Isaiah 38:11
I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.
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(11) I shall not see the Lord . . .—The words are eminently characteristic of the cheerless dimness of the Hebrew’s thoughts of death. To St. Paul and those who share his faith death is to “depart, and to be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23), to be “ever with the Lord” (1Thessalonians 4:17). To Hezekiah, it would seem, the outward worship of the Temple, or possibly, the consciousness of God’s presence in the full activity of brain and heart, was a joy which he could not bear to lose. The spiritual perceptions of the life after death would be spectral and shadowy, like the dead themselves. (Comp. the Greek idea of Hades in Homer (Od. xi. 12-19). It may be noted that the Hebrew for “the Lord” is the shorter, possibly the poetical, form “Jah” (as in Psalm 68:4). The LXX paraphrases “I shall not see the salvation of God.”

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.I shall not see the Lord - In the original, the Hebrew which is rendered 'Lord,' is not Yahweh, but יה יה yâhh yâhh. On the meaning of it, see the note at Isaiah 12:2 (compare the note at Isaiah 7:14). The repetition of the name here denotes emphasis or intensity of feeling - the deep desire which he had to see Yahweh in the land of the living, and the intense sorrow of his heart at the idea of being cut off from that privilege. The idea here is, that Hezekiah felt that he would not be spared to enjoy the tokens of divine favor on earth; to reap the fruits of the surprising and remarkable deliverance from the army of Sennacherib; and to observe its happy results in the augmenting prosperity of the people, and in the complete success of his plans of reformation.

I shall behold man no more - I shall see the living no more; I shall die, and go among the dead. He regarded it as a privilege to live, and to enjoy the society of his friends and fellow-worshippers in the temple - a privilege from which he felt that he was about to be cut off.

With the inhabitants of the world - Or rather, 'among the inhabitants of the land of stillness;' that is, of the land of shades - sheol. He would not there see man as he saw him on earth, living and active, but would be a shade in the land of shades; himself still, in a world of stillness. 'I shall be associated with them there, and of course be cut off from the privileges of the society of living men.' (See Supplementary Note at Isaiah 14:9.) The Hebrew word rendered 'world' (חדל chedel), is from חדל châdal, "to cease, to leave off, to desist; to become languid, flaccid, pendulous." It then conveys the idea of leaving off, of resting, of being still Judges 5:6; Job 3:17; Job 14:6; Isaiah 2:22. Hence, the idea of frailty Psalm 39:5; and hence, the word here denotes probably the place of rest, the region of the dead, and is synonymous with the land of silence, such as the grave and the region of the dead are in contradistinction from the hurry and bustle of this world. Our translation seems to have been made as if the word was חלד cheled, "life, lifetime"; hence, the world Psalm 17:14; Psalm 49:2. The Vulgate renders it, 'Habitatorem quietis.' The Septuagint simply: 'I shall behold man no more.'

11. Lord … Lord—The repetition, as in Isa 38:19, expresses the excited feeling of the king's mind.

See the Lord (Jehovah)—figuratively for "to enjoy His good gifts." So, in a similar connection (Ps 27:13). "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living"; (Ps 34:12), "What man is he that desireth life that he may see good?"

world—rather, translate: "among the inhabitants of the land of stillness," that is, Hades [Maurer], in parallel antithesis to "the land of the living" in the first clause. The Hebrew comes from a root, to "rest" or "cease" (Job 14:6).

I shall not see the Lord; I shall not enjoy him; for seeing is put for enjoying, as hath been frequently noted.

In the land of the living; in this world, which is so called, Psalm 27:13 116:9 Isaiah 53:8; in his sanctuary: which limitation is prudently added, to intimate that he expected to see God in another place and manner, even in heaven, face to face.

I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world; I shall have no more society with men upon earth. I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the land of the living,.... Not any more, in this world, though in the other, and that more clearly, even face to face: his meaning is, that he should no more see him in the glass of the word; no more praise him in his house; worship him in his temple; enjoy him in his ordinances; and see his beauty, power, and glory, in the sanctuary; and confess unto him, and praise his name (g). The Targum is,

"I shall no more appear before the face of the Lord in the land of the house of his Shechinah, in which is length of life; and I shall no more serve him in the house of the sanctuary.''

