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14 And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
15 And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.
16 LORD, bow "down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living_God.
17 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,
18 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed
92 Chr. 32. 20. r 2 Chr. 5. 7, 8. 1 Sam. 4. 4. 1 Kings 18. 39. Is. 44. 6. given. to Ps. 115. 4, &c. Is. 44. Lam. 2. 13. a Job 16. 4. Lam, 2. By the hand of.
¡ Ps. 102. 25. u Ps. 31. 2.
v2 Chr. 6. 40.
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.
thee, v. 10. Those that have the God of Jacob for their help, and whose hope is in the Lord their God, need not fear being deceived by him, as the heathen were by their gods.
To terrify Hezekiah, and drive him from his anchor, he magnifies himself and his own achievements. See how proudly he boasts, 1. Of the lands he had conquered, (v. 11,) all lands; and destroyed utterly! How are the mole-hills of his victories swelled to mountains! So far was he from destroying all lands, that, at this time, the land of Cush, and Tirhakah its king, were a terror to him. What vast hyperboles may one expect in proud men's praises of themselves! 2. Of the gods he had conquered, v. 12. "Each vanquished nation had its gods, which were so far from being able to deliver them, that they fell with them and shall thy God deliver thee?" 3. Of the kings he had conquered, (v. 13,) the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad. Whether he means the prince or the idol, he means to make himself appear greater than either, and therefore very formidable, and the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.
II. Hezekiah encloses this in another letter, a praying letter, a believing letter, and sends it to the King of kings, who judges among the gods. Hezekiah was not so haughty as not to receive the letter, though we may suppose the superscription did not give him his due titles; when he had received it, he was not so careless as not to read it; when he had read it, he was not in such a passion as to write an answer to it in the same provoking language; but he immediately went up to the temple, presented himself, and then spread the letter before the Lord, v. 14. Not as if God needed to have letters showed him, (he knew what was in it before Hezekiah did,) but hereby he signified that he acknowledged God in all his ways, that he desired not to aggravate the injuries his enemies did him, or to make them appear worse than they were, but desired they might be set in a true light; and that he referred himself to God, and his righteous judgment upon the whole matter. Hereby likewise he would affect himself in the prayer he came to the temple to make; and we have need of all possible helps to quicken us in that duty.
23 By thy messengers thou hast reproached the LORD, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar-trees thereof, and the choice fir-trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.
24 I have digged and drunk strange waters, and
19 Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the king-with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the doms of the earth may know that thou art the rivers of "besieged places. LORD God, even thou only.
25 Hast thou not heard long ago how I have
In the prayer which Hezekiah prayed over this letter, 1. He adores the God whom Sennacherib had blasphemed; (v. 15,) calls him the God of Israel, because Israel was his peculiar people; and the God that dwelt between the cherubims, because there was the peculiar residence of his glory upon earth; but gives glory to him as the God of the whole earth, and not, as Sennacherib fancied him to be, the God of Israel only, and confined to the temple. "Let them say what they will, thou art sovereign Lord, for thou art the God, the God of gods; sole Lord, even thou alone; universal Lord of all the kingdoms of the earth; and rightful Lord, for thou hast made heaven and earth. Being Creator of all, by an incontestable title, thou art Owner and Ruler of all."
2. He appeals to God concerning the insolence and profaneness of Sennacherib, v. 16, "Lord, hear; Lord, see. Here it is under his own hand." Had Hezekiah only been abused, he would have passed it by; but it is God, the living God, that is reproached, the jealous God. Lord, what wilt thou do for thy great name? 3. He owns Sennacherib's triumphs over the gods of the heathen, but distinguishes between them and the God of Israel, v. 17, 18. They have indeed cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, unable either to help themselves or their worshippers, and therefore no wonder that they have destroyed them; and, in destroying them, though they know it not, they really served the justice and jealousy of the God of Israel, who has determined to extirpate all the gods of the heathen. But they are deceived, who think they can therefore be too hard for
21 This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him: The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken "her head at thee.
22 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed ? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
e Pa. 20. 7. 1 the tallness. or, the forest and his fruitful feld, Is. 10. 18. lor, fenced. or, Hast thou not heard how I have made it long ago, and formed it of ancient times? should I now bring it to be laid waste, and fenced cities to be ruinous heaps?
him. He is none of the gods whom men's hands have made, he has himself made all things, Ps. 115. 3, 4.
4. He prays that God would now glorify himself in the defeat of Sennacherib, and the deliverance of Jerusalem out of his hands, v. 19," Now therefore save us; for if we be conquered, as other lands are, they will say that thou art conquered, as the gods of those lands were: but, Lord, distinguish thyself, by distinguishing us, and let all the world know, and be made to confess, that thou art the Lord God, the self-existent, sovereign God, even thou only, and that all pretenders are vanity and a lie." Note, The best pleas in prayer are those which are taken from God's honour; and therefore the Lord's prayer begins with Hallowed be thy name, and concludes with Thine is the glory.
