Isaiah 55 is easily one of the most beautiful chapters in all of Scripture. Its melodic poetry captures so much of the heart of God and His generosity toward us, and especially His deep desire to give us what we most need. “Come to the water … come, buy, and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost … listen carefully to me and eat what is good and delight yourselves in rich food!”
How great is that! What an amazing, loving invitation to come to God – so He can give us more than we can ever receive!
As much as I love this chapter, there has always been this one spot that seemed out of place for me, as if the author lost his train of thought and went off talking about something else entirely. Right in the middle of this wonderful language about a feast and water without limit, he says, “And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the faithful mercies shown to David.” What is that about? And why here? Right in the middle of this amazing image of eating and satisfying our hunger and how freely given it all is. Why bring in this talk about a covenant? It sounds like He wants something. And, why did he interrupt such a holy invitation for that?
Finally, it dawned on me. This covenant that He offers is actually an even deeper invitation from God, a longing on His part to be totally united with us in a sacred relationship.
When two people are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together, they enter into a covenant of love so they can bond more deeply to one another. There are things they cannot know or discover until they have made that sacred bond secure and permanent. What is more, they become something more when they are united that when they are separate. They move from a “you and me” to an “us”. Their very identity changes in the process.
When God is pouring out His goodness and love in these poetic verses – offering food for our soul that is both wonderful and essential – that is only the beginning. What He is essentially saying here is, “I have so much more to give you, but you will only be able to truly know or experience it fully when we are bonded together forever. I not only want to give life to you and feed your soul, I want to bind you to myself so that my love and my life will become part of who you are.”
This goes way beyond receiving good gifts from God. We get God Himself! We don’t even have the vocabulary to talk about this! I get dizzy just thinking about what it means to be bonded in close relationship with the God of the universe – the God who loves me enough to rescue me from myself even at great cost to Himself.
Maybe the word covenant got in the way for me because we do not hear it every day; and when we do, it often sounds more like an obligation than a way of enriching our bond. Perhaps if we paraphrase those verses we can express more of the flow and meaning embedded in the words.
“Listen to my words that will satisfy your soul so deeply that you may live as you were meant to. And even more, I will bind myself to you forever in love — like in the best way you have ever heard about my love for King David.”
I like Isaiah 55 even more now!
David Takle is a ministry partner and author of Lamb of God: Rediscovering the Beauty of Atonement, and Transformation by Design: How God Changes Lives.