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Isaiah 38:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick and near death. Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him, and said to him- Hezekiah reigned 29 years (2 Kings 18:2), and the sickness after which he was given 15 years therefore happened in the 14th year or his reign- the very same time that Assyria invaded (Is. 36:1). Trials so often come together, in such an intense and extreme way that the situation can only be of God rather than mere bad luck or coincidence. The full title of Isaiah is given perhaps because the theme is that Hezekiah was to live because of the prophetic word.

It could be that Hezekiah shared the smiting of the Assyrians, so that his suffering [the basis of Isaiah 53] was on account of suffering the judgment upon Israel's enemies- all so looking forward to the Lord's death. And his recovery from certain death at this time was intended to encourage the people to have faith that they too could be saved from certain destruction by the Assyrians, against all odds. We likewise are often given encounters with others whose experiences are to encourage us as we pass through the same, in essence.


Thus says Yahweh, ‘Set your house in order, for you will die, and not live’-  we should not assume too quickly that Hezekiah had no family at this stage; for he is commanded here to put in order his household ("house" is so often 'family' rather than the bricks of a house). Indeed the very same phrase is used of how Abraham would "command his household" to keep God's laws (Gen. 18:19). Perhaps that was the idea. He was to urgently teach his household more of God's ways as he was to soon die.

Isaiah 38:2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Yahweh-
The divans, which were also beds, were arranged next to the walls. We are left with the impression of a man utterly alone with God, turning his face away from Isaiah when he had delivered the message, facing the wall- and praying to Yahweh. This contrasts with how he had gone into the temple and prayed to God regarding the Assyrian threats. He now was unable to enter the temple, he was alone, Isaiah had gone out of the room (2 Kings 20), he was alone, back to the wall, alone with God.

Isaiah 38:3 And said, Remember now, Yahweh, I beg You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Your sight-
Hezekiah claimed to have lived with a good conscience but was at the same time aware of his sins (Is. 38:3 cp. 17); and his cutting off the gold of the temple to try to buy peace was surely a failure. Yet the conscience can be cleansed of sin, through the depth of the power of God's forgiveness. This is not the same as forgetfulness, self-righteousness or minimization of personal failings. Paul must surely have had twinges of guilt over his behaviour at times (not least over the bust up with Brethren Barnabas and Mark, Acts 15:39 cp. 2 Tim. 4:11); and yet he insists that he always had a good conscience. Paul likewise claims that the Jewish forefathers served God with a pure conscience (2 Tim. 1:3 NIV). Yet the Jewish fathers, dear Jacob particularly, must have had plenty of twinges of guilt over their years.

Walking in truth is the term used to characterize the seed of David (1 Kings 2:4; 3:6), as David personally walked in truth (Ps. 26:3; 86:11), and may not of itself mean that Hezekiah is saying he has not sinned; it's as if Hezekiah assumed that because he was the seed of David, he therefore ought not to die. As will be explained on :5, the adding of days to his life was a way of saying that he was being accepted as the seed of David; and yet he failed to use those years to save his people. It could be argued that by refusing to die when asked to, Hezekiah was disallowing his being the fulfilment of the Messianic suffering servant who was to die for his people.

Hezekiah is clearly over rating his own spirituality. But to say these things at such a desperate point, facing death, indicates how strongly he was persuaded of his own righteousness. His claim to have "done good" was true (2 Chron. 31:20) but he also uses the words of Ecc. 7:20 "There is not a man that does good and sins not" [possibly written by Hezekiah in later life]. And David had said the same, that there is none that does good (Ps. 14:1,3; 53:3). Paul quotes that as evidence we need salvation by grace. The problem with the righteous is that they fail to see that they are still sinners and deserve death. Isaiah may allude to Hezekiah by saying that all our righteousness is as filthy rags before God and is only relative. Deuteronomy several times uses the term in saying that if Israel did what was good, they would not be invaded. But Hezekiah had been invaded...

Throughout Isaiah 1-35, Isaiah has strongly criticized Hezekiah. For his materialism, his stripping of the temple gold and giving some of it to Assyria and some to Egypt to send horses and chariots, for trusting in Egypt, for having the Egyptian proxy Shebna in his inner cabinet, for fortifying the city in his own strength, for being proud and turning a blind eye to abuse of the poor. Isaiah had walked naked and barefoot three years trying to appeal to Hezekiah and Judah not to trust in Gentile powers. Isaiah's various prophecies against the surrounding nations are all in the context of appealing to Hezekiah not to trust in them, because they are going to be judged and rendered powerless by Assyria. Hezekiah offers no repentance to God for all this when faced with the judgment of premature death, although when saved by grace, he does marvel at God's forgiveness of him without his formal repentance. His insistence that he had served God well may therefore refer to the huge spiritual reforms and keeping of Passover which he did 14 years previously when he first became king. Rather than to a lifetime lived in that spirit.

