Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.3. Hezekiah’s Illness, Recovery, Failure, and Death
Hezekiah’s sickness must have occurred about the second invasion of the Assyrian. Then the prophet Isaiah delivered to him the message of approaching death. “Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live.” The message made a deep impression on the sick king. He turned his face to the wall; he prayed and wept sore. Though he was a pious man he was greatly agitated and deeply moved when he heard the announcement of his coming departure. The meager knowledge God’s saints had in Old Testament times on the things beyond the grave, as well as the conception that an untimely death denoted divine disfavor produced no doubt much of this grief. How differently saints in New Testament times can face death! Life and immortality is now brought to life by the gospel, and we know that absent from the body means to be present with the Lord, and to depart and be with Christ is “far better.”
Hezekiah’s prayer was at once heard and answered. It is one of the most striking answers to prayer. Isaiah had not gone very far, he had just reached the middle of the court, when he was commanded to turn back and bring to Hezekiah the answer. Seven things are contained in this new message to the weeping king. “I have heard thy prayer”; “I have seen thy tears”; “I will heal thee”; “Thou shalt go up to the house of the LORD”; “I will add unto thy days fifteen years”; “I will deliver thee”; “I will defend the city.” And Isaiah was also commanded to use means. “Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil and he recovered.” If this simple remedy had been neglected, if there had been disobedience, the recovery would not have taken place. The third day is mentioned on which he should go up to the house of the LORD. For Israel there is also in store the third day, when they will be raised up nationally and worship the LORD (Hosea 6:2). Then there was the sign of the shadow turning backward ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz. Hezekiah’s experience is a great encouragement for God’s people to pray.
“It is interesting to learn that Ahaz had--probably on his visit to Damascus (2Kings 16:10)--seen and brought to Jerusalem some of the scientific appliances of the great empire of the East. It is impossible to determine whether this mode of measuring the progress of time (not strictly hours) was by a sun-dial, the invention of which Herodotus ascribed to the Babylonians. According to Ideler it was a gnomon, or index, surrounded by concentric circles, by which the time of the day was marked by the lengthening shadow. But the term “steps” seems rather to indicate an obelisk surrounded by steps, the shadow on which marked the hours, so that the shadow falling in the morning westwards first on the lowest step, gradually ascended to the plane on the top, and after midday again descended the steps eastwards. As the text seems to imply that there were twenty such “steps,” they must have marked the quarters of an hour, and in that case the event has happened about half-past two o’clock p.m.” (Bible History)
And the promise the LORD had given, “I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for Mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake,” was wonderfully fulfilled in the complete destruction of Sennacherib’s army. The last we hear of this great king is the failure when he was lifted up with pride and did not give the glory to God. Merodach-baladan, (Berodach is the error of some scribe. See Isaiah 39:1.), King of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah when he heard of his sickness and his miraculous recovery. This is the first time we hear of a king of Babylon. The ambassadors came possibly to form with Hezekiah a league against Assyria. Hezekiah was favorably impressed, “he hearkened unto them,” and then he made a display of all his possessions. He had hearkened unto them and pleased with the attention shown to him and the presents the king of Babylon had sent to him, he became lifted up in his heart, he boasted of his wealth and his possessions. Then Isaiah had another message for him. The Babylonian captivity is announced; remarkable in itself. How verses 17 and 18 were fulfilled is well known.