Isaiah 38:18-22. “For the grave cannot praise Thee, death can not celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth.  The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known Thy truth. The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover. Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”

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I wondered about the healing power of figs, so I spent a little time looking that up.  Here’s an interesting website:

The real healing power, though was God’s. He Who created figs  was more than able to cure Hezekiah with nothing more than a word.  The figs, I think, were simply a vehicle, an object lesson, perhaps.  One of my sources says that the figs were not for healing, which God had already granted; rather, they were used for cleansing, and bringing corruption to the surface. In any event, Hezekiah was healed, and rejoiced in God’s mercy and grace  in the 15 years he was given.

The last question in this chapter indicates that Hezekiah’s story isn’t quite finished. More next week when we start chapter 39.


Hezekiah’s Praise

Isaiah 38:15-17. “What shall I say? He hath both spoken unto me, and Himself hath done it; I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt Thou recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness; but Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for Thou has cast all my sins behind Thy back.”

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Keep in mind that this passage is retrospective, as Hezekiah thinks back on his recent illness and the despair he experienced when he was sure he was about to die.  He felt bitterness that his life was being cut short, but now he is confessing that bitterness as sin, and acknowledges that part of his reprieve from death is that God has forgiven him.

One of the best things about the godly people in the Bible’s cast of characters is that so often they admit their sin, confess and repent, asking God’s forgiveness–and He always gives it.  We can fully experience joy only when we have this right relationship with God.

Hezekiah’s Psalm

Isaiah 38: 12-14. “Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: He will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt Thou make and end of me. I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will He break all my bones: from day even to night wilt 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.

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As Hezekiah recounts his illness. we see the depths of his despair.  He had feared death, and felt that God had cut him off.  In verse 10 there are seven regrets Hezekiah shares that are not uncommon to anyone who is facing death.

  1. I am deprived of the rest of my years
  2. I will not see the LORD in the land of the living.
  3.  I will not behold man with the inhabitants of the world.
  4.  My plans for serving God among men are ended
  5. My plans for helping my fellowmen on earth are blasted.
  6. My age is departed; I am too young to die; my useful years are removed like a shepherd’s tent
  7. My life is cut off like a weaver taking his work from the loom and departing with it.

It is easy to see that Hezekiah was not ready to die.  He was sick, probably in pain, his body poisoned from the ulcer or boil that was slowly taking his energy and vitality away. I think he was depressed. His thinking was clouded with doubt, fear, and deep regret that he would die so young.

In his sorrow, he does speak to God in prayer.  The good news is that as he seeks God, his mood lifts, and of course he had already received the promise of 15 more years of life. What I find most interesting about this psalm is the way he traces his emotional response to his impending death through his sorrow and back into joy.

Hezekiah Writes

Isaiah 38: 9-11.” The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness:  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. I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.”

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Think about what it must have been like for Hezekiah to hear his death sentence from the mouth of Isaiah, the prophet of God.  It doesn’t surprise me that he was distraught.  Anyone would be!

When he prayed, and God gave him a reprieve of 15 years, he wrote the psalm that we see in vv. 9-20 of this chapter.

In v. 10, Hezekiah, relating his emotions on hearing of his impending death, says he will go to the gates of the grave.  The Hebrew word is sheol, the unseen world; the place of departed spirits, not the physical grave.

Like most of us, he thought he was entitled to more years than those he had already lived. He had looked forward to a long life and a prosperous reign, and now suddenly his hopes had been dashed to the ground. He then  lists seven regrets, which we’ll look at tomorrow.

This past week, two of the older people in our church died within a couple of hours of each other.  They had both struggled with illness for some time, and both were ready to go to heaven to see their Savior.  We will miss them, but we rejoice that they are out of pain.

How much harder it is when someone dies while still young, having looked forward to many more years. We find it much harder to accept that, but the truth is that God knows the number of our days before we are ever born.  There is no guarantee that we will all live long lives.  The things we need to be sure of is that we are ready to meet God at any moment through the course of our lives.

Hezekiah knew he had 15 more years.  I don’t think I’d want to know exactly how many more years I have to live. One day at a time, always thankful for each day that God gives me, but looking forward more and more to heaven–that’s how I want to live.


Sunday Morning Coffee: Music

Christmas before last, my daughter and son-in-law gave me an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas.  I had no idea what I was looking at–they had to tell me 🙂

Some weeks later, a friend told me about Abiding Faith radio, which I could get with an app on my smart phone called “Tune-in.”  I could connect the app to my Echo and play beautiful sacred music all day, with no advertisements.

Right now I’m listening to some violins lifting up my heart with the old song “It is Well With My Soul.”  I’ve decided I want Wentley Phipps to sing it at my funeral 🙂  And I want someone to sing “Just Think of Stepping on Shore and Finding it Heaven.”

I can’t think of anything better than to be carried into heaven on waves of beautiful music. One of the things I look forward to most is the heavenly music I’ll be able to take part in.  My hands won’t be stiff with age and arthritis.  My voice will be clear and strong again. It’s going to be SO much fun!

I believe God is a musical being.  He created music, after all.  He created our vocal chords.  He gave us the gifts of singing, of playing instruments, of hearing harmonies and joining our voices together in song.  He created the morning stars that all sing together (Job 38:7). He tells us in Ephesians 5 that we are to sing psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in our hearts.  I can’t wait to hear God sing. The very idea brings tears to my eyes. What a day that will be!

The Sun Dial of Ahaz

Isaiah 38:7-8. “And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that He hath spoken; Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degree backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.”

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I’ve always been fascinated by sun dials. Whoever first came up with the idea must have spent a great deal of time observing the  position of the sun in relation to the earth, and watching how the shadows fell as the day moved into night.

Maybe this sign from God could be considered the first instance of daylight saving time 🙂

God offered a sign, or a proof, to Hezekiah that his life would be lengthened for 15 years.  That sign had to be something that man could not devise. This is the only timepiece mentioned in the Bible, but there must have been others, ways to count the hours of the night, and to count the watches of three and four hours.

Moving the shadow backward ten degrees was a miracle of God. There is no doubt that Hezekiah was convinced that the promise of 15 more years would come true when God’s promised sign came to pass.

I wonder if Hezekiah, Isaiah, and others stood by the sundial to watch this amazing event. I wonder if they gazed into the sky, squinting and shading their eyes, to see the sun move backward ten degrees.

I imagine that event was discussed in many of the houses, shops, and streets of Jerusalem, and even outside the city where God’s promise may not have been known. Think of the consternation of the people, the watchers of the sky, when the sun moved backward ten degrees!  And it was all simply to assure King Hezekiah that God could and would keep His word.  Amazing.

A Reprieve

Isaiah 38:4-6. “Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.

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God is merciful.  He heard Hezekiah’s prayer, saw his tears, and decided to give him the gift of 15 more years of life.

Note: David was not literally the father of Hezekiah, but Hezekiah was a descendant of David, and David also tried–and often failed–to please God.

This is the first and only time that God told a man how long he would live.  Why He chose 15 years, we do not know.

Verse 6 confirms that these events happened during the time Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem.  Part of God’s promise to Hezekiah was that  He would deliver the city from Sennacherib, a prophecy that we have already seen fulfilled.