I had the best roommates while in college at Boise State. Rhonda, Raynette, and I got along famously, agreeing on all the essentials, especially when it came to food. Our motto could have been, “You’re never too poor for chocolate chip cookies.” We adhered religiously to that philosophy even when our cupboards contained little else. Because our apartment was the social hub for all our friends, we vigilantly maintained our emphasis upon chocolate chip cookies, for their sake, of course.
When we became acquainted with Jack (my hubby) he was soon included in our social shindigs. Now you need to understand that my husband’s philosophy, especially then as a young man, was “You never skimp on food.” Imagine his horror when he peered into our lonely freezer and saw only a bag of frozen broccoli and a small serving of frozen turkey waiting to be turned into something amazing, while in the fridge a small jug of powdered milk drink ominously waited for the brave or unsuspecting. We didn’t quite understand his horror at our barren fridge. We felt rich—we had chocolate chips in the cupboard!
That’s why it wasn’t long before before my man of action formed a plan to bless us. He, along with a few other guy friends, bought a couple carts full of groceries for us. We had no knowledge of this generous plan until Raynette answered the door one Saturday morning to three guys grinning from ear to ear, holding bags of groceries. She later told Rhonda and me that they just kept coming in to our apartment with treasure upon treasure of meat and vegetables and baking supplies and toilet paper and juice and cheese and more! They even had the temerity to buy some “girl” supplies for us!
That event came to mind as I read these words in Isaiah 55:1-2: “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.”
When you don’t have much money for food, the idea of “buying” what you need without spending a dime seems a bit far-fetched, the stuff of dreams. Yet our Jehovah-Jireh God (The God Who Provides—Genesis 22:14) has more in mind than mere food for our bodies. In this section of Isaiah God is speaking to His people, Israel, wooing them with words of love and forgiveness, trying to get them to consider what has true sustaining value and what does not. Though we are not Israel, the questions God poses to them, can be posed to us as well.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread? Why do you use your wages for what does not satisfy?
Indeed. Why would you spend your only grocery money on chocolate chips when you need something more nourishing, filling, and ultimately, much more satisfying? Jack has said, “He is the best preacher (or writer or speaker or communicator) who can turn an ear into an eye.” And that of course is exactly what the Lord is doing as He uses picturesque language to reach our hearts. We can rationalize about our choices—“Oh but chocolate chip cookies really are satisfying!” yet at the end of a day feasting on chocolate chip cookies alone we feel empty and sick inside. God wants us to understand that settling for "chocolate chip cookies" to nourish our hungry souls is a poor food choice at best and folly at its worst.
Jesus was getting to the same core issue with the woman at the well in John 4 when He asked her to get Him some water to drink and then turned to conversation to the living water that would satisfy her thirsty soul. He explained, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life (John 4:13-14).”
What well are you drinking from to replenish your thirsty soul? Why are you willing to settle for something that won’t truly satisfy you, even when you know better?
God has always wanted us to understand that He alone can truly refresh and satisfy our souls. He tells us in Psalm 107:9, “He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” The words of Isaiah 55:1-2 make us pause and consider the true state of our souls. Often we realize, “My, I am thirsty! I think I’ve been putting my trust in my husband’s job to find security" or "I've been looking to the smiles of my friends over and above the pleasing the Lord.” Thankfully, the Lord explains what to do when we discover we've been trying to slake our soul-thirst with mere water. And I think it's worth saying that this can happen to anyone at any time, all the more reason for heeding the words of Isaiah 55:1-2.
First, God tells us, “Listen carefully to Me” from Isaiah 55:2. If we want to assuage our heart's thirst then we need to go to the Scriptures for it’s there that we hear God’s voice speaking to us. His "listen to Me" is found there. Not only are we to listen, but we’re to listen carefully. God wants to make sure we get every Word, every nuance He has communicated to us through His Word. Got your listening ears on?
Next, the Lord tells us to “eat what is good (verse 2).” Nutritious, healthy food nourishes our bodies, while the Lord Himself sustains, refreshes, revives our souls. It's the same truths Jesus explains when He says our lives are more than food and clothing (Luke 12:23) for “man shall not live on bread alone (Luke 4:4).” Food for our souls begins with seeking the Lord for the nourishment that only He can give. All the more reason for Jesus telling us to seek His kingdom first, above all else (Matthew 6:33). What food choices are you making for your soul? Are you making sure to feed your heart "what is good?"
Finally, God says “delight yourselves in abundance.” Moses understood this when he prayed, “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14).” The psalmist David proclaimed, “My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips (Psalm 63:5).” He understood what God is saying in Isaiah 55:2—when we delight ourselves in the Lord our souls are filled up with Him; we delight in the abundance of the Eternal and Living God who loves us so tenderly. That’s why David was able to proclaim, “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake (Psalm 17:15).” After you've listened to God in His Word and eaten the food that's good for your soul, are you taking time to delight in it? Are you meditating on those life-nourishing truths and drinking from their depths over and over again?