|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:1-11 Hezekiah was sick unto death, in the same year in which the king of Assyria besieged Jerusalem. A warning to prepare for death was brought to Hezekiah by Isaiah. Prayer is one of the best preparations for death, because by it we fetch in strength and grace from God, to enable us to finish well. He wept sorely: some gather from hence that he was unwilling to die; it is in the nature of man to dread the separation of soul and body. There was also something peculiar in Hezekiah's case; he was now in the midst of his usefulness. Let Hezekiah's prayer, see Isa 38. interpret his tears; in that is nothing which is like his having been under that fear of death, which has bondage or torment. Hezekiah's piety made his sick-bed easy. O Lord, remember now; he does not speak as if God needed to be put in mind of any thing by us; nor, as if the reward might be demanded as due; it is Christ's righteousness only that is the purchase of mercy and grace. Hezekiah does not pray, Lord, spare me; but, Lord, remember me; whether I live or die, let me be thine. God always hears the prayers of the broken in heart, and will give health, length of days, and temporal deliverances, as much and as long as is truly good for them. Means were to be used for Hezekiah's recovery; yet, considering to what a height the disease was come, and how suddenly it was checked, the cure was miraculous. It is our duty, when sick, to use such means as are proper to help nature, else we do not trust God, but tempt him. For the confirmation of his faith, the shadow of the sun was carried back, and the light was continued longer than usual, in a miraculous manner. This work of wonder shows the power of God in heaven as well as on earth, the great notice he takes of prayer, and the great favour he bears to his chosen.
Verse 7. - And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. Figs were the usual remedy for boils. Dioscorides says of the fig, διαφορεῖ σκληρίας; Pliny, "Ulcera aperit;" while Jerome, in his-commentary on Isaiah, has the following: "Juxta artem medicorum omnis sanies siccioribus ficis atque contusis in cutis superficiem provocatur." The remedy is said to be still in use among Easterns. It can scarcely be supposed to have cured a malignant bell by its intrinsic force; but under the Divine blessing it was made effectual, and the cure followed. And they took and laid it on the boil. The royal attendants obtained a lump of figs, and applied it to the inflamed boil or carbuncle, as Isaiah had suggested. It is impossible to say what exactly was the nature of the "boil," since diseases change their characters, and every age has its own special disorders; but modern medical science knows of more than one kind of pustular swelling, which, as soon as it is detected, is regarded as fatal. And he recovered. Not suddenly, but by degrees; after the manner of natural remedies. It was three days before he was well enough to quit the palace, and offer thanks in the temple for his miraculous cure (see ver. 5).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Isaiah said, take a lump of figs,.... Not moist figs, but a cake of dried figs, as the word used signifies, and so the less likely to have any effect in curing the boil:
and they took, and laid it on the boil, and he recovered; made a plaster of it, and laid it on the ulcer, and it was healed. Physicians observe (u), that as such like inflammations consist in a painful extension of the fibres by the hinderance of the circulation of the blood, through the extreme little arteries, which may be mitigated, or dissipated, or ripened, by such things as are emollient and loosening, so consequently by figs; and, in a time of pestilence, figs beaten together with butter and treacle have been applied to plague of boils with great success; yet these figs being only a cake of dry figs, and, the boil not only malignant, but deadly, and the cure so suddenly performed, show that this was done not in a natural, but in a supernatural way, though means were directed to be made use of.
(u) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 3. p. 620. Vid. Levin. Lemnii Herb. Bibl. Explicat. c. 19. p. 60.
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