Scripture reading – Isaiah 38; Isaiah 39

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The LORD gloriously delivered Jerusalem from Sennacherib, the Assyrian king. At that time, King Hezekiah was 39 years old and at the peak of his manhood. With the promise the nation would be delivered from the Assyrian menace, Hezekiah was confident he had many years to rule Judah and reign in Jerusalem. Yet, one visit from Isaiah and the king’s world was suddenly turned upside down.

Isaiah 38

 

The Power of Prayer (Isaiah 38:1-3)

Isaiah 38 is a remarkable chapter, for God sent Isaiah to deliver a sobering message to the king. Hezekiah was described as “sick unto death,” and the prophetic message was, “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live” (Isaiah 38:1). 

Such a message ought to be expected by all, for mankind will inevitably face death. After all, the Scriptures warn, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27). Nevertheless, we cherish life as a precious gift and, in my opinion, younger men and women give too little thought to the brevity of life.

How did Hezekiah respond to the news of his imminent death? We read that he “turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord” (Isaiah 38:2). Hezekiah’s prayer was a model prayer for all believers. The king prayed earnestly and reminded the LORD that he had been faithful. He testified of how he walked in the sight of the LORD “in truth and with a perfect heart, and [had] done that which is good in [God’s] sight.” (Isaiah 38:3). Then “Hezekiah wept sore” (Isaiah 38:3).

God Answered Hezekiah’s Prayer (Isaiah 38:4-8)

God Answered Hezekiah’s Prayer (Isaiah 38:4-8) 

Following Hezekiah’s earnest prayer, the LORD returned to Isaiah and commanded him to deliver a pleasant message to the king. The prophet assured the king that his prayers were heard. The LORD would “add unto [his]days fifteen years” (Isaiah 38:5). Not only would he live, but the LORD promised He would “deliver [the king]and this city [Jerusalem] out of the hand of the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 38:6). To encourage the king, the LORD gave Isaiah a sign that only He could accomplish…turning back the shadow on “the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees” (Isaiah 38:7-8).

 

Hezekiah’s Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving (Isaiah 38:9-22) 

Hezekiah was overwhelmed with the good news. When the king was “recovered of his sickness,” he related his emotions and sorrow in a “writing” (perhaps a song) at the news he would die (Isaiah 38:9).

The king reflected on his death sentence and reasoned with the LORD, “I am deprived of the residue of my years” (Isaiah 38:10). He bemoaned he would not live to see “the LORD, in the land of the living” and would be cut off from fellowshipping with his family and friends (Isaiah 38:11).

The king observed that man’s life is temporal, like the brief life-span of a shepherd’s tent. Like a weaver of a tapestry cuts the threads to remove the beam from a loom, a man’s life is soon cut off (Isaiah 38:12). The king confessed he was a broken man, for he had borne the pain of his sickness night and day (Isaiah 38:13). Indeed, his eyes hurt from weeping. His spirit was oppressed (Isaiah 38:14).

The news that he would be healed and the promise the LORD would add 15 years to his life revived Hezekiah’s spirit. The king declared he would make God’s mercies and healing known to all (Isaiah 38:15-16). His heart rejoiced, for his sins were forgiven, for the LORD had “cast all [his] sins behind [His] back” (Isaiah 38:17).

How did the king use the gift of added years he was promised? He set his heart to praise the LORD and observed that the grave and death “cannot celebrate” Him (Isaiah 38:18). Hezekiah promised he would live with the earnestness of a father teaching his children the truth, for the LORD had saved him from death (Isaiah 38:19-20a). Restored to health, the king set his heart to go to the Temple and sing “songs to the stringed instruments” all his life (Isaiah 38:20).

Isaiah then prescribed treatment for Hezekiah’s affliction (Isaiah 38:21).  The king then requested a sign that he would be restored to health (Isaiah 38:22). So, the LORD gave Hezekiah a miraculous sign that left no doubt that what the LORD promised would come to pass. What was the sign? That the shadow on the sundial would turn back “ten degrees” (Isaiah 38:8; 2 Kings 20:8-11).

Hezekiah’s Foolish Decision

Isaiah 39 – Hezekiah’s Foolish Decision

Emissaries from Merodach-baladan, the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem under the guise they were bringing good tidings to Hezekiah at the news he was healed (Isaiah:1). Hezekiah felt honored by the visit, and in his zeal to welcome his guests, he made a foolish decision. The king allowed those Babylonian strangers to observe his wealth and see the riches with which the LORD had blessed him and the nation (Isaiah 39:1-2).

Hearing of the strange visitors, Isaiah asked the king: Why had the men come? From where had they come? “What have they seen in thine house?” (Isaiah 39:3-4)

Hezekiah confessed that he had shown the men of Babylon all he possessed. Isaiah then admonished the king and declared that Hezekiah had made a foolish decision. The prophet foretold all the wealth he had displayed to the strangers would inevitably be taken to Babylon. Even the sons of his lineage would become servants “in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Isaiah 39:8). Hezekiah then repented for his arrogance and humbly accepted the consequences of his pride (Isaiah 39:8).

Closing thoughts:

I have seen men embrace the joys of success, only to impudently allow pride to swell within their hearts. Those men set aside their dependence on the LORD and sacrificed the humility that had been the incentive and catalyst for God’s blessings.

Life Lesson: Wise men deflect the best things men say about them and don’t believe the worst, for somewhere in the midst is the truth about their character and person.

 

Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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