V. 20-34. We have here the gracious copious answer which God gave to Hezekiah's prayer. The message which he sent him by the same hand, v. 6, 7, one would think, had been an answer sufficient to his prayer; but, that he might have strong consolation, he is encouraged by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, Heb. 6. 18. In general, God assures him that his prayer was heard, his prayer against Sennacherib, v. 20. Note, The case of those is miserable, that have the prayers of God's people against them. For if the oppressed cry to God against the oppressor, he will hear, Ex. 22. 23. God hears and answers; hears with the saving strength of his right hand, Ps. 20. 6.
This message speaks two things:
I. Confusion and shame to Sennacherib and his forces. It is here foretold that he should be humbled and broken. The prophet elegantly directs his speech to him, as he does, Is. 10. 5, O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger. Not that this message was sent to him, but what is here said to him he was made to know by the event; Providence spake it to him with a witness; and perhaps his own heart was made to whisper this to him; for God has more ways than one of speaking to sinners in his wrath, so as to vex them in his sore displeasure, Ps. 2. 5. Sennacherib is here represented,
1. As the scorn of Jerusalem, v. 21. He thought himself the terror of the daughter of Zion, that chaste and beautiful virgin, and that by his threats he could force her to submit to him; "But, being a virgin in her Father's house, and under his protection, she defies thee, despises thee, laughs thee to scorn. Thine impotent malice is ridiculous; he that sits in heaven, laughs at thee, and therefore so do those that abide under his shadow." By this word God intended to silence the fears of Hezekiah and his people. Though to an eye of sense the enemy looked formidable, to an eye of faith he looked despicable. 2. As an enemy to God; and that was enough to make him miserable. Hezekiah pleaded this; "Lord, he has reproached thee," v. 16. "He has," saith God," and I take it as against myself," v. 22. Whom hast thou reproached? Is it not the Holy One of Israel, whose honour is dear to him, and who has power to vindicate it, which the gods of the heathen have not? Nemo me impune lacesset-No one shall provoke me with impunity.
3. As a proud vainglorious fool, that spake great swelling words of vanity, and boasted of a false gift; by his boasts, as well as by his threats, reproached the Lord. For, (1.) He magnified his own achievements out of measure, and quite above what really they were, v. 23, 24. This was not in the letter he wrote, but God lets Hezekiah know that he not only saw what was written there, but heard what he said elsewhere, probably in the speeches he made to his councils or armies. Note, God takes notice of the boasts of proud men, and will call them to an account, that he may look upon them, and abase them, Job 40. 11. What a mighty figure does Sennacherib think he makes! Driv
ddone it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? | house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest and bear fruit upward. be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.
31 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.
26 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the house-tops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.
32 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
27 But I know thy tabode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.
33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.
28 Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou
34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand and when they arose early in the morn
29 And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye and reap, and planting, behold, they were all dead corpses. vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.
30 And the remnant that is escaped of the
d [3, 45. 7. short of hand. Ps. 129. 6. for, sitting. f Ex. 38. 4. escaping of the house of Judah that remaineth.
ing his chariots to the tops of the highest mountains, forcing his way through woods and rivers, breaking through all difficulties, making himself master of all he had a mind to: nothing could stand before him, or be withheld from him, no hills too high for him to climb, no trees too strong for him to fell, no waters too deep for him to dry up, as if he had the power of a God, to speak and it is done. (2.) He took to himself the glory of doing these great things, whereas they were all the Lord's doing, v. 25, 26. Sennacherib, in his letter, had appealed to what Hezekiah had heard, v. 11, Thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done; but, in answer to that, he is reminded of what God has done for Israel of old, drying up the Red sea, leading them through the wilderness, planting them in Canaan; "What are all thy doings to these? And as for the desolations thou hast made in the earth, and particularly in Judah, thou art but the instrument in God's hand, a mere tool: it is I that have brought it to pass; I gave thee thy power, gave thee thy success, and made thee what thou art; raised thee up to lay waste fenced cities, and so to punish them for their wickedness, and therefore their inhabitants were of small power." What a foolish insolent thing was it for him to exalt himself above God, and against God, upon that which he had done by him and under him. Sennacherib's boasts here are expounded, Is. 10. 13, 14, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, &c. and they are answered, v. 15, Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? It is surely absurd for the fly upon the wheel to say, What a dust do I make! Or for the sword in the hand to say, What execution do I do! If God be the principal Agent in all that is done, boasting is for ever excluded.