Hezekiah doesn't specifically request healing. But this is how his prayer was interpreted by God, and that was the answer given. We have here another example of how God understands the essence of our thinking and treats that as prayer. Romans 8 is clear that we know not how to pray for as we ought, but the Lord Jesus as "the Lord the Spirit" intercedes according to our spirit. Those who can't verbalize are not therefore any weaker in prayer than those to whom verbalization comes much easier.

We note that earlier, Hezekiah had prayed for those who kept the Passover whilst unclean, and they had been "healed" according to his prayer (2 Chron. 30:20 "Yahweh listened to Hezekiah, and healed the people"). Hezekiah is here "healed" (s.w. 2 Kings 20:5,8). We wonder why he doesn't specifically request his own healing? Perhaps he was too depressed. Or just willing to accept God's will. Or perhaps it was that the peoples' plague was due to infringement of Divine law, whereas he wrongly felt he had not sinned. He therefore felt he didn't deserve his death, and pleads with God to remember his spotless life. Something is clearly wrong here in his thinking, as it is in the thinking of all who consider death to be somehow unfair. 

This is another allusion to Solomon's prayer. Solomon's idea was that if Israel walked before God with a perfect heart, then their prayers would be heard because of the physical temple; for Yahweh "keeps covenant and grace with Your servants who walk before You with all their heart" (1 Kings 8:23). But Hezekiah was to be shown that this was far too simplistic. God hears prayer by grace and not because of the existence of any temple. And so Hezekiah prays this prayer not in the temple; for the answer he gets assures him that in three days he will be able to enter the temple.  

 Hezekiah wept bitterly-  Perhaps in prayer, asking God to change the outcome. For as with Nineveh, in the gap between Divine statement and its fulfilment, we can repent and change the word which otherwise would have come true (Jer. 18:8-10). His bitterness was apparently because, as he later reflects, he felt it was unfair to cut him off prematurely, in middle age. He didn't perceive the wages of sin are death, and like many, felt wrongly entitled to life.

In 2 Chron. 30 we read of Hezekiah having to make decisions at the great Passover which he organized. Some ate it on  the second month, and others ate it unclean or with priests unclean. Numbers 9 allowed for those who were distant or travelling to keep the Passover a month later. But that legislation doesn't cover the eventuality here- that the priests were unclean. Likewise in 2 Chron. 30:18, "yet they ate the Passover otherwise than it is written". So we see how God's laws were not seen as a leash, as a letter that had to be literalistically obeyed. By contrast, contemporary Hittite laws condemned any failure to keep a festival on its specified day. The law of Moses is hereby shown to be open to interpretation and obedience according to spirit and not letter. Perhaps it was this perception of Divine flexibility that led Hezekiah to reason with God to change His plan that Hezekiah should die.

 The bitterness may have been because he perceived, as most then did, that premature death was a judgment from God because of sin. The Psalms ask for wicked men to be cut off in their prime (Ps. 54:23; 89:45); and long life was a blessing of keeping the covenant (Dt. 6:2; 32:47). Perhaps indeed Hezekiah had sinned. And had to repent of his pride. He considered himself righteous- when measured against men. But his later psalm of gratitude, recorded in Is. 38, shows him appreciating that his sins had been cast behind God's back in forgiveness. We too experience things which help us to perceive our sinfulness, and to stop justifying ourselves by our relative righteousness when compared to men. We also could note that Hezekiah seems to have little conception of a future resurrection. He wants to be healed so he can return to the temple and do his music...

Isaiah 38:4 Then the word of Yahweh came to Isaiah, saying-
It seems from 2 Kings 20:4 that once he reached the middle court of the palace, he was told by God to "turn again" and give Hezekiah assurance of healing. The whole incident shows the speed with which God responds to prayers, and His sensitivity to human prayer and repentance.A relatively few words from Hezekiah [unlike Moses' 40 days intercession to change God's mind] triggered this change. He is so sensitive to us. Just half an hour's prayer at the most [the time it took Isaiah to leave Hezekiah's room and walk out of the palace] triggered a Divine volte face.

Isaiah 38:5 Go, and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says Yahweh the God of David your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life-

"The God of David your father" is mentioned because the death of Hezekiah childless would have meant that the Davidiv line of kings would have died out. God intended to end the line at this point. But He relented, deferring it until the death of Zedekiah some generations later.

Hezekiah doesn't specifically request healing. But this is how his prayer was interpreted by God, and that was the answer given. We have here another example of how God understands the essence of our thinking and treats that as prayer. Romans 8 is clear that we know not how to pray for as we ought, but the Lord Jesus as "the Lord the Spirit" intercedes according to our spirit. Those who can't verbalize are not therefore any weaker in prayer than those to whom verbalization comes much easier.

