Isaiah 38:1-39:8 - I have highlighted parts of this Bible study t5hat stand out to me.
1. How does Hezekiah respond to the message from the Lord that he is going to die? See Isaiah 38:1-3 (printed below)
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him and said, This is what Jehovah says, Put your affairs in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover. (2) Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Jehovah, (3) saying, O Jehovah, I beg you, remember how I have sincerely walked before you and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (Isaiah 38:1-3)
When king Hezekiah becomes ill, the Lord sends Isaiah to bring him the message, “Put your affairs in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” (verse 1)—the Lord informs Hezekiah that his illness is terminal. It is God’s will that Hezekiah’s earthly life be terminated at this time. But Hezekiah refuses to accept the fate God has clearly revealed to him. Rather than resign himself to the will of God, Hezekiah pleads that God’s will be “overruled” and that his own will be done instead (verses 2-3). Hezekiah offered up his prayer with bitter tears (verse 3b)—like a little child begging his father to allow him to have his own way.
The song written by Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery. (10) I said, In the prime of my life I shall go to the gates of Sheol; I am deprived of the remainder of my days. (11) I said, I shall not see Jehovah—indeed, Jehovah—in the land of the living; I shall no longer look upon man or be with those who dwell in this world. (12) Like a shepherd’s tent, my earthly dwelling has been pulled down and taken away from me. Like a weaver, I have rolled up my life, and he has cut me off from the loom. From day until night you are intent on bringing my life to an end. (Isaiah 38:9-12)
In his song, written at the time of his recovery, Hezekiah reveals the thoughts of his heart. Hezekiah bemoans the fact that he is too young to die (verse 10). He sees himself as being at the zenith of his life and he feels that he is being deprived of the remainder of his years. Note that he speaks about “my days;” contrast this with the Psalmist’s testimony (Psalm 31:14-15); note, too, James 4:13-15. Hezekiah bewails the fact that the Lord has cut off his life. He describes his life as a shepherd’s tent that is taken down and carried away (verse 12a). As a weaver rolls up his cloth on a roll, preparing it to be cut off from the loom, so has Hezekiah’s life been “wrapped up” as the Lord prepares to cut it off (verse 12b). Just as the Lord swiftly and surely brings a day to a close, so has He brought Hezekiah’s life to an end (verse 12c).
Then the word of Jehovah came to Isaiah, saying, (5) Go back and tell Hezekiah, This is what Jehovah, the God of your father David, says, I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Listen; I will add fifteen years to your life. (Isaiah 38:4-5)
The Lord allows Himself to be moved by the pleading and child-like begging of Hezekiah, and promises to give him fifteen more years of life (verses 4-5). Thus the Lord granted Hezekiah his request; the Lord allowed His own divine will to be “overruled” in favor of Hezekiah’s will. Hezekiah was granted a fifteen-year extension to his life.
By means of such experiences men learn how to live; and my spirit, also, has surely learned the way of life by this. (17) Surely it was for my benefit that I have suffered such anguish. But in love for my soul you have delivered me from the pit of corruption; you have cast all my sins behind your back. (Isaiah 38:16-17)
Sheol cannot praise you; death cannot sing your praise. Those who go down into the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. (19) The man who is alive—the man who is living—he is the one who will praise you, as I do this day. The father shall make your faithfulness known to his children. (20) Jehovah is willing to save me; therefore we will sing my songs accompanied with stringed instruments in the temple of Jehovah all the days of our lives. (Isaiah 38:18-20)
Hezekiah testifies that this close encounter with death has had a profound impact upon his life; he will never be the same (verse 16). He now recognizes and confesses the spiritual benefit derived from this horrible experience (verse 17). In gratitude for answered prayer, Hezekiah promises to make known God’s truth to his children and to ever sing praises to the Lord in His temple (verses 19-20).
At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. (2) Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them the storehouse that contained his treasures—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them. (3) Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and asked him, What did those men say to you, and from where did they come? Hezekiah replied, They came to me from a distant country—all the way from Babylon! (4) Then Isaiah asked, What did they see in your palace? Hezekiah answered, They saw everything that is in my palace; there is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them. (Isaiah 39:1-4)
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, Hear the word of Jehovah of hosts. (6) Listen. The day is coming when everything that is in your palace, and all that your forefathers have stored up until this day, will be carried away to Babylon. Nothing will be left, declares Jehovah. (7) And some of your sons, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away—they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. (Isaiah 39:5-7)
Hezekiah may have promised to live in grateful devotion to the Lord, but the visit by the Babylonian ambassadors demonstrated his well-intentioned promise to be unreliable. “Hezekiah received the envoys gladly” (literally, “he was glad because of them”); i.e., it made Hezekiah feel good and important to entertain these foreign dignitaries. In his pride, Hezekiah showed them all that he had, all the treasures and wealth of the nation of Judah. As a consequence of that pride, the Lord declared that He would cause the Babylonians to take away all that they had been shown of the wealth of Judah (verses 5-7). Furthermore, some of Hezekiah’s own sons would become emasculated eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
Commentary is by Rev. Donald F. Ritsman
Commentary is by Rev. Donald F. Ritsman