4. As under the check and rebuke of that God whom he blasphemed. All his motions were, (1.) Under the divine cognizance, v. 27. "I know thy abode, and what thou dost secretly devise and design; thy going out and coming in, marches and counter-marches, and thy rage against me and my people, the tumult of thy passions, the tumult of thy preparations, the noise and bluster thou makest, I know it all." That was more than Hezekiah did, who wished for intelligence of the enemy's motions; but what need, when the eye of God was a constant spy upon him? 2 Chr. 16. 9. (2.) Under the divine control, v. 28, "I will put my hook in thy nose, thou great Leviathan;" Job 41. 1, 2, “My bridle in thy jaws, thou great Behemoth. I will restrain thee, manage thee, turn thee where I please, send thee home, re infecta-disappointed of thy aim." Note, It is a great comfort to all the church's friends, that God has a hook in the nose, and a bridle in the jaws, of all her enemies; can make even their wrath to serve and praise him, and then restrain the remainder of it: Here shall its proud waves be stayed.
II. Salvation and joy to Hezekiah and his people. This shall be a sign to them of God's favour, and that he is reconciled to them, and his anger is turned away, (Is. 12. 1;) a wonder in their eyes, (for so a sign sometimes signifies,) a token for good, and an earnest of the further mercy God has in store for them, that a good issue shall be put to their present distress in every respect.
36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.*
Jon. 1. 2. 3. 2, &c.
their husbandry should return into its former channel, and they should sow and reap as they used to do.
2. The country was laid waste, families were broken up and scattered, and all was in confusion; how should it be otherwise, when it was overrun by such an army? As to this, it is promised that the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah, that is, of the country people, shall yet again be planted in their own habitations, upon their own estates, shall take root there, shall increase and grow rich, v. 30. See how their prosperity is described; it is taking root downward, and bearing fruit upward, being well fixed, and well provided for themselves, and then doing good to others. Such is the prosperity of the soul; it is taking root downward by faith in Christ, and then being fruitful in fruits of righteousness.
3. The city was shut up, none went out or came in; but now the remnant in Jerusalem and Zion shall go forth freely, and there shall be none to hinder them, or make them afraid, v. 31. Great destruction had been made both in city and country, but in both there was a remnant that escaped, which typified the saved remnant of Israelites indeed, as appears by comparing Is. 10. 22, 23, (which speaks of this very event,) with Rom. 9. 27, 28; they shall go forth into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
4. The Assyrians were advancing toward Jerusalem, and would, in a little time, besiege it in form, and it was in great danger of falling into their hands. But it is here promised that the siege they feared should be prevented; though the enemy were now (as it should seem) encamped before the city, yet they were never to come into the city, no, nor so much as to shoot an arrow into it, v. 32, 33. He shall be forced to retire with shame, and, a thousand times, to repent his undertaking. God himself undertakes to defend the city, (v. 34,) and that person, that place, cannot but be safe, which he undertakes the protection of.
5. The honour and truth of God are engaged for the doing of all this. These are great things, but how will they be effected? Why, the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this, v. 31. He is Lord of hosts, has all creatures at his beck, therefore he is able to do it; he is jealous for Jerusalem with great jealousy, (Zech. 1. 14;) having espoused her a chaste virgin to himself, he will not suffer her to be abused, v. 21. "You have reason to think yourselves unworthy that such great things should be done for you; but God's own zeal will do it." His zeal, (1.) For his own honour; (v. 34,) “I will do it for my own sake, to make me an everlasting name." God's reasons of mercy are fetched from within himself. (2.) For his own truth; "I will do it for my servant David's sake; not for the sake of his merit, but the promise made to him, and the covenant made with him, those sure mercies of David." Thus all the deliverances of the church are wrought for the sake of Christ, the Son of David.
V. 35-37. Sometimes it was long ere prophecies were accomplished, and promises performed; but here the word was no sooner spoken than the work was done.
I. The army of Assyria was entirely routed. That night which immediately followed the sending of this message to 1. Provisions were scarce and dear; and what should they Hezekiah, when the enemy was just set down before the city, do for food? The fruits of the earth were devoured by the As- and were preparing (as we now say) to open the trenches, that syrian army, Is. 32. 9, 10, &c. Why, they shall not only dwell night was the main body of their army slain upon the spot by in the land, but verily they shall be fed. If God save them, he an angel, v. 35. Hezekiah had not force sufficient to sally out will not starve them, nor let them die by famine, when they had upon them, and attack their camp, nor would God do it by escaped the sword: "Eat ye this year that which groweth of sword or bow; but he sent his angel, a destroying angel, in the itself, and you shall find enough of that. Did the Assyrians dead of the night, to make an assault upon them, which their reap what you sowed? You shall reap what you did not sow." sentinels, though never so wakeful, could neither discover nor But the next year was the sabbatical year, when the land was resist. It was not by the sword of a mighty man, or of a mean to rest, and they must neither sow nor reap. What must they man, that is, not of any man at all, but of an angel, that the do that year? Why, Jehovah-jireh, The Lord will provide; Assyrian army was to fall, Is. 31. 8, such an angel as slew God's blessing shall save them seed and labour, and, that year the first-born of Egypt. Josephus says it was done by a pestitoo, the voluntary productions of the earth shall serve to main-lential disease, which was instant death to them. The number tain them, to remind them that the earth brought forth before slain was very great, 185,000 men, and Rab-shakeh, it is likely, there was a man to till it, Gen. 1, 11. And then the third year, among the rest. When the besieged arose early in the morning,
behold, they were all dead corpses, scarcely a living man among them. Some think the 76th Psalm was penned on this occasion, where we read that the stout-hearted were spoiled, and slept their sleep, their last, their long sleep, v. 5. See how great, in power and might, the holy angels are, when one angel, in one night, could make so great a slaughter. See how weak the mightiest of men are before almighty God: who ever hardened himself against him, and prospered? The pride and blasphemy of the king are punished by the destruction of his army. All these lives are sacrificed to God's glory, and Zion's safety. The prophet shows that therefore God suffered this vast rendezvous to be made, that they might be gathered as sheaves into the floor, Mic. 4. 12, 13.
