The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 38 Part 2


We are going to read Isaiah 38:9-22

v9: Note: This verse ushers in a change. In the first 8 verses of this chapter, we had a narrative, but now we have a letter written by Hezekiah. 

  • Recovered from his sickness: His sickness did not bring about his death.

v10: Sheol: This was the place where all the dead went before the resurrection and ascension of Messiah. Sheol had two compartments in it. One of these compartments was known as Gehinom, which is hell – a place of fire, torment, punishment and suffering. All of those who did not have the faith of Abraham went into this compartment when they died (Luke 16:19-31). The second compartment was known as Abraham’s bosom or Paradise. If one believed like Abraham in the promises of G-d (ie that G-d was going to send the seed of Abraham, Messiah, to deal with our sins) then when they died they would go to Paradise (Luke 23:42-43). 

  • Deprived: A word of G-d’s visitation in order to punish Hezekiah.  
  • The remainder of my years: Hezekiah was not going to experience the fullness of life. Many take this to mean that Hezekiah was not an old man when he was told that he was going to die, but he was relatively young. 

v11: YAH: The way that the number 15 would be written if it wasn’t related to the name of G-d. 

  • I shall observe man no more: His ability to see, to perceive, to have a consciousness of what’s going on in this world is all coming to an end.

v12: Life span: Generation. His allotted time. 

  • A shepherd’s tent: As a shepherd travelled on to new pastures he would roll up his tent and carry it to the next place. Hezekiah is using an idiom that was known in his day – rolling up the shepherd’s tent (which is how this phrase would be literally translated) meant that he was passing on to another place, moving on.
  • Cuts me off from the loom: When a weaver is finished weaving, he removes the cloth from the loom. Hezekiah feels like his life is being taken away in this same way. 
  • An end: A completion. 

v13: Considered (literally: cried out) until morning: He cried all night. 

  • Like a lion: His cries were loud – like the roaring of a lion. 
  • My bones: The very foundation of his life.
  • From day until night…:This phrase is repeated, therefore emphasised.

v14: Crane or a swallow: Hezekiah is referring to two different types of birds. The exact types of birds are not known but are translated as ‘crane’ and ‘swallow’. 

  • Chattered: Chirped. Birds make an unintelligible noise when they want something. This is what Hezekiah had done.
  • I mourned like a dove: When a dove’s mate dies, she mourns for a significant period of time. 
  • Mourned: To meditate, to pay close attention to. 
  • Looking upward: Hezekiah has prayed and prayed and looked to G-d for a response. 
  • Undertake for me: Hezekiah wants G-d to get involved. He wants G-d to change the situation that he finds himself in. 

v15: Note: The implication of this verse is that Hezekiah is bemoaning the fact that his life is so short. He feels that because it is so short his life has been a bitter experience. He seems to have forgotten how G-d has used him to accomplish so many good things. G-d has brought G-dly change to Judah through him.  Hezekiah had a testimony of being a man of faith. He has forgotten all of these things and instead paints a brush stroke of bitterness over his whole life. 

v16: By these things men live: Men (people) live to experience great things in their lives. 

  • In all these things is the life of my spirit: Hezekiah wants these great things in life as well. He does not want his life to be cut off prematurely so that he never gets to experience these things. Hezekiah did not feel like he was ready to die. He pled with G-d to intervene and to bring about a change in his situation. 
  • Restore: Heal.
  • Make me live: Hezekiah strongly petitioned G-d that he would not die but that he would recover. 

v17: Peace: This is a word which is related to the will of G-d. Hezekiah, up to this point, had lived for the will of G-d, the fruit of which is peace, to be evident in his life. 

  • You have lovingly delivered …You have cast all my sins: Hezekiah believes in a Redeemer who delivers us and takes away our sins.
  • Cast all my sins behind Your back: He knows that he is forgiven. He doesn’t want to experience bitterness or death, but he wants to experience the Kingdom of G-d.

 v18: Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You: Hezekiah cannot thank or praise G-d in this world if he is dead, therefore he is pleading to live so that he can still do these things publicly. 

  • Your truth: Here, truth is synonymous with the outcome of the promises of G-d. 

v19: As I do this day: Hezekiah is saying that if G-d changes His plans (which Hezekiah has heard through prophecy) he is going to give thanks to and praise G-d. 

  • The father shall make known Your truth to the children: We need to be very careful about the promises we make to G-d if we decide that we are going to negotiate with Him (eg Judges 11:29-40). It is better not to negotiate with G-d at all, but we should submit to Hiis will with thanksgiving and praise. Hezekiah promised G-d that if G-d gave him more time, he was going to speak G-d’s truth and teach it to the next generation.

v20: Note: This is Hezekiah’s final petition. 

  • Sing: (‘Play music’ is how this phrase is translated literally). Singing often accompanies the playing of instruments. Hezekiah committed to praising G-d publicly – singing praises and making melodies to Him.
  • All the days of our life: Hezekiah did not faithfully carry out these promises that he made to G-d. G-d gave him an additional 15 years, but he used those years very poorly. 

v21: A lump of figs: This is a mixture that would have the consistency of fig jam or jelly. 

  • Figs: Figs are uniquely related to the people of Israel (Hosea 9:10). It is significant that G-d brings about healing through the use of figs. 
  • Boil: Hezekiah had boils, just like Job and Lazarus (Job 2:7, Luke 16:20). This is also the same word used for the plague of boils in Egypt (Ex 9:10-11). Boils cause great suffering. 

v22: What is the sign that I should go up: Isaiah 38:20 just told us that Hezekiah had committed to going up every day of his life to the house of the L-rd. Hezekiah did not need to wait for a sign to do this, but he should have gone straight away and not even asked this question. 

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