Isaiah 38: Hezekiah’s True Purpose

Hezekiah is nearing the end of his life in this chapter. Having served as a righteous king before God, he appeals to God to remember him, and he is blessed.

Verses 1-8: In these verses we have the account of Hezekiah’s life being extended. The Word of the Lord came through the prophet Isaiah to be delivered to Hezekiah. Isaiah tells Hezekiah that he should set his affairs in order because his life will end soon. Hezekiah is very saddened to hear this and so he prays to God to remember him. He does not ask specifically for his time on earth to be extended, but he only prays: “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.”

God then speaks through Isaiah once more to Hezekiah and adds fifteen years to his life and also affirms that Jerusalem would continue to be protected from the king of Assyria. As a sign that God would be faithful in these things, the following miracle is performed: “”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.”

Verses 9-22: After Hezekiah realizes that he has recovered to live longer, his heart is very glad and he wants to express thanksgiving to God for this reprieve. However, fear and regret are also mixed with his gratitude. In the hours when he was close to death he realized how fragile his life was and always had been:

“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. 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. I have considered until morning— Like a lion, So He breaks all my bones; From day until night You make an end of me.” Isaiah 38:11-13

Hezekiah finally knew God’s power over the living, and his heart rejoiced when he knew that God had given him more time. Hezekiah gained wisdom and self-knowledge from this experience, realizing that his true purpose was not for himself, but to serve the Lord:

“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….The living, the living man, he shall praise You, As I do this day; The father shall make known Your truth to the children. “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.”” Isaiah 38:17, 19-20

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