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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.

2. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

3. I beseech thee, O LORD, 'remember now how I have 2 walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

Neh. 13: 22. Gen. 17:1. 1 Kings 3: 6. the commencement of the invasion of Sennacherib, i.e., in the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign, is evident from ver. 6, namely, both from the fact that in answer to his prayer 15 years more of life were promised him, and that he nevertheless reigned only 29 years (chap. 18: 2), and also from the fact that God promised to deliver him out of the hand of the Assyrians, and to defend Jerusalem. — Keil. Was Hezekiah sick unto death. Sick of a malady which, in the natural course of things, would have proved fatal. - Cook. From ver. 7 we learn that the disease was probably a carbuncle. — Keil. God sends illness upon the good, not in punishment for sins past, but as a trial of their faith and patience (Rom. 5:3).Lange. Prof. Birks thinks that this sickness occurred “very soon after the sudden over. throw of the Assyrians, and was an unexpected lesson of weakness and mortality in the very hour of exultation, when he incurred the great danger of secret pride." The prophet Isaiah. The leading prophet of Hezekiah's reign, and author of the Book of Isaiah (see next lesson). Came to him. There is no species of cruelty greater than to suffer a friend to lie on a dying bed under a delusion. There is no sin more aggravated than that of designedly deceiving a dying man, and flattering him with the hope of recovery when there is a moral certainty that he will not, and cannot recover. And there is evidently no danger to be apprehended from communicating to the sick their true condition. It should be done tenderly, and with affection; but it should be done faithfully. I have had many opportunities of witnessing the effect of apprising the sick of their situation, and of the moral certainty that they must die. And I cannot now recall an instance in which the announcement has had any unhappy effect on the disease. Often, on the contrary, the effect is to calm the mind, and to lead the dying to look up to God, and peacefully to repose on him. And the effect of that is always salutary. Nothing is more favorable for a recovery than a peaceful, calm, heavenly submission to God; and the repose and quiet which physicians so much desire their patients to possess, is often best obtained by securing confidence in God, and a calm resignation to his will. - Barnes. Set thine house in order. Arrange your affairs so that they will go on without you; referring to his family, his plans, his successor, and his kingdom. For thou shalt die. Death was the natural result of his sickness. This is not a prediction, but a prophetic warning. A message, thus addressed to a person, not spoken of him to others, is a call to repentance and prayer, not the revelation of a fixed, unalterable decree. — Birks.

II. Hezekiah's Prayer.- Vers. 2, 3. 2. Then he turned his face to the wall. Away from those who were present, in order that he might pray more freely and collectedly. – Lange.

3. Remember now. The old covenant promised temporal prosperity, including length of days, to the righteous. Hezekiah, conscious of his faithfulness and integrity, feels that he has not deserved the sentence which cuts him off in middle life, at an age little (if at all) beyond that which was attained by his wicked father. He ventures, therefore, to expostulate; he prays God to call to remembrance his life and conduct, as if it could only be through forgetfulness that God had determined evil against him. According to the highest standard of morality up to this time revealed, there was nothing unseenly in the self-vindication of the monarch, which has many parallels in the Psalms of David (Ps. 7: 3-10; 18: 19-26; 26:1-8; etc.). - Cook. I have walked before thee ... with a perfect heart. Though, as a man, he might be deeply conscious of imperfection, yet, as a king, his influence had been wholly on the side of religion, and he had not declined from the ways of God. Barnes. Hezekiah wept sore. Literally, “ with a great weeping." Hezekiah's sorrow at the approach of death was natural and right. (1) The desire to live one's full term of years is right. God himself promises it as a blessing. (2) His work was unfinished. Hezekiah had passed his whole life up to this point in anxiety and trouble; he was now, for the first time, in a position to look forward with courage and hope to a period of peace, rest, and prosperity, and to the opportunity of doing more for his country than he had hitherto been able to do. He had succeeded to the throne in a time of deep decay, and had sought

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 1 captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have a heard thy prayer, I have seen

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 4 defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

7. And Isaiah 5 said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. 1 , Sam.9:16; 10:1. 2 Kings 19:20. Ps. 65:2. 3 Ps. 39:12; 56: 8. 4 2 Kings 19:34. 5 Isa. 38:21. in every way to restore prosperity and strength, and now, when he was in a position to labor for this end with some success, it was hard to leave all. — Lange. (3) He had no son, as yet, to whom he could leave his kingdom. (4) The consciousness of sin, and the need of better preparation to die (Isa. 38: 17). (5) In those days even the best of men had but faint assurance and realization of the resurrection and immortal life brought to light afterwards by Jesus Christ.

