An Invitation to Grace
1All you who are thirsty,*
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!a
2Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what does not satisfy?
Only listen to me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
3Pay attention and come to me;
listen, that you may have life.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
the steadfast loyalty promised to David.b
4As I made him a witness to peoples,
a leader and commander of peoples,
5So shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and a nation* that knew you not shall run to you,
Because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.c
6* Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near.
7Let the wicked forsake their way,
and sinners their thoughts;
Let them turn to the LORD to find mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10* Yet just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
11So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
but shall do what pleases me,
achieving the end for which I sent it.
12Yes, in joy you shall go forth,
in peace you shall be brought home;
Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you,
all trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13In place of the thornbush, the cypress shall grow,
instead of nettles,* the myrtle.
This shall be to the LORD’s renown,
as an everlasting sign that shall not fail.
* [55:1–3] The prophet invites all to return, under the figure of a banquet; cf. the covenant banquet in Ex 24:9–11 and wisdom’s banquet in Prv 9:1–6. The Lord’s covenant with David (2 Sm 7) is now to be extended beyond his dynasty.
* [55:5] The “nation” is Persia under Cyrus, but the perspective is worldwide.
* [55:13] Thornbush…nettles: suggestive of the desert and therefore symbolic of suffering and hardship; cypress…myrtle: suggestive of fertile land and therefore symbolic of joy and strength. To the LORD’s renown: lit., “to the name of the Lord.”