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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 39

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-2



1. Merodach-Baladan (whose name indicates that he was a devotee of Merodoch, the god of warfare, and of the planet Mars, Jeremiah 50:2) was the king of Babylon at the time of Hezekiah’s sickness and confrontation with Sennacherib, (vs. 1a).

a. In the first year of Sennacherib’s reign he had attempted to throw off the yoke of the Assyrian - only to be defeated.

b. Having heard of Sennacherib’s humiliation, on the mountains of Israel (Isaiah 37), the king of Babylon is convinced that profit may come from a closer relationship with the king of Judah.

2. There appear to be three basic reasons for this embassage from Babylon that so suddenly appears in Jerusalem.

a. As protocol would normally have it, they first congratulated the king of Judah:

1) For his recovery from a sickness that almost claimed his life.

2) And for the marvellous routing of the Assyrian from his land.

b. Intent on solidifying his own independence from Assyria, the king of Assyria had sent letters to Hezekiah, which were then presented.

1) These evidently proposed an alliance between Judah and Babylon which, according to the thinking of the Babylonian king, would strengthen the position of both against any further aggression by the Assyrian.

2) There was also a gift for Hezekiah - expressive of friendship.

c. And (according to 2 Chronicles 32:31), this delegation came "to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land of Judah"; strange things had been reported here which the king of Babylon did not quite understand.

1) The turning back of the shadow on the sun-dial (a Babylonian invention) was something that deeply perplexed the Chaldean astrologers.

2) And the unbelievable wonder of Sennacherib’s humiliating defeat was something the Babylonian could not possibly comprehend!

3. To test the true attitude of Hezekiah’s heart, and because the king asked no counsel from Him, God is said to have "left him" to himself, (2 Chronicles 32:31; comp. Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:16; Exodus 15:25-26; Exodus 20:20).

4. To say that "he failed the test" is to make a simplistic under-’ statement! He did not adequately respond to the benefits so graciously bestowed upon him; but, he was "glad" (comp. Job 31:25; Psalms 62:10), and "his heart was lifted up" in pride, (2 Chronicles 32:25; Isaiah 39:2).

a. By a five-fold repetition of the word "his" (Isaiah 39:2), the prophet emphasizes Hezekiah’s childish display, in directing the attention of his guests to the wonders of his palace and wealth, rather than to the "wonders" of divine action in reversing the shadow on the sun-dial, and restoring the king’s health.

b. Here is an amazing contrast: the ambassadors of the Assyrian set Hezekiah to praying; those of Babylon set him to proud boasting!

c. Thus, Hezekiah aroused avarice in the heart of Babylon by a proud display of his rare treasures - his silver, his gold, his spices, his armor and his jewels - all that was found in his treasuries!

d. There was NOTHING in his house, or dominion, that Hezekiah did not proudly display for his visitors!

Verses 3-4


1. The prophet of God was not blind to what was happening in Jerusalem; nor had the king been able to hide his delight in proudly displaying the rich treasures of his house.

2. When the emissaries of Babylon had departed, Isaiah made discreet inquiry of the king, (comp. 2 Samuel 12:1; 2 Chronicles 16:7).

a. What message did they bear? and from whence they come?

(vs. 3a).

b. The reply of the king was that they came to him from a far country, even Babylon, (vs. 3b; Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 5:15).

3. Then the prophet further questioned the king (with whom he had always enjoyed a good relationship).

a. What have they seen in your house?

b. And the king answered that they had SEEN IT ALL! Nothing had been with-held from their observation!

Verses 5-8


1. Hezekiah has not inquired of the Lord in this matter; nevertheless, the Lord will speak to it, (vs. 5; Deuteronomy 28:49-57). Isaiah’s "Hear the word of the Lord!" (comp. 1 Samuel 13:13-14; 1 Samuel 15:16-23), suggests the solmenity and authority of a divine decree.

2. The day will come when everything Hezekiah’s guests have looked upon will be carried away into Babylon, (vs. 6).

a. All that is in the king’s palace, (2 Kings 24:10-15; 2 Kings 25:13-15; Jeremiah 20:5).

b. Everything "thy fathers have laid up in store until this day".

c. Nothing will be left!

3. Furthermore, the kings’ sons, as yet unborn, will be taken captive, to become eunuchs (incapable of carrying on the Davidic line) in the palace of the king of Babylon, (vs. 7; Daniel 1:2-7).

a. Hezekiah forgot the lesson he should have learned from placing his trust in Egypt.

b. He forgot the ability and faithfullness of God to shield him -as manifested in the overthrow of the Assyrian host, (ch. 37).

c. He forgot the signs of divine care, as evidenced by the reversing shadow of the sun-dial, and his miraculous recovery from sickness, (ch. 38).

d. Forgetting all this, he hastened to align himself with the king of Babylon, against the king of Assyria - leading to the ultimate bankruptcy of his treasurers, and the loss of his sons; both swallowed up by Babylon, in whom he put his trust!

6. Even today, the child of God who "keeps his own counsel", and leans on the flesh, will soon find that the world robs him of his spiritual wealth, while bringing weakness, emptiness, fruitlessness and death upon his offspring.

4. Difficult as it was to bear, Hezekiah accepted the prophetic rebuke as a loyal servant of Jehovah, (vs. 8; comp. 1 Samuel 3:18; Job 1:20-21).

a. He recognized the divine threatening as RIGHT, and fully deserved - humbling himself, and repenting of the pride of heart that had given occasion to the utterance of the prophecy, (2 Chronicles 32:26).

b. He, further, acknowledged that, for himself, it was tempered with mercy - in that it would not be carried out during his own lifetime, (comp. 2 Chronicles 34:28).

5. It will be profitable to understand that the sin of Hezekiah was’ NOT the CAUSE, but the OCCASION, for the utterance of this

prophecy, and the overwhelming judgment that was to follow.

a. Seven hundred years earlier Moses had spoken of a general exile of his people because of their sin, (Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 28:64-67).

b. Five hundred years later Ahijah declared that Israel would be uprooted and scattered "beyond the rivers", (1 Kings 14:15).

c. About 100 years before Isaiah’s pronouncement, the prophet Amos had threatened them with "captivity beyond Damascus", (Amos 5:27).

d. And Isaiah himself had previously intimated some future connection between the fortunes of Israel and Babylon, (Isaiah 14:1; Isaiah 21:10).

e. But here, for the first time, is the Babylonian captivity clearly foretold.

6. Much of the remainder of Isaiah’s prophetic record will deal with the outworkings of that which is here announced as inevitable.


Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 39". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-39.html. 1985.
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