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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 38



Verse 1

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

But see notes on Isaiah 36:1-22; Isaiah 37:1-38, in which the theory is advanced by Hincks, that Hezekiah's sickness is out of its right order in our collocation of Isaiah's text, and that it really came about the 14th year of his reign, when Sargon (not "Sennacherib," Isaiah 36:1) the "king of Assyria" came up against Palestine (Isaiah 20:1, etc.; 36:1). So "the 14th year" in Isaiah 36:1 is out of its place, and refers to Sargon's futile invasion, at least eleven years before Sennacherib's invasion.

Set thine house in order - Make arrangement as to the succession to the throne; because he had no son then: and as to thy other concerns.

Thou shalt die - speaking according to the ordinary course of the disease. His being spared fifteen years was not a change in God's mind, but an illustration of God's dealings being unchangeably regulated by the state of man in relation to Him.

Verse 2

Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD,

Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall. The couches in the East ran along the walls of houses. He turned away from the spectators, to hide his emotion and collect his thoughts for prayer.

Verse 3

And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

Remember now, O Lord ... He mentions his past religious consistency not as a boast, or a ground for justification, but according to the Old Testament dispensation, wherein temporal rewards (as long life, etc., Exodus 20:12) followed legal obedience, he makes his religious conduct a plea for asking the prolongation of his life.

Walked - life is a journey: the pious 'walk with God' (Genesis 5:24; 1 Kings 9:4).

With a perfect heart - sincere. not absolutely perfect, but aiming toward it (Matthew 5:45): single-minded in walking as in the presence of God (Genesis 17:1), The letter of the Old Testament legal righteousness was, however, a standard very much below the spirit of the law as unfolded by Christ (Matthew 5:20-48; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 3:17).

And Hezekiah wept sore. Josephus says the reason why he wept so sorely was that, being childless, he was leaving the kingdom without a successor. How often our wishes, when gratified, prove curses! Hezekiah lived to have a son, late in life (for his son was only twelve years old at his accession, 2 Kings 21:1), about three years after Hezekiah's sickness. That son was the idolater Manasseh, the chief cause of God's wrath against Judah, and of the overthrow of the kingdom (2 Kings 23:26-27).

Verse 4

Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying,

Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah. In 2 Kings 20:4 the quickness of God's answer to the prayer is marked: "afore Isaiah had gone out into the middle court the word of the Lord came to him" - i:e., before he had left Hezekiah, or at least when he had just left him, and Hezekiah was in the act of praying, after having heard God's message by Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 65:24; Psalms 32:5; Daniel 9:21).

Verse 5

Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

The God of David thy father. God remembers the covenant with the father to the children (Exodus 20:6; Psalms 89:28-29).

I have seen thy tears - (Psalms 56:8.)

I will add unto thy days fifteen years. Man's years, however many (as those of Methuselah), are but as so many days (Genesis 5:27).

Verse 6

And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.

In 2 Kings 20:8, after this verse comes the statement as to the means and the sign of his cure, which is put at the end, in order not to interrupt God's message (Isaiah 38:21-22) by Isaiah (Isaiah 38:5-8).

I will deliver thee and this city. The city was already delivered, but here assurance is given, that Hezekiah shall have no more to fear from the Assyrians.

Verse 7

And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken;

This (shall be) a sign - a token that God would fulfill His premise, that Hezekiah should 'go up into the house of the Lord the third day' (2 Kings 20:5; 2 Kings 20:8). The specification of the third day is not in Isaiah.

Verse 8

Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.

I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down - cause to return. In 2 Kings 20:9; 2 Kings 20:11 the choice is stated to have been given to Hezekiah whether the shadow should go forward or go back ten degree. Hezekiah replied, "It is a light thing (a less decisive miracle) for the shadow to go down (its usual direction) ten degrees: nay, but let it return backward ten degrees;" so Isaiah cried to Yahweh that it should be so, and it was so (cf. Joshua 10:12; Joshua 10:14).

In the sun-dial of Ahaz (Hebrew, b

Verses 9-20

The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness:

-The prayer and thanksgiving song of Hezekiah is only given here, not in the parallel passages of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

Verse 9. The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness, is the heading or inscription.

Verse 10. Cutting off of my days. Rosenmuller translates, 'the meridian;' when the sun stands in the zenith: Verse 10. Cutting off of my days. Rosenmuller translates, 'the meridian;' when the sun stands in the zenith: so "the perfect day," Proverbs 4:18. Or, 'in the tranquillity [ bidmiy (Hebrew #1824), from daamah (Hebrew #1820), or daamam (Hebrew #1826), to be silent] of my days' - i:e., that period of life when I might now look forward to a tranquil reign (Maurer). The Hebrew is so translated, Isaiah 62:6-7. The English version takes it from damah, to cut off-the image being that of a weaver cutting off the threads of the web from the beam. Isaiah 38:12 confirms this. The Arabic, 'in the taking away of my days.'

I shall go to - rather (Hebrew, 'eeleekaah (Hebrew #3212) b

Verse 21

For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover.

Lump of figs - a round cake of figs pressed into a mass (1 Samuel 25:18). God works by means, the meanest of which He can make effectual.

Boil - the inflamed ulcer or carbuncle. Meade thinks Hezekiah's sickness was a fever terminating in an abscess.

Verse 22

Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?

What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord? Hence, He makes the praises to be sung there prominent in his song (Isaiah 38:20; Psalms 116:12-14; Psalms 116:17-19).

Remarks: Men ought to have their house at all times 'set in order,' for they know not how soon they may "die." The great and rich have often more ties to bind them to the present life than the poor and humble; and so are often the most loath to leave it. But if the believer has committed his soul to His faithful and covenant keeping Father in Christ, he has no need to be anxious about secondary and worldly concerns. Hezekiah's pressing care in his sickness was, that if he should then die, he had no son to succeed him. Could he have foreseen what Manasseh, the son subsequently born to him; was about to prove, he would have been less concerned about the prospect of dying sonless. The servant of God, in prayer, though he cannot claim sinlessness, yet can appeal to the heart-searching God as to his sincerity (Isaiah 38:3). It is a consolation on a deathbed to be able, like Hezekiah, to say to the Lord, "I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart." None can say so absolutely; but every believer can say so relatively. Therefore, his prayer is acceptable to God, because "it goeth not out of feigned lips."


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 38:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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