to every one; wherefore, by "wine" is signified spiritual Good, which in its essence is Truth, and by "milk" the Good of that Truth. That these are given gratis by the Lord to such as are in ignorance of Truth and of Good, but nevertheless are in the desire thereof, is understood by their being bid "to come, to buy and eat without silver"; to "buy" signifies to procure to themselves, and to "eat" is to appropriate, which is done by application as of themselves. That they who are in ignorance of Truth and of Good, but in the desire thereof, are here meant, is evident; from its being said, "Everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters!" To "thirst" signifying to desire, and "waters" Truths - in the present case the Word, where Truths are. Apocalypse Explained 376 Apocalypse Explained 376[1-40]. See also Arcana Coelestia 8568, 8976.

"He who has no silver", signifies those who "are in ignorance of Truth, and yet in the Good of charity, as is the case with many in the church, and also with many Gentiles out of the church. Arcana Coelestia 1551.

Verses 1, 2. That to "eat" here signifies to appropriate to one's self from the Lord, is evident, for, it is said "Everyone who thirsts, come you to the waters! and he who has no silver; come you, buy, and eat"; by which is understood that everyone who desires Truth, and who had not Truth before, may procure and appropriate it to himself from the Lord. To "thirst" signifies to desire, "water" Truth, and "silver" the Truth of Good; wherefore, by "him who has no silver", is signified him who before had no Truth of Good; to "come" denotes to come to the Lord; to "buy" is to procure for himself; and to "eat" denotes to appropriate. "Come, buy you without silver, and without price, wine and milk", signifies to procure Divine Truth spiritual and Divine Truth natural without self-derived intelligence; "wine" denoting Divine Truth spiritual, and "milk" Divine Truth spiritual-natural. "Wherefore do you weigh out silver for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which will not satisfy?" signifies that it is in vain to endeavour, from the proprium to procure the Good of love, and that which nourishes the soul; "silver" here denoting Truth from the proprium, or self-derived intelligence, and, in like manner, "labour"; by "bread" is understood the Good of love; and "that which satisfies" denotes that which nourishes the soul, - in the present case, that which does not nourish. "Hearken diligently unto Me", signifies that those things are from the Lord alone; and "eat you that which is good, and your soul shall delight itself in fatness", signifies that they may appropriate to themselves celestial Good, from which is all delight of life; to "delight in fatness" denoting to be delighted from Good, and the "soul" signifying life. Apocalypse Explained 617.

That to "buy" and "sell" signifies to procure knowledges and to teach them, see Chapter 24:2; also Isaiah 52:3, the Exposition.

Verses 1-4. That to "drink" and to "eat"; is here to be informed concerning the Lord; and that "waters", "wine", "milk"; "bread", and "fatness", signify the things which are of the Truth and Good of Faith from Him; is evident. Arcana Coelestia 9412.

2. Wherefore do you weigh out silver for that which is no bread? and your labour for that which will not satisfy? hearken diligently unto Me, and eat you that which is good; and your soul shall delight itself in fatness.

Verse 2. Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat you that which is good; and your soul shall delight itself in fatness. - By "eating Good" is signified to appropriate Good to themselves; whence, by "delighting in fatness", is signified to be in a state of satisfaction and blessedness. Apocalypse Explained 1159.

3. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hearken, that your soul may live: and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David.

Verse 3. "David" signifies the Lord; the "everlasting covenant" is conjunction with Him; the "sure mercies of David" are the things which are of the Lord; and the procuring of which is understood by "going to Him", and by "hearkening that their soul may live." A "covenant" in this; and in many other passages, as in Isaiah 42:6; 49:8 (see the Exposition), signifies the Lord's conjunction with the human race by His Divine Human. That the Lord, as to His Divine Human, is the Mediator, and that no one can come to the Divine Itself, which is in the Lord; and which is called the "Father", except by the "Son", : that is, by the Divine Human, is known in the church; thus it is the Lord, as to His Divine Human, who is the Conjunction [or the Covenant]. Who can comprehend the Divine Itself by any thought? and, if not by any thought, who can be conjoined with Him in love? But everyone can comprehend the Divine Human in thought, and be conjoined with Him in love. Arcana Coelestia 6804.

