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Hezekiah: Faith And Weakness

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CHAPTER 38 Jun. 14 
Hezekiah's Illness and Recovery
In those days was Hezekiah sick and near death. Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him, and said to him, Thus says Yahweh, ‘Set your house in order, for you will die, and not live’. 2Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Yahweh, 3and 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 wept bitterly. 4Then the word of Yahweh came to Isaiah, saying, 5Go, 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. 6I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city. 7This shall be the sign to you from Yahweh, that Yahweh will do this thing that He has spoken. 8Behold, 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. 9The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and had recovered of his sickness. 10I said, In the middle of my life I go into the gates of Sheol. I am deprived of the residue of my years. 11I 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. 12My dwelling is removed, and is carried away from me like a shepherd’s tent. I have rolled up, like a weaver, my life. He will cut me off from the loom. From day even to night You will make an end of me. 13I waited patiently until morning. He breaks all my bones like a lion. From now until tonight You will make an end of me. 14I am chattering like a swallow or a crane, moaning like a dove. My eyes weaken looking upward. Lord, I am oppressed. Be my salvation. 15What will I say? He has both spoken to me, and Himself has done it. I will walk carefully all my years because of that anguished experience of my soul. 16Lord, men live by these things; and my spirit finds life in all of them: You restore me, and cause me to live. 17Behold, 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. 18For Sheol can’t praise You. Death can’t celebrate You. Those who go down into the pit can’t hope for Your truth. 19The living, the living, he shall praise You, as I do this day. The father shall make known Your truth to the children. 20Yahweh will save me. Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of Yahweh. 21Now Isaiah had said, Let them take a cake of figs, and lay it for a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover. 22Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I will go up to the house of Yahweh?


38:1 In those days- His sickness was at the same time as the invasion. See on 36:1.
38:3 Hezekiah simply puts his situation before God, he doesn’t actually specifically ask for healing. But God saw the essence of his heart, and read this as a prayer requesting healing and the extension of life. At times, typically during illness, we find it hard to verbalize prayer; and yet God sees to the core of our hearts, and understands what are really our heart’s desires, and understands these as requests to Him.
38:5 I have heard your prayer, I have seen- Hezekiah had just been begging God to hearand see the behaviour of the Assyrians (37:17). God teaches us how to pray through some desperate experience, and then gives us another crisis in which we can as it were practice the style and intensity of prayer which we learnt in the previous experience.
38:19 Hezekiah didn’t want to die because he understood that after death he couldn’t praise God. His understanding of death was as a state of total unconsciousness, where he would meet with neither God nor man (:11). There was no ‘immortal soul’ or conscious survival of death in his theology, these were pagan ideas of the time which he clearly rejected- as should we. The devotional point is that life is for praising God; and given the brevity of it, every minute must be harnessed into His praise, rather than frittered away.