Isaiah 38 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Isaiah 38 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

Reformed theology has made the useful distinction between God's revealed will and his hidden will. We humans are only concerned with God's revealed will. God's revealed will to us is that we should convert ourselves and believe. God's revealed will towards Hezekiah was that he would die. But the future is no surprise for God. God knows the future. That God foreknew that Hezekiah would turn his face to the wall and pray and that he would give Hezekiah 15 years to his life was not revealed to us.
So God cannot change his mind, else he wouldn't be God. What we read in the Bible is that if we turn towards God he will have mercy upon us. That we can come to God in prayer. And so did Hezekiah. Christian faith is not the belief that whatever God has appointed, will come to pass and that prayer therefore is useless. God does not change his mind, but God also answers prayer.
Perhaps we are creatures with too many limits to resolve these things to our satisfaction. But we should be satisfied with how God has revealed himself in his Word.

2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD,

3 And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, 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 Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying,

5 Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

6 And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.

7 And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken;

8 Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.

God makes the sun move backwards 10 degrees. Now that's a neat trick!
We do not know exactly what happened, but what we do know is that the event was witnessed by the Babylonians, the premier astronomers of that time, who send ambassadors to enquire about the event, see 2 Chr. 32:31.

9 The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness:

10 I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.

11 I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.

12 Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.

13 I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.

14 Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.

15 What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul.

16 O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.

17 Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.

Dead people don't pray or hope for the truth. Is death final?
The bodies of dead people do not praise God. That is what is meant here. The grave contains the bodies. Those who are dead, do not praise God on this earth anymore.

19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.

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

21 For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover.

22 Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?