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Isaiah 55:8-9 – My Thoughts are Higher than Your Thoughts

24 May on Logos VOD Commentary, Old Testament, The Almighty God   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Isaiah558-9

Any verse with God speaking directly to you is awesome (not to say that all Bible verses aren’t awesome). But when God tells you “my thoughts are not your thoughts”, its a very comforting statement. For one it’s great to know that our God doesn’t think like us; that He has a view of time, space and history that surpasses our imagination. For two, it’s good to know that the God who is in control knows more than we know and has a better idea of what’s going on in our lives, world and future. (in some other translations “plans” is used instead of “thoughts”, which is even better, know it’s all part of God’s plan) For three, it shows us how smart our God is, smarter than all the minds in this world (past and present) put together. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than you ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Basically, God is letting us know that no matter how smart we think we are, no matter how much higher education we’ve accomplished, it can never reach the height of His understanding and attributes. What God does and why He does it is beyond us, waaaaay beyond us. In fact to the heavens beyond us. In’t this verse a might verse about our amazing God?

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

-Isaiah 55:8-9

What do you think when you read this verse? (comment below). Let’s read what other commentators have to say about this verse.

Commentary

This verse and it’s commentary requires a full reading of Isaiah 55 to really get the context of what God is saying in this verse. You can catch on to that with the “For” at the beginning of the verse. It’s actually a verse about forgiveness & righteousness.

NET Notes (Net.Bible.org)

tn Or “For” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV).
tn Or “thoughts” (so many English versions).
tn Heb “are not.” “Like” is interpretive, but Isaiah 55:9 indicates that a comparison is in view.
tn Heb “ways” (so many English versions).
tn The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb here for emphasis.
tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.
tn Heb “who brings out an implement for his work.”
tn Heb “and every tongue that rises up for judgment with you will prove to be guilty.”
tn Heb “this is the inheritance of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication from me.”

Constable’s Notes

Sinners need to forsake their ways and thoughts (actions and attitudes, Isaiah 55:7) because they are not God’s ways and thoughts. God’s way is forgiveness and His thoughts are compassionate (Isaiah 55:7), as far different from those of sinners as the heavens are higher than the earth. Sinners must make a break with their thoughts and ways to have fellowship with a holy God. The Servant’s work makes relationship with a holy God possible, but our work, having appropriated the Servant’s work by faith, makes intimate fellowship with a holy God possible.

 Henry Morris Apologetics Bible Commentary

Higher than the earth. This analogy, comparing the infinite thoughts of God to the very finite thoughts of man, would suggest that the heavens are infinitely higher than the earth. There is no end to space.

HCSB Study Bible Notes

God is far above humanity in thought and deed. God’s people are called to turn from their sinful thoughts and deeds (Isaiah 55:7) to God’s exalted thoughts and deeds.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)

If we look up to heaven, we find God’s counsels there high and transcendent, his thoughts and ways infinitely above ours, Isaiah 55:8, 9. The wicked are urged to forsake their evil ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:7) and to return to God, that is, to bring their ways and thoughts to concur and comply with his; “for” (says he) “my thoughts and ways are not as yours. Yours are conversant only about things beneath; they are of the earth earthy: but mine are above, as the heaven is high above the earth; and, if you would approve yourselves true penitents, yours must be so too, and your affections must be set on things above.” Or, rather, it is to be understood as an encouragement to us to depend upon God’s promise to pardon sin, upon repentance. Sinners may be ready to fear that God will not be reconciled to them, because they could not find in their hearts to be reconciled to one who should have so basely and so frequently offended them. “But” (says God) “my thoughts in this matter are not as yours, but as far above them as the heaven is above the earth.” They are so in other things. Men’s sentiments concerning sin, and Christ, and holiness, concerning this world and the other, are vastly different from God’s; but in nothing more than in the matter of reconciliation. We think God apt to take offence and backward to forgive—that, if he forgives once, he will not forgive a second time. Peter thought it a great deal to forgive seven times (Mt. 18:21), and a hundred pence go far with us; but God meets returning sinners with pardoning mercy; he forgives freely, and as he gives: it is without upbraiding. We forgive and cannot forget; but, when God forgives sin, he remembers it no more. Thus God invites sinners to return to him, by possessing them with good thoughts of him, as Jer. 31:20.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Isaiah 55:8 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts,…. In some things there may be a likeness between the thoughts of God and the thoughts of men, as to the nature of them: thoughts are natural and essential to them both; they are within them, are internal acts, and unknown to others, till made known; but then the thoughts of men are finite and limited, whereas the thoughts of the Lord are infinite and boundless; men’s thoughts have a beginning, but the Lord’s have none; though not so much the nature as the quality of them is here intended: the thoughts of men are evil, even the imagination of their thoughts, yea, every imagination is, and that always and only so; but the thoughts of God are holy, as appears from his purposes and covenant, and all his acts of grace, in redemption, calling, and preparing his people for glory: the thoughts of men, as to the object of them, are vain, and nothing worth; their thoughts and sentiments of things are very different from the Lord’s, as about sin, concerning Christ, the truths of the Gospel, the people of God, religion, holiness, and a future state, and in reference to the business of salvation; they think they can save themselves; that their own works of righteousness are sufficient to justify them; their privileges and profession such, that they shall be saved; their wisdom, riches, and honour, a security to them from damnation: however, that their sincere obedience, with repentance for what is amiss, will entitle them to happiness: but the thoughts of God are the reverse of all this; particularly with respect to pardoning mercy their thoughts are different; carnal men think of mercy, but not of justice, and of having pardoning mercy in an absolute way, and not through Christ, and without conversion and repentance; and so this is a reason why men’s thoughts are to be forsaken, because so very unlike to the Lord’s. Or else these words are to be considered as an argument, proving that God does abundantly pardon all returning sinners; since he is not like men, backward to forgive, especially great and aggravated crimes, but is ready, free, and willing to forgive, even those of the most aggravated circumstances.

Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord; the ways which God prescribes and directs men to walk in are different from theirs; his are holy, theirs unholy; his are plain, theirs crooked; his are ways of light, theirs ways of darkness; his are pleasant, theirs not so, at least in the issue; his lead to life, theirs to death; and therefore there is good reason why they should leave their evil ways, and walk in his. Moreover, the ways which he takes in the salvation of men are different from those which they, naturally pursue, and especially in the pardon of sin; he pardons freely, fully, without any reserve, or private grudge, forgetting as well as forgiving.

Isaiah 55:9 – For as the heavens, are higher than the earth,…. Than which there cannot be conceived a greater distance:
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts; which may denote the heavenliness of the ways and thoughts of God, the eternity and unsearchableness of them, and their excellency and preciousness; as well as the very great distance between his ways and thoughts and men’s which this is designed to illustrate.

John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible

For – If any man injure you, especially if he do it greatly and frequently, you are slow and backward to forgive him. But I am ready to forgive all penitents, how many, and great, and numberless soever their sins be.

  • doug

    Isaiah 55 declared what was true before Pentecost. But that has changed for all who have the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians chapter two explains that no one can know why a person does what he does except his spirit within him. The same is true for God and that’s why He gave us His Spirit –so that we can know even His deepest thoughts. And He has given us the mind of Christ so that we can understand Him.