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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 39:4

 

 

He said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them."

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

What have they seen? - It is probable that the fact that Hezekiah had showed them the treasures of his kingdom was known in Jerusalem. Such a fact would be likely to attract attention, and to produce inquiry among the people into the cause.

All that is in mine house - Here was the confessions of a frank, an honest, and a pious man. There was no concealment; no disguise. Hezekiah knew that he was dealing with a man of God - a man too to whom he had been under great obligations. He knew that Isaiah had come commissioned by God, and that it would be in vain to attempt to conceal anything. Nor does he seem to have wished to make any concealment. If he was conscious that what he had done had been improper, he was willing to confess it; and at any rate he was willing that the exact truth should be known. Had Hezekiah been like Ahaz, he might have spurned Isaiah from his presence as presenting improper inquiries. But Hezekiah was accustomed to regard with respect the messengers of God, and he was therefore willing to submit his whole conduct to the divine adjudication and reproof. Piety makes a man willing that all that he has done should be known. It saves him from double-dealing and subterfuges, and a disposition to make vain excuses; and it inclines him to fear God, to respect his ambassadors, and to listen to the voice of eternal truth.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-39.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 39:4

What have they seen in thine house?
--

The disciple at home

1. The parties of whom the prophets inquired, “What have they seen?” were Babylonians. Foreigners, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, ignorant of the true God, and, therefore, parties before whom it was specially important to exhibit nothing which was calculated to bring dishonour upon God. These strangers might have been greatly edified had they remarked a deeply chastened and humble spirit in the king. There is nothing so greatly hinders the propagation of the Christianity of England among foreigners as that practical irreligion which they observe among the English.

2. The subject may suggest to us some general reflections upon the kind of aspect which the house of a professing Christian should present to any stranger as a man of the world. What would such a man naturally expect to see in a Christian’s house? Clearly that which he looks for in other houses--namely, a general style and conformity with the particular profession orcharacter of the inmates. He would reckon upon finding there, what St. Paul calls “the Church that is in thy house”--the pervading air of heavenly-mindedness, and the symptoms of devotional exercises in all its sanctified “chambers of imagery”--“the treasures” of parental piety, of filial obedience and decorum; a well-ordered household extending its influence and sanction, like the sacred comprehensions of the law of the Sabbath, from the man himself, to his son and daughter, manservant and maidservant, and even cattle and stranger. Night and morning, it would seem to him to be the natural and consistent rule, that the offering of prayer and reading of the Word should be there presented to “the God of all the families of the earth.” In every room and chamber of the house, the ready Bible should suggest by its silent presence the privilege of secret study of the Holy Scriptures; some good books, to the use of edifying, should strew the tables, like little trophies, in incidental evidence of the triumph of religion in that place; the peace, and cheerfulness, and mutual harmony of Christian influence should breathe its airs from Heaven on every happy, thankful heart; the music of habitual concord should sound, like an AEolian psalm, in every aisle of that homely church; and family love, the instinctive antepast of the universal love of Heaven, should spread the sweet odour of its charity, like Aaron’s off, from the head of the house down to the very skirts of the living garment with which his blessed heart is clothed. This is what the worldly man should see in the house of the Christian; but, alas! is it always to be seen there?

1. “What have they seen in thine house?” Have they seen there the spirit of the world, in the shape of expensive apparel, or costly furniture, or ornaments beyond your means or your station in society? A Christian man may adorn his house or apparel his person in moderation with the accustomed decencies of life and even the beautiful things of art, for Christianity is no enemy of taste nor patron of vulgarity. But when a man of the world observes in a Christian professor that inordinate affectation of style and sumptuousness in furniture and dress, which leaves no external mark of difference between “him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not,” then such a professing Christian may well tremble for the stability of his principles. The ambassadors of the spiritual Babylon are visiting him, and they will have to report to their dark master that there is something to seize in the household of his divided heart. The remark is equally applicable to the humbler classes. Sin is sin, and vanity is vanity, whether it assume a vulgar or a refined shape.

2. “What have they seen in thine house?” Have they seen the continual eagerness to grasp and hoard up money, the absorption of every abused faculty of the mind and every overstrained energy of the body to extend business, increase capital, and multiply speculations, though at the expense of a neglected soul and a forsaken God? And is this done in the face of better convictions of duty and responsibility? Is the heart becoming hardened as the very metal it grasps so eagerly? There is much in the proper and becoming habits of Christian men which is calculated to aid their success in life, but this success should not be permitted to become a snare to them.

