Isaiah 38:7
And this shall be a sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he has spoken;
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(7) This shall be a sign unto thee . . .—The offer reminds us of that made to Ahaz; but it was received in a far different spirit. In 2Kings 20:8-11 the story is more fully told. Hezekiah asks for a sign, and is offered his choice. Shall the shadow go forward or backward? With something of a child-like simplicity he chooses the latter, as the more difficult of the two. The sun-dial of Ahaz, probably, like his altar (2Kings 16:10), copied from Syrian or Assyrian art [the mention of a sun-clock is ascribed by Herodotus (ii. 109) to the Chaldæans], would seem to have been of the form of an obelisk standing on steps (the literal meaning of the Hebrew word for dial), and casting its shadow so as to indicate the time, each step representing an hour or half-hour. The nature of the phenomenon seems as curiously limited as that of the darkness of the crucifixion. There was no prolongation of the day in the rest of Palestine or Jerusalem, for the backward movement was limited to the step-dial. At Babylon no such phenomenon had been observed, and one ostensible purpose of Merôdach-baladan’s embassy was to investigate its nature (2Chronicles 32:31). An inquiry into the causation of a miracle is almost a contradiction in terms, but the most probable explanation of the fact recorded is that it was the effect of a supernatural, but exceedingly circumscribed, refraction. A prolonged after glow following on the sunset; and reviving for a time the brightness of the day, might produce an effect such as is described to one who gazed upon the step-dial.

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 this shall be a sign unto thee - That is, a sign, or proof that God would do what he had promised, and that Hezekiah would recover and be permitted to go again to the temple of the Lord Isaiah 38:22; 2 Kings 20:8. On the meaning of the word 'sign,' see Isaiah 7:11, note; Isaiah 7:14, note; compare the note at Isaiah 37:30. The promise was, that he should be permitted to go to the temple in three days 2 Kings 20:5. 7. sign—a token that God would fulfil His promise that Hezekiah should "go up into the house of the Lord the third day" (2Ki 20:5, 8); the words in italics are not in Isaiah. No text from Poole on this verse. And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord,.... And which it seems Hezekiah asked, and it was put to him which he would choose, whether the shadow on the sundial should go forward or backward ten degrees, and he chose the latter, 2 Kings 20:8, which was a token confirming and assuring

that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken; recover Hezekiah from his sickness, so that on the third day he should go up to the temple; have fifteen years added to his days; and the city of Jerusalem protected from the attempts of the Assyrian monarch.

And {d} this shall be a sign to thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken;

(d) For Hezekiah had asked for a sign for the confirmation of his faith, as in Isa 38:22, 2Ki 20:8, to which he was moved by the singular motion of God's spirit.

7, 8. After Isaiah 38:6, 2 Kings describes the prophet’s prescription for the malady (see on Isaiah 38:21). The account of the sign also is given in a much fuller form there. It was granted at the express request of the king (see Isaiah 38:22), who had not his father’s fear of “tempting the Lord” (ch. Isaiah 7:12). Allowed to choose between a “going forward” and a “going backward” of the shadow, he decided for the latter as not so “light” a thing (i.e. less conceivable); when, at Isaiah’s intercession, the desired thing happened.Verse 7. - And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord. It was the day of the free offering of "signs" by God to those whom his providence had placed at the head of his people. Ahaz had been offered a sign (Isaiah 7:11), but had refused the offer made him (Isaiah 7:12); the Lord had then "himself" given him a sign." Hezekiah received a sign to assure him of the complete discomfiture of Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:30); an offer was here made him of a sign of a peculiar kind, and it was offered under peculiar conditions. We learn from 2 Kings that a choice was submitted to him - he was to determine whether time, as measured by a certain timepiece or clock, which was known as "the dial of Ahaz," should make a sudden leap forward - the shadow advancing ten degrees upon the dial (2 Kings 20:9), or whether it should retire backwards, the shadow upon the same dial receding ten degrees. Hezekiah determined in favour of the latter sign, from its appearing to him the more difficult of accomplishment; and on his declaring his decision, the shadow receded to the prescribed distance. Time was rolled backward, or at any rate appeared to be rolled backward; and the king, seeing so great a miracle, accepted without hesitation the further predictions that had been made to him. The Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken. By the nexus of this verse with the preceding, it would naturally be concluded that "the thing" to be done was the defence of Jerusalem; but ver. 22, which belongs properly to this part of the narrative, shows the contrary. Hezekiah had asked for a sign" that he should go up to the house of the Lord." There is nothing to surprise us in the fact that we are carried back to the time when Jerusalem was still threatened by the Assyrian, since the closing vv. of chapter 37 merely contain an anticipatory announcement, introduced for the purpose of completing the picture of the last Assyrian troubles, by adding the fulfilment of Isaiah's prediction of their termination. It is within this period, and indeed in the year of the Assyrian invasion (Isaiah 36:1), since Hezekiah reigned twenty-nine years, and fifteen of these are promised here, that the event described by Isaiah falls - an event not merely of private interest, but one of importance in connection with the history of the nation also. "In those days Hizkiyahu became dangerously ill. And Isaiah son of Amoz, the prophet, came to him, and said to him, Thus saith Jehovah, Set thine house in order: for thou wilt die, and not recover. Then Hizkiyahu turned (K. om.) his face to the wall, and prayed to Jehovah, and said (K. saying), O Jehovah, remember this, I pray, that I have walked before thee in truth, and with the whole heart, and have done what was good in Thine eyes! And Hizkiyahu wept with loud weeping." "Give command to thy house" (ל, cf., אל, 2 Samuel 17:23) is equivalent to, "Make known thy last will to thy family" (compare the rabbinical tsavvâ'âh, the last will and testament); for though tsivvâh is generally construed with the accusative of the person, it is also construed with Lamed (e.g., Exodus 1:22; cf., אל, Exodus 16:34). חיה in such a connection as this signifies to revive or recover. The announcement of his death is unconditional and absolute. As Vitringa observes, "the condition was not expressed, because God would draw it from him as a voluntary act." The sick man turned his face towards the wall (פּניו הסב, hence the usual fut. cons. ויּסּב as in 1 Kings 21:4, 1 Kings 21:8, 1 Kings 21:14), to retire into himself and to God. The supplicatory אנּה (here, as in Psalm 116:4, Psalm 116:16, and in all six times, with ה) always has the principal tone upon the last syllable before יהוה equals אדני (Nehemiah 1:11). The metheg has sometimes passed into a conjunctive accent (e.g., Genesis 50:17; Exodus 32:31). אשׁר את does not signify that which, but this, that, as in Deuteronomy 9:7; 2 Kings 8:12, etc. "In truth," i.e., without wavering or hypocrisy. שׁלם בלב, with a complete or whole heart, as in 1 Kings 8:61, etc. He wept aloud, because it was a dreadful thing to him to have to die without an heir to the throne, in the full strength of his manhood (in the thirty-ninth year of his age), and with the nation in so unsettled a state.
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