III. The Answer to his Prayer. - Vers. 4-11. First, — THE PROMISE. 4. Afore Isaiah was gone out. The answer was immediate. Into the middle court. That is, of the royal palace. — Cook. Eastern palaces were built around a central court.

5. The captain of my people. The one who, under God, leads and commands God's people. The Lord, the God of David. The present is ever associated with the past, because all the past history of God's people belongs to the present, and illustrates God's dealings with them to-day. Behold, I will heal thee. Means were used (ver. 7), but the healing was God's direct gift. Who can tell but that he often thus spares useful lives when worn down with toil, and when the frame is apparently sinking to the grave, in answer to prayers? He may direct to remedies which had not before occurred; or he may himself give a sudden and unlooked-for turn to the disease, and restore the sufferer again to health. - Barnes. On the third day thou shalt go up. Hezekiah is comforted, not merely with a general assurance of recovery, but with a promise marking at once the completeness of the cure (“thou shalt go up"), and its rapidity (“' on the third day”). Unto the house of the Lord. It is assumed, from the known piety of Hezekiah, that his first act, when he has recovered, will be to return thanks to Almighty God, in the temple.

6. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years. As if the Lord had said to him, You have more work to do as king of my people, and also more of a useful, devoted life to enjoy. I assign its limit; work diligently while you may." - Cowles. The date of the illness is fixed by this to Hezekiah's 14th or 15th year, B.C. 714 or 713. — Cook. And. God gave him not only what he asked, but more, as he had done to Solomon 300 years before (2 Chron. 1:7–12). I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria. Either out of the hands of Sennacherib, as related in the previous chapter (2 Kings 19:35-37), or it was a general assurance of protection and deliverance from this overgrown power which was continually threatening Judah (see Chronology in the Introduction to this lesson). For mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. In order that he might be known and revered in the world as the true God, which knowledge and reverence were the greatest blessings to men; and for the sake of the promises made to David.

SECOND, — THE MEANS. 7. A lump of figs. It is usual in the East, even at the present day, to employ a poultice of figs as a remedy for ordinary boils. But such a remedy would not naturally cure a dangerous tumor or carbuncle. Thus the means used in this miracle may be compared with those adopted by Elisha when he raised the Shunammite's child (2 Kings 4: 34), or by our Lord when he satisfied the hunger of the multitudes, means having a tendency towards the result wrought by them, but insufficient of themselves to produce that result. — Cook. The boil. Hezekiah's malady was evidently a single inflammatory boil, ulcer, or tumor, not an eruptive disorder. - Cook. Probably a carbuncle is intended. - Keil. Such means as this, and the clay with which Christ anointed the eyes

as an aid to faith; (2) as showing that true faith in God uses means; (3) as showing that

8. And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What I 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, 2 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.

II. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and 3 he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.

See Judges 6:17, 37, 39. Isa. 7:11, 14; 38:22.

See Isa. 38:7, 8.

. See Josh. 10:12, 14.

the power in all means is from God; (4) the means here were inadequate, in order to lead Hezekiah to trust in God and to feel that his healing was the direct gift of God. – P.

THIRD, — THE ASSURANCE. 8. And Hezekiah said. Not after the recovery mentioned in the last verse, but after the promise of recovery. He probably was deathly sick, and felt no immediate signs of improvement. What shall be the sign? Rather, “What sign is there?” Asking for a sign is a pious or a wicked act according to the spirit in which it is done. No blame is attached to the requests of Gideon (Judg. 6: 17, 37, 39), or to this of Hezekiah, because they were real wishes of the heart expressed humbly. The "evil generation" that “sought for a sign” in our Lord's days, did not really want one, but made the demand captiously, neither expecting nor wishing that it should be granted. — Cook.

9. Shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? Hezekiah is given his choice between two signs. The ten degrees are literally "ten steps," and refer to the instrument which we call a sun-dial, and which the ancients called a shadow. measurer (Plin. xxxvi. 15), because the hour of the day was estimated by the length of the shadow. It seems most probable to us that it was a column with circular steps surrounding it. “ This column cast the shadow of its top at noon upon its uppermost, and morning and evening upon the lowest step, and thus designated the hour of the day (K'nobel). - Lange. How much time each step or degree measured is unknown. If, as some suggest, they were half-hour marks, then the time would go back five hours.

10. It is a light thing for the shadow to go down. That is, down the steps, or forward on the dial. This was its natural direction. It is easy to make the day of life shorter. Let the shadow return backward. (I) The king chooses that which appears to be the more difficult in order that the proof may be the clearer. - Lange. (2) The retrograde movement of the shadow upon the sun-dial indicated that Hezekiah's life, which had already arrived at its close by natural means, was to be put back by a miracle of divine omnipotence, so that it might continue for another series of years. – Keil. (3) It was a symbol of the arrest of the downward course of the kingdom, and a return to prosperity, Birks.

11. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord. Even a prophet must pray, and for the very things which had been promised. This necessity of prayer kept the prophet's soul in communion with God. And he brought the shadow ten degrees backward. The question as to the mode whereby the return of the shadow was produced is one on which many opinions have been held. The older commentators, almost without exception, believed in an actual reversing of the earth's motion around its axis; moderns generally suppose some less violent interference with the order of nature, as extraordinary refraction.

- Keil. Recently it has been urged with a good deal of force that the true cause of the phenomenon was a solar eclipse, in which the moon obscured the entire upper limb of the sun; and it has been clearly shown that if such an occurrence took place a little before midday it would have had the effect described as having taken place. - Cook. The probability is that it was a miraculous use of the laws of refraction, producing the effect which was once observed in a lesser degree. On the 27th of March, 1703, P. Romauld, prior of the cloister at Metz, made the observation that, owing to such a refraction of the solar rays in the higher regions of the atmosphere in connection with the appearance of a cloud, the shadow on his dial deviated an hour and a half. — Henderson. The dial of Ahaz. See under ver. 9. The dial which Ahaz set up, and which he probably obtained from Babylon, for he appears to have been fond of foreign objects of art (2 Kings 16:10). The Assyrians “were the first to divide the day into twenty-four hours, the hours into sixty minutes, the minutes into sixty seconds” (Lenormant I., 449). And Herodotus states (2: 109) that the Greeks 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 shewed them all the house of his 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 shewed them not.

14. Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men ? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.

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obtained their knowledge of the dial and the division of the day into twelve parts from the Babylonians, who were in constant intercourse with the Assyrians.

FOURTH, — His SONG OF THANKSGIVING. After his restoration to health, Hezekiah wrote a hymn expressing his gratitude to God for his mercy. It is recorded in Isa. 38: 9-20.

NOTE in this answer to prayer, (1) it was immediate; (2) it was given with assurance; (3) by the use of means; (4) it was abundant, giving more than was asked.

IV. Ambassadors from the King of Babylon. - Vers. 12-17. 12. At that time. In the period following Hezekiah's recovery. Berodach-baladan. The same as Merodach-baladan of Isa. 39:1. This king of Babylon is mentioned frequently in the Assyrian inscriptions, and he was not unknown to the Greeks. He finds a place in the famous Canon of Ptolemy. He had two reigns in Babylon. First of all he seized the throne in the same year in which Sargon became the king of Assyria, B.C. 721, and held it for 12 years, from B.C. 721 to B.C. 709, when Sargon defeated him and took him prisoner. Secondly, he reigned six months, in B.C. 703. — Cook. Sent letters of congratulation. And a present. Which was usual under such circumstances. For he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. He had heard of his marvellous cure, and perhaps of the backward turning of the shadow on the dial (2 Chron. 32: 31). But, as Josephus has shown, and the Assyrian records confirm, the true object, no doubt, was to make sure of Hezekiah's friendship in anticipation of his intended revolt from the Assyrian rule. — Keil.

13. Hezekiah hearkened unto them. The Jewish king lent a favorable ear to the proposals of the ambassadors. Shewed them. He exhibited to them the resources which he possessed, in order to induce them to report well of him to their master. Compare the display by which Orestes tempted Polycrates to his ruin (Herod. iii. 123). — Cook. He showed them the extent of his resources in order to convince them that he would be no contemptible ally. — Clericus. House of his precious things. His treasure house. Silver and gold. For a description, see 2 Chron. 32: 27–29. This does not contradict the statement in 2 Kings 18:15. For if this sickness was before the attack of Sennacherib, then he would have the treasures. If after that attack, as given in the order of 2 Kings, then (1) he had the plunder of Sennacherib's army, so suddenly destroyed (Milman), or (2) other treasures flowed in, and many of the treasures may have been retained, or were jewels and works of art not to be sent for tribute. - Keil.

