kum'-fer-ta-bli (`al lebh, "to the heart"): "To speak to the heart," i.e. to speak kindly, to console, to comfort, is the ordinary Hebrew expression for wooing: e.g. Boaz spake "to the heart" of Ruth (Ru 2:13 margin; the King James Version "friendly," the Revised Version (British and American) "kindly"). The beauty of the Hebrew term is illustrated in Ge 50:21 where Joseph "spake kindly" unto his brethren, winning them from fear to confidence. Rendered "comfortably" in five passages: thrice of human speaking, and twice of the tenderness of God's address to His people. David was urged to win back the hearts of the people by kind words: "speak comfortably" (2Sa 19:7). Hezekiah in like manner comforted the Levites (2Ch 30:22) and encouraged his captains (2Ch 32:6). The term has exceptional wealth of meaning in connection with God's message of grace and forgiveness to His redeemed people. The compassionate love that has atoned for their sins speaks to the heart ("comfortably") of Jerusalem, saying "that her iniquity is pardoned" (Isa 40:2). The same promise of forgiveness is given to the penitent nation by the prophet Hosea (Ho 2:14); "comfortable words" (Zec 1:13), i.e. words affording comfort.
Dwight M. Pratt