II. The king of Assyria was hereby put into the utmost confusion; ashamed to see himself, after all his proud boasts, thus defeated, and disabled to pursue his conquests, and secure what he had, (for this, we may suppose, was the flower of his army,) and continually afraid of falling under the like stroke himself, he departed, and went, and returned. The manner of the expression intimates the great disorder and distraction of mind he was in, (v. 36;) and it was not long before God cut him off too, by the hands of two of his own sons, v. 37. 1. They that did it, were very wicked, to kill their own father, (whom they were bound to protect,) and in the act of his devotion; monstrous villany! But, 2. God was righteous in it. Justly are the sons suffered to rebel against their father that begat them, when he was in rebellion against the God that made him. They whose children are undutiful to them ought, to consider whether they have not been so to their Father in heaven. The God of Israel had done enough to convince him that he was the only true God, whom therefore he ought to worship; yet he persists in his idolatry, and seeks to his false god for protection against a God of irresistible power. Justly is his blood mingled with his sacrifices, who will not be convinced by such a plain and dear-bought demonstration of his folly in worshipping idols.
His sons that murdered him were suffered to escape, and no pursuit made after them; his subjects perhaps being weary of the government of so proud a man, and thinking themselves well rid of him. And his sons would be looked upon as the more excusable in what they had done, if it be true (as Bishop Patrick suggests) that he was now vowing to sacrifice them to his god, so that it was for their own preservation that they sacrificed him. His successor was another son, Esarhaddon, who (as it should seem) did not aim, like his father, to enlarge his conquests, but rather to improve them; for he it was that first sent colonies of Assyrians to inhabit the country of Samaria, though it is mentioned before, ch. 17. 24, as appears, Ezra 4. 2, where the Samaritans say it was Esarhaddon that brought them thither.
NOTES TO CHAPTER XX.
V. 1-11. The historian, having showed us blaspheming Sennacherib destroyed in the midst of the prospects of life, here shows us praying Hezekiah delivered in the midst of the prospects of death, the days of the former shortened, of the latter prolonged.
3 I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now 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.
4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah, the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears behold, I will heal thee; on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.
6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years: and 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.
I. Here is Hezekiah's sickness. In those days, that is, in the same year in which the king of Assyria besieged Jerusalem, for he reigning, in all, 29 years, and surviving this, 15 years, this must be in his 14th year, and so was that, ch. 18. 13. Some think it was at the time that the Assyrian army was besieging the city, or preparing for it, because God promises, v. 6, I will defend the city, which promise was afterward repeated, when the danger came to be most imminent, ch. 19. 34. Others think it was soon after the defeat of Sennacherib; and then it shows us the uncertainty of all our comforts in this world: Hezekiah, in the midst of his triumphs in the favour of God, and over the forces of his enemies, is seized with sickness, and under the arrest of death; we must therefore always rejoice with trembling. It should seem, he was sick of the plague, for we read of the boil, or plague-sore, v. 7. The same disease which was killing to the Assyrians, was trying to him; God took it from him, and put it upon his enemies. Neither greatness nor goodness can exempt from sickness, from sore and mortal sicknesses. Heze
7 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
e 1 Sam. 9.
d Gen. 17. 1. 1 Kings 3. 6. ↑ with a great weeping. tor, city. 16. 10. 1. fc. 19. 20. Ps. 66. 19, 20. g Pe. 39. 12. 56. 8. 126, 5. A Deut. 32. 39. i c. 19. 34.