We note that earlier, Hezekiah had prayed for those who kept the Passover whilst unclean, and they had been "healed" according to his prayer (2 Chron. 30:20 "Yahweh listened to Hezekiah, and healed the people"). Hezekiah is here "healed" (s.w. 2 Kings 20:5,8). We wonder why he doesn't specifically request his own healing? Perhaps he was too depressed. Or just willing to accept God's will. Or perhaps it was that the peoples' plague was due to infringement of Divine law, whereas he wrongly felt he had not sinned. He therefore felt he didn't deserve his death, and pleads with God to remember his spotless life. Something is clearly wrong here in his thinking, as it is in the thinking of all who consider death to be somehow unfair. 


We frequently read of a man's "days" as if there is a Divinely appointed number of says to each human life. But God can cut short a wicked man, so that he doesn't live out half his days (Ps. 55:23). With Hezekiah, God added to his days. Just as Dt. 27:20 promised that the good king would "prolong his days". Dt. 4:26 warns Israel that if they sinned, they would not prolong their days- as if the idea of prolonging was potentially there for them, but they might miss it. The very idea of years being "added" to Hezekiah suggests that an original plan was amended. So again we see God's openness and sensitivity to human prayer and behaviour, modifying plans accordingly. 

Kings adds more detail, denoted here in italics: "Behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the King of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake" (2 Kings 20:5,6 AV). The defence of Zion at this time was predicated upon God's grace; judgment was intended to come unless they repented, and most of them hadn't. And so God stresses He will save Zion by grace, for His own sake and not that of His peoples' prayer or repentance. This says something about the effectiveness of Hezekiah's prayers. The cure was not instant, it took three days; for the same reason as there will be the process of judgment between our resurrection and entrance to the Kingdom. The period between God's pronouncement of blessing and the realization of it is for our benefit, that we might grow in appreciation. The healing enabled Hezekiah to enter the temple; from God's perspective, the most significant aspect of his illness was that its uncleanness precluded him from entering the temple. We notice the parallel between Hezekiah's prayer and his tears;  God reads situations as prayers. Prayer is understood by Him far wider than simply words as lexical items. Otherwise those more able to verbalize would pray 'better'; and acceptable prayer is not related to our ability to verbalize. The healing coming after three days was perhaps to test Hezekiah. For this is why answers to prayer don't come immediately.

See on 2 Kings 19:15. I suggest there that in his prayer for national deliverance, Hezekiah had prayed in the temple, thinking that God "saw" things uttered there. But he is being taught that God 'sees' sincere prayer regardless of the temple building. And after three days, Hezekiah was to go to the temple just to praise God for His grace.

The years 'added' to the king's life are expressed in the words of Ps. 61:6, where David felt that God would "prolong [s.w. "add to"] the king's life [s. w. "days"]. The clear allusion to David's words was perhaps to show that God considered Hezekiah to be the Davidic king who could have been the Messianic Son of David. But Hezekiah despised that and wasted those years in self-satisfaction. There is also a theme in Solomon's teaching that his son would have 'days added' (the same Hebrew phrase) to his life, because of his obedience to wisdom (Prov. 3:2; 9:11; 10:27). Again, the idea is that the adding of days to Hezekiah's life was confirming him as the seed of David.

Isaiah 38:6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city-
Yahweh had earlier stated that He would not "deliver" (s.w.) Jerusalem from the Assyrian lion (Is. 5:29). But as in Hosea, God speaks in wrath but then His grace is such that He doesn't carry out what He threatens. He has emotion and speaks and acts in that fire of passion. That was normal in the Middle East; it is the western obsession with nicespeak and measured responses which make outburst behaviour and language appear inappropriate. Micah was contemporary with Isaiah, and he spoke of the 'deliverance'
 (s.w.) of the city from the Assyrians as being due to the appearance of a Messianic figure (Mic. 5:6).  Here in Is 38:6, the deliverance of Hezekiah personally from inevitable death is tied up with the deliverance of Jerusalem from inevitable judgment. He surely could have been one of the possible fulfillments of the Messianic figure, which makes his failure to rise up to it all the more tragic.

We learn here that although Hezekiah's sickness and the deliverance from the Assyrians happened at about the same, Hezekiah's healing from sickness happened before the deliverance of the "sick man" of Judah from the Assyrians. It was all by grace, and Hezekiah's healing was intended to give inspiration to others to believe that the Assyrian "death" would also be removed. We likewise encounter people whose expriences of God's grace are designed to inspire us in our issues.

