“The Springs of Water”

K. Douglas Bassett

(Isa. 49:10; Ether 8:26; 12:28; Num. 20:1–13; Jer. 2:13; 17:13; Alma 5:34; 42:27; John 4:7–14; Rev. 7:17; 21:6; 22:17)

This passage refers to the Lord’s blessings for those who are returning from exile, as well as for those returning from spiritual bondage. In physical captivity, exiles suffer from hunger and thirst. The heat of the sun threatens them. Spiritual exiles thirst for gospel truth and peace. The Lord protects and nourishes them. In all circumstances, it is only through Christ that spiritual hunger can be satisfied (John 6:35; Alma 31:38; 32:42; 3 Ne. 12:6; 20:8). The expression “springs of water” symbolizes living water (Isa. 35:6–7; 41:17–18; 43:19–20), or Jesus Christ.

(Donald W. Parry, Visualizing Isaiah [Provo, Utah: The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2001], 67.)

Without water man dies—temporally and spiritually. Bread and breath and water, these three, they are the essentials of existence. If any one of them is withdrawn, life ceases—temporally and spiritually… .
Even the Son of God—pierced, bleeding, in pain beyond recording, hanging at death’s door on the cross of Calvary—had but one plea pertaining to his physical suffering, and that was the agonizing cry, “I thirst.” (John 19:28.) How vital it is that men have water. A dearth of drink deals death to those so deprived. Those who dwell in deserts and pitch their tents on arid plains, as ancient Israel often did, have the need and desire for drink ever before them… .
We might well expect to find Messianic prophecies saying that King-Messiah, during his mortal ministry, would be the source of living waters… . One of the greatest of these is Isaiah’s proclamation that “a king shall reign in righteousness,” and that among other things, he shall be “as rivers of water in a dry place” (Isa. 32:1–4). Most of the Messianic utterances of this nature, however, were destined to have only partial fulfillment in the meridian of time and were to come to a glorious consummation in the dispensation of restoration when the promised King would reign personally upon the earth.
Speaking of the latter-day gathering of Israel, Jehovah’s promise is: “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isa. 41:18). This has reference to more than climatic changes (D&C 133:29).
Another great Messianic utterance says: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isa. 44:3). Similar truths are found in Isaiah 41:10–20; 48:20–21; and 49:9–12. Isaiah 12 tells of a millennial day when men shall “draw water out of the wells of salvation”; and Zechariah, speaking of that same day of peace and righteousness, tells how “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:8)… .
Before his mortal birth our Lord’s call was: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, … and I will make an everlasting covenant with you” (Isa. 55:1–3; 2 Ne. 9:50)… .
During his mortal sojourn it was the same. On the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while the priest poured water upon the altar and the words of Isaiah were sung, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3), our Lord stepped forth and proclaimed: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37)… .
Those who do come to quench their thirst, and who are true and faithful, shall drink forever from the pure fountain. As Isaiah expressed it, their “waters shall be sure” (Isa. 33:16), meaning they shall be as their Lord, enjoying and possessing the same eternal life which he lives. As he said in our day: “Unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life” (D&C 63:23).

(Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 204–207.)

As used by Isaiah, … this … language applies to the latter-day gathering of Israel… . Isaiah’s clear meaning is that the spiritual famine of centuries shall cease; Israel shall now have the gospel; they shall feast again upon the good word of God; once again shall they drink from the fountains of living waters; and in their new found joy, all their sufferings of the past (even the heat of the sun!) shall be forgotten.

(Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1966–1973], 3:496.)

Commentaries on Isaiah: In the Book or Mormon