4. Behold, for a Witness to the peoples I have given Him; a Prince and a Lawgiver to the nations.

5. Behold; the nation whom You knew not You shalt call; and the nations who knew not You shall run unto You, for the sake of Jehovah Your God; and for the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified You.

Verse 4. A Prince and a Lawgiver to the nations. - What is meant by these words, when applied to the Lord, see above, Chapter 33:22, the Exposition.

Verses 4, 5. A Witness to the peoples; - Behold, the nation whom You knew not You shalt call; and the nations who knew not You shall run unto You, etc. - These words treat of the Lord's kingdom, "Peoples" are those who are in Truths, and "'nations" those who are in Goods. Arcana Coelestia 1259.

6. Seek you Jehovah, while He may be found; call you upon Him, while He is near.

7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts: and let him return unto Jehovah, for He will have mercy upon him; and unto our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

8. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says Jehovah.

9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth; so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Verses 6-8. As these words treat of turning to the Lord, and of repentance, we will here adduce the Doctrine of Repentance.

He who would be saved must confess his sins, and do the work of repentance. To "confess sins" is to know evils, to perceive them in one's own heart, to charge one's self with their guilt, and to condemn one's self on account of them. When this is done in the presence of God, it constitutes the confession of sins. To "perform the work of repentance" is to abstain from sins after they have been confessed, and supplication has been made for their remission, from humility of heart; and to live in newness of life, according to the precepts of charity and faith. The man who makes only a general acknowledgement that he is a sinner, charging himself as guilty of all evils, and yet does not explore himself, that is, does not really see his own sins, may, indeed, make confession, but not the confession of repentance; for such a person, because he does not know his own evils, lives in the practice of them afterwards, just as he had done before.

Repentance which consists merely in words, and does not affect the life, is not repentance; neither are sins remitted by such repentance, but only by repentance of life. Sins are, indeed, continually remitted to man by the Lord, for the Lord is Mercy itself; but still they adhere to man, however he may think they are remitted; nor are they removed from him but by a life according to the precepts of true faith. So far as a man lives according to those precepts, so far his sins are removed, and so far as they are removed, so far they are remitted. The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 159-162, 165. See also the Exposition of Isaiah 34.

10. For as the rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater;

11. So shall My Word be which goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in that] for which I have sent it.

Verses 1011. Here "the Word which goes forth out of the mouth of God" is compared to the "rain" and "snow" from heaven, because by the "Word" is meant the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, which flows in with us by the Word; in like manner, also, by "as the rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens." By the "rain" is signified spiritual Truth, which is appropriated to man; and by "snow", natural Truth, which is as snow when it is only in the memory, but becomes spiritual by love, as snow becomes rain-water by heat.

By "watering the earth, that it may bring forth and bud", is signified to vivify the church, that it may produce the Truth of doctrine and of faith, and the Good of love and of charity; the Truth of doctrine and of faith is understood by "the seed which it giveth to the sower", and the Good of love and of charity by "the bread which it giveth to the eater." "It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please [or have willed]", signifies that it shall be received, and that man shall be led by it to look to the Lord. Apocalypse Explained 644.

12. For with joy shall you go forth, and you shall be led out with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into song; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Verse 12. The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into song; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. - And in David:

"Praise Jehovah, you mountains and hills; fruit-trees, and all cedars", (Psalm 148:9)

In these words is described the joy of heart originating in the Good of love and charity; and "mountains", "hills", "trees", and "cedars" are said to "break forth in to singing", to "clap their hands", and to "praise", because thereby are signified the Goods and Truths which cause joys in man; for man does not rejoice from himself, but from the Goods and Truths which are in him; these are the things which rejoice, because they are the ground of man's rejoicing. Apocalypse Explained 644.