Isaiah 38:7 This shall be the sign to you from Yahweh, that Yahweh will do this thing that He has spoken-
2 Kings is clear that Hezekiah asked for a sign- for there were three days before he would be able to go into the temple. This could be read as weak faith on his part- and he utters no immediate gratitude, bearing in mind that he felt at the time that by evening he would be dead [according to his later prayer of thanks]. His comment that God sending the shadow forward ten degrees would be 'too easy' rather sounds as if his request was from scepticism and unbelief. But it can be argued another way- that his request for a sign was intentionally learning from his father Ahaz's mistake in refusing a sign. The difference in possible interpretation is intentional. We can only ponder whether Hezekiah showed faith or unbelief by requesting a sign. Just as we ponder our own actions and ask the same.
It seems that unlike his father Ahaz, Hezekiah had asked for this sign (:22). It is apparent that the experiences of believers are often suggestive of those of other believers. Insofar as we appreciate this, we will find strength to go the right way. Consider how Hezekiah was intended to see the similarities between himself and the earlier king Ahaz his father, and learn the lessons. They were both threatened by invasion and tempted to turn to human help (Is. 7:2; 37:1); Visited by Isaiah and told to not fear (Is. 7:4-9; 37:6,7). Ahaz was unfaithful by “the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the fuller’s field” (Is. 7:3); and in just the same place Hezekiah’s faith was tested and he learnt the lessons of Ahaz’ failure (Is. 36:2). Both were given a sign by God and promised deliverance (Is. 7:14; 37:30). Ahaz refused to ask for a sign when offered one (Is. 7:11); whereas Hezekiah learnt, and asked for a sign (Is. 38:7,22). Thus his asking for a sign was not a sign of faithlessness but rather his seeking to not be like Ahaz. “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it” was spoken to both Ahaz (Is. 9:6) and Hezekiah (Is. 37:32).

Isaiah 38:8 Behold, I will cause the shadow on the sundial, which has gone down on the sundial of Ahaz with the sun, to return backward ten steps. ’ So the sun returned ten steps on the sundial on which it had gone down-
"The stairway built by King Ahaz", Hezekiah's father, was part of his idolatrous sun worship which Hezekiah ought to have destroyed. It was a kind of small ziggurat. It was the Babylonians who had begun telling the time in this way; there is no mention of "hours" of the day in the Hebrew Bible until the time of Daniel. Here we have another hint at the incomplete spirituality and reformation of Hezekiah. The "songs of degrees" were written or rewritten to apply to this experience of the sun returning ten degrees or steps. There are 15 of them, matching the 15 extra years of life given to Hezekiah.

It seems that 10 of the 15 songs of degrees were written by Hezekiah, perhaps connecting with how the shadow returned 10 degrees. We enquire however why the shadow returned ten degrees to symbolize how Hezekiah was being given fifteen years. One possibility is to consider that the Hebrew term for "fifteen" is two distinct words, the words for 'five' and 'ten'. God's openness is such that perhaps He is hinting that He would add five or ten or fifteen years.

It could also be that the sundial of idolatrous Ahaz had probably been brought from Assyria, as such things were common there and had pagan associations. Hezekiah had not destroyed his father's idol- another hint that his devotion to God was far less than ideal.

Shadows can go back if a light brighter than the sun shines upon the object causing the shadow. This was observed during the meteorite incident in Chelyabinsk, Russia, which was brighter than the sun. It is Isaiah who speaks of God's glory in Zion appearing brighter than the sun (Is. 60:19; 62:21). The intention of this was to be that Gentiles came to this light and brightness (Is. 60:3). The Babylonian ambassadors came to enquire of the sign done in the land. So it seems that the bright light of Yahweh's glory appeared in the land and changed the shadow. This is far preferrable to speculation that the earth, and the entire solar system, reversed its direction of travel. This was a foretaste to Judah, in their dark hour surrounded by their enemies, of what potentially could happen. The Kingdom of God could then have been established in some form. But Hezekiah let the ball drop. Instead of converting the Babylonians, he boasted to them. And brought judgment upon Zion. We reflect that if Hezekiah had asked to bring the shadow forward, then God had another option in view. We see here the interplay between human freewill and Divine openness. 

Is. 30:26 again parallels Hezekiah's sickness with Jerusalem's woeful state [as does Is. 33:24 "the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity"]. The healing was to be associated with a bright light, and that is what made the shadows go back: "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound".

"Gone down" is the word used by Hezekiah in speaking of how he feels he had "gone down" into the grave (:18). It is as if Hezekiah has died, the sun gone down those degrees, and then resurrected, brought up the same amount. He could have been a Messianic figure in a reestablished kingdom of God in Judah. The "return backward" of the sun is a phrase often used of the return of the exiles from Babylon to be part of that reestablished Kingdom. Hezekiah's revival / resurrection was to be seen as that of his people. How the miracle happened is not the essential question; but it could have been caused by the glory of Yahweh bursting forth so that the shadow was chased back.

