Isaiah 38:3
And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech you, how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Remember now, O Lord.—Devout as the prayer is, there is a tone of self-satisfaction in it which contrasts with David’s prayer (Psalm 51:1-3). He rests on what he has done in the way of religious reformation, and practically asks what he has done that he should be cut off by an untimely death. The tears may probably have been less egotistic than the words, and, therefore, were more prevailing.

38:1-8 When we pray in our sickness, though God send not to us such an answer as he here sent to Hezekiah, yet, if by his Spirit he bids us be of good cheer, assures us that our sins are forgiven, and that, whether we live or die, we shall be his, we do not pray in vain. See 2Ki 20:1-11.And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee - The object which Hezekiah desired was evidently that his life might be spared, and that he might not be suddenly cut off. He therefore makes mention of the former course of his life, not with ostentation, or as a ground of his acceptance or justification, but as a reason why his limb should not be cut off. He had not lived as many of the kings of Israel had done. He had not been a patron of idolatry. He had promoted an extensive and thorough reformation among the people. He had exerted his influence as a king in the service of Yahweh, and it was his purpose still to do it; and he, therefore, prayed that his life might be spared in order that he might carry forward and perfect his plans for the reformation of the people, and for the establishment of the worship of Yahweh.

How I have walked - How I have lived. Life, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a journey, and a life of piety is represented as walking with God (see Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:9; 1 Kings 9:4; 1 Kings 11:33).

In truth - In the defense and maintenance of the truth, or in sincerity.

And with a perfect heart - With a heart sound, sincere, entire in thy service. This had been his leading aim; his main, grand purpose. He had not pursued his own ends, but his whole official royal influence bad been on the side of religion. This refers to his public character rather than to his private feelings. For though, as a man, he might be deeply conscious of imperfection; yet as a king, his influence had been wholly on the side of religion, and he had not declined from the ways of God.

And have done that which is good - This accords entirely with the account which is given of him in 2 Kings 18:3-5.

And Hezekiah wept sore - Margin, as Hebrew, 'With great weeping.' Josephus (Ant. x. 2. 1) says, that the reason why Hezekiah was so much affected was that he was then childless, and saw that he was about to leave the government without a successor. Others suppose that it was because his death would be construed by his enemies as a judgment of God for his stripping the temple of its ornaments 2 Kings 18:16. It is possible that several things may have been combined in producing the depth of his grief. In his song, or in the record which he made to express his praise to God for his recovery, the main reason of his grief which he suggested was, the fact that he was in danger of being cut off in the midst of his days; that the blessings of a long life were likely to be denied him (see Isaiah 38:10-12). We have here an instance in which even a good man may be surprised, alarmed, distressed, at the sudden announcement that he must die. The fear of death is natural; and even those who are truly pious are sometimes alarmed when it comes.

3. He mentions his past religious consistency, not as a boast or a ground for justification; but according to the Old Testament dispensation, wherein temporal rewards (as long life, &c., Ex 20:12) followed legal obedience, he makes his religious conduct a plea for asking the prolongation of his life.

walked—Life is a journey; the pious "walk with God" (Ge 5:24; 1Ki 9:4).

perfect—sincere; not absolutely perfect, but aiming towards it (Mt 5:45); single-minded in walking as in the presence of God (Ge 17:1). The letter of the Old Testament legal righteousness was, however, a standard very much below the spirit of the law as unfolded by Christ (Mt 5:20-48; 2Co 3:6, 14, 17).

wept sore—Josephus says, the reason why he wept so sorely was that being childless, he was leaving the kingdom without a successor. How often our wishes, when gratified, prove curses! Hezekiah lived to have a son; that son was the idolater Manasseh, the chief cause of God's wrath against Judah, and of the overthrow of the kingdom (2Ki 23:26, 27).

No text from Poole on this verse. And said, remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee,.... He puts the Lord in mind of his good walk and works, which are never forgotten by him, though they may seem to be: and this he the rather did, because it might be thought that he had been guilty of some very enormous crime, which he was not conscious to himself he had; it being unusual to cut men off in the prime of their days, but in such a case:

how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart; or rather, "that I have walked before thee", as Noldius, since the manner of walking is declared in express terms; so the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions, and others; that the course of his life in the sight of God, having the fear of him upon his heart, and before his eyes, was according to the truth of his word, institutions, and appointments; that he walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and in the sincerity, integrity, and uprightness of his soul; and however imperfect his services were, as no man so walks as to be free from sin, yet he was sincere and without dissimulation in the performance of them; his intentions were upright, his views were purely to the glory of God:

and have done that which is good in thy sight; agreeably both to the moral and ceremonial law, in his own private and personal capacity as a man, in the administration of justice in his government as a king; and particularly in reforming the nation; in destroying idols, and idol worship; in breaking in pieces the brazen serpent, when used to idolatrous purposes; and in setting up the pure worship of God, and his ordinances; and which he does not plead as meritorious, but mentions as well pleasing to God, which he graciously accepts of, and encourages with promises of reward:

and Hezekiah wept sore; not only because of his death, the news of which might be shocking to nature; but because of the distressed condition the nation would be in, having now the Assyrian army in it, or at least not wholly free from fears, by reason of that monarch; and besides, had no son to succeed him in the throne, and so difficulties and troubles might arise within themselves about a successor; and it may be, what troubled him most of all was, that dying without issue, the Messiah could not spring from his seed.