Because "mountains" and "hills" signified such things in the ancient church, divine worship was performed on mountains and hills; and afterwards the Hebrew nation placed altars upon mountains and hills, and there offered sacrifices and incense; and where there were no hills, they made high places; and as this worship became idolatrous, because they considered the "mountains" and the "hills" themselves holy, and thought nothing at all of the holy things which they signified, therefore. that worship was prohibited to the Israelitish and Jewish people, because that people was more prone than any other to idolatrous worship. In order, however, that this representative, which had been in ancient times, might be retained, "Mount Zion" was chosen, and by it, in the supreme sense, is represented the Divine Good of the Divine Love of the Lord, and in a respective sense, the Divine-Celestial and the Divine-Spiritual [principle] of His kingdom. Arcana Coelestia 6135.

13. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle: and it shall be unto Jehovah for a name, for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off.

Verse 13. That "thorns" and "briers" signify evils and falsities, see Chapter 5:6; 7:23, 24, 25, the Exposition; and as to the signification of the "myrtle" and the "fir-tree", see Chapter 41:19, the Exposition.

---
Isaiah Chapter 55.

1. Ho! everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters! and he who has no silver: come you, buy, and eat! yea, come, buy you without silver, and without price, wine and milk.

2. Wherefore do you weigh out silver for that which is no bread? and your labour for that which will not satisfy? hearken diligently unto Me, and eat you that which is good; and your soul shall delight itself in fatness.

3. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hearken, that your soul may live: and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David.

4. Behold, for a Witness to the peoples I have given Him; a Prince and a Lawgiver to the nations.

5. Behold; the nation whom You knew not You shalt call; and the nations who knew not You shall run unto You, for the sake of Jehovah Your God; and for the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified You.

6. Seek you Jehovah, while He may be found; call you upon Him, while He is near.

7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts: and let him return unto Jehovah, for He will have mercy upon him; and unto our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

8. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says Jehovah.

9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth; so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

10. For as the rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater;

11. So shall My Word be which goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in that] for which I have sent it.

12. For with joy shall you go forth, and you shall be led out with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into song; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

13. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle: and it shall be unto Jehovah for a name, for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 55


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 300, 353, 368, 666, 680, 795, 1259, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 173, 316, 336, 483, 496, 606, 782, ...

Doctrine of the Lord 40, 43

Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 86

True Christian Religion 93, 251, 708


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 205, 331, 376, 405, 617, 644, 654, ...

Last Judgment (Posthumous) 257

Marriage 93

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 20

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Related Books  (see all)


Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 49:10

Exodus 15:26

1 Samuel 3:19, 16:7

2 Samuel 7:29, 22:44, 23:5

2 Kings 5:11

2 Chronicles 6:42, 15:2, 4, 30:6, 33:13

Ezra 10:2

Job 22:23, 35:5

Psalms 2:6, 32:6, 34:19, 65:13, 89:29, 92:6, 96:12, 104:15, 130:4

Proverbs 7:2, 8:17, 9:1, 5, 28:13

Isaiah 1:16, 19, 35:1, 2, 41:17, 19, 43:10, 12, 44:23, 60:9, 17, 61:8

Jeremiah 1:11, 12, 13, 3:14, 25:13, 29:13, 14, 32:40, 33:9, 38:20

Lamentations 3:40

Ezekiel 16:60, 18:31, 32, 34:25

Hosea 10:12

Zechariah 1:6, 8:23

Matthew 11:28, 16:23

Mark 4:28

Luke 15:20

John 6:27, 7:37

Acts 13:34

2 Corinthians 9:10

Colossians 1:6

Hebrews 4:12

James 5

Revelation 1:5, 3:18, 21:6

Bible Word Meanings

Every one
The phrase “Every one,” where it occurs in Genesis 20:7, signifies every thing or all things.

money
'Silver,' in the internal sense of the Word, signifies truth, but also falsity. 'Silver' means the truth of faith, or the truth acquired from selfhood,...

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

Wine
In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

milk
Water represents true ideas about day-to-day life, and other drinks and liquids in general represent different forms of truth. Milk is a drink that contains...