We must factor in the additional information from 2 Kings 20:10: "Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go forward ten steps. Nay, but let the shadow return backward ten steps". Hezekiah's attitude in asking  for a sign, and the way he responds to the offer for the shadow to go forward, all hardly indicates firm faith and trust. And yet he had earlier had such faith. The Hebrew word translated "light" can mean two things, and neither of them read very nicely for Hezekiah to say this. It can mean 'easy'; and to say it was easy for the light to go forward, involving the apparent manipulation of the sun and therefore the entire cosmos, was no "light" thing for God to do. The word can by extension mean "despised" or "cursed", and is often translated like that. Hezekiah is saying that for life to be 'fast forwarded', for him to be cut off in the midst of his days by the sun advancing forward, is easy for God. But it would be harder, surely, for God to make the sun as it were go backward, to create time, to reverse the time of his life by giving him more time. And despite that unpleasant, bitter attitude to God, God responds by giving him more life. Hezekiah had faith, but so did Elijah; but faith without hope and love is nothing, as Paul says. And Elijah was removed from his ministry despite having so much faith. The reversal of time spoke only of a delay; Hezekiah's death was not removed, but delayed by 15 years. The time shift would have reminded the perceptive of Joshua's long day, when again time was as it were tampered with- in order to enable a military victory. And a similar victory was given against Assyria at this time.
Hezekiah asks for a sign “to prove” that God’s predicted cure of him was going to happen. And when given the option of the shadow of the sun jumping forward by ten degrees, he almost mocks that as too ‘easy’. Yet this is the man with the accolade at one point that no King believed in God like he did..

Isaiah 38:9 The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and had recovered of his sickness-
LXX "The prayer of Hezekiah". "Recovered" here translates a common word for 'to make to live'. If recovery or healing was in view, another word would have been used- that used in Is. 39:1. Hezekiah uses the word in :16 "cause me to live". The idea is that he had effectively died. Whether he literally did or not is not the ultimate issue; his sickness is framed as a living death, from which he resurrected. The same word is used in :1; Hezekiah would "not live" or "not recover". But he does, such is God's openness to change His plans in response to human prayer. The recovery was clearly a Divine 'Plan B' and not necessarily what God had ideally wanted. Perhaps He wanted Hezekiah to die and be resurrected. Or perhaps indeed Hezekiah did not recover; he died, but was resurrected, and in that sense he recovered. The word is definitely used about resurrection in Is. 26:19 and elsewhere.

Isaiah 38:10 I said, In the middle of my life I go into the gates of Sheol. I am deprived of the residue of my years-
Hezekiah understood sheol as the place where there is no "living" (:11); the grave. "The middle" is literally 'the meridian', an allusion to the sundial which he perhaps viewed from his bed of sickness, and which was the appropriate sign to give him seeing as he watched the sun climb and decline on the steps. If it indeed was an idolatrous import from Assyria as suggested earlier, he would have had time to reflect on the incomplete nature of his purges and perhaps his own repentance. Hezekiah's reasoning seems based around the supposition that this life is all he had to enjoy, and at 39 he felt he was in the midst of it. The perspective of eternity doesn't seem to figure. The language of 'deprivation' likewise seems to presume that he has a right to life, whereas sinners deserve only death. Like Job, Hezekiah is made self-centered by the reality of pain, depression and illness; and yet is saved at the same time. Those things are understood by God and seen through as surface level issues. Preemature death is clearly seen as a punishment, and all Hezekiah did was to protest how unfair that was. He failed to perceive that the wages of sin is death, and we have no right to life.

Isaiah 38:11 I said, I won’t see Yah, Yah in the land of the living. I will see man no more with the inhabitants of the world-
This may be a lament that he would not live to see Yahweh destroying the Assyrians and establishing His Kingdom; hence LXX "I shall no more at all see the salvation of God in the land of the living: I shall no more at all see the salvation of Israel on the earth". Several of Isaiah's prophecies had suggested the literal coming of Yahweh to Zion in the restored kingdom (Is. 4:5,6). The Old Testament faithful feared death because it meant no communion with God. For them, life was all about daily fellowship and engagement with God; anything else was death. It was a wonderful life, and any state without that was to be feared. So their view of death reflected their view of life. Their mental lives were therefore full of communion with Him, as ours should be.

Isaiah 38:12 My dwelling is removed, and is carried away from me like a shepherd’s tent-
LXX " I have parted with the remainder of my life: it has gone forth and departed from me, as one that having pitched a tent takes it down again: my breath was with me as a weaver's web, when she that weaves draws nigh to cut off the thread". AV "Mine age is departed"; the Hebrew for "age" is strictly 'a revolution', again reflecting how he had been watching the revolution of time on the sundial from his bed of sickness. The reference to a tent being taken down connects with the descriptions of the permanence of the restored Zion, as a tabernacle which would not again be taken down (Is. 33:20). He believed that he would not see this; he felt his destiny was that of the "tabernacle" in Zion. We could argue that he thereby failed to perceive the role of bodily resurrection, so that he would ultimately see this. Or that he doubted that Is. 33:20 was to come true. On the other hand, it could be that his identification of himself with the fortunes of Zion was positive, and was resolved by the message that he would be healed at the same time as the tabernacle would be permanently established through the destruction of the Assyrians. But he failed to live according to this faith in the final 15 years of his life.