kiah, lately favoured of heaven, above most men, yet is sick unto death, in the midst of his days-under forty, and yet sick and dying; and perhaps he was the more apprehensive of its being fatal to him, because his father died when he was about his age, 2 or 3 years younger; "In the midst of life we are in death." II. Warning brought him to prepare for death; it is brought by Isaiah, who had been twice, in the former chapter, a messenger of good tidings to him; we cannot expect to receive from God's prophets any other than what they have received from the Lord, and we must welcome that, be it pleasing or unpleasing: he tells him, 1. That his disease was mortal, and, if he were not recovered by a miracle of mercy, would be certainly fatal; Thou shalt die, and not live. 2. That therefore he must, with all speed, get ready for death; this we should feel lightly concerned to do, when we are in health, but are most loudly called to do, when we come to be sick; set the heart in order by renewed acts of repentance, and faith, and resignation to God, with cheerful farewells to this world, and welcomes to another; and if it be not done before, (which is the best and wisest course,) set the house in order, make thy will, settle thy estate, put thine affairs in the best posture thou canst, for the ease of those that shall come after thee. Isaiah speaks not to Hezekiah of his kingdom, only of his house: David, being a prophet, had authority to appoint who should reign after him, but other kings did not pretend to bequeath their crowns as part of their goods and chattels.
III. His prayer hereupon; He prayed unto the Lord, v. 2. Is any sick? Let him be prayed for, let him he prayed with, and let him pray. Hezekiah had found, in the foregoing chapter, that it was not in vain to wait upon God, but that the prayers of faith bring in answers of peace; therefore will he call upon God as long as he lives. Happy returns of prayer are engagements and encouragements to continue instant in prayer; he had now received the sentence of death within himself, and, 1. If it were reversible, it must be reversed by prayer. When God purposes mercy, he will for this be inquired of, Ez. 36. 37. We have not, if we ask not, or ask amiss. 2. If not, prayer is one of the best preparations for death, because by it we fetch in strength and grace from God to enable us to finish well. Observe,
(1.) The circumstances of this prayer. [1.] He turned his face to the wall, probably, as he lay in his bed; this he did, perhaps, for privacy; he could not retire to his closet as he used to do, but he retired as well as he could, turned from the company that were about him, to converse with God. When we cannot be so private as we would be, in our devotions, nor perform them with the usual outward expressions of reverence and solemnity, yet we must not therefore omit them, but compose ourselves to them as well as we can; or, as some think, he turned his face toward the temple, to show how willingly he would have gone up thither, to pray this prayer, (as he did, ch. 19. 1, 14,) if he had been able; and remembering what encouragements were given to all the prayers that should be made in or toward that house. Christ is our Temple; to him we must have an eye in all our prayers, for no man, no service, comes to the Father but by him. [2.] He wept sore; some gather from hence that he was unwilling to die; it is in the nature of man to have some dread of the separation of soul and body, and it was not strange, if the Old-Testament saints, to whom another world was but darkly revealed, were not so willing to leave this as St. Paul and other New-Testament saints were; there was also something peculiar in Hezekiah's case, he was now in the midst of his usefulness, had begun a good work of reformation, which he feared, if he should die, through the corruption of the people, would fall to the ground; if this was before the defeat of the Assyrian army, as some think, he might therefore be loath to die, because his kingdom was in imminent danger of being ruined; however, it does not appear that he had now any son. Manasseh, that succeeded him, was not born till three years after, and if he die childless, both the peace of his kingdom, and the promise to David, would be in danger; but perhaps these were only tears of importunity, and expressions of a lively affection in prayer; Jacob wept and made supplication, and our
8 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day? 9 And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
10 And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.
11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD; and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.
Judg. 6. 37, 17. Is. 7. 11, 14. I Josh, 10. 12. ⚫ degrees. m ls. 39. 1,
12 At that time Berodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah; for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.
13 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed "them all the house of this precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.
14 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? tor, Merodach-baladan. n 2 Chr. 32. 27. or, spicery. § vessels, or, jewels.
o Prov. 23. 5.
blessed Saviour, though most willing to die, yet offered up strong cries, with tears, to him whom he knew to be able to save him, Heb. 5. 7. Let Hezekiah's prayer interpret his tears, and in that we find nothing that intimates him to have been under any of that fear of death, which has either bondage or torment.
