Isaiah 38:1-22 – A life mercifully preserved

As previously mentioned, the events of chapters 38-39 pre-date those in chapters 36-37. Here Hezekiah, seriously ill, is told by Isaiah to prepare himself for death; however, the king petitions God to preserve his life. Isaiah is told by God to report to Hezekiah that his life will be extended by fifteen years and that Jerusalem will be delivered from the Assyrians. By the grace of God, Hezekiah’s life will be preserved and Jerusalem will be spared too. The divine sign confirming this turn of events is that the shadow cast by the sun on the steps of Ahaz in Jerusalem will go back ten steps. This would appear to represent a miracle undertaken by God rather than simply some sort of optical allusion.

The song of verses 9 to 20 attributed to Hezekiah was probably written during his illness as he expresses his humble expectation that God will restore him. God is clearly the one who saves Hezekiah by granting him mercy and decreeing that his life will be extended, but a simple medical procedure represents the natural cure for his condition.

There are really valuable things to take from this episode in the life of Hezekiah. In a very real sense, every day we live is a gift granted us by God and should not be taken for granted. As Psalm 139:16 says, God has numbered our days. We initially see Isaiah tell the sick king to prepare to die and this is sometimes something we might have to speak to someone about. To face up to the likelihood of someone dying due to a serious sickness is not necessarily an act of unbelief. We also see that part of Hezekiah recovering was the use of a medical treatment and we should be grateful to God for the gift of medicine and doctors. Of course, we should very much be in prayer before God that we might see him demonstrate his grace and power in healing those we know who are physically unwell.

Prayer: There are many in our church family and around us who are sick. Take a moment to make a note of those on your heart. Now take a little bit of oil (olive oil/veg oil/baby oil/essential oil is fine) and gently rub into your hands. As you do so pray for these people for their healing and a blessing from the Lord. Then pray for all those in the NHS, bringing healing to so many at this time through medical skills.

Song: Healer