I have rolled up, like a weaver, my life. He will cut me off from the loom- The same word for 'weaving' is used in Isaiah of those who weaved unspiritual plans to try to avoid the Assyrian judgment (Is. 19:9; 59:5). Perhaps he reflected upon his agreements with the Assyrians and cutting off the gold from the temple to pay for them. And he felt he was to be judged for that.

 From day even to night You will make an end of me- He was at the gates of the grave (:10), feeling that he would die by the end of that night, in the morning (:13). "Make an end" is more strictly 'recompense' (s.w. Is. 59:18; 65:6; Jer. 16:18). Perhaps he felt he was being judged for sin and was to receive the recompense for iniquity, in death. And yet he protests he has not sinned. We could read this as self-righteousness; or see him as the representative of God's sinful people, the just suffering for the unjust in the spirit of the Lord Jesus, the ultimate "suffering servant".

Is. 28:14,17-19: "hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem... the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place... when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report". This is the same idea in Hezekiah's lament that he would die by morning. His terminal illness, which was delayed by grace, represented Judah's judgment. Elsewhere the Assyrian invasion is likened to flood waters which swallowed all Judah, and left Jerusalem alone with head above water, about to be drowned. It was God's intention that Jerusalem also would fall. It didn't by grace alone, and the power of Isaiah's intercession. There is the possibility in Is. 28:22,23,26 that repentance could change the outcome: "Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth [land, including Jerusalem]. Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech...For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him". There was some repentance, shown by Hezekiah and the leadership wearing sackcloth. This and Isaiah's prayers changed the outcome.

Isaiah 38:13 I waited patiently until morning. He breaks all my bones like a lion. From now until tonight You will make an end of me-
See on :12. Assyria was the lion, and yet Yahweh was behind that lion. He feels his destiny is tied up with that of Judah. He suffered as their representative. Therefore he is assured that his healing is tied up with the salvation of Zion from Assyria.
LXX gives the sense: "I was given up as to a lion until the morning: so has he broken all my bones: for I was so given up from day even to night". The Assyrians were the lion, and Hezekiah feels that his death is as it were giving Assyria the victory. He fails to see the glory and purpose of God in wider terms, seeing his own living as indispensible to the purpose of God. See on :15.

Isaiah 38:14 I am chattering like a swallow or a crane, moaning like a dove. My eyes weaken looking upward-
He admits that his faith in the God above is weakening as he faces death. "Chatter" is the word used in Is. 29:4 of how Judah are to be brought down in condemnation and chatter out of the dust; he feels condemned although he is not, bearing Judah's sins and condemnation, exactly as the Lord Jesus did. But there is no mention of faith in resurrection, as there is with Job when he feels the same, and also is presented as the suffering servant. Perhaps he alludes to Ps. 84:3, where the Psalmist is also excluded from the temple, and is jealous of the swallows who can fly in there despite their uncleanness. Perhaps too Hezekiah uses this idea of birds moaning and chattering as if to say that he didn't know how to verbalize and express himself in prayer. He was just making a noise. Indeed we are not specifically told what Hezekiah prayed for, at least not whether he asked for healing and a longer life; perhaps because he didn't ask in so many words. But God saw what his spirit was and responded to that, rather than his actual words. He was given 15 years extra because God heard his prayer, in that He counted his unexpressed thoughts as his prayer. Yet we all know not how to pray for as we ought. And like Hezekiah, our prayer is heard because the spirit of it is perceived. Indeed the emphasis is that God heard Hezekiah for His sake, for the sake of His purpose with David and His grace; rather than simply for the sake of Hezekiah's prayer. "For My sake" contrasts with any idea that Hezekiah was being saved for his sake. Again we note that Hezekiah represents all Judah- for Isaiah will later state that "We all... moan bitterly like doves, for we look for salvation, but it is far from us" (Is. 59:11).

Lord, I am oppressed- This is the word used in Is. 30:12; 59:13 of Judah's trust in Egypt and clever political alliances. Hezekiah is bearing Judah's sins, but he is also aware of his own sin in cutting off the gold of the temple and allowing those sinful alliances to go ahead in his name.


Be my salvation- "Be my salvation" or AV "undertake for me" is the word used by Rabshakeh when he sarcastically asks Hezekiah to surrender to the Assyrians (see on Is. 36:8). His sickness came at the same time as the siege of Jerusalem; see on Is. 36:1.

Isaiah 38:15 What will I say?-
As the seed of David, he feels like David did when the great promises of the Messianic seed were given to him. This is the point of awe at God's grace which we should all come to. The feeling of "wow!".

