The Meaning of Isaiah 57:9 Explained

Isaiah 57:9

KJV: And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.

YLT: And goest joyfully to the king in ointment, And dost multiply thy perfumes, And sendest thine ambassadors afar off, And humblest thyself unto Sheol.

Darby: And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst multiply thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers afar off, and didst debase thyself unto Sheol.

ASV: And thou wentest to the king with oil, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thine ambassadors far off, and didst debase thyself even unto Sheol.

What does Isaiah 57:9 Mean?

Study Notes

hell
Heb. "Sheol,"
Sheol is, in the O.T., the place to which the dead go.
(1) Often, therefore, it is spoken of as the equivalent of the grave, merely, where all human activities cease; the terminus toward which all human life moves (e.g. Genesis 42:38 grave Job 14:13 grave Psalms 88:3 grave
(2) To the man "under the sun," the natural man, who of necessity judges from appearances, sheol seems no more than the grave-- the end and total cessation, not only of the activities of life, but of life itself. Ecclesiastes 9:5 ; Ecclesiastes 9:10
(3) But Scripture reveals sheol as a place of sorrow 2 Samuel 22:6 ; Psalms 18:5 ; Psalms 116:3 ; in which the wicked are turned Psalms 9:17 and where they are fully conscious; Isaiah 14:9-17 ; Ezekiel 32:21 see, especially, Jonah 2:2 what the belly of the great fish was to Jonah that sheol is to those who are therein). The sheol of the O.T. and hades of the N.T. (See Scofield " Luke 16:23 ") are identical.

Verse Meaning

Some Israelites had also traveled far from home to worship other gods. This may be a reference to making political alliances with other nations and then worshipping their gods with them (cf. Ezekiel 23). The king in view may be the most prominent foreign ruler at the time Isaiah wrote this prophecy. These political trips involved great distances. The negotiators would take the oils and perfumes used in the worship of foreign gods with them. Over time these instances of idolatry had increased. But instead of going to foreign nations, Isaiah said these envoys were really going to Sheol because God would slay His people for their unfaithfulness to Him.

Context Summary

Isaiah 57:1-21 - No Peace To The Wicked
A terrible portrayal is given here of the idolatries and impurities into which the Chosen People had fallen. These scenes under "the oaks" (r.v.) and in the valleys remind us of the invariable evils associated with idolatry which the great Apostle has recorded in Romans 1:23-28. They refused to retain God in their knowledge, and He gave them over to a reprobate mind; that is, He ceased to restrain them.
But amid the degenerate nation, there was a handful of elect souls; God is always careful against rooting up the tares, lest one stalk of wheat perish. Amid the destruction that must overtake the guilty land they that trusted in Him, would not be overlooked. See Isaiah 57:13-14.
With what comfort the chapter closes! Isaiah 57:15, etc. We may have been covetous and froward, and have deserved wrath and chastisement, but God will not always chide. Only return to Him! He will revive your heart, and "restore comfort" to you. He will heal where He has wounded, and will bring you near, through the blood of the Cross. See Ephesians 2:16-17. [source]

Chapter Summary: Isaiah 57

1  The blessed death of the righteous
3  God reproves the People for their idolatry
13  He gives promises of mercy to the penitent

What do the individual words in Isaiah 57:9 mean?

And You went to the king with ointment and increased your perfumes and You sent your messengers even to far off and [even] descended to Sheol
וַתָּשֻׁ֤רִי לַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ בַּשֶּׁ֔מֶן וַתַּרְבִּ֖י רִקֻּחָ֑יִךְ וַתְּשַׁלְּחִ֤י צִרַ֙יִךְ֙ עַד־ מֵ֣רָחֹ֔ק וַתַּשְׁפִּ֖ילִי עַד־ שְׁאֽוֹל

וַתָּשֻׁ֤רִי  And  You  went 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, second person feminine singular
Root: שׁוּר  
Sense: (Qal) to travel, journey, go.
לַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙  to  the  king 
Parse: Preposition-l, Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: מֶלֶךְ 
Sense: king.
בַּשֶּׁ֔מֶן  with  ointment 
Parse: Preposition-b, Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: שֶׁמֶן  
Sense: fat, oil.
וַתַּרְבִּ֖י  and  increased 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hifil, Consecutive imperfect, second person feminine singular
Root: הַרְבָּה 
Sense: be or become great, be or become many, be or become much, be or become numerous.
רִקֻּחָ֑יִךְ  your  perfumes 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct, second person feminine singular
Root: רִקֻּחַ  
Sense: perfumery, perfume, unguent.
וַתְּשַׁלְּחִ֤י  and  You  sent 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Piel, Consecutive imperfect, second person feminine singular
Root: שָׁלַח  
Sense: to send, send away, let go, stretch out.
צִרַ֙יִךְ֙  your  messengers 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct, second person feminine singular
Root: צִיר 
Sense: envoy, messenger.
עַד־  even  to 
Parse: Preposition
Root: עַד  
Sense: as far as, even to, until, up to, while, as far as.
מֵ֣רָחֹ֔ק  far  off 
Parse: Preposition-m, Adjective, masculine singular
Root: רָחֹוק  
Sense: remote, far, distant, distant lands, distant ones.
וַתַּשְׁפִּ֖ילִי  and  [even]  descended 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hifil, Consecutive imperfect, second person feminine singular
Root: שָׁפֵל  
Sense: to be or become low, sink, be humbled, be abased.
שְׁאֽוֹל  Sheol 
Parse: Noun, common singular
Root: שְׁאֹול  
Sense: sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit.