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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 38

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8



As chapters 36 and 37 looked back to the first 35 chapters of Isaiah’s prophecy, so, chapters 38 and 39 prepare the way for what is to follow in chapters 40 through 66. The first part dealt basically with the relationship of God’s people to the Assyrians; the later will deal with their relationship with the Babylonians.


1. During the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign (before the coming of Sennacherib), while the king was very sick, the Lord sent Isaiah to him with a startling message: "Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live", (vs. 1; 2 Kings 18:2-6; 2 Kings 20:1-6).

2. Deeply distressed, the king turned his face to the wall (obviously to hide his grief), and prayed unto the Lord, (vs. 2-3).

a. He could arrange no orderly succession in his house, for he had no heir to sit upon the throne of David, (vs. 2; comp. 2 Samuel 17:23).

b. Thus, he pleads, with a broken and contrite heart, that the Lord remember his effort to walk uprightly before Him, and to do what was right in His sight, (vs. 3; cp. Nehemiah 13:14; 2 Kings 18:5-6).

3. Isaiah had hardly left the king’s presence when the Lord sent him back with a message for Hezekiah, (vs. 4-6).

a. The God of David, his father, has seen and heard and extended the king’s life by fifteen years, (vs. 5; 2 Kings 18:2; 2 Kings 18:13).

b. He will deliver both Hezekiah and Jersualem out of the hand of the Assyrians, (vs. 6; Isaiah 31:5; Isaiah 37:35).

c. God Himself is their defense, (Psalms 5:11; Psalms 31:2-3; Zechariah 9:14-15; Zechariah 12:8).

4. Just as he had offered Ahaz a sign of confirmation, and a choice, so he now offers the same to Hezekiah, (vs. 7-8; comp. Isaiah 7:10-12) which he accepts and by which he’ is comforted. It is as if his life has been rolled back by fifteen years - his sins forgiven anal cast behind God’s back.

5. Furthermore, Isaiah commanded that a plaster of figs be laid upon the boil, by which the king was afflicted, to effect his healing, (vs. 21; 2 Kings 20:7).

Verses 9-22


1. Consider, first, Hezekiah’s fear and complaint, (vs. 10-14).

a. It is obvious that he is heart-broken at the prospect of his life being cut off when only half fulfilled, (vs. 10; comp. Psalms 102:24).

b. His concept of death and the grave is one of dreadful hopelessness - a passing into darkness, where the face of God will be left behind as surely as that of men, (vs. 11; comp. Psalms 27:13; contrast Philippians 1:20-23).

1) He likens it to being snatched up and taken into exile (like a shepherd’s tent), which involved the most extreme despair for the Jew; it implied absence from God, salvation and worship, (vs. 12a; comp. 2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:4; 2 Peter 1:13-14).

2) Again, he sees his life being rolled up, as threads, and cut loose from the loom before the cloth is finished - leaving life’s yearnings, hopes and expectations unfulfilled, (vs. 12b; Job 7:6; contr. Job 6:8-9).

c. In his extremity, Hezekiah pictures himself as a twittering swallow, or a moaning dove, before God (the lion) who is about to crush all his bones, (vs. 13; Psalms 51:8).

d. Hopeless and helpless, he finally casts himself upon God, saying: "Be thou my surety!" (vs. 14b; comp. Job 17:3; Psalms 119:22).

2. Then follows Hezekiah’s expression of gratitude for divine mercy, (vs. 15-20).

a. Having asked God to be his Surety, he is almost startled into speechlessness: the Lord both speaks to him and accepts his burden, (vs. 15; Psalms 39:9; Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 10:23) - something that will cause him to go softly, in the years to come, as he remembers the bitterness of his own soul, (comp. Psalms 42:4; 1 Kings 21:27; Job 7:11; Job 10:1).

b. Hezekiah recognizes the experience as having been for his

own good - bringing him into the very newness of life, with a new sense of forgiveness and peace, a new dignity, and a consciousness of God’s nearness, (vs. 16-17; Psalms 119:71; Psalms 119:75; Psalms 30:3; Psalms 86:13; Isaiah 43:25; Micah 7:18-19).

c. It is the living who can praise and rejoice the Lord, hope in His faithfullness, and bear witness thereof to their offspring, (vs. 18-19; Psalms 118:17-18; Psalms 119:175; Psalms 6:5; Psalms 88:10-12; Psalms 115:17-18; Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Psalms 78:5-7).

d. Since the Lord has been ready to deliver him, Hezekiah purposes to sing his songs in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, (vs. 20; Psalms 86:5; Psalms 33:1-4; Psalms 104:33; Psalms 116:1-2; Psalms 116:17-19).

Because he had no son to sit on the throne of Judah, king Hezekiah has pleaded with God to spare his life - unable to trust Him to solve the problem of succession according to His own wisdom and power. With what presumptuous pride and short-sightedness of vision do men so often attempt to set aside the wisdom of God’s perfect plan!

After God added 15 years to the kings life, sons were born to him. Manasseh, his disgraceful successor, (the king that should never have been born) reigned in Judah for 55 dreadful years. He reversed all the good reforms that his father had undertaken. Furthermore, he re-established the worship of idols, caused his own sons to pass through the fires of Molech, defied the prophets of God and dealt ruthlessly with any who .dared oppose his policies. It is quite probable that the beloved Isaiah, his father’s best friend, fell victim to this insanity!

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 38". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-38.html. 1985.
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