Isaiah 38


The present chapter is parallel with 2 Kings 20:1-11, but contains some

marked differences from that passage, both in what it omits and in what it

inserts. The general narrative (vs. 1-8, and 21, 22) is greatly condensed,

and in part disarranged, vs. 21, 22 being added, as it would seem, by an

after-thought. On the other hand, the psalm of Hezekiah (vs. 9-20) is

additional, having nothing corresponding to it in the Book of Kings. There

is every appearance of 2 Kings 20:1-11 having been composed

previously to the present chapter, and of the present chapter having been,

in its narrative portion, abridged from 2 Kings.



v. 1 - Bad news - "set thine house in order" - the

            duty of all men in view of their departure -


 thou shalt die and not live”


Nothing is more real in this world than the duty of all men,

in view of the departure from this life which hangs over us

as an absolute certainty, to arrange worldly affairs as

prudence requires - the first being the matter of eternal

security - then take care of the now.  Often this order is

reversed and no doubt has carried many a person to hell?


Repentance, confession, restitution and forgiveness often

occupy a considerable space of time and need much thought

and attention.  If put off until the last illness sets in, too

commonly "TO THE MERCY OF THE MOMENT” the vast

 “CONCERNS OF ETERNITY  - this presumes that there will

be no sudden death, which reason warns against daily.


We need to be reminded that in sickness the mind, often fatigued

and sometimes confused, is far less fit to make judicious decisions

than in health, that there are some choices in life too important to

make in haste!


“Lord help me to be ready to leave or to be left!” -  Philip Henry –

Matthew Henry's father was known for often praying this.


v. 2 - Hezekiah prayed about it – “Hezekiah turned his face toward the

            wall and prayed unto the Lord”. The action resembles that of

            Ahab (1 Kings 21:4); but the spirit is wholly different.  Ahab

            turned away in sullenness, Hezekiah that he might pray



v. 3 – “I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked

before thee in truth and with a perfect heart” - There is no Pharisaical

self-righteousness here. Hezekiah is conscious that he has honestly

endeavored to serve God, and to do His will — that, whatever may have

been his shortcomings, his heart has been right towards God. He ventures,

therefore, on something like expostulation. Why is he to be cut off in the

midst of his days, at the age of thirty-nine, when such a wicked king as

Uzziah has lived to be sixty-eight (2 Kings 15:2), and Rehoboam to be

fifty-eight (1 Kings 14:21)? It is to be remembered that, under the old

covenant, length of days was expressly promised to the righteous

(Proverbs 3:2; 9:11; 10:27, etc.), and that a shortened life was the

proclaimed penalty of wicked-doing (<181532>Job 15:32, 33; 22:16; Psalm

55:23; Proverbs 10:27). Hezekiah’s self-assertion is thus a sort of

laying hold of God’s promises.  Hezekiah does not consider himself

sinless – v. 17. “for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back”


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vs. 4-6 - the Lord hears and adds 15 yrs. to Hezekiah

            doubling his reign - he lived to be 54


“Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying….I have heard

thy cry, I have seen thy tears”. The author of Kings describes graphically

how Isaiah, after delivering his message, had gone out, but had not reached the

middle court of the palace, when his footsteps were arrested, and the Divine

voice bade him “turn again and relieve Hezekiah’s fears by a fresh announcement”

(2 Kings 20:4). So swiftly does God answer “the prayer of faith.  (comp.

Exodus 2:24; 3:7; Psalm 56:8). There is not a cry, not a groan, not a tear, not a sigh 

of His faithful ones, to which the heart of God is not open, which does not touch

Him, move Him, draw forth His sympathy.


II Kings 20:5-6 – “Behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou

shalt go up unto the house of the Lord” -  thou shalt be so completely

recovered as to be able to quit thy palace and pay thy vows in the courts of

and I will add unto thy days fifteen years” - God “does exceeding abundantly

more than we either ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Hezekiah had asked for

nothing more than immediate escape from death. God grants him fifteen additional

years of life, i.e. more than doubles the length of his reign.  The great majority

of the kings of Judah seldom attained the age of 50.


In God's hands only are the issues of life and death!  Ps. 68:20b


He can, if He will, prolong our life and restore us to health, even when things

seem hopeless!


"and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the

Lord shall raise him up" - James 5:15


v. 7 – “And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord) - It was the

day of the free offering of “signs” by God to those whom His providence

had placed at the head of his people. Ahaz had been offered a sign

but had refused the offer made him (Isaiah 7:11-12); the Lord had then

“Himself” given him a sign.” Hezekiah received a sign to assure him of the

complete discomfiture of Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:30); an offer was here made

him of a sign of a peculiar kind, and it was offered under peculiar conditions.

We learn from 2 Kings that a choice was submitted to him — he was to

determine whether time, as measured by a certain timepiece or clock, which

was known as “the dial of Ahaz,” should make a sudden leap forward —

the shadow advancing ten degrees upon the dial (2 Kings 20:9), or whether

it should retire backwards, the shadow upon the same dial receding ten degrees.

Hezekiah determined in favour of the latter sign, from its appearing to him

the more difficult of accomplishment; and on his declaring his decision,

the shadow receded to the prescribed distance. Time was rolled backward,

and the king, seeing so great a miracle, accepted without hesitation the further

predictions that had been made to him.