In the Hebrew text it is, "I shall not see Jah, Jah"; a word, the same with Jehovah; and is repeated, to show the vehemency of his affection for the Lord, and his ardent desire of communion with him: unless it should be rendered, "I shall not see the Lord's Lord in the land of the living (h)"; or the Lord's Christ in the flesh:

I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world; or "time" (i); of this fading transitory world, which will quickly cease, as the word for it signifies: next to God, his concern was, that he should no more enjoy the company of men, of his subjects, of his courtiers, of his relations, companions, and acquaintance; particularly of the saints, the excellent in the earth.

(g) Ben Melech observes, that seeing or appearing before the Creator signifies confession and praise before him, and consideration of his ways; and this sense of the words, he says, R. Sandiah gives. (h) , Sept. "non videbo Jah Jah", Montanus, Vatablus. (i) "cum habitoribus temporis", Montanus. So Ben Melech explains it; and which will quickly cease. "mundus, tempus cito desinens"----ldx, "prodit mundi cessabilitatem, quatenus est colectio rerum pereuntium", Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 242. "cum habitatoribus terrae cessationis", Vitringa.

I said, {h} I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.

(h) I will no more praise the Lord here in this temple among the faithful thus God permits his dearest children to want his consolation for a time that his grace afterward may appear when they feel their own weakness.

11. Death is the end of all communion both with God and men. To see the Lord is to enjoy the sense of His presence in the appointed acts of worship (see on ch. Isaiah 1:12), The thought that Sheol afforded no such opportunities of converse with the living God was that which made death a terror to O.T. believers (cf. Isaiah 38:18; Psalm 88:5, &c.).

the inhabitants of the world] The received text has “the inhabitants of cessation” (ḥedel), i.e. “of the place where life ceases,” an expression for the underworld. The reading ḥeled (“the world”) is found in some Heb. MSS.; and is rightly preferred by A.V.Verse 11. - I shall not see the Lord (comp. Psalm 6:5, "In death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave (Sheol) who shall give thee thanks?" and see also Psalm 30:9; Psalm 88:10-12; Psalm 115:17). The Jews had not yet attained the conception of a blissful region in Hades, where God manifested himself, and the saints, who were awaiting the resurrection, saw him and praised him. Even the Lord. (For examples of repetition for the sake of emphasis, see Isaiah 29:1; Isaiah 33:22; Isaiah 38:19; Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 51:17, etc.) In the land of the living; i.e. "as I do now in the land of the living" (comp. Psalm 27:13; Psalm 116:9). The prospect is now mercifully changed. "And it came to pass (K. Isaiah was not yet out of the inner city; keri סהצר, the forecourt, and) the word of Jehovah came to Isaiah (K. to him) as follows: Go (K. turn again) and say to Hizkiyahu (K. adds, to the prince of my people), Thus saith Jehovah, the God of David thine ancestor, I have heard thy prayer, seen thy tears; behold, I((K. will cure thee, on the third day thou shalt go up to the house of Jehovah) add (K. and I add) to thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee ad this city out of the hand of the king of Asshur, and will defend this city (K. for mine own sake and for David my servant's sake)." In the place of העיר (the city) the keri and the earlier translators have הצר. The city of David is not called the "inner city" anywhere else; in fact, Zion, with the temple hill, formed the upper city, so that apparently it is the inner space of the city of David that is here referred to, and Isaiah had not yet passed through the middle gate to return to the lower city, where he dwelt. The text of Kings is the more authentic throughout; except that עמּי נגיד, "the prince of my people," is an annalistic adorning which is hardly original. סהלוך in Isaiah is an inf. abs. used in an imperative sense; שׁוּב, on the other hand, which we find in the other text, is imperative. On yōsiph, see at Isaiah 29:14.
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