Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONNECTED WITH THE
1. Set . . . house in order--Make arrangement as to the succession
to the throne; for he had then no son; and as to thy other concerns.
thou shall die--speaking according to the ordinary course of the
disease. His being spared fifteen years was not a change in God's mind,
but an illustration of God's dealings being unchangeably regulated by
the state of man in relation to Him.
2. The couches in the East run along the walls of houses. He turned
away from the spectators to hide his emotion and collect his thoughts
3. He mentions his past religious consistency, not as a boast or a
ground for justification; but according to the Old Testament
dispensation, wherein temporal rewards (as long life, &c.,
followed legal obedience, he makes his religious conduct a plea for
asking the prolongation of his life.
walked--Life is a journey; the pious "walk with God"
perfect--sincere; not absolutely perfect, but aiming towards it
single-minded in walking as in the presence of God
The letter of the Old Testament legal righteousness
was, however, a standard very much below the spirit of the law as
unfolded by Christ
2Co 3:6, 14, 17).
says, the reason why he wept so sorely was that
being childless, he was leaving the kingdom without a successor. How
often our wishes, when gratified, prove curses! Hezekiah lived to have a
son; that son was the idolater Manasseh, the chief cause of God's wrath
against Judah, and of the overthrow of the kingdom
(2Ki 23:26, 27).
the quickness of God's answer to the prayer is marked, "afore Isaiah
had gone out into the middle court, the word of the
LORD came to him"; that is, before he had left
Hezekiah, or at least when he had just left him, and Hezekiah was in
the act of praying after having heard God's message by Isaiah (compare
5. God of David thy father--God remembers the covenant with the father
to the children
Ps 89:28, 29).
days . . . years--Man's years, however many, are but as so many
after this verse comes the statement which is put at the end, in order
not to interrupt God's message
(Isa 38:21, 22)
will deliver--The city was already delivered, but here
assurance is given, that Hezekiah shall have no more to fear
from the Assyrians.
7. sign--a token that God would fulfil His promise that Hezekiah
should "go up into the house of the Lord the third day"
(2Ki 20:5, 8);
the words in italics are not in Isaiah.
8. bring again--cause to return
2Ki 20:9, 11,
the choice is stated to have been given to Hezekiah, whether the shadow
should go forward, or go back, ten degrees. Hezekiah replied, "It is a
light thing (a less decisive miracle) for the shadow to go down (its
usual direction) ten degrees: nay, but let it return backward ten
degrees"; so Isaiah cried to Jehovah that it should be so, and it was
Jos 10:12, 14).
sundial of Ahaz--HERODOTUS (2.109)
states that the sundial and the
division of the day into twelve hours, were invented by the Babylonians;
from them Ahaz borrowed the invention. He was one, from his connection
with Tiglath-pileser, likely to have done so
(2Ki 16:7, 10).
"Shadow of the degrees" means the shadow made on the degrees. JOSEPHUS thinks these degrees were steps ascending
to the palace of Ahaz; the time of day was indicated by the number of
steps reached by the shadow. But probably a sundial, strictly so
called, is meant; it was of such a size, and so placed, that Hezekiah,
when convalescent, could witness the miracle from his chamber. Compare
Isa 38:21, 22
with 2Ki 20:9,
where translate, shall this shadow go forward, &c.; the dial was
no doubt in sight, probably "in the middle court"
the point where Isaiah turned back to announce God's gracious answers
to Hezekiah. Hence this particular sign was given. The retrogression of
the shadow may have been effected by refraction; a cloud denser than
the air interposing between the gnomon and dial would cause the
phenomenon, which does not take from the miracle, for God gave him the
choice whether the shadow should go forward or back, and regulated the
time and place. BOSANQUET makes the fourteenth
year of Hezekiah to be 689 B.C., the known year of
a solar eclipse, to which he ascribes the recession of the shadow. At
all events, there is no need for supposing any revolution of the
relative positions of the sun and earth, but merely an effect produced
on the shadow
that effect was only local, and designed for the satisfaction of
Hezekiah, for the Babylonian astronomers and king "sent to enquire of
the wonder that was done in the land"
implying that it had not extended to their country. No mention of any
instrument for marking time occurs before this dial of Ahaz, 700 B.C. The first mention of the "hour" is made by Daniel
9-20. The prayer and thanksgiving song of Hezekiah is only given here,
not in the parallel passages of
Second Kings and Second Chronicles.
is the heading or inscription.
10. cutting off--ROSENMULLER
translates, "the meridian"; when the sun
stands in the zenith: so "the perfect day"
Rather, "in the tranquillity of my days," that is, that period
of life when I might now look forward to a tranquil reign [MAURER]. The Hebrew is so translated
(Isa 62:6, 7).
go to--rather, "go into," as in
residue of my years--those which I had calculated on. God sends
sickness to teach man not to calculate on the morrow, but to live more
wholly to God, as if each day were the last.
11. Lord . . . Lord--The repetition, as in
expresses the excited feeling of the king's mind.
See the Lord (Jehovah)--figuratively for "to enjoy His good gifts." So,
in a similar connection
"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the
Lord in the land of the living";
"What man is he that desireth life that he may see good?"
world--rather, translate: "among the inhabitants of the land of
stillness," that is, Hades
[MAURER], in parallel antithesis to "the
land of the living" in the first clause. The Hebrew comes from a root,
to "rest" or "cease"
12. age--rather, as the parallel "shepherd's tent" requires
habitation, so the Arabic [GESENIUS].
departed--is broken up, or shifted, as a tent to a different locality.
