Ho, every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he that has no money; come you, buy, and eat…
I. SIN IS MISERY, FAILURE, KEEN AND URGENT WANT. Isaiah draws a picture which Orientals would appreciate far more vividly than we, whose utmost pain from thirst only means that on some holiday excursion we have felt the heat inconvenient, and have not; happened immediately upon a fountain. He speaks, not of one thirsty man, but of a number, evidently a caravan of travellers. No one who heard him would fail to think of the burnt and sandy plains, a little to the south, on which sometimes a whole company of travellers might wander from their way, and exhaust their provisions, and grow feeble and gaunt and desperate. The hot breeze whirls the burning sand around them. The simoom wind wails in the distance. Phantom waters gleam with a cruel mockery on this side or that. Their own fever creates illusions which distract them. The skeletons of others, lost like themselves, glare upon them. Their steps are feeble, and their tongues cleave to their mouths, when suddenly all that they could not find finds them, and a glad voice calls, "He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters! This fountain is deep enough for all, and here, in our tents, is Oriental hospitality besides; buy and eat, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Our own countrymen, exploring the deserts of Australia even now, would understand it well. Many a brave man has sunk down there and died.. One band of early explorers survived to tell how in their extremity they climbed a hill and saw below them a rolling water, right into which with one consent; they rushed, and eagerly drank, only to find that it was salt as brine. O mockery, like the mockery of earthly pleasure when the heart is athirst!
II. GOD CALLS THE DISAPPOINTED, the fevered, the men and women who have found the world desolate and dry; whose very wishes give them not their wish, who succeed perhaps, and are all the more unhappy because they know that success also is vanity; whose affection prospers, only to teach them that, after all, there are depths in every heart which resound to no human voice. You may not as yet feel any more than this burning, secret want; but this is enough, if only it leads you to the fountain. Does not the very word "come" imply the leaving of something, as well as approach to something else? And this purchasing is not entirely defined in the words, "Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts," for much more than sin must be surrendered. St. Paul tells us of the price he himself paid when, having reckoned up his advantages, and how, as touching the righteousness that is by the law, he was blameless, he adds, "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ," etc. Yes, for Christ. For it is He who interprets this verse of Himself, though it is plainly spoken of Jehovah. He, on the great day of the feast, stood and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." Here, then, is the one test of earnestness: Will you, at the bidding of your God, renounce what has failed to quench your thirst, for the sake of the waters of life?
(G.A. Chadwick, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.