Psalm 9:17 - The wicked shall be turned back [defeated, repulsed] to Sheol, Even all the nations that forget [fail to regard, ignore] God. -- World English
Many Bible Students in noting that the Hebrew word Shuwb is used here, and seeing that this word can mean to turn back, return, have concluded that these nations are being said to return to sheol, and thus that this scripture is speaking of the second death. This cannot be true because sheol will be destroyed in the second death, thus no one will be able to return there. (Revelation 20:14) The immediate context appears to be referring to present condition of the heathen (nations) in their pit and net of corruption that leads to destruction. (Psalm 9:15,16) In Psalm 2 these nations are said to come against Jehovah and his anointed. (Psalm 2:2,3; see also: Revelation 19:18; Isaiah 24:1-22) These will not be successful, but will be turned back from, or defeated in, their course of action into sheol. Regardless, there is nothing in the scripture that says that the heathen will spend an eternity of torture in sheol.
The Bible tells of the great destruction that comes upon the earth, we believe, during the Armageddon struggel. (Isaiah 24:1-22; Revelation 16:14) Notice, however, that it speaks of those who are destroyed as being shut up in a "prison." Job refers to those in death as "prisoners" who "rest together". (Job 3:18) The Bible tells of the gathering of "captive ones" from many nations in the latter days, the days when God's kingdom will rule the whole earth. (Jeremiah 48:47; 49:6,34-39; Isaiah 2:2) Jesus spoke of the day of judgment as being the same day in which the dead -- both those justified in this life and those are not justified in this life -- are raised as "the last day". (John 6:39,40,44,54; 12:47,48) Jehovah speaks of gathering the captive ones of Sodom and Samaria along with the captive ones of Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 16:53) They are spoken of as returning to their 'former state', that is, they return from the prison house of death to their former state of sentiency upon the earth. So with those who are thrown into this prison at Armageddon - after many days they will be "visited." To be visited by Jehovah can mean to visited with his anger, or to be visited with his blessings. (Isaiah 26:14; Psalm 65:9) Since Jehovah's anger had already been expressed upon those shut up in prison at Armageddon, their being "visited" after many days would have to signify that they would then be released from the prison and have the opportunity to respond to the blessings that will then be upon the earth during the thousand year reign of Christ, the "last day" of judgment that Jesus spoke of. - John 12:47,48; Revelation 20:11-15;21:1-4.
The word "pit", used in Isaiah 24:22, is translated from the Hebrew bowr. Bowr in many cases can be seen to be a close synonym to the Hebrew word, Sheol. Many scriptures use these terms in parallel, thus indicating that, at least in those instances, they refer to one and the same place: "For it is not Sheol that can laud you; death itself cannot praise you. Those going down into the pit [bowr] cannot look hopefully to your trueness." - Isaiah 38:18; See also Psalm 30:3,9; 88:3,4,6; 143:7.
Originally posted March 2010; edited and reposted April 2014