Isaiah 38 Commentary

Hezekiah’s illness and recovery (38:1-22)

The events recorded in Chapters 38 and 39 probably happened before those of the previous chapters. Hezekiah was about to die (38:1), but in answer to his prayer God gave him an extension of life. It seems that the reason for preserving Hezekiah’s life was to enable him to bring Judah through the time of conflict with Assyria (2-6). God gave Hezekiah a miraculous sign to confirm that this extension of life was according to the divine will (7-8).

Hezekiah then sang a psalm of praise to God for his recovery. He had expected to die, and his lack of knowledge of the future life gave him no cause for joy at all. Life seemed to him so short. Death, it seemed, would cut him off from all living things, even God (9-13). He was depressed, knowing he could do nothing to help himself, for life and death were in God’s hands (14-15).

This realization, however, now gave Hezekiah cause for hope. If his life was in God’s hands, God could save him. He realized that his sickness had been sent by God for his own benefit, so that his faith might be strengthened (16-17). He could not praise God if he were dead, but he could if he remained alive. He therefore determined that he would keep on praising God, both privately before his children and publicly in the temple (18-20).

Isaiah, who had announced God’s promise of healing to the king (see v. 4-6), adds a note to explain how the healing may have come about (21-22).

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