3. “What have they seen in thine house?” Have they marked the professing disciple of the self-denying religion of Jesus yielding to a habitual fretfulness and irritability at every trifling trial of temper, keeping wife, children, and servants in a perpetual ferment tending to the ultimate exacerbation of every temper in the household? Have they seen the man at one time discoursing in quiet tone and serious terms on the meek and lowly one, “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again,” at another time terrifying all around him with unrighteous ebullitions of anger? The Babylonians, the strangers, see it, and shake their heads, saying, “Deliver me from that man’s religion, if it cannot even curb his temper”; and thus a stumbling-block is cast in the way, that offends some poor, “weak brother for whom Christ died.” The children in such a house learn to despise a religion with the remembrance of their early terrors and discomforts; and the servants, or others employed about it, thank God that they have escaped their poor master’s supposed hypocrisy, even at the sacrifice of his real Christianity. Whereas if, on the other hand, the irascible spirit were to be seen only to be subdued before them; if its occasional outbreak is timely checked, and obviously striven against, and candidly mourned over, if they mark the man struggling against the buffetings of his infirmity, and honestly and earnestly doing painful violence to his besetment, there is a natural sympathy kindled in their hearts which God may vouchsafe to deepen into the conviction that the religion must be real which could generate such an inward contest, and must be influential, too, which could obtain such I victory.

4. “What have they seen in thine house? Have they seen the immoderate banqueting, excess of wine, revellings, and such like”?

5. “What have they seen in thine house?” Perhaps some of you have been mercifully restored from a serious illness: what did those about you see as the effect of your being spared? Did they see a thankful man, a subdued man, a man bearing the spiritual marks of the stripes of the rod of chastisement, more in earnest for God, less inclined to murmur at his lot, to cavil at religious obligations, or depreciate spiritual privileges, or to lower the personal standard of Christian life and conversation? If the world saw this in your house, you have got good yourself and done the world good; if they saw it not, in whatever degree it was not the visible effect upon you, in that proportion you have yourself forfeited the grace of your personal dispensation, missed and abused an ordinance of the Lord, and wronged your brotherhood.

6. And you, heads of families, who make no profession of religion, who have no particular anxieties at stake either way, “what have they seen in your houses?” Have they marked no family prayer, no godly conversation, no effort with the means of moral and evangelical influence? Have they seen children growing up in carelessness and irreligion, whose parental indulgence provoked that destructive judgment which the real love and tenderness of a timely discipline might have averted? If so, consider, you who have the solemn responsibility of a family of immortal souls laid upon you, how Hezekiah’s folly was visited upon his children, and tremble at the prospect of the heartrending anguish you may be laying up in store for yourselves in the spectacle of an ungodly and abandoned household.

7. “What have they seen in thine house?” Well, no matter what they have seen; be resolved by the grace of God as to what shall be seen for the time to come. (J. B. Owen, M. A.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 39:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-39.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then said he, what have they seen in thine house?.... Coming nearer to the point he had in view, and which was the thing that was displeasing to the Lord; not that he had received the ambassadors, and used them in such a manner as persons in such a quality ought to be used; but that he had shown them what he ought not to have done, and especially from such a principle of pride and vanity as he did:

and Hezekiah answered without any reserve, very openly, not suspecting that the prophet was come with a reproof to him, or to blame him, or would blame him for what he had done:

all that is in my house have they seen; the several royal apartments, and the furniture of them:

there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them: which were more secret, laid up in cabinets, under lock and key; his gold, silver, jewels, and precious stones, spices, and ointments. Jerom thinks he showed them the furniture and vessels of the temple, though he does not mention them.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-39.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Then said he, What have d they seen in thy house? And Hezekiah answered, All that [is] in my house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them.

(d) He asks him of the particulars, to make him understand the craft of the wicked, which he before being overcome with their flattery and blinded with ambition, could not see.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-39.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

All — a frank confession of his whole fault; the king submits his conduct to the scrutiny of a subject, because that subject was accredited by God. Contrast Asa (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-39.html. 1871-8.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.Then he said. Isaiah proceeds in his indirect admonition, to see if Hezekiah shall be moved by it and displeased with himself. But still he does not succeed, though it can hardly be believed that the king was so stupid as not to feel the punctures of the spur; for he knew that the Prophet had not come, as persons addicted to curiosity are wont to do, for the purpose of hunting out news; and he knew also that the Prophet had not come to jest with him, but to state something of importance. However that may be, we ought to put a favorable construction on his mild reply; for he does not break out against the Prophet, but modestly confesses the state of the fact, though he does not yet acknowledge that he has sinned, or at least is not brought to repentance; for he does not judge of his sin from that concealed disposition. Ambition deludes men so much, that by its sweetness it not only intoxicates but drives them mad, so that, even when they have been admonished, they do not immediately repent. When, therefore, we see the godly Hezekiah struck with such stupidity as not to perceive that he is reproved, or at least not to be stung by it so as to know himself, we ought carefully to guard against so dangerous a disease.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-39.html. 1840-57.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house. There is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.” ’

Hezekiah replied promptly and openly. He had shown them everything. He was fully committed to an alliance. He had committed all that he had. It is as though he did not know what he had done.Isaiah knew instinctively what the only consequence of this could be. If you show off your treasures to a great and proud king of a powerful nation one day he will come and collect them from you. What other end could there possibly be for a small kingdom like Judah when it got mixed up with such giants? Especially when it showed them how rich it was. And on top of this Hezekiah had earned his own Protector’s anger by putting his trust in Babylon. What hope then could there be for him?