THE SIN OF THIS DISPLAY. God, from whom nothing is hid, saw in his joy (1) ingrat. itude, because he was unmindful of the distress which lately pressed him down; (2) pride, that he sought to gain reputation by magnificence and riches. But (3) his chief fault was ambition, which almost entirely banishes the fear of God from the hearts of men. — Calvin. (4) It was seeking an alliance with the world, heathen idolatries, contrary to the frequent warnings of God through the prophets. Hence (5) it was a failure in faith and obedience. - P.

His TEMPTATION was (1) vanity; (2) the need of an alliance against Assyria; and (3) the fact that this rising power of Babylon was the chief and most powerful enemy of Assyria. (4) God allowed this temptation in order to try him, and that he might know all that was in his heart (2 Chron. 32: 31). – P.

14. Then came Isaiah. The prophet saw the king's sin and danger, and was as faithful to warn as he had been to comfort. And he could warn with the greater effect because he had given the comfort.

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 shewed them.

16. And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.

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, I shall be carried into Babylon : nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.

12 Kings 24: 13; 25:13. Jer. 27:21, 22; 52: 17.

15. Hezekiah answered. He was perfectly frank and free, and tried to hide nothing,

17. All that is in thine house ... shall be carried into Babylon. This was partly a result of what he had done, revealing to Babylon treasures worth their seeking so far to obtain. It was the punishment of the sins of the people, of which Hezekiah's sin was an example and a part. This prophecy, delivered while yet Babylon was scarcely an independent power, received (a full hundred years later a very specific fulfilment. This message must be dated about B.C. 713. The first considerable deportation of captives occurred B.C. 606; the last, B.C. 588. — Cowles. Hezekiah received this announcement with humble submission to the justice of God's sentence, and thankfulness for the merciful limitation that it was not to come immediately. We may presume that this timely interposition effectually blocked any movement that might otherwise have been made toward an alliance between Hezekiah and the king of Babylon. We may also hope that, having been thus rebuked for this great sin, and having repented of it, he thenceforth knew his own weakness better, walked more softly with God, and passed the closing years of his life in humble, active piety, a better man for having been left of God “that he might know all that was in his heart." Cowles.

LESSONS FROM HEZEKIAH'S PRAYER. 1. Sickness and sorrow come to the best of men. There are some of the best lessons of life which only sickness can teach.

2. As it is wise in time of health and strength to set one's house in order in a worldly sense, that is, to make one's will and arrange one's affairs, so is it still more wise to set one's house in order in a spiritual sense, and not to put off making one's peace with God until one stands on the brink of the grave. — Kyburz.

3. It is right to pray for earthly blessings, ever ending with “not my will, but thine be done.” The gift of prayer is for this life as well as for the next, for body as well as for soul.

4. His prayer was intensely earnest; every word was meant.
5. It was a believing prayer, to the God he had loved and served.

6. It is the proof of faith in health and peace, by obedience and love, that gives assurance in the hour of need.

7. It was a prayer pleading God's faithfulness to his promises (see Prov. 3:1-4).

8. It was the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man, and availed much (Jas. 5:16).

g. The answer was immediate. Sometimes the answer does not reach us at once because we are not prepared to receive it, but God hears and prepares the answer immediately (Dan. 9: 20–22; 10: 12, 13).

10. The answer was abundant. He received more than he asked. Such is God's overflowing goodness.

11. The answer was accompanied by the use of means. There was not faith without works, but faith with works, as in Jas. 5: 14.

12. God encouraged and strengthened his faith. So he does us, by the help of others, by his spiritual gifts, by answers in lesser things, by unexpected mercies.

13. God tries us in many ways to see and to cause us to see what is in our hearts, and thus we shall cast out our secret and unconscious sins.

14. Even a high and glorious experience does not always cure us of every sinful feeling and action.

15. Let us, like Hezekiah, after every mercy utter songs of thanksgiving, in word and by our lives.

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