The Abundant Life – Isaiah 55

Read the Passage: Isaiah 55

Invitation (55:1–5)

This chapter begins with an invitation to “everyone who thirsts” (Isa. 55:1), which includes both Jew and Gentile. In giving and describing an open call to the abundant life, Isaiah is likely utilizing the image of a vendor in the market selling food and drink to passers-by. Yet, unlike street vendors who often charged exorbitant prices for their wares, the offer of salvation extended by the Suffering Servant is “without money and without price” (Isa. 55:1) for all to whom it is offered. In his illustration in Isa. 55:1–2, Isaiah mentions water, wine, milk, and bread. Observe that water is frequently used in Scripture as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit (cf. Isa. 32:15; John 4:10–14; 7:37–39; Rev. 21:6; 22:17), wine and milk are often symbolic of abundance (cf. Song 5:1; Joel 2:19; 3:18), and Jesus would later refer to Himself as the bread of life (cf. Matt. 26:26; John 6:32–35; 1 Cor. 10:17; 11:23–24).

Next, in Isa. 55:3–5 the prophet likens God’s call to salvation with the Davidic Covenant, which Isaiah refers to as God’s “sure mercies of David” (Isa. 55:3). The idea here is that just as God had been faithful to keep His covenant with David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12–16; Ps. 89:27–29), so will He be faithful to keep the New Covenant with His people (cf. Jer. 31:31–34). Observe the connection with Jesus, as Christ is both the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (cf. Acts. 13:34) and the object and facilitator of the New Covenant. It is important to note that in Isa. 55:4–5 the subject is Christ; for Jesus is our witness (cf. John 8:18), our leader and commander (cf. Acts 5:31; Heb. 2:10), and the One to whom the nations will run (cf. Matt. 25:32; Rev. 7:9). Note that the citation of “nations” in Isa. 55:5 is a reference to Gentiles, which shows—as was previously noted—that the call of salvation in Isa. 55:1 includes both Jews and Gentiles.

Exhortation (55:6–7)

After generally inviting all mankind to receive the Lord in Isa. 55:1–5, the prophet specifically exhorts his readers to salvation in Isa. 55:6–7. These two verses may be the most concise summary of the process of salvation in the Old Testament. In this passage Isaiah gives four clear steps toward salvation. First, man must freely “seek the Lord . . . [and] call upon Him” (Isa. 55:6). Of course, no one can seek the Lord unless they are first sought by God (cf. John 6:65). Second, “the wicked [must] forsake his way” (Isa. 55:7a). This entails repentance of sin (cf. Acts 3:19). Third, man must “return to the Lord” (Isa. 55:7b). Such a return entails repentance and the idea of admitting that we have broken our relationship with God (cf. Isa. 53:6). Fourth, the lost can know that God “will have mercy on him. . . [and] He will abundantly pardon (cf. Isa. 55:7c). Indeed, God is a merciful God (cf. Heb. 4:16).

Exaltation (55:8–13)

Isa. 55:8–9 are often cited—and rightly so—to demonstrate God’s sovereignty. Here God declares, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are My ways you ways. . . . As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.” Earlier, Isaiah gave a similar teaching, as he recorded God’s declaration, “To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike. . . . Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isa. 46:5, 9; cf. Job 23:13–15; 26:14; Ps. 50:21; 94:7–11; Acts 17:25). It is important to note, however, that Isa. 55:8–9 is not just a declaration about God’s sovereignty. Rather, in the context of this chapter, God is referring to His sovereignty in offering salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and not by works.

In Isa. 55:10–11 the prophet continues to write about the sovereignty of God in salvation, as he mentioned the means of salvation, which is the Word of God. Here God declares, “My Word . . . that goes forth from my mouth . . . shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please” (Isa. 55:11). This is as inevitable, writes Isaiah, as the rain and snow that fall from heaven, water the earth, and produce a bountiful crop. As the New Testament repeatedly affirms, we must remember that the Word of God is the divinely designed conduit through which God births faith (cf. Rom. 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21; Titus 1:3; Jas. 1:18, 21; 1 Pet. 1:23). In Isa. 55:12–13 Isaiah blends the present effects of salvation with the eschatological results of salvation. Presently the gospel results in joy and peace; at the end of the age the gospel will result in the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21).

Application Questions:

  1. Why do so many who hear and know about God’s free offer of salvation reject it? Has God been faithful to you since accepting His call?
  2. In what sense is salvation both costly and free (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18–19)? If salvation is not by works, how can we verify the authenticity of salvation?
  3. What does someone need to know in order to be saved? What is the proper relationship between repentance and faith?
  4. Why do many people prefer an effort or works-based salvation over a free or grace-based salvation?
  5. In what ways do believers experience the present blessings of salvation that are a foretaste of the future restoration of all things?

David’s Final Years – 2 Samuel 21

Read the Passage: 2 Samuel 21

Gibeonites’ Covenant (21:1–9)

The last four chapters of the book of 2 Samuel narrate several events that mostly transpired during the final years of David’s reign. These events are not necessarily presented chronologically. 2 Sam. 21:1–14 describes an otherwise unknown 3-year famine that occurred in Israel. Here we learn that this famine happened on account of Saul’s earlier murder of the Gibeonites. Continue reading David’s Final Years – 2 Samuel 21

David and Mephibosheth – 2 Samuel 9

Read the Passage: 2 Samuel 9

David’s Kindness (9:1–5)

As we saw earlier, 2 Samuel 7 records the inauguration of the Davidic Covenant. Following this, details of David’s military victories over the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, and others is recorded in 2 Samuel 8. David’s further victories over the Syrians and Ammonites is reported in 2 Samuel 10. In short, David’s reign as King of Israel is summarized in the observation, “So the Lord preserved David wherever he went” (2 Sam. 9:6). After listing David’s political cabinet in 2 Sam. 8:15–18, in 2 Samuel 9 the author of this book narrates the interaction between David and Mephibosheth. Back in 2 Sam. 4:4 Mephibosheth was introduced, as we learned that he was a son of Jonathan and a grandson of King Saul. Moreover, it is recorded that after Saul’s death, when Mephibosheth’s nurse was fleeing with him in haste, he was accidentally dropped, which left him crippled in his legs for life.

