Isaiah 38:20
The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD.
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(20) Was ready.—Better, as fitting in with the praise and hope of the close of the prayer, is ready.

We will sing.—The king identifies himself with the great congregation, perhaps even yet more closely with the Levite minstrels of the Temple whom he had done so much to train and re-organise.

38:9-22 We have here Hezekiah's thanksgiving. It is well for us to remember the mercies we receive in sickness. Hezekiah records the condition he was in. He dwells upon this; I shall no more see the Lord. A good man wishes not to live for any other end than that he may serve God, and have communion with him. Our present residence is like that of a shepherd in his hut, a poor, mean, and cold lodging, and with a trust committed to our charge, as the shepherd has. Our days are compared to the weaver's shuttle, Job 7:6, passing and repassing very swiftly, every throw leaving a thread behind it; and when finished, the piece is cut off, taken out of the loom, and showed to our Master to be judged of. A good man, when his life is cut off, his cares and fatigues are cut off with it, and he rests from his labours. But our times are in God's hand; he has appointed what shall be the length of the piece. When sick, we are very apt to calculate our time, but are still at uncertainty. It should be more our care how we shall get safe to another world. And the more we taste of the loving-kindness of God, the more will our hearts love him, and live to him. It was in love to our poor perishing souls that Christ delivered them. The pardon does not make the sin not to have been sin, but not to be punished as it deserves. It is pleasant to think of our recoveries from sickness, when we see them flowing from the pardon of sin. Hezekiah's opportunity to glorify God in this world, he made the business, and pleasure, and end of life. Being recovered, he resolves to abound in praising and serving God. God's promises are not to do away, but to quicken and encourage the use of means. Life and health are given that we may glorify God and do good.The Lord was ready to save me - He was prompt, quick to save me. He did not hesitate or delay.

Therefore we will sing my songs - That is, my family and nation. The song of Hezekiah was designed evidently not as a mere record, but to be used in celebrating the praises of God, and probably in a public manner in the temple. The restoration of the monarch was a fit occasion for public rejoicing; and it is probable that this ode was composed to be used by the company of singers that were employed constantly in the temple.

To the stringed instruments - We will set it to music, and will use it publicly (see the notes at Isaiah 5:12).

20. was ready—not in the Hebrew; "Jehovah was for my salvation," that is, saved me (compare Isa 12:2).

we—I and my people.

in the house of the Lord—This song was designed, as many of the other Psalms, as a form to be used in public worship at stated times, perhaps on every anniversary of his recovery; hence "all the days of our life."

lump of figs—a round cake of figs pressed into a mass (1Sa 25:18). God works by means; the meanest of which He can make effectual.

boil—inflamed ulcer, produced by the plague.

Was ready to save me; was a present help to me, ready to hear and succour me upon my prayer in my great extremity.

We; both I and my people, who are concerned in me, and for me will sing forth those songs of praise which are due especially from me, for God’s great mercy to me.

Will sing my songs to the stringed instruments, according to the custom of those times. The Lord was ready to save me,.... Or, "the Lord to save me (y)"; he was at hand to save him; he was both able and willing to save him; he was a present help in time of need; he arose for his help, and that right early; he very quickly delivered him out of his distress; he, who one day expected death every moment, was the next day in the temple praising God:

therefore will we sing my songs; which were made by him, or concerning him, or which he ordered to be sung, as he did the Psalms of David, 2 Chronicles 29:30,

to the stringed instruments: which were touched with the fingers, or struck with a quill or bow; which distinguishes them from wind instruments, which were blown with the mouth; each of these were used in the temple service:

all the days of our life; he had before said "we will sing", meaning his family and his friends with him, his courtiers, princes, and nobles, or he and the singers of Israel; and this he determined to do as long as he and they lived; signifying, that the mercy granted would never be forgotten by him, as well as there would be new mercies every day, which would call for praise and thankfulness: and this he proposed to do

in the house of the Lord; in the temple; not only privately, but publicly; not in his closet and family only, but in the congregation of the people; that the goodness of God to him might be more known, and the praise and glory given him be the greater.

(y) "Dominus ad servandum me", Montanus; "Jehova est ad salvandum me", Cocceius, Vitringa.

The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of {y} our life in the house of the LORD.

