Zechariah 9:11, 12
As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.…
As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do declare that I will render double unto thee. In these verses we have three subjects which demand and will repay thought.
I. HERE IS A STATE OF WRETCHEDNESS WHICH REMINDS US OF MAN'S MISERABLE CONDITION AS A SINNER. "As for thee also" - that is, as for thee, daughter of Zion and Jerusalem - "by the blood of thy covenant" - that is, according to the covenant vouchsafed to thee on Mount Sinai, and ratified by the blood of sacrifices (Exodus 24:8) - "I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." The Jewish people are here represented as having been prisoners in a pit without water. "Dungeons were often pits without water, miry at the bottom, such as Jeremiah sank in when confined (Genesis 37:24; Jeremiah 38:6). This image is employed to represent the misery of the Jewish exiles in Egypt, Greece, etc, under the successors of Alexander, especially under Antiochus Epiphanes, who robbed and profaned the temple, slew thousands, and enslaved more. In Zechariah's time, the time of the Persian rule, the practice was common to remove conquered peoples to distant lands, in order to prevent the liability to revolt in their own lands." Very fairly may this be taken as an illustration of that miserable moral condition in which all unregenerate men are found. They are in a "pit" of ignorance and depravity, shut out from the true light, and destitute of true liberty. It is a "pit" in which the soul is. A man's body may be in a "pit," and yet he may possess light and liberty within. Men have sung in dungeons ere now. But when the soul is in "a pit," the man himself is enthralled in darkness and bondage.
II. HERE IS AN ADMONITION WHICH REMINDS US OF MAN'S DUTY AS A SINNER. "Turn yea to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope." The prisoners here undoubtedly signify the Jewish exiles who were in bondage in Egypt and Greece and other countries, and whose restoration is here promised. Though they were prisoners, they were "prisoners of hope." God was on their side, and had made to them the promise of redemption.
1. All sinners are "prisoners of hope. Though bound by the chains of guilt and corruption, there is hope" for them; means of deliverance have been provided, and millions upon millions of prisoners have reached to the full enjoyment of that deliverance. There is hope; for -
"While the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return."
2. They are "prisoners of hope for whom a stronghold has been provided. If these exiles would return to Jerusalem, they would be safe. Jehovah himself would be their Guard and Defence. Christ is the Stronghold" of sinners; he is their "Refuge and Strength;" "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth;" "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"
3. They are "prisoners of hope who should flee to the Stronghold at once. Even today." When the prospect seems most gloomy, when the cloud of despair seems spreading over the heavens, and things are at the worst, "even today." This is the "accepted time," today is the "day of salvation."
III. HERE IS A PROMISE THAT GIVES ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE SINNER. "I will render double unto thee." As if Jehovah had said to the daughter of Zion - Great as has been thine adversity, thy prosperity shall be doubly greater (Isaiah 61:7). "Turn you to the Stronghold," and you shall not only be saved, but more than saved. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
God's boundless mercy is to sinful man
Like to the ever-wealthy ocean;
Which, though it sends forth thousand streams, 'tis ne'er
Known, or else seen, to be the emptier:
And though it takes all in, 'tis yet no more
Full and filled full, than when full-filled before."
(R. Herrick.) D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.