(2.) The prayer itself; "Remember now, Ö Lord, how I have walked before thee in truth; and either spare me to live, that I may continue thus to walk, or, if my work be done, receive me to that glory which thou hast prepared for those that have thus walked." Observe here, [1.] The description of Hezekiah's piety; he had had his conversation in the world with right intentions, "I have walked before thee, as under thine eye, and with an eye ever toward thee; from a right principle, in truth, and with an upright heart; and by a right rule, I have done that which is good in thy sight." [2.] The comfort he now had in reflection upon it; it made his sick bed easy. Note, The testimony of conscience for us, that we have walked with God in our integrity, will be much our support and rejoicing when we come to look death in the face, 2 Cor. 1. 12. [3.] The humble mention he makes of it to God, Lord, remember it now; not as if God needed to be put in mind of any thing by us, he is greater than our hearts, and knows all things; or, as if the reward were of debt, and might be demanded as due; it is Christ's righteousness only that is the purchase of mercy and grace; but our own sincerity may be pleaded as the condition of the covenant which God has wrought in us; "It is the work of thine own hands, Lord, own it." Hezekiah does not pray, "Lord, spare me," or, "Lord, take me, God's will be done?"" but, Lord, remember me; whether I live or die, let me be thine. IV. The answer which God immediately gave to this prayer of Hezekiah's; the prophet was got but to the middle court, when he was sent back with another message to Hezekiah, (v. 4, 5,) to tell him that he should recover: not that there is with God yea or nay, or that he ever says and unsays; but, upon Hezekiah's prayer, which he foresaw, and which his Spirit inclined him to, God did that for him, which otherwise he would not have done. God here calls Hezekiah the captain of his people, to intimate that he would reprieve him for his people's sake, because, in this time of war, they could ill spare such a captain: he calls himself the God of David, to intimate that he would reprieve him, out of a regard to the covenant made with David, and the promise that he would always ordain a lamp for him. In this answer, 1. God honours his prayers by the notice he takes of them, and the reference he has to them in this message, I have heard thy prayers, I have seen thy tears; prayers that have much life and affection in them, are, in a special manner, pleasing to God. 2. God exceeds his prayers; he only begged that God would remember his integrity, but God here promises, (1.) To recover him from his illness, I will heal thee: diseases are his servants; as they go whither he sends them, so they come when he remands them, Matt. 8. 8, 9. I am the Lord that healeth thee, Ex. 15. 26. (2.) To restore him to such a degree of health, that on the third day, he should go up to the house of the Lord, to return thanks; God knew Hezekiah's heart, how dearly he loved the habitation of God's house, and the place where his honour dwelt, and that as soon as he was well, he would go to attend on public ordinances; thitherward he turned his face when he was sick, and thitherward he would turn his feet when he was recovered; and therefore, because nothing would please him better, he promises him this, Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; the man whom Christ healed, was, soon after, found in the temple, John 5. 14. (3.) To add 15 years to his life would not bring him to be an old man, it would reach but to 54 or 55: yet that was longer than he had lately expected to live. His lease was renewed, which he thought was expiring; we have not the instance of any other, that was told beforehand just how long he should live; that good man, no doubt, made a good use of it, but God has wisely kept us at uncertainties, that we may be always ready. (4.) To deliver Jerusalem from the king of Assyria, v. 6. This was the thing which Hezekiah's heart was upon as much as his own recovery, and therefore the promise of this is here repeated; if this was after the raising of the siege, yet there was cause to fear Sennacherib's rallying again; No, says God, I will defend this city. V. The means which were to be used for his recovery, v. 7. Isaiah was his physician; he ordered an outward application, a very cheap and common thing, "Lay a lump of figs to the boil, to ripen it, and bring it to a head, that the matter of the disease may be discharged that way;" this might contribute something to the cure, and yet, considering to what a height the
disease was come, and how suddenly it was checked, the cure was no less than miraculous. Note, 1. It is our duty, when we are sick, to make use of such means as are proper to help nature, else we do not trust God, but tempt him. 2. Plain and ordinary medicines must not be despised, for many such God has graciously made serviceable to man, in consideration of the poor. 3. What God appoints, he will succeed and make effectual. VI. The sign which was given for the encouragement of his faith. 1. He begged it; not in any distrust of the power or promise of God, or as if he staggered at that, but because he looked upon the things promised to be very great things, and worthy to be so confirmed, and because it had been usual with God thus to glorify himself, and favour his people; and he remembered how much God was displeased with his father for refusing to ask a sign, Is. 7. 10-12. Observe, Hezekiah asked, What is the sign, not that I shall go up to the thrones of judgment, or up to the gate, but up to the house of the Lord; therefore he desired to recover, that he might glorify God in the gates of the daughter of Zion. It is not worth while to live for any other purpose than to serve God. 2. It was put to his choice, whether the sun should go back or go forward, for it was equal to Omnipotence, and it would be the more likely to confirm his faith, if he chose that which he thought the more difficult of the two; perhaps, to this, that of this prophet may refer, Is. 45. 11, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. It is supposed that the degrees were half hours, and that it was just noon when the proposal was made, and the question is, "Shall the sun go back to its place at seven in the morning, or forward to its place at five in the evening?" 3. He humbly desired the sun might go back ten degrees, because, though either would be a great miracle, yet, it being the natural course of the sun to go forward, its going back would seem more strange, and would be more significant of Hezekiah's returning to the days of his youth, Job 33. 25, and the lengthening out of the day of his life. It was accordingly done, upon the prayer of Isaiah, v. 11; he cried unto the Lord by special warrant and direction, and God brought the sun back ten degrees, which appeared to Hezekiah, (for the sign was intended for him,) by the going back of the shadow upon the dial of Ahaz, which, it is likely, he could see through his chamber window: and the same was observed upon all other dials, even in Babylon, 2 Chr. 32. 31. Whether this retrograde motion of the sun was gradual, or per saltum-suddenly; whether it went back at the same pace that it used to go forward, which would make the day ten hours longer than usual; or whether it darted back on a sudden, and, after continuing a little while, was restored again to its usual place, so that no change was made in the state of the heavenly bodies, (as the learned Bishop Patrick thinks,) we are not told but this work of wonder shows the power of God in heaven as well as on earth, the great notice he takes of prayer, and the great favour he bears to his chosen. The most plausi ble idolatry of the heathen was theirs that worshipped the sun, yet that was hereby convicted of the most egregious folly and absurdity, for by this it appeared that their god was under the check of the God of Israel. Dr. Lightfoot suggests that the fifteen songs of degrees, Ps. 120. &c. might, perhaps, be so called, because selected by Hezekiah to be sung to his stringed instruments, Is. 38. 20, in remembrance of the degrees on the dial which the sun went back, and the fifteen years added to his life; and he observes how much of these psalms is applicable to Jerusalem's distress and deliverance, and Hezekiah's sickness and recovery.
V. 12-21. Here is,
I. An embassy sent to Hezekiah by the king of Babylon, to congratulate him on his recovery, v. 12. The kings of Babylon had hitherto been only deputies and tributaries to the kings of Assyria, and Nineveh was the royal city: we find Babylon subject to the king of Assyria, ch. 17. 24. But this king of Babylon began to set up for himself, and, by degrees, things were so changed, that Assyria became subject to the kings of Babylon. This king of Babylon sent to compliment Hezokiah, and ingratiate himself with him upon a double account. 1. Upon the account of religion. The Babylonians worshipped the sun, and, perceiving what honour their god had done to Hezekiah, in going back for his sake, they thought themselves obliged to do honour to him likewise. It is good having those our friends, whom we perceive to be the favourites of Heaven. 2. Upon the account of civil interest. If the king of Babylon was now meditating a revolt from the king of Assyria, it was policy to get Hezekiah into his interest, in answer to whose
and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.
15 And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed
16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.
19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good 'is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, *Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?
17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which shall take
they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Mbegan to reign, and reigned fifty and five
twelve old when he
And his mother's name was
p ver. 13. 9 Lev. 26, 19. c. 24. 13. 25. 13. Jer. 27. 21, 52. 17. r c. 24. 12. 2 Chr. 33. 11. Dan. 1. 3. Job 1. 21.
20 And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool," and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
prayers, and for whose protection, Heaven had given that fatal blow to the king of Assyria. He found himself obliged to Hezekiah, and his God, for the weakening of the Assyrian forces, and had reason to think he could not have a more powerful and valuable ally, than one that had so good an interest in the upper world. He therefore made his court to him with all possible respect, by ambassadors, letters, and a present.
II. The kind entertainment Hezekiah gave to these ambassadors, v. 13. It was his duty to be civil to them, and receive them with the respect due to ambassadors; but he exceeded, and did it to a fault. 1. He was too fond of them. He hearkened unto them. Though they were idolaters, yet he became intimate with them, was forward to come into a confederacy with the king their master, and granted them all they came for. He was more open and free than he should have been, and stood not so much upon his guard. What reason had he that was in covenant with God, so eagerly to catch at an alliance with a heathen prince, or to value himself at all upon his respectful notice? What honour could this embassy add to one whom God had so highly favoured, that he should please himself so much with it? 2. He was too fond of showing them his palace, his treasures, and his magazines, that they might see, and might report to their master, what a great king he was, and how well worthy of the honour their master did him. It is not said that he showed them the temple, the book of the law, and the manner of his worship, that he might proselyte them to the true religion, which he had now a fair opportunity of doing; but, in compliment to them, lest that should affront them, he waived that, and showed them the rich furniture of his closet, that house of his precious things, the wealth he had heaped up since the king of Assyria had emptied his coffers, his silver, and gold, and spices. All the valuable things he had, he showed them, either himself or by his officers. And what harm was there in this? What is more commonly, and (as we think) more innocently, done, than to show strangers the riches and rarities of a country? To show our friends our houses and their furniture, our gardens, stables, and libraries? But if we do this in the pride of our hearts, as Hezekiah did, to gain applause from men, and not giving praise to God, it turns into sin to us, as it did to him.
III. The examination of Hezekiah concerning this matter, v. 14, 15. Isaiah, who had often been his comforter, is now his reprover. The blessed Spirit is both, John 16. 7, 8. Ministers must be both, as there is occasion. Isaiah spake in God's name, and therefore called him to account as one having authority: "Who are these? Whence come they? What is their business? What have they seen?" Hezekiah not only submitted to the examination, (did not ask him, "Why should you concern yourself, and question me about this affair?") but made an ingenuous confession, There is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them. Why then did he not bring them to Isaiah, and show him to them, who was, without doubt, the best treasure he had in his dominions, and who, by his prayers and prophecies, had been instrumental in all those wonders, which these ambassadors came to inquire into? I hope Hezekiah had the same value for Isaiah now, that he had in his distress; but it had become him to show it, by bringing these ambassadors to him in the first place, which might have prevented the false step he took.