He has both spoken to me, and Himself has done it- The word of Isaiah promising healing was God's word, and had been done. It is the language of new creation, common in later Isaiah; God spoke and it was done. But Hezekiah was to later waste that wonderful potential.  He marvels that God Himself had responded to his prayer so quickly. God Himself had personally been involved in the whole thing. The God who speaks through the prophets ["has spoken to me"] is the God who Himself deals with me. He is moving towards personal relationship with God, whereas he had earlier spoken to Isaiah of "Yahweh your God".

I will walk carefully all my years because of that anguished experience of my soul- Hezekiah saw Jacob's watershed experience that night of wrestling as analogous to his own experience during his sickness: "I reckoned till morning, that as a lion he would break all my bones (cp. Esau's approach)... I shall go softly (cp. "I will lead on softly", Gen. 33:14)... for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back" (Is. 38:13,15). Tragically, Hezekiah didn't keep Jacob as his hero. He succumbed to the very materialism which Jacob permanently rejected that night. Hezekiah, typical of all men, was on a cusp of gratitude and spirituality, whereby he felt sure he would live like this the rest of his days, "all my years". But he didn't. No spiritual peak is automatically retained but must be consciously retained. Hezekiah and Judah had made the same mistake at the time of the reforms of 2 Chron. 30. 

Isaiah 38:16 Lord, men live by these things; and my spirit finds life in all of them: You restore me, and cause me to live-
The revival he felt was not simply of physical healing, but in spiritual restoration.  This again suggests he was not in fact a stellar example of spirituality beforehand. But he didn't render again according to the grace given, and he didn't keep this natural undertaking to live spiritually "by these things", as a result of the healing and national deliverance given.
LXX "Yea, O Lord, for it was told thee concerning this; and thou hast revived my breath; and I am comforted, and live"; GNB " Lord, I will live for you, for you alone; Heal me and let me live". Paul appears to apply Hezekiah's experience and insights here to each of us: "For we who live are always being delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh." (2 Cor. 4:11).

When we are seriously ill or in great calamity, we focus upon very simple ideas. God truly loves me and cares for me. My Lord Jesus will come again. He will raise me. Judgment lies ahead, but He wants me in His Kingdom. He died for me. He has a plan for me. He loves me and wishes only my eternal good. Hezekiah was driven to this when he was terminally ill. Afterwards he felt as a little child, and concluded: “by these things men live...”. Yet we are all terminally ill, if only we would know it. Paul quotes from the experience of Hezekiah at this time and says that this should be the keynote of our witness (2 Cor. 4:13 cp. Ps. 116:10). He was “delivered from death” and therefore promised to walk before the Lord “in the lands of the living”, believing in salvation and therefore speaking to those lands of it (RV). We all face the day when we shall be as water spilt on the ground, that cannot be gathered up; when the delicate, beautiful chandelier of human life will come crashing to the ground, when the rope holding the bucket snaps, and it falls into the well. In all these Biblical images of death, we face the tragic irreversibility of it all. Our bodies are already riddled with the cancer of inevitable decay. Today, while it is still today, we must focus ourselves upon the vital and essential realities of our faith, and away from all the peripheral issues upon which our flesh would far rather dwell.

Isaiah 38:17 Behold, for peace I had great anguish, but You have in love for my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption; for You have cast all my sins behind Your back-
This again suggests that Hezekiah's previous life had not been of totally stellar obedience. Hezekiah didn't have "peace" before his suffering, so we must go with other translations.
LXX "For thou hast chosen my soul, that it should not perish: and thou hast cast all my sins behind me"; GNB "My bitterness will turn into peace. You save my life from all danger; You forgive all my sins". Hezekiah had simply told God of his upright life. God healed him for His Name's sake, and for David's sake- for the sake of the sure mercies / grace promised to David. Yet when he received the healing, Hezekiah realizes his sins. His prayer changed him, but not God, who was aware of Hezekiah's sins before Hezekiah was, and responded to his need by grace and not because of Hezekiah's righteousness. God healed him, instead of turning away from him because of his self righteousness and lack of confession of sin. But it was this grace which elicited within him an awareness of his sin and God's forgiveness.Our forgiveness of others can achieve the same. And yet they like Hezekiah can not render again according to the grace given.

To cast behind the back means to despise, to take lightly and to not take seriously. It doesn't mean to totally forget. It is the term used for how Judah had cast God and His law behind their backs (1 Kings 14:9; Neh. 9:26; Ez. 23:35). This gives some window onto how God feels about our sins once He has forgiven them. He is historically aware of the sins He has forgiven but He despises them and doesn't take them seriously. The same ideas are found in how Moses "took your sin, the calf you had made... and I cast the dist thereof into the brook" (Dt. 9:21).