In 2 Sam. 9:1–2 David inquired about any surviving relatives of the house of Saul. With this inquiry, David was specifically seeking out children of Jonathan, with whom he had made a covenant of protection at 1 Sam. 18:3; 20:14–15, 42; 24:20–21. At the inauguration of this covenant Jonathan had told David, “You shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut of every one of the enemies of David” (2 Sam. 20:15). At 2 Sam. 9:3 David learned of the existence of Mephibosheth from Ziba, one of Saul’s former servants who appears for the first time in Scripture in this chapter. Note that Mephibosheth is also called Meribbaal at 1 Chron. 8:34; 9:40. We ought not to confuse Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul, with Mephibosheth, the son of Saul and daughter of Rizpah (cf. 2 Sam. 21:7–9). To clear, then, Saul had both a son and a grandson named Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth’s Character (9:6–10)

Surely, when Mephibosheth received news that he was being summoned to David’s court, it was not a welcomed message. In this era, it was common for kings to eradicate any relatives of preceding kings in order to prevent rival claims to the throne, as well as sedition. Mephibosheth would likely not have known about David’s private covenant with his father Jonathan; although he would have known about Saul’s persecution of David. Note that Mephibosheth would have been about 12 years old when his uncle, King Ishbosheth, had been murdered. When Mephibosheth appeared before David in 2 Sam. 9:6–10, he did so with fear and humility. Unexpectedly, rather than be executed by David, Mephibosheth learned that David would restore all of Saul’s property to him and had appointed Ziba to be his own servant. Given his crippled state, such news must have seemed unbelievable to Mephibosheth.

Zeba’s Service (9:11–13)

The land and estate that Mephibosheth received from David was evidently quite large, for it was served by Ziba, his 15 sons, and his 20 servants. Moreover, David honored Mephibosheth by perpetually feeding him at his own table. Note that Mephibosheth also had a son named Micha, who later had children of his own (cf. 1 Chron. 8:35–38; 9:41–44). Mephibosheth would eat at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons, and govern his estate for the next 17 years. What a change this must have been for Mephibosheth. He went from being marginalized to being favored, from experiencing great want to having great blessings. Don’t miss the gospel overtones of David’s relationship with Mephibosheth: of his own accord a king approaches his enemy, adopts him into his own family, and provides him with unrepayable blessings, all because of a prior covenant.

Mephibosheth, as well as Ziba, disappears from the biblical record until the time of Absalom’s treason, recorded from 2 Sam. 15–19. In 2 Sam. 16:1–4 we read that Ziba met David with supplies when he fled from Jerusalem. Surprisingly, when David inquired about Mephibosheth, Ziba claimed that Mephibosheth had remained in Jerusalem with hopes of being restored to the throne. Given Mephibosheth’s character in 2 Sam. 9, as well as the context of Absalom’s treason, this claim seems highly unlikely. Nevertheless, David hastily gave Saul’s estate to Ziba. Then, upon his return to Jerusalem, at 2 Sam. 19:24–30 David met Mephibosheth. He claimed that Ziba deceived him and slandered him to David. Upon hearing this news, David then divided the estate between Mephibosheth and Ziba. Note the fact that David later spared Mephibosheth’s life is significant (cf. 2 Sam. 21:7).

Application Questions:

  1. What does David’s kindness to Mephibosheth demonstrate about his character (cf. Gal. 5:22–23)? Why did King David show such kindness to Mephibosheth?
  2. Why does David seek to keep his covenant with Jonathan, even after Jonathan’s death? What would Mephibosheth have thought about David’s summons?
  3. Like Mephibosheth, have you ever received a completely unexpected blessing from God (cf. Eph. 3:20–21)? If so, how did this shape your theology?
  4. In what ways does David’s treatment of Mephibosheth reflect the gospel? Have you ever had opportunity to show kindness, grace, and mercy to your enemy?
  5. Whom do you think was telling the truth at the time of Absalom’s treason: Ziba or Mephibosheth? Was David’s decision to divide the land a just and fair ruling?

The Davidic Covenant – 2 Samuel 7

Read the Passage: 2 Samuel 7

David’s Desire (7:1–3)

As this chapter begins, David is in his mid-to-late 30s, he’d recently become king over a united Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–5), he’d conquered what would become his capital city (2 Sam. 5:6–16), he’d defeated the Philistines (2 Sam. 5:17–25), and he’d relocated the ark of God to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6)—albeit with some difficulty. Continue reading The Davidic Covenant – 2 Samuel 7

David and Jonathan – 1 Samuel 20

Read the Passage: 1 Samuel 20

David’s Covenant (20:1–23)

Jonathan first appeared in the text of 1 Samuel in chapter 13 when he successfully attacked a Philistine garrison, which was a catalyst for a great victory for Israel. In 1 Sam. 14 Jonathan again attacked an enemy garrison, which led to another defeat of the Philistines. 1 Sam. 18–19 Jonathan appears yet again in the narrative, as he makes a covenant with David (cf. 1 Sam. 18:3) and serves as a buffer between David and Saul. Continue reading David and Jonathan – 1 Samuel 20