死亡  DEATH (Isaiah 以賽亞書 38:1-22) – 每日讀經 by 洪同勉牧師 Rev. Tommy Hung

我還活的時候要稱頌你‧  我要奉你的名舉手。  (詩六三4)

“So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”    (Psalm 63:4) 

死亡  DEATH

讀經:  以賽亞書 卅八1~22

SCRIPTURE READING:  Isaiah 38:1-22

釋義:   一般讀者被本章希西家病患得醫治這神蹟的細節所吸引: 到底希西家患的是什麼病? 他什麼時候(「中年」[10]是多大年紀? 這事在那一年發生?)生病? 神應許救他和耶路撒冷「脫離亞述的手」(6)是指那一次的政治危機? 「亞哈斯的日晷」是什麼? 日影往後退十度(8)是什麼現象? 無花果餅到底是什麼? 它有醫療能力嗎?

Insight: Most readers are fascinated by the details of Hezekiah’s miraculous recovery from a life threatening illness:   What exactly did Hezekiah have?   What year was it?  How old is “in the middle of my days” (10)?  God promised deliverance for him and Jerusalem “out of the hand of the king of Assyria” (6);  which political crisis is it referring to?   What is “the dial of Ahaz”?   What kind of phenomenon is  “the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial turning back ten steps”? (8)   What exactly is a cake of figs?   Does it have a therapeutic effect? 

這些情節很有趣, 但是不是故事的重點, 也不會有確實的答案,因為聖經並沒有提供足夠資料。反倒希西家的感恩頌詞中, 提供了舊約不多講論的死亡觀念。

These are all very interesting elements; however, they are not the focus of the story; and we will never be able to get to the bottom of it  because the Bible does not provide enough information.   Instead, Hezekiah’s thanksgiving poem gives us insight into the view on death that is seldom talked about in the Old Testament:   

  • 死亡使人與神隔絕(11) — 舊約著重今生, 因為人死後就沒有知覺, 什至屬靈的事也無法知曉, 所以死了就「 必不得見耶和華,就是在活人之地不見耶和華」。
  • Death separates men from God (11)   — The Old Testament focuses on life in the physical world because upon one’s death, consciousness is lost, and even spiritual awareness is gone.  So, “I shall not see the Lord, the Lord in the land of the living”.
  • 死亡是離開活人的生活圈子(11-12) —「我與世上的居民不再見面。  我的住處被遷去離開我,好像牧人的帳棚一樣」。
  • Death means leaving the land of the living (11-12)  —  “I shall look on man no more  among the inhabitants of the world.  My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me like a shepherd’s tent”.
  • 死亡是人生命的結束(12) — 「我將性命捲起,像織布的捲布一樣。  耶和華必將我從機頭剪斷,從早到晚,他要使我完結」。
  • Death is the end of life (12) —  “Like a weaver I have rolled up my life; he cuts me off from the loom; from day to night you bring me to an end”.
  • 死亡對活人的意義(17)  —「我受大苦,本為使我得平安」,  因為「人死的日子勝過人生的日子往遭喪的家去強如往宴樂的家去因為死是眾人的結局活人也必將這事放在心上」(傳七2-3)
  • The meaning of death to the living (17) —  “It was for my welfare that I had great bitterness”; because “It is better to go to the house of mourning  than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2-3).
  • 死亡不能隔絕神的愛(17)  –「你因愛我的靈魂便救我脫離敗壞的坑」原文意思是「我在坑中時,你已愛我」。
  • Death cannot separate us from God’s love (17)  — “In love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction” – in the original language, it means “you already love me when I am in the pit”.
  • 死亡沒有感恩和喜樂(18)  –「原來,陰間不能稱謝你,死亡不能頌揚你;下坑的人不能盼望你的誠實」。

No thanksgiving and no joy in death (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”.

人死後就不能稱謝神, 這是舊約的傳統觀念 (參伯十21-22; 詩六5, 卅9, 八10-12, 一一五17等)。  在復活的神學觀念仍未清楚啟示的先知時期, 這個看法相當正確: 人若死在罪中, 必無頌揚;  人的屍體躺在墳墓, 身體當然沒有什麼行動; 人無法知道死後的情況, 自然不會知道可以頌讚。  

Men will not be able to give thanks to God after death –  this is the traditional view in the Old Testament  era (refer to Job 10:21-22; Psalm 6:5, 30:9, 8:10-12, 115:17, etc.).   In the time of the prophets,  when the theological concept of resurrection had not been clearly revealed,  this view is fairly accurate:  

  • When men die in sin, there will be no praises; 
  • One can’t possibly take any actions when his/her dead body lies in the grave; 
  • Men have no way of knowing what happens after death; therefore, do not know that we can still proclaim our praises.

所以以賽亞透過希西家的頌詞提醒我們, 應當把握機會讚美神。  雖然新約讓我們知道信徒將來復活(這是死後的事情)會在天堂頌讚神, 不過「我告訴你們,若是他們閉口不說 (指門徒讚美神),這些石頭必要呼叫起來。」(路十九40)

So, Isaiah reminds us through Hezekiah’s poem that we should take hold of the opportunity to praise God.  Although the New Testament lets us know that disciples will praise God in heaven after resurrection (which happens after death),   “I tell you, if these (referring to praises from disciples) were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40)   

請你現在開口說頌讚歷史書神的話: 神阿我讚美你, 因你…

Take a moment to praise God out loud,  praise the God of the book of history:  O God, I praise You because You…

每日讀經 by 洪同勉牧師 Rev. Tommy Hung