Isa 38; 39: The events in these chapters predate those in Isa
36; 37 by a short time. (Hezekiah's miraculous recovery, and God's saving of
Jerusalem from the Assyrian, are closely linked: they are the personal AND the
national salvation of Israel!) Isaiah placed them here, out of chronological
order, to make them a historical prologue to Isa 40 -- 66, which focus on the
suffering and finally triumphant Servant of Yahweh. (In like manner, this
placement makes Isa 36; 37 the historical appendix to Isa 1-35, which focus on
the history of Israel and Judah.)
This section opens with Hezekiah contemplating death (Isa
38:1a) and ends with him contemplating life (Isa 39:8). In between, Isaiah
delivered two messages to the king (Isa 38:1b-7; 39:3-7). Hezekiah's dedication
(Isa 38:8-22) followed the prophet's first message, and his defection (Isa
39:1,2) precipitated the second message.
PUT YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER: Setting one's life in order is
a significant thing in the service of God: Gen 22:9; Exo 26:17; 39:37; 40;4,23;
Lev 1:7,8,12; 6:12; 24:8; 1Ki 18:33; 2Ki 20:1; 2Ch 13:11; 29:35; Eze 41:6; Acts
18:23; 1Co 11:34; 14:40; Tit 1:5.
Do we just muddle through life, or is there some order and
structure to our worship and devotion to the Father? For example, do we have a
strategy to ensure that we read Scripture regularly and pray
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE; YOU WILL NOT RECOVER: But
sometimes what God announced through His prophets seemed inevitable, but when
His people prayed it became negotiable (cp Gen 32:26; Exo 32:7-14; Jam
Hezekiah's prayer was answered immediately. Why was this? We
know that God hears (and answers) prayers that are voiced "according to his
will" (1Jo 5:14); we have to conclude, therefore, that what Hezekiah asked was
according to God's will. Psa 102, for example, is a prayer of a man in dire
straits. Maybe this is that prayer of Hezekiah. If so, it is instructive,
because the Psalmist prays for the fulfilment of God's plan with Zion rather
than seeking his own deliverance.
THE GOD OF YOUR FATHER DAVID: God sent His answer to
Hezekiah's prayer back to him through Isaiah (cp 2Ki 20:4). The LORD identified
Himself as the God of David, his forefather. Perhaps the reference to David
helped Hezekiah remember God's promises to David about the perpetuity of his
dynasty (2Sa 7). This reminded the king that God would remain faithful and care
for His people.
AND I WILL DELIVER YOU AND THIS CITY FROM THE HAND OF THE
KING OF ASSYRIA. I WILL DEFEND THIS CITY: This was, of course, the
deliverance described in Isa 36; 37 -- which happened very shortly after the
events of Isa 38.
Instances of signs that accompany healings: 2Ki 2:20-22; 4:41;
The rare word used consistently for "steps" or "degrees" here
is "ma'alah" -- also sw used in titles "Songs of DEGREES"!
THE STAIRWAY OF AHAZ: Evidently an exterior stairway
that led to his upper room on the roof of the palace, where Ahaz had erected
altars (2Ki 23:12). This stairway was probably not built as a sundial, but it
served that purpose as the sun cast its shadow on more or fewer steps depending
on the time of day. That stairway may have been constructed as a sundial, or a
different stairway constructed for that purpose could be in view. Evidently
Hezekiah could see it from his sickbed. The passing away of daylight on the
stairway symbolized the passing away of Hezekiah's life, and the return of
sunlight represented the restoration of life.
SO THE SUNLIGHT WENT BACK THE TEN STEPS IT HAD GONE
DOWN: Was this miracle a local or a global phenomenon? Notice that what the
LORD promised was the movement of the shadow, not the sun that cast the shadow.
This opens the possibility for a local miracle in which the shadow moved
backward while the earth continued to rotate as usual (cp 2Ch 32:31); such a
change in the direction of the shadow's movement could have been caused by the
temporary placement of a greater light than the sun -- ie, the Shekinah Glory of
Vv 9-22: Most of this section is a psalm of lamentation and
thanksgiving that Hezekiah composed after his recovery (vv 10-20). This psalm
begins with reference to the gates of Sheol and sorrow at the prospect of
shortened days (v 10), and it ends with reference to the house of the Lord and
joy at the prospect of lengthened days (v 20). The king began by referring to
the land of the living being exchanged for the departed (v 11), and he ended
with reference to the land of the departed exchanged for the land of the living
(vv 18,19). In the middle, he contrasted God's hostility (vv 12-14) with His
restoration (vv 15-17). Hezekiah described his condition first (vv 9-14), and
then he praised God for His mercy (vv 15-20).
A SHEPHERD'S TENT: The proverbial symbol of a
temporary, fleeting abode. Here is graphically portrayed the shadowy uncertainty
of this life; we are but pitching our tents for a short span in the "valley of
the shadow of death". This body of death, the earthly "house" or "tabernacle"
(2Co 5:1,4; 2Pe 1:13,14), is destined soon to vanish away. "The things which are
seen are temporal." We all know we must die; we know technically what death
means. But do we really comprehend the irresistible pull of death, which waits
for each of us, to draw us inexorably into the grasp of the grave? If we could
only keep in mind the pitiful little we have in this life, and the exceedingly
brief time we have to enjoy it, we would have no trouble trusting in our
Heavenly Father alone and "redeeming the time."
LIKE A WEAVER I HAVE ROLLED UP MY LIFE, AND HE HAS CUT ME
OFF FROM THE LOOM: His life was like a weaver's finished piece of cloth that
the weaver cuts off decisively and rolls up to take away. Cp Job 7:6: "My days
are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and they come to an end without
Both images in this verse are of objects that suddenly
disappear from their expected places.
DAY AND NIGHT YOU MADE AN END OF ME: The thought is
that in the morning one did not expect anything untoward to occur, and by
evening, when darkness had come, the event had already taken place (cp Job
BY SUCH THINGS MEN LIVE, AND MY SPIRIT FINDS LIFE IN THEM
TOO: He prayed that others would learn from his experiences, as he himself
would, and that the LORD would indeed restore his health and his life.
The sins of God's people: "Covered" (Psa 32:1), "Removed" (Psa
103:12), "Cast behind God's back" (Isa 38:17), "Blotted out" (Psa 51:1; Isa
44:22), "Washed away" (Psa 51:2,7), "Remembered no more" (Jer 31:34), "Sought
for but not found" (Jer 50:20), "Cast into the depths of the sea" (Mic
Death as an unconscious state: Psa 104:33; 146:3,4; Isa 38:18;
Ecc 9:5,6,10. Yet there is deliverance from Sheol for some: Psa 16:10; 17:15;
49:15; 73:24; Isa 26:19; Dan 12:1-3. The OT does not have the word
"resurrection", but the principle is plainly taught throughout.
Other songs of Isa and Hezekiah: Psa 120-134 (some compiled
from other authors); Psa 77; 88; 102.
HEZEKIAH HAD ASKED, "WHAT WILL BE THE SIGN THAT I WILL GO
UP TO THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD": Hezekiah asks for a sign that he will in fact
go back to the temple in three days. Rather than an indication of unbelief, his
request should be viewed against the background of his father Ahaz's refusal of
a sign in Isa 7:12. Isaiah gladly offers Hezekiah a choice of signs (v
I WILL GO UP TO THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD: This is
consistent with Hezekiah's previously-shown zeal for the house of the LORD (2Ch
29:3; cp Psa 122:1,9; 134:1,2).