(y) He shows what is the use of the Congregation and Church, that is, to give the Lord thanks for his benefits.

20. Perhaps a liturgical appendix, adapting the psalm for congregational use. Hence the transition from 1st pers. sing, to 1st pers. plu.

we will sing … instruments] Rather, we will play with string music (“we” including the Levites or the congregation). The word for “string music” is Něgînôth, which occurs frequently in the headings of the Psalms. Here and in Habakkuk 3:9 it has the suffix of 1st pers. sing. (“my”), which it is very difficult to explain.Verse 20. - The Lord was ready to save me; rather, came to my rescue; came and saved me. Therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments; rather, therefore will we play my stringed instruments. Hezekiah calls the stringed instruments his, because he had recalled their use, and re-established them as a part of the temple service after the suspension of that service by Ahaz (2 Chronicles 29:30). His intention now is to take continual part with the Levites in (he choral praises of God, which were a part of the daily worship of the temple. This is to him the natural mode of expressing his thankfulness to God for the mercy vouchsafed him. In strophe 2 the retrospective glance is continued. His sufferings increased to such an extent, that there was nothing left in his power but a whining moan - a languid look for help.

I waited patiently till the morning; like the lion,

So He broke in pieces all my bones:

From day to night Thou makest it all over with me.

Like a swallow, a crane, so I chirped;

I cooed like the dove;

Mine eyes pined for the height.

O Lord, men assault me! Be bail for me."

The meaning of shivvithi may be seen from Psalm 131:2, in accordance with which an Arabic translator has rendered the passage, "I smoothed, i.e., quieted (sâweitu) my soul, notwithstanding the sickness, all night, until the morning." But the morning brought no improvement; the violence of the pain, crushing him like a lion, forced from him again and again the mournful cry, that he must die before the day had passed, and should not live to see another. The Masora here has a remark, which is of importance, as bearing upon Psalm 22:17, viz., that כּארי occurs twice, and לישׁני בתרי with two different meanings. The meaning of עגוּר סוּס is determined by Jeremiah 8:7, from which it is evident that עגּור is not an attribute of סּוס here, in the sense of "chirping mournfully," or "making a circle in its flight," but is the name of a particular bird, namely the crane. For although the Targum and Syriac both seem to render סוס in that passage (keri סיס, which is the chethib here, according to the reading of Orientals) by כּוּרכּיא) (a crane, Arab. Kurki), and עגוּר, by סנוּניתא) (the ordinary name of the swallow, which Haji Gaon explains by the Arabic chuttaf), yet the relation is really the reverse: sūs (sı̄s) is the swallow, and ‛âgūr the crane. Hence Rashi, on b. Kiddusin 44a ("then cried Res Lakis like a crane"), gives âg, Fr. grue, as the rendering of כרוכי; whereas Parchon (s.verse ‛âgūr), confounds the crane with the hoarsely croaking stork (ciconia alba). The verb 'ătsaphtsēph answers very well not only to the flebile murmur of the swallow (into which the penitential Progne was changed, according to the Grecian myth), but also to the shrill shriek of the crane, which is caused by the extraordinary elongation of the windpipe, and is onomatopoetically expressed in its name ‛âgūr.

(Note: The call of the parent cranes, according to Naumann (Vgel Deutschlands, ix. 364), is a rattling kruh (gruh), which is uncommonly violent when close, and has a trumpet-like sound, which makes it audible at a very great distance. With the younger cranes it has a somewhat higher tone, which often passes, so to speak, into a falsetto.)

Tsiphtsēph, like τρίζειν, is applied to every kind of shrill, penetrating, inarticulate sound. The ordinary meaning of dallū, to hang long and loose, has here passed over into that of pining (syn. kâlâh). The name of God in Isaiah 38:14 is Adonai, not Jehovah, being one of the 134 ודּין, i.e., words which are really written Adonai, and not merely to be read so.

(Note: Vid., Br, Psalterium, p. 133.)

It is impossible to take עשׁקה־לּי as an imperative. The pointing, according to which we are to read ‛ashqa, admits this (compare shâmrâh in Psalm 86:2; Psalm 119:167; and on the other hand, zochrālli, in Nehemiah 5:19, etc.);

(Note: Vid., Br, Thorath Emeth, pp. 22, 23.)


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