Isaiah 38:18 For Sheol can’t praise You. Death can’t celebrate You. Those who go down into the pit can’t hope for Your truth-
That death is truly unconsciousness, even for the righteous, is demonstrated by the repeated pleas of God’s servants to allow their lives to be lengthened, because they knew that after death they would be unable to praise and glorify God, seeing that death was a state of unconsciousness. Hezekiah (Is. 38:17-19) and David (Ps. 6:4,5; 30:9; 39:13; 115:17) are good examples of this. Death is repeatedly referred to as a sleep or rest, both for the righteous and the wicked (Job 3:11,13,17; Dan. 12:13). And yet Hezekiah reasons as if he has no hope of future resurrection; in the grave he could have hoped for God's truth, the fulfilment of the promises to David which were clearly in his mind at this time. It was the lack of this future perspective which led him to his final failure, of considering that "peace and truth" in his last years was a good enough reward (see on Is. 39:8). Paul warns against the misery of thinking that "in this life only we have hope in Christ". It is a malaise that affects many claiming to be Christian- they have no clear idea of any future hope, and live today according to Christian tradition but with little longer term perspective. Whereas the Bible continually emphasizes the hope of personal bodily resurrection and eternity at the Lord's return.

Isaiah 38:19 The living, the living, he shall praise You, as I do this day. The father shall make known Your truth to the children-
LXX "for from this day shall I beget children, who shall declare thy righteousness". This is not to say that at 39 he had no children, for he was commanded to arrange the affairs of his household / family (:1). And yet he vows to teach the "truth" of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenant to his children in future. Is. 39:7 suggests he would now have [more?] children. His children were a remarkable failure. He apparently didn't do this. His having children after his recovery and figurative resurrection would look forward to the Lord's spiritual achievement. But again he is focused upon the life that now is, and assumes he will have children who will take forward God's truth- rather than any mention or implication of a faith in resurrection and a future Kingdom. David had such a faith and understanding, as did Job; Hezekiah clearly didn't.

Hezekiah presents as childless, and now promises to tell his future children God's "truth". But this was on a cusp of emotion, because when he is told in Is. 39:7 that his sons were to be eunuchs in Babylon, he makes no appeal for this to be changed. He is just relieved that there will be peace during his 15 years. Again we see, as in the lesson of the zealous reforms of 2 Chron. 30 that didn't last, that true spirituality is not on the cusp of emotion nor the passion of a moment. Men may do fine things and make huge sacrifice at one point- but it's the long run, in spiritual terms, which God looks at. And that is also true for the high profile sins of some.

Isaiah 38:20 Yahweh will save me-
This is the idea of the Hebrew word for "Jesus", 'Yehoshua'.

Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of Yahweh- The "songs of degrees" were written or rewritten to apply to this experience of the sun returning ten degrees or steps. There are 15 of them, matching the 15 extra years of life given to Hezekiah. There are ten of those 15 songs written by Hezekiah, perhaps alluding to the ten degrees the shadow went backward. "Our life" may refer to his children (:19). But as discussed on Is. 39:8, he still sees service to God as limited to his lifetime, "all the days of our life", clearly referring to the 15 years 'added to your days'.

Isaiah 38:21 Now Isaiah had said, Let them take a cake of figs, and lay it for a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover-
The poultice of fig leaves didn't heal him nor could it specifically give him 15 years of life. Indeed, fig leaves were an inadequate covering in Eden. God's grace saved from judgment, not fig leaves. There was no need for this, because his salvation was by a miracle. But it was perhaps given in reflection of his weak faith and needing something visible; hence :22 begins "Hezekiah also had" asked for a sign, as if the cake of figs was likewise associated with his needing visible assurances. We note it was done on Isaiah's initiative, who perhaps perceived Hezekiah's need for something visible.

Whatever Hezekiah's illness was, it is presented as being the result of a boil which was causing the invasion of his body with an illness which would kill him. This is analagous to the situation with Judah. An invasion was rapidly spreading which was to destroy them, and so Hezekiah's illness and the delay in his death [for he was not saved from death, but just from death at that time] speaks of the delay in Judah's judgment. Although the essence of the prophecy remained true, the fulfilment was changed in channel- from the Assyrians to the Babylonians. Perhaps Isaiah has this in view when he says in Is. 55:11 that God's word shall not return to Him empty but will achieve its intention, finally. And this is how so many prophecies are fulfilled- through a process of recaluclation and reapplication, with the essence coming true but not the letter. Likewise the judgment upon Nineveh was delayed- Nahum is clear that it did come, but much later than initially planned.

Isaiah 38:22 Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I will go up to the house of Yahweh?
- Or as LXX "This is a sign to Ezekias, that I shall go up to the house of God". The request for this sign could be read as a lack of faith; or an attempt to learn the lesson of his father Ahaz, who was condemned for not asking for a sign. See on :7. The chronology in 2 Chron. 20:7-9 appears to suggest that after he was healed, Hezekiah asked for a sign that he really was healed: "Isaiah said, Take a cake of figs. They took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. Hezekiah said to Isaiah, What shall be the sign that Yahweh will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of Yahweh the third day? Isaiah said, This shall be the sign to you from Yahweh, that Yahweh will do the thing that He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?".