|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
38:9-22 We have here Hezekiah's thanksgiving. It is well for us to remember the mercies we receive in sickness. Hezekiah records the condition he was in. He dwells upon this; I shall no more see the Lord. A good man wishes not to live for any other end than that he may serve God, and have communion with him. Our present residence is like that of a shepherd in his hut, a poor, mean, and cold lodging, and with a trust committed to our charge, as the shepherd has. Our days are compared to the weaver's shuttle, Job 7:6, passing and repassing very swiftly, every throw leaving a thread behind it; and when finished, the piece is cut off, taken out of the loom, and showed to our Master to be judged of. A good man, when his life is cut off, his cares and fatigues are cut off with it, and he rests from his labours. But our times are in God's hand; he has appointed what shall be the length of the piece. When sick, we are very apt to calculate our time, but are still at uncertainty. It should be more our care how we shall get safe to another world. And the more we taste of the loving-kindness of God, the more will our hearts love him, and live to him. It was in love to our poor perishing souls that Christ delivered them. The pardon does not make the sin not to have been sin, but not to be punished as it deserves. It is pleasant to think of our recoveries from sickness, when we see them flowing from the pardon of sin. Hezekiah's opportunity to glorify God in this world, he made the business, and pleasure, and end of life. Being recovered, he resolves to abound in praising and serving God. God's promises are not to do away, but to quicken and encourage the use of means. Life and health are given that we may glorify God and do good.
Verse 18. The grave cannot praise thee (cormpare the comment on ver. 11). It is avoiding the plain force of these passages to say that Hezekiah only means that those who go to Hades in a state of condemnation cannot be expected there to praise God (Kay). He speaks broadly and generally of all: "The living, the living, shall praise thee; Sheol cannot praise thee; Death cannot celebrate thee." Manifestly, though he believes in a future state, it is one in which there is either no energy at all, or at any rate no devotional energy. He may think, with Isaiah. that "the righteous man," when he is "taken away," will "enter into peace" (Isaiah 57:1, 2); but absolute "peace" precludes energy (see Arist., 'Eth. Nit.,' 1. 10. § 2). Hezekiah shrinks from losing all his activities, including his sense of personal communion with God. He does not, perhaps, "look on the condition of the faithful departed as one of comfortless gloom;" but he views it as one of deprivation, and is unwilling to enter into it. It was by the coming of Christ and the preaching of his gospel that "life and immortality" were first truly "brought to light" (2 Timothy 1:10).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee,.... That is, they that are in the grave, and under the power of death, they cannot celebrate the praises of God with their bodily organs; their souls may praise him in heaven, but they in their bodies cannot till the resurrection morn, or as long as they are under the dominion of the grave; so the Targum,
"they that are in the grave cannot confess before thee, and the dead cannot praise thee;''
in like manner the Septuagint and Arabic versions: this shows the design of God in restoring him from his sickness, and the view he himself had in desiring life, which was to praise the Lord; and which end could not have been answered had he died, and been laid in the grave:
they that go down to the pit cannot hope for thy truth: for the performance of promises, in which the truth and faithfulness of God appear; or for the Messiah, the truth of all the types of the former dispensation; those that go down to the pit of the grave, or are carried and laid there, can have no exercise of faith and hope concerning these things.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. death—that is, the dead; Hades and its inhabitants (Job 28:22; see on Isa 38:11). Plainly Hezekiah believed in a world of disembodied spirits; his language does not imply what skepticism has drawn from it, but simply that he regarded the disembodied state as one incapable of declaring the praises of God before men, for it is, as regards this world, an unseen land of stillness; "the living" alone can praise God on earth, in reference to which only he is speaking; Isa 57:1, 2 shows that at this time the true view of the blessedness of the righteous dead was held, though not with the full clearness of the Gospel, which "has brought life and immortality to light" (2Ti 1:10).
hope for thy truth—(Ps 104:27). Their probation is at an end. They can no longer exercise faith and hope in regard to Thy faithfulness to Thy promises, which are limited to the present state. For "hope" ceases (even in the case of the godly) when sight begins (Ro 8:24, 25); the ungodly have "no hope" (1Th 4:13). Hope in God's truth is one of the grounds of praise to God (Ps 71:14; 119:49). Others translate, "cannot celebrate."
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