Isaiah 38

38 In those days King Hezekiah of Judah became ill and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him and said, Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.(A)

2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord

3 And said, Remember [earnestly] now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in faithfulness and in truth, with a whole heart [absolutely devoted to You], and have done what is good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,

5 Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will [a]add to your life fifteen years.

6 And I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city [Jerusalem].

7 And this will be the sign to you from the Lord that the Lord will do this thing that He has spoken:

8 Behold, I will turn the shadow [denoting the time of day] on the steps or degrees, which has gone down on the steps or sundial of Ahaz, backward ten steps or degrees. And the sunlight turned back ten steps on the steps on which it had gone down.

9 This is the writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:

10 I said, In the noontide and tranquillity of my days I must depart; I am to pass through the gates of Sheol (the place of the dead), deprived of the remainder of my years.

11 I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living; I shall behold man no more among the inhabitants of the world.

12 My [fleshly] dwelling is plucked up and is removed from me like a shepherd’s tent. I have rolled up my life as a weaver [rolls up the finished web]; [the Lord] cuts me free from the loom; from day to night You bring me to an end.

13 I thought and quieted myself until morning. Like a lion He breaks all my bones; from day to night You bring me to an end.

14 Like a twittering swallow or a crane, so do I chirp and chatter; I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary and dim with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed; take my side and be my security [as of a debtor being sent to prison].

15 But what can I say? For He has both spoken to me and He Himself has done it. I must go softly [as in solemn procession] all my years and my sleep has fled because of the bitterness of my soul.

16 O Lord, by these things men live; and in all these is the life of my spirit. O give me back my health and make me live!

17 Behold, it was for my peace that I had intense bitterness; but You have loved back my life from the pit of corruption and nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

18 For Sheol (the place of the dead) cannot confess and reach out the hand to You, death cannot praise and rejoice in You; they who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness [to Your promises; their probation is at an end, their destiny is sealed].

19 The living, the living—they shall thank and praise You, as I do this day; the father shall make known to the children Your faithfulness and Your truth.

20 The Lord is ready to save (deliver) me; therefore we will sing my songs with [my] stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the house of the Lord.

21 Now Isaiah had said, Let them take a cake of figs and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, that he may recover.

22 Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?


  1. Isaiah 38:5 God’s time for Hezekiah to die had come (Isa. 38:1), but he had no son. It was unthinkable to him, apparently, that he should die and leave no heir to his throne. As devout as he was, he could not trust the Lord to give His faithful servant what was best for him. So he took matters into his own hands and begged to be allowed to live on. The Lord granted his request—sons were born. How immense the grief that resulted! One of his sons, Manasseh, became Hezekiah’s disgraceful and ruthless successor, not for just a few years, but for fifty-five! (II Kings 21:1ff.) He undid everything reformatory that had been done, established idol worship, caused his son to go through the fire as an offering to the pagan god, defied God’s prophets, and caused the slaughter of those who opposed him (including perhaps Isaiah, his father’s best friend who, according to Jewish tradition, was sawed in half during Manasseh’s reign). How little Hezekiah knew of what was best for him or for Judah! How presumptuous is anyone who demands that his own shortsighted vision replace the wisdom of God’s plan for his own life or for that of others! See also footnote on II Kings 20:6.

Cross references

  1. Isaiah 38:1 : II Kings 20:1-11; II Chron. 32:24-26.

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