IV. The sentence passed upon him for his pride and vanity, and the too great relish he had of the things of the world, after that intimate acquaintance he had so lately been admitted into with divine things. The sentence is, (v. 17, 18,) 1. That the treasures he was so proud of, should hereafter become a prey, and his family should be robbed of them all. It is just with God, to take that from us, which we make the matter of our pride, and in which we put our confidence. 2. That the king of Babylon, he was so fond of an alliance with, should be the enemy that should make a prey of them. Not that it was for
In this chapter, we have a short but sad account of the reigns of two of the kings of Judah, Manasseh and Amon. I. Concerning Manassch, all the account we have of him here is, 1. That he devoted himself to sin, to all manner of wickedness, idolatry and murder, v. I-9, and v. 16. 2. That therefore God devoted him, and Jerusalem for his sake, to ruin, v. 10-18. In the book of Chronicles, we have an account of his troubles, and his repentance. II. Concerning Amon we are only told that he lived in sin v. 19-22. Died quickly by the sword, and left good Josiah his successor, v. 23-26. By these two reigns Jerusalem was much debauched, and much weakened, and so hastened apace toward its destruction, which slumbered not.
years in Jerusalem. Hephzi-bah.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen,
• Shall there not be peace and truth. Neh. 3. 16.2 Chr. 32. 30. a 2 Chr. 33, 1, &c. & c. 16. 3.
this sin, that that judgment should be brought upon them: the sins of Manasseh, his idolatries and murders, were the cause of that calamity; but it is now foretold to Hezekiah, to convince him of the folly of his pride, and of the value he had for the king of Babylon, and to make him ashamed of it. Hezekiah was fond of assisting the king of Babylon to rise, and to reduce the exorbitant power of the kings of Assyria; but he is told, that the snake he is cherishing, will, ere long, sting the bosom that cherishes it, and that his royal seed shall become the king of Babylon's slaves; which was fulfilled, Dan 1. 1, &c. Hezekiah could not have been more mortified than by such a thought. Babylon will be the ruin of those that are fond of Babylon. Wise therefore and happy are they that come out from her, Rev. 18. 4.
V. Hezekiah's humble and patient submission to this sentence, v. 19. Observe how he argues himself into this submission. 1. He lays it down for a truth, that good is the word of the Lord, even this word, though a threatening, for every word of his is so. It is not only just, but good; for as he does no wrong to any, so he means no hurt to good men. "It is good: for he will bring good out of it, and do me good by the foresight of it." We should believe this concerning every providence, that it is good, is working for good. 2. He takes notice of that in this word, which was good, that he should not live to see this evil, much less to share in it. He makes the best of the bad; "Is it not good? Yes, certainly it is, and better than I deserve." Note, (1.) True penitents, when they are under divine rebukes, call them not only just, but good; not only submit to, but accept of, the punishment of their iniquity. So Hezekiah did, and by this it appeared, that he was indeed humbled for the pride of his heart. (2.) When, at any time, we are under dark dispensations, or have dark prospects, public or personal, we must take notice of what is for us, as well as of what is against us, that we may, by thanksgiving, honour God, and may in our patience possess our own souls. (3.) As to public affairs, it is good, and we are bound to think it so, if peace and truth be in our days. That is, [1.] Whatever else we want, it is good if we have peace and truth; if we have the true religion professed and protected, bibles and ministers, and enjoy these in peace, not terrified with the alarms of war or persecution. [2.] Whatever trouble may come when we are gone, it is good if all be well in our days. Not that we should be unconcerned for posterity, it is a grief to foresee evils; but we should own that the deferring of judgments is a great favour in general; and to have them deferred so long as that we may die in peace, is a particular favour to us, for charity begins at home. We know not how we shall bear the trial, and therefore have reason to think it well, if we may but get safe to heaven before it comes.
Lastly, Here is the conclusion of Hezekiah's life and story, v. 20, 21. In 2 Chronicles, Book 2, ch. 29. 30. and 31. much more is recorded of Hezekiah's work of reformation than is in this book of Kings: and it seems that in the civil chronicles, not now extant, there were many things recorded of his might, and the good offices he did for Jerusalem, particularly his bringing water by pipes into the city. To have water in plenty, without striving for it, and without being terrified with the noise of archers in the drawing of it, to have it at hand, and convenient for us, is to be reckoned a great mercy, for the want of water would be a great calamity. But here this historian leaves him asleep with his fathers, and a son in his throne that proved very untoward for parents cannot give grace to their children. Wicked Ahaz was the son of a godly father, and the father of a godly son; holy Hezekiah was the son of a wicked father, and the father of a wicked son. When the land was not reformed, as it should have been, by a good reign, it was plagued and ripened for ruin by a bad one; yet then tried again with a good one, that it might appear how loath God was to cut off his people.