Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 13, 1967
NUMBER 48, PAGE 11b-12

Wells Of Salvation

Bob Tuten

"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Is. 12:3). It is difficult for modern man in his superfluous society of hot and cold running water to fully grasp the import of Isaiah's symbolic reference to Messianic blessings in this verse.

Importance Of Wells In a country like Palestine, where scarce rainfall is the only source of water supply, water is especially appreciated. Men enjoy going and sitting by a stream of running water and long for a taste of water from their native village (1 Chron. 11:17).

Cisterns are usually on the surface of the ground and vary in size. Jerusalem has always had to depend, for the most part, on water stored in this way. Water stored in cisterns is surface water, and a great menace to health. During dry summer months the supply diminishes, becomes stagnant, filthy, and is not fit to drink.

Wells, in contrast to cisterns, were more often deep cylindrical reservoirs, the lower part of which was often sank in the rock and cemented, the upper part being built with open joints to receive surface percolation. In many cases, wells were fed by natural springs. These were often of great depth. For example, Job's well at Jerusalem, of great antiquity, is 125 feet deep. According to Maundrell, who visited Jacob's well at Synchar in 1697, it was then 105 feet deep with about fifteen feet of water. But through the years travelers, testing its depth with stones, have raised its depth to sixty-six feet. It has only a little water in it during rainy seasons. The Samaritan woman told Jesus, "Sir... the well is deep" (Jn. 4:11).

Wells have always played an important role in society. The scene between Rebekah and Abraham's servant took place at the "well of water at the time of evening, the time that women go out to draw water" (Gen. 24:11). Saul and his servants found young maidens going out to the city to draw water (1 Sam. 9:11). Isaac "digged again the wells filled in by the Philistines (Gen.26:18). His servants also found "living water" by digging a well in the valley (v. 19). Ussiah hewed out many cisterns (2 Chron. 26;9-10). It may have been a dried-up well or cistern into which Joseph was cast (Gen. 37:24). Moses helped the daughters of Jethro at a well (Ex. 2:16).

The well even today is the center of life in the East. Women gather around it in pursuit of daily activities. Travelers divert their course to it for refreshment. News from the outer world is carried to and from the well.

Isaiah's Symbolic Use Of Wells

If we may draw a contrast between cisterns, which only store stagnant water drained from the ground, and wells, which often are fed by some spring, it might be said that salvation is like a well of "living water" from God. It is not like a man-made cistern which is apt to fail in the hour of need. "The idea of the text may be thus given: Out of the wells of salvation in God, who is the fountain of all good to his people, you shall draw water with joy. "--Pulpit Com. p. 226.

God's Promises Are Wells Of Salvation

The promises of God are revealed, ratified and made available through His Ordinances. The Bible is indeed full of "precious and exceeding great promises" (2 Pet.1:4). Among those promises the golden threat which permeates the Bible is salvation in Christ. To Satan God said the seed of woman would bruise his heel (Gen. 3:15). To Abraham God said, "in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12:3). To David God promised to continue his house on the throne forever (2 Sam. 7:12-13). These promises were given spiritual and eternal significance in the N. T. To overthrow Judaizing teachers at Galatia, Paul wrote the Galatian letter in which he proves that justification is by obedient faith in Christ, not by works of the law. To this end he showed the superiority of the gospel to the law illustrated in the covenant God made with Abraham (Ga1.3:15-18). As man's covenant, once ratified, remains in force so God's covenant with Abraham concerning his "seed, which is Christ," confirmed by an oath (Gen. 22:16), was not nullified by the law 430 years later. 'Whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Pet. 1:4).

The Thirsty Must Draw From These Wells

It is man's duty by faith to draw water out of the wells of salvation. Man is expected of God to take advantage of the benefit and comfort that are treasured up for us. All the water on earth will not benefit the weary who will not draw from the reservoir of life. "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life" (Jn. 4:14). Jesus himself said, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mk. 16: 16). Salvation is neither by faith alone (Jas. 2:24) nor by works of men (Eph. 2:8) but by obedient faith made perfect by works (Jas. 2:22). "They that sing as well as they that dance shall say, all my fountains are in thee" (Ps. 87:7).

We Should Draw From The Wells With Joy

It is the will of God that children of God rejoice before Him and in Him (Deut. 26:11); be joyful in His house and prayer (Is. 56:7); and keep His feasts with gladness (Acts 2:46). Read the entire chapter of our text, for it is a song of joy and gladness. A Christian's attitude is his service to God is most important to his spiritual well-being. The old tale of two buckets in a well illustrates the point. The buckets were tied to each end of a rope so that as one came up full of water, the other went down empty. One day, as one bucket going down empty passed the other coming up full, it complained bitterly, "no matter how often I come up full of water, I always go back down empty." The other bucket, displaying a more positive attitude towards his work, exclaimed joyfully, "no matter how often I go down empty I always come up full."


Centuries before Christ died upon the cross, Isaiah thus pointed into the far, distant future when the God of salvation, through His Son, would quench the thirst of every weary soul willing to draw from His wells of salvation. Just as Israel was miraculously supplied with water in the desert, so would God provide all humanity with wells from which to draw to the heart's delight. This would in turn lead to new songs of praises. "Cry aloud and shout thou inhabitant of Zion: for great in the midst of thee is the Holy One of Israel" (Is. 12:6).