The same image occurs
2Pe 1:12, 13).
He plainly expects to exist, and not cease to be in another state; as
the shepherd still lives, after he has struck his tent and removed
I have cut off--He attributes to himself that which is God's will with respect to him; because he declares that will. So Jeremiah
is said to "root out" kingdoms, because he declares God's purpose of
The weaver cuts off his web from the loom when completed.
has a like image. The Greeks represented the Fates as spinning and
cutting off the threads of each man's life.
with pining sickness--rather, "from the thrum," or thread, which tied
the loom to the weaver's beam.
from day . . . to night--that is, in the space of a single day between
morning and night
13. I reckoned . . . that--rather, I composed
(my mind, during the night, expecting relief in the "morning," so
for ("that" is not, as in the English Version, to
be supplied) as a lion He was breaking all my bones [VITRINGA]
La 3:10, 11).
The Hebrew, in
is rendered, "I quieted." Or else, "I made myself like a lion (namely,
in roaring, through pain), He was so breaking my bones!" Poets often
compare great groaning to a lion's roaring, so,
he compares his groans to the sounds of other animals
14. Rather, "Like a swallow, or a crane" (from a root; "to disturb
the water," a bird frequenting the water)
chatter--twitter: broken sounds expressive of pain.
dove--called by the Arabs the daughter of mourning,
from its plaintive note
looking upward--to God for relief.
undertake for--literally, "be surety for" me; assure me that I shall
15-20. The second part of the song passes from prayer to thanksgiving
at the prayer being heard.
What shall I say?--the language of one at a loss for words to express
his sense of the unexpected deliverance.
both spoken . . . and . . . done it--
Both promised and performed
himself--No one else could have done it
go softly . . . in the bitterness--rather, "on account of the
bitterness"; I will behave myself humbly in remembrance of my past
sorrow and sickness from which I have been delivered by God's mercy (see
1Ki 21:27, 29).
the same Hebrew verb expresses the slow and solemn gait of one
going up to the house of God; it is found nowhere else, hence ROSENMULLER explains it, "I will reverently attend the
sacred festivals in the temple"; but this ellipsis would be harsh;
rather metaphorically the word is transferred to a calm, solemn,
and submissive walk of life.
16. by these--namely, by God's benefits, which are implied in
"He hath Himself done it" "unto me"). All "men live by these"
"and in all these is the life of my spirit," that is, I also live by
and (wilt) make me to live--The Hebrew is imperative, "make
me to live." In this view he adds a prayer to the confident hope
founded on his comparative convalescence, which he expressed, "Thou
wilt recover me" [MAURER].
17. for peace--instead of the prosperity which I had previously.
great bitterness--literally, "bitterness to me, bitterness"; expressing
in love--literally, "attachment," such as joins one to another
tenderly; "Thou hast been lovingly attached to me from the pit";
pregnant phrase for, Thy love has gone down to the pit, and drawn me out
from it. The "pit" is here simply death, in Hezekiah's sense;
realized in its fulness only in reference to the soul's redemption
from hell by Jesus Christ
who went down to the pit for that purpose Himself
Zec 9:11, 12;
"Sin" and sickness are connected
with Mt 8:17; 9:5, 6),
especially under the Old Testament dispensation of temporal sanctions;
but even now, sickness, though not invariably arising from sin in
individuals, is connected with it in the general moral view.
cast . . . behind back--consigned my sins to oblivion.
The same phrase occurs
"Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in
the light of thy countenance."
18. death--that is, the dead; Hades and its inhabitants
Plainly Hezekiah believed in a world of disembodied spirits; his
language does not imply what skepticism has drawn from it, but simply
that he regarded the disembodied state as one incapable of declaring
the praises of God before men, for it is, as regards this
world, an unseen land of stillness; "the living" alone can praise
God on earth, in reference to which only he is speaking;
Isa 57:1, 2
shows that at this time the true view of the blessedness of the
righteous dead was held, though not with the full clearness of the
Gospel, which "has brought life and immortality to light"
hope for thy truth--
Their probation is at an end. They can no longer exercise faith and
hope in regard to Thy faithfulness to Thy promises, which are limited
to the present state. For "hope" ceases (even in the case of the godly)
when sight begins
(Ro 8:24, 25);
the ungodly have "no hope"
Hope in God's truth is one of the grounds of praise to God
(Ps 71:14; 119:49).
Others translate, "cannot celebrate."
19. living . . . living--emphatic repetition, as in
Isa 38:11, 17;
his heart is so full of the main object of his prayer that, for want of
adequate words, he repeats the same word.
father to the children--one generation of the living to another.
He probably, also, hints at his own desire to live until he should have
a child, the successor to his throne, to whom he might make known and so
perpetuate the memory of God's truth.
truth--faithfulness to His promises; especially in Hezekiah's
case, His promise of hearing prayer.
20. was ready--not in the Hebrew; "Jehovah was for my salvation,"
that is, saved me (compare
we--I and my people.
in the house of the Lord--This song was designed, as many of the other
Psalms, as a form to be used in public worship at stated times,
perhaps on every anniversary of his recovery; hence "all the days of
lump of figs--a round cake of figs pressed into a mass
God works by means; the meanest of which He can make effectual.
boil--inflamed ulcer, produced by the plague.
22. house of the Lord--Hence he makes the praises to be sung there
prominent in his song
Ps 116:12-14, 17-19).