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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah

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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 38: Hezekiah's illness & recovery

 

v.1-3 When Hezekiah appears to be dying, God speaks and Hezekiah weeps

v.4-8 Seeing Hezekiah's response the Lord gives him another 15 years

v.9-20 Hezekiah writes what is tantamount to a psalm of testimony

v.21,22 An account of how he was healed and what he had asked of the Lord

 

[Introductory Comment: The ‘illness' that Hezekiah suffers appears to involve a sceptic boil [see v.21] but is sufficiently bad that it appears his life is under threat [v.1]. Initially the Lord declares he will die [v.1] which produces the desired effect of tears and prayer [not repentance but reliance on the Lord]. The Lord responds [v.4] by extending his life and promising security for Jerusalem, as well as a sign in answer to his request [v.7,8 & 22]. The bulk of the rest of the chapter is given over to a psalm of awareness written by Hezekiah [v.9-20]. The concluding two verses reveal how healing had been brought and why God had granted him a sign. The nature of the sign raises questions but a possible alternative rendering of the text may reveal what happened.]

 

 

v.1-3 When Hezekiah appears to be dying, God speaks and Hezekiah weeps

 

v.1  In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, ‘This is what the Lord says: put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.'

v.2  Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord,

v.3  ‘Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.' And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

 

[Notes: The Lord warns Hezekiah he will not recover. Hezekiah prays and weeps and thus we will see how our praying can get the Lorde to reverse His decisions. In such cases He is just waiting for our repentance [acknowledgement of failure, probably of not having relied on the Lord], and our prayers.]

 

 

v.4-8 Seeing Hezekiah's response the Lord gives him another 15 years

 

v.4  Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah:

v.5  ‘Go and tell Hezekiah, “This is what the Lord , the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; [i] I will add fifteen years to your life.

v.6  And [ii] I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. [iii] I will defend this city.

v.7  ‘“This is the Lord 's sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised:

v.8  [iv] I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back [or return to] the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.”' So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.

 

[Notes: The Lord's response to Hezekiah's repentance is a fourfold promise: to extend his life, to ward off Assyria, to save the city, and to provide a sign for Hezekiah. The alternative rendering of v.8 provides alternative possibilities to God actually moving the earth or the sun.]

 

 

v.9-20 Hezekiah writes what is tantamount to a psalm of testimony

 

v.9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery:

v.10 (He faces the probability of death) I said, ‘In the prime of my life
    must I go through the gates of death
    and be robbed of the rest of my years?'
v.11 (He will be cut off from life) I said, ‘I will not again see the Lord himself
    in the land of the living;
no longer will I look on my fellow man,
    or be with those who now dwell in this world.
v.12 (All he has will be taken away) Like a shepherd's tent my house
    has been pulled down and taken from me.
Like a weaver I have rolled up my life,
    and he has cut me off from the loom;
    day and night you made an end of me.
v.13 (It seemed illness struck in the night) I waited patiently till dawn,
    but like a lion he broke all my bones;
    day and night you made an end of me.
v.14 (He cried to the Lord for help) I cried like a swift or thrush,
    I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
    I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid!'

v.15 (He accepts this as an act of God) But what can I say?
    He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
    because of this anguish of my soul.
v.16 (And yet the Lord delivered him) Lord, by such things people live;
    and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
    and let me live.
v.17 (He sees it as the Lord having disciplined him) Surely it was for my benefit
    that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
    from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
    behind your back.
v.18 (He saw death as cutting off his relationship with God…) For the grave cannot praise you,
    death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
    cannot hope for your faithfulness.
v.19 (… but now restored he can praise the Lord) The living, the living – they praise you,
    as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
    about your faithfulness.

v.20 (Thus he will now praise the Lord for the rest of his life) The Lord will save me,
    and we will sing with stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
    in the temple of the Lord.

 

[Notes: The ‘psalm' looks death in the face, makes him call on the Lord and then be able to rejoice in deliverance so he can live a life of praising the Lord.]

 

 

v.21,22 An account of how he was healed and what he had asked of the Lord

 

v.21  Isaiah had said, ‘Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil, and he will recover.'

v.22  Hezekiah had asked, ‘What will be the sign that I will go up to the temple of the Lord?'

 

[Notes: A brief summary of how it had ended.]

    

    

Continue to Chapter 39