Isaiah 38:17

17 1Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; 2but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, 3for you have cast all my sins behind your back.

Isaiah 38:17 Meaning and Commentary

Isaiah 38:17

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness
Meaning not that instead of peace and prosperity, which he expected would ensue upon the destruction of Sennacherib's army, came a bitter affliction upon him; for he is not now dwelling on that melancholy subject; but rather the sense is, that he now enjoyed great peace and happiness, though he had been in great bitterness; for the words may be rendered, "behold, I am in peace, I had great bitterness"; or thus, "behold my great bitterness is unto peace": or, "he has turned it into peace" F21; it has issued in it, and this is my present comfortable situation: "but", or rather, and thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of
the grave, where bodies rot and corrupt, and are quite abolished, as the word signifies; see ( Psalms 30:3 ) or "thou hast embraced my soul from the pit of corruption F23"; it seems to be an allusion to a tender parent, seeing his child sinking in a pit, runs with open arms to him, and embraces him, and takes him out. This may be applied to a state of nature, out of which the Lord in love delivers his people; which is signified by a pit, or dark dungeon, a lonely place, a filthy one, very uncomfortable, where they are starving and famishing; a pit, wherein is no water, ( Zechariah 9:11 ) and may fitly be called a pit of corruption, because of their corrupt nature, estate, and actions; out of this the Lord brings his people at conversion, and that because of his great love to their souls, and his delight in them; or it may be applied to their deliverance from the bottomless pit of destruction, which is owing to the Lord's being gracious to them, and having found a ransom for them, his own Son, ( Job 33:24 ) , and to this sense the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions seem to incline; "for thou hast delivered my soul that it might not perish": in love to their souls, and that they may not perish, he binds them up in the bundle of life, with the Lord their God; he redeems their souls from sin, Satan, and the law; he regenerates, renews, and converts them, and preserves them safe to his everlasting kingdom and glory; in order to which, and to prevent their going down to the pit, they are put into the hands of Christ, redeemed by his precious blood, and are turned out of the broad road that leads to destruction: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back;
as loathsome and abominable, and so as not to be seen by him; for though God sees all the sins of his people with his eye of omniscience, and in his providence takes notice of them, and chastises for them, yet not with his eye of avenging justice; because Christ has took them on himself, and made satisfaction for them, and an end of them; they are removed from them as far as the east is from the west, and no more to be seen upon them; nor will they be any more set before his face, or in the light of his countenance; but as they are out of sight they will be out of mind, never more remembered, but forgotten; as what is cast behind the back is seen and remembered no more. The phrase is expressive of the full forgiveness of sins, even of all sins; see ( Psalms 85:2 ) ( Psalms 103:3 Psalms 103:4 ) , the object of God's love is the souls of his people; the instance of it is the delivery of them from the pit of corruption; the evidence of it is the pardon of their sins.


F21 (ynmylxtw) Abendana, after Joseph Kimchi, interprets it of changing bitterness into peace; he observes in the phrase (rm Mwlvl rm yl) that the first (rm) signifies change or permutation as in Jer. xlvlii. 11. and the second bitterness: and that the sense is this, behold, unto peace he hath changed my bitterness, that is the bitterness and distress which I had, he hath changed into peace.
F23 (ylb txvm yvpn tqvx htaw) "et tu amplexus es amore animam meam a fovea abolitionis"; Montanus; "tu vero propenso amore complexus es animam meam", Piscator; "tu tenero amore complexus animam meam", Vitringa.

Isaiah 38:17 In-Context

15 What shall I say? For he has spoken to me, and he himself has done it. I walk slowly all my years because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness.

Cross References 3

  • 1. Psalms 119:67, 75
  • 2. [Psalms 103:12; Micah 7:19]
  • 3. [Psalms 103:12; Micah 7:19]