Isaiah 38:9 Commentaries: A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery:
Isaiah 38:9
The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) The writing of Hezekiah . . .Isaiah 38:21-22 would seem to have their right place before the elegiac psalm that follows. The culture which the psalm implies is what might have been expected from one whom Isaiah had trained, who had restored and organised the worship of the Temple (2Chronicles 29:25-30), who spoke to Levites and soldiers as a preacher (2Chronicles 30:22; 2Chronicles 32:6), “speaking comfortably” (literally, to their heart), and who had directed the compilation of a fresh set of the proverbs ascribed to Solomon (Proverbs 25:1). It will be seen, as we go through the hymn, that it presents echoes of the Book of Job as well as of the earlier Psalms.

Isaiah 38:9. Grotius is of opinion that this song was dictated by Isaiah. But it is more probable, as Hezekiah was a truly pious man, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, that he was moved thereby to write this form of thanksgiving, both as a testimony of his own gratitude to God, and for the instruction of future ages.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 writing of Hezekiah - This is the title to the following hymn - a record which Hezekiah made to celebrate the goodness of God in restoring him to health. The writing itself is poetry, as is indicated by the parallelism, and by the general structure. It is in many respects quite obscure - an obscurity perhaps arising from the brevity and conciseness which are apparent in the whole piece. It is remarkable that this song or hymn is not found in the parallel passage in the Book of Kings. The reason why it was omitted there, and inserted here, is unknown. It is possible that it was drawn up for Hezekiah by Isaiah, and that it is inserted here as a part of his composition, though adopted by Hezekiah, and declared to be his, that is, as expressing the gratitude of his heart on his recovery from his disease. It was common to compose an ode or hymn of praise on occasion of deliverance from calamity, or any remarkable interposition of God (see the notes at Isaiah 12:1; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 26:1). Many of the Psalms of David were composed on such occasions, and were expressive of gratitude to God for deliverance from impending calamity. The hymn or song is composed of two parts. In the first part Isaiah 38:10-14, Hezekiah describes his feelings and his fears when he was suffering, and especially the apprehension of his mind at the prospect of death; and the second part Isaiah 38:15-20 expresses praise to God for his goodness. 9-20. The prayer and thanksgiving song of Hezekiah is only given here, not in the parallel passages of Second Kings and Second Chronicles. Isa 38:9 is the heading or inscription. Hezekiah was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and inspired by him to write this, both as a testimony of his own gratitude to God, and for the instruction of after-ages. The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah,.... The Septuagint and Arabic versions call it a "prayer": but the Targum, much better,

"a writing of confession;''

in which the king owns his murmurings and complaints under his affliction, and acknowledges the goodness of God in delivering him out of it: this he put into writing, as a memorial of it, for his own benefit, and for the good of posterity; very probably he carried this with him to the temple, whither he went on the third day of his illness, and hung it up in some proper place, that it might be read by all, and be sung by the priests and the Levites; and the Prophet Isaiah has thought fit to give it a place among his prophecies, that it might be transmitted to future ages:

when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness; or, "on his being sick (e)"; on his sickness and recovery, which were the subject matter of his writing, as the following show; though it is true also of the time of writing it, which was after he had been ill, and was well again.

(e) "in aegrotando ipsum", Montanus.

{f} The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and had recovered from his sickness:

(f) He left this song of his lamentation and thanksgiving to all posterity, as a monument of his own infirmity and thankful heart for God's benefits, as David did, Ps 51:1.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. The writing of Hezekiah] According to some commentators we should read “A Michtam of Hezekiah” (changing a letter in the Hebr.).

The word Michtam occurs in the titles of Psalms 16, 56-60; but is of uncertain derivation and meaning.

9–20. Hezekiah’s thanksgiving for his recovery. This poem, which is not given in the parallel narrative in 2 Kings, must have been inserted here from an independent source. An external mark of the insertion is found in the displacement of Isaiah 38:21-22 from their proper context. The superscription (Isaiah 38:9) resembles several of those in the book of Psalms, and was no doubt found in the document from which the poem was transcribed. The song, therefore, was in all probability traditionally ascribed to Hezekiah, but whether this judgment rests on historical authority, or merely on its inherent suitability to his circumstances, it is impossible to say. The linguistic evidence seems to point to a late date. The poem, like many of the Psalms, is a record of individual experience, but adapted for use in the Temple worship (Isaiah 38:20). The experience is that of a man who has been brought face to face with death, who has prayed for life, and has been “heard in that he feared”; but with the reticence which characterises the Psalmists all details of merely personal interest are suppressed with a view to the liturgical use of the poem.

The psalm may be divided into two parts (both indicated in the superscription, Isaiah 38:9):—

i. Isaiah 38:10-14. A description of the writer’s anguish and despair in the near prospect of death.

ii. Isaiah 38:15-20. His joy and gratitude when assured of his recovery.Verse 9. - The writing of Hezekiah; rather, a writing. After he had recovered from his illness, Hezekiah, it would seem, retraced his feelings as he lay upon his sick-bed, and embodied them in this monody. It has been well termed, "a peculiarly sweet and plaintive specimen of Hebrew psalmody" (Cheyne). Four stanzas or strophes of unequal length are thought to be discernible:

(1) from the beginning of ver. 10 to the end of ver. 12;

(2) from the beginning of ver. 13 to the end of ver. 14;

(3) from the beginning of ver. 15 to the end of ver. 17;

(4) from the beginning of ver. 18 to the end of ver. 20.

In the first two the monarch is looking forward to death, and his strain is mournful; in the last two he has received the promise of recovery, and pours out his thankfulness. 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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