Price
'Not for price or reward' signifies something freely given from divine love.

bread
Just as natural food feeds the natural body, so spiritual food feeds the spiritual body. And since our spiritual body is the expression of what...

hearken
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

fatness
Fat signifies the celestial principle. Fat things, full of marrow, signify goodnesses. Fat and blood signify interior goods and truths, and hence the Israelites, prior...

hear
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

everlasting
'Perpetual' in the literal sense, means to the end of one’s life, after death, and eternity.

mercies
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

david
David is one of the most significant figures in the Bible. He was a musician, one of history’s greatest poets, the boy warrior who killed...

given
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

witness
In court, a witness is someone who saw a crime being committed, or observed something that could help determine the guilt or innocence of the...

commander
To command is to give an order that something must be done, and is directed to an individual, or a group. It is an imperative,...

call
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

nation
'Nations' signify people who are in the good of love and charity from the Lord. Two nations in the womb,' as in Genesis 25:23, signify...

nations
'A nation,' as in Genesis 21:18, signifies the spiritual church which should receive the good of faith. Nation from afar,' as in Jeremiah 5:17, signifies...

knew
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

israel
'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

seek
The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

found
Finding, or being found, can have different meanings in the Word, depending on the context. Here are two examples, From Arcana Coelestia 5756, 'Behold, the...

Wicked
Swedenborg several times associates the “wicked” with “malevolence,” defines “malevolence” as “destroying good, interior and exterior,” and says that the wicked do this by disowning...

way
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

unrighteous
'The wicked' or 'unrighteous' denotes being not in truth of faith.

man
"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

thoughts
There are thoughts from perception, from conscience, and from a lack of conscience. Thoughts from perception are only possible in the celestial, that is, people...

return
There are many instances in the Bible which describe people turning back, looking back or going back. In most cases it is a negative, sometimes...

ways
'To set a way,' as in Genesis 30:36, signifies being separated.

saith
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

heavens
Heavens are celestial and spiritual things. Consequently, they are inmost things, both of the Lord's kingdom in heaven the and in the earth. This also...

earth
'Lands' of different nations are used in the Word to signify the different kinds of love prevalent in the inhabitants.

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

snow
'Snow' signifies truth in extremes, because it is water, which signifies the truths of faith. It also relates to truth because it is white. 'Snow,'...

heaven
Heavens are celestial and spiritual things. Consequently, they are inmost things, both of the Lord's kingdom in heaven the and in the earth. This also...

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

word
'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

goeth
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

prosper
'To be made to prosper' signifies being provided for. Which is why 'Jehovah made it prosper in his hand' means Divine Providence. 

sent
'Being sent' everywhere signifies, in an internal sense, going forth, as in John 17:8. In similar manner, it is said of the holy of the...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

Go out
To go out to meet, as in Genesis 14:17, signifies to submit themselves. To go out, as in Genesis 28:10, signifies to live more remotely....

led
'To be led by the Lord' is to be in a state of essential liberty, blessedness, and happiness.

peace
In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

mountains
In Isaiah 40:12 'to weigh the mountains in a balance, and the hills in scales,' signifies that the celestial aspects of love and charity are...

hills
The Writings tell us that the Lord's love is the sun of heaven, and it is natural for us to look above ourselves to the...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

singing
'Shouting, singing, and playing' have respect to spiritual things.

trees
In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

Trees of the field
'The trees of the field,' as in Ezekiel 31:15, signify the knowledges of truth in the church.

field
When we have a desire to be good people and to do good things, the natural first questions are "What does that mean?" "What should...

hands
'Washing of the hands' was an ancient declaration of innocence, and signifies purification from evils and falsities, as in Psalms 73:13 and Matthew 27:24.

Fir tree
A fir tree signifies the natural principle, as to good. A fir tree also signifies natural truth superior. A fir tree, as in Ezekiel 31:8,...

Myrtle tree
'A myrtle tree,' as in Isaiah 41:19, signifies rational truth of an lower degree and spiritual good.

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

sign
'A token,' as in Genesis 9:12, 13, 17, signifies causing it to be.

Cut off
To be cut off, as in Genesis 41:36, signifies to perish.

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