Hezekiah’s Reprieve

Isaiah 38:1–22 (NKJV)

38:1 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ ”
2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, 3 and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 And the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying, 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years. 6 I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.” ’ 7 And this is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing which He has spoken: 8 Behold, I will bring the shadow on the sundial, which has gone down with the sun on the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward.” So the sun returned ten degrees on the dial by which it had gone down.

Hezekiah was a righteous man, the king of Judah.  He developed a sickness that seemed destined to cause his death.  When the news came to him, he cried out to God for mercy, and God answered that prayer, giving him fifteen more years of life and affirming it by the miraculous sign of the sundial.

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

10 I said,
“In the prime of my life
I shall go to the gates of Sheol;
I am deprived of the remainder of my years.”
11 I said,
“I shall not see YAH,
The LORD in the land of the living;
I shall observe man no more among the inhabitants of the world.
12 My life span is gone,
Taken from me like a shepherd’s tent;
I have cut off my life like a weaver.
He cuts me off from the loom;
From day until night You make an end of me.
13 I have considered until morning—
Like a lion,
So He breaks all my bones;
From day until night You make an end of me.
14 Like a crane or a swallow, so I chattered;
I mourned like a dove;
My eyes fail from looking upward.
O LORD, I am oppressed;
Undertake for me!

15 “What shall I say?
He has both spoken to me,
And He Himself has done it.
I shall walk carefully all my years
In the bitterness of my soul.
16 O LORD, by these things men live;
And in all these things is the life of my spirit;
So You will restore me and make me live.
17 Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
18 For Sheol cannot thank You,
Death cannot praise You;
Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.
19 The living, the living man, he shall praise You,
As I do this day;
The father shall make known Your truth to the children.

20 “The LORD was ready to save me;
Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments
All the days of our life, in the house of the LORD.”

The song of Hezekiah recounts his sorrow at the news of his death, his cry to God, and God’s answer.  It is a song of praise and thanks to God for His mercy and help.

21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a lump of figs, and apply it as a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover.”
22 And Hezekiah had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?”

The final passage in this chapter discusses the means whereby God instructs Isaiah to bring about Hezekiah’s healing.  This is an interesting passage, because God instructs Isaiah to apply a poultice, medicine if you will, to the boil that was the supposed cause of Hezekiah’s sickness.  This is a clear indication that, at least in this era, God worked through medicine as well as by miraculous means.  While some say that medicine is a secondary path, only necessary if someone does not have faith to believe for his or her healing, this Scripture shows that medicine was an acceptable mode of healing in the eyes of God.  This subject demands more discussion for a full understanding, but this passage–taken alone–would make one feel that using doctors and medicine are acceptable to God.  Whatever means used or credited for healing, however, must be attributed ultimately to God, for He is the source of all that is good!

One other thought to consider:  what is the purpose of sickness and suffering?  If Jesus won the victory over death, does sickness even have power over the believer?  I do not think we should be under the dominion of anything: sin, sickness, addiction, etc.  However, sometimes thing come our way and settle in our lives in ways that provide an opportunity for the God of all power to be glorified.  The Bible says that this is just one of those cases, as is evidenced in the passage seen in the image above (Isaiah 38:17).

When troubles come, don’t curse the day.  When trials confront you, don’t shrink in fear.  Know that whatever you go through today, God is in control, and He will give you the victory.  Be strong and courageous, for God is with you!

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