And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. with a perfect heart] Lit. “with a whole heart,” one absolutely devoted to Jehovah. Cf. 1 Kings 8:61; 1 Kings 11:4; 1 Kings 15:3; 1 Kings 15:14, where the expression occurs with the addition of the words “with Jehovah.” The motive of this prayer is clearly expressed in the Song of Thanksgiving which follows (see Isaiah 38:11; Isaiah 38:18-19).Verse 3. - Remember now, O Lord. Hezekiah was in the full vigour of life - thirty-nine years old only. He had probably as yet no son, since Manasseh, who succeeded him, was but twelve (2 Kings 21:1, 2 Chronicles 33:1) when Hezekiah died at the age of fifty-four. It was a grievous thing to a Jew to leave no male offspring: it was viewed as a mark of the Divine displeasure to be cut off in the midst of one's days (Job 15:32; Job 22:15, 16: Psalm 55:23; Proverbs 10:27; Ecclesiastes 7:17). Hezekiah asked himself - Had he deserved such a sentence? He thought that he had not. He knew that, with whatever shortcomings, he had endeavoured to serve God, had trusted in him (2 Kings 18:5), cleaved to him (2 Kings 18:6), "departed not from following him, but kept his commandments" (2 Kings 18:6) He therefore ventured upon an expostulation and an earnest prayer; and God was pleased to hear the prayer and to grant it. I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart. Compare the unbiased testimony of the authors of Kings and Chronicles (2 Kings 18:3-6; 2 Chronicles 29:2; 2 Chronicles 31:20, 21). Under the old dispensation, there was nothing to prevent men from pleading their righteousness before God (comp. Job 31:4-40; Psalm 7:3-2; 18:20-24; 26:1-8, etc.). Hezekiah, however, does not really regard himself as sinless (comp. ver. 17). And Hezekiah wept sore. In the East feelings are but little restrained. Joy shows itself in laughter and shouting, grief in tears and shrill cries. Xerxes wept when he thought of the shortness of human life (Herod., 7:46); the Persians rent the air with load cries at the funeral of Masistius (ibid., 9:24); on the news of the defeat at Salamis all Susa "cried aloud, and wept and wailed without stint" (ibid., 8:99). So David wept for Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:12) and again for Absalom (2 Samuel 19:1); Joash wept when he heard the words of the Law (2 Kings 22:19); Nehemiah wept at the desolation of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4); the ambassadors of Hezekiah, when disappointed of the object of their embassy, "wept bitterly" (Isaiah 33:7). No king in the East puts himself under any restraint, if he has an inclination for either tears or laughter. The prophecy concerning the protection of Jerusalem becomes more definite in the last turn than it ever has been before. "Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning the king of Asshur, He will not enter into this city, nor shoot off an arrow there; nor do they assault it with a shield, nor cast up earthworks against it. By the way by which he came (K. will come) will he return; and he will not enter into this city, saith Jehovah. And I shield this city (על, K. אל), to help it, for mine own sake, and for the sake of David my servant." According to Hitzig, this conclusion belongs to the later reporter, on account of its "suspiciously definite character." Knobel, on the other hand, sees no reason for disputing the authorship of Isaiah, inasmuch as in all probability the pestilence had already set in (Isaiah 33:24), and threatened to cripple the Assyrian army very considerably, so that the prophet began to hope that Sennacherib might now be unable to stand against the powerful Ethiopian king. To us, however, the words "Thus saith Jehovah" are something more than a flower of speech; and we hear the language of a man exalted above the standard of the natural man, and one how has been taken, as Amos says (Amos 3:7), by God, the moulder of history into "His secret." Here also we see the prophecy at its height, towards which it has been ascending from Isaiah 6:13 and Isaiah 10:33-34 onwards, through the midst of obstacles accumulated by the moral condition of the nation, but with the same goal invariably in view. The Assyrian will not storm Jerusalem; there will not even be preparations for a siege. The verb qiddēm is construed with a double accusative, as in Psalm 21:4 : sōlelâh refers to the earthworks thrown up for besieging purposes, as in Jeremiah 32:24. The reading יבא instead of בּא has arisen in consequence of the eye having wandered to the following יבא. The promise in Isaiah 37:35 sounds like Isaiah 31:5. The reading אל for על is incorrect. One motive assigned ("for my servant David's sake") is the same as in 1 Kings 15:4, etc.; and the other ("for mine own sake") the same as in Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 48:11 (compare, however, Isaiah 55:3 also). On the one hand, it is in accordance with the honour and faithfulness of Jehovah, that Jerusalem is delivered; and, on the other hand, it is the worth of David, or, what is the same thing, the love of Jehovah turned towards him, of which Jerusalem reaps the advantage.
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