This tasting of death here may be explained, and I believe it is to be explained, by a reference to the second death, which men will not taste of till the Lord comes. And what a dreadful sentence that was, when the Saviour said, perhaps singling out Judas as he spoke; ‘Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, who shall never know what that dreadful word ‘death’ means, till the Lord shall come.’ You think that if you save your lives, you escape from death. The demise of the body is but a prelude to the perdition of the soul. The grave is but the porch of death; you will never understand the meaning of that terrible word till the Lord comes. This can have no reference to the saints, because in John 8:51–52 you find this passage:—‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.’ No righteous man, therefore, can ever ‘taste of death.’ He will fall into that deep oblivious sleep in which the body sees corruption; but that is another and a very different thing from the bitter cup referred to as tasting of death. When the Holy Spirit wanted an expression to set forth that which was the equivalent for the divine wrath, what expression was used (in Hebrews 2:9)? Christ ‘by the grace of God should taste death for every man.’ The expression ‘to taste of death,’ means the reception of that true and essential death, which kills both the body and the soul in hell for ever.
For meditation: This terrible tasting of everlasting death will be the only course available for those who have refused in this life to taste and see that the Lord is the good and gracious giver of salvation and blessings to all who trust in him (Psalm 34:8; 1 Peter 2:3).