So Hezekiah had aligned himself with Babylon of hosts? What about his commitment to Yahweh of hosts? Did Hezekiah not realise that he had betrayed Him, and thus His protective hand would be on him no longer? Yahweh of hosts Himself would now allow him to be robbed of all that he possessed. Nothing would be left. His protective shield was gone. As a result his descendants, the seed of the Davidic house, would become slaves in the palace of the king of Babylon. He had forfeited all that God had intended for him. He was now Babylon’s plaything, and there was nothing worse than that.

If the word ‘eunuchs’ is to be taken literally, although the word is not necessarily always so specific and can mean high-level servants, this spelled the end of Hezekiah’s dynastic hopes. This might explain why his descendants are brought into the equation. In fact in the future both his son Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:11), and his descendants Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:12) and Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:7) would be taken captive to Babylon. And none would have gone alone.

We note, however, that there is no mention of a general captivity. This is not strictly forecasting the exile. King’s sons were often taken as hostages even when no general exile took place. The point being made is that he will lose his treasures and his ‘sons’. His dynasty will cease. And Judah will be made tributary to Babylon.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/isaiah-39.html. 2013.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

he: i.e. Isaiah.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-39.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.

What have they seen? ... All that (is) in mine house - a frank confession of his whole fault: the king submits his conduct to the scrutiny of a subject, because that subject was accredited by God. Contrast Asa (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).


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

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-39.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) What have they seen in thine house?—The question was pressed home. Had the king contented himself with such hospitality as would have satisfied the demands of the code of Eastern ethics? or had he, as the prophet rightly suspected, done more than that, in his vain-glorious hope of figuring among the “great powers” of the East? On the minds of the ambassadors, we may well believe the impression left was like that made on Blucher as he passed through London: that it would be “a grand city to plunder.”


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

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-39.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
All that
Joshua 7:19; Job 31:33; Proverbs 23:5; 28:13; 1 John 1:9

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-39.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

HOME LIFE AND INFLUENCE

Isa . What have they seen in Thy house?

State briefly the circumstances that gave rise to this question. It evidently suggests to Hezekiah that he has not made the best use of the visit of the Babylonians. He might have turned it to greater account than the gratification of his vanity by displaying his treasures. Instead of magnifying the greatness and glory of God, and thus lifting the minds of his visitors to the highest themes, he had only held out a bait to their covetous desires, and tempted them to steal the treasures so vainly displayed. This was to be the result of his folly (Isa ). This is how we miss the great opportunities of our life. There come to us golden seasons when we might bear valuable testimony for God; but we have some petty, personal desires of our own to carry out, and they pass away unimproved. Then comes the prophetic message, borne by our own conscience, that the plan we adopted to gratify our improper desires will only lead us to confusion and unhappiness.

The extent to which Hezekiah came under the censure of God in this matter we shall not now further consider. We shall extend the application of this question to the matter of home life and home influence. So it has a bearing on all of us. "What have they seen in thy house?"

I. It should be seen that our home is the common centre of attraction for all the family (P. D. 1828-1830, 1836).

II. In the home each member of the family should be seen faithfully discharging the duties of his or her relationship to it; husbands, wives, fathers, &c.

III. It should be seen that every Christian gift and grace is carefully cultivated. "For Christ's sake," should be the motto of the whole family. In all they do, every member of it should seek to display love such as He manifested when He dwelt among us: His love was patient, magnanimous, sympathetic. This is the way to make the humblest home happy (P. D. 1823, 1834, 1838, 1839).

CLOSING REFLECTIONS.—

1. If we do not thus exhibit Christianity at home, it may be questioned whether we possess it at all (H. E. I. 2994).

2. If others know that there is no practical Christianity displayed by us at home, they will rightly set but little value upon our religious performances abroad.

3. It is from the culture of home life that our hopes are to spring with regard to the national life. In the home lurk the disorders that disturb society. The true way to bring those disorders to an end is to endeavour to make the homes of our land the nurseries of every Christian grace and virtue.

4. Let us aim at the accomplishment of the needful national reforms, by each of us doing what we can to make our own home all that it ought to be.—William Manning.


Copyright Statement
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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-39.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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