"the Lord will do this thing that He hath spoken"


II Chron. 32:31 - the king of Babylon sent ambassadors

            to inquire "the wonder that was done in the land"


vs. 10-20 – Hezekiah’s writings about what went through his mind

            during this time – very characateristic of humanity’s helpless

            condition when there is a sudden downturn in ones health!


Ver. 9. The writing of Hezekiah; rather, a writing. After he had

recovered from his illness, Hezekiah, it would seem, retraced his feelings as

he lay upon his sick-bed, and embodied them in this monody. It has been

well termed, “a peculiarly sweet and plaintive specimen of Hebrew

psalmody” (Cheyne). Four stanzas or strophes of unequal length are

thought to be discernible:


  • from the beginning of ver. 10 to the end of ver. 12;
  • from the beginning of ver. 13 to the end of ver. 14;
  • from the beginning of ver. 15 to the end of ver. 17;
  • from the beginning of ver. 18 to the end of ver. 20.


In the first two the monarch is looking forward to death, and his strain is

mournful; in the last two he has received the promise of recovery, and

pours out his thankfulness.



“I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the

grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years… the land of the

living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the

world.  Mine age is departed…. He will cut me off with

pining sickness: ….(He) will make an end of me….thou make an end of

me…..Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove:

mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed;

undertake for me….I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my

soul..Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my

soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all

my sins behind thy back…..For the grave cannot praise thee, death can

not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.


“The image,” as Mr. Cheyne says, “is that of a debtor, who is being dragged to

prison” at the suit of an exacting creditor, and for whom there is but one

hope of relief; viz. if he can obtain a sufficient surety. Hezekiah calls on

God to be the Surety; but God is the Creditor! Still, there is an appeal from

God’s justice to God’s mercy — from Jehovah who punishes to Jehovah

who forgives sin; and this appeal Hezekiah seems to intend to make when

he beseeches God to “undertake for him.” in v. 14.


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v.17 - "thou hast in love for my soul…… cast all my sins behind thy back"


It is God's prerogative to pardon sin - it is His delight!

He bids us ask for forgiveness daily - "He will

abundantly pardon" - ch. 55:7


Psalm 130:4,7 - "But there is forgiveness with thee,

            that thou mayest be feared.....and with Him

            is plenteous redemption.


He is also "abundant in truth" - Exodus 34:6


Pardon from the penalty of sin - alienation from

God, His displeasure, and ultimately eternal death!


v. 18 - It was the preaching of Christ that "life and

            immortality"  were "brought to light through

            the gospel" – II Timothy 10








If you do not know Jesus today, He is ready and willing to save




SHALL BE SAVED” – Romans 10:13



                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES




APPEARS. The circumstances of a dangerous illness are generally such as

to render it extremely inexpedient that the arrangement of a man’s worldly

affairs should be put off to such a time. The time is, for the most part, all

too short for the consideration of a man’s spiritual affairs — for

repentance, confession, restitution, exchange of forgiveness, and the like,

which often occupy a considerable space, and need much thought and

attention. Worldly affairs distract the mind from the things which most

vitally concern it, and, if they are not arranged until the last illness sets in,

the result too commonly is that “to the mercy of a moment” are left “the

vast concerns of an eternal scene.” Further, in sickness the mind is far less

fit to make judicious arrangements than in health; it is soon fatigued, often

not clear, sometimes altogether confused and incapable of sound judgment

not to mention that it may wholly fail, or be quite unequal to any

exertion. Men need to he reminded continually, while they are in health, of

the duty of arranging their worldly affairs at once, and not waiting till the

fiat has gone forth — till their hours are numbered, and whatever has to be

done must be done in haste.



                                    The Power of Prayer




himself prolonged his life for fifteen years. Christians, under sentence of

death, given up by their physicians and their friends, are entitled to pray, if

they so choose, for an extension of the term of their probation, a respite

from the doom pronounced on them. In God’s hands, and in His hands

only, are the issues of life and death. He can, if he will, prolong our life,

and restore us to health, even when we seem at the last gasp. It may not be

often suitable that we should ask this boon for ourselves; we have not the

reasons to wish for long life that the Jews had. But for others we do well

to ask, when they are in danger, that God will spare them to us; and “the

prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up”

(James 5:15), and give them back to us, as from the very edge of the

pit, if our prayer be faithful and fervent.




revoking the sentence of death which he had passed upon him, God had

also forgiven the sins which had provoked that sentence (v. 17). He had

been sensible of those sins, even while he had pleaded his general

faithfulness (v. 3). He had doubtless begged to be forgiven them. Such

prayer God will in no wise cast out. It is His high prerogative to pardon sin

(Mark 2:7), and it is also His delight. He bids us ask His forgiveness

daily (Matthew 6:12); He promises His forgiveness to all but the

unforgiving (Mark 11:25, 26); He assures us that, if we will return to

Him, He will “abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). And His pardon includes

within it remission of the true penalty of sin, which is His displeasure, His

alienation, and its consequence — eternal death. The pardoned sinner has

his sins “blotted out.” He “enters into the joy of his Lord.”



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