2003年6月15日讲道 读经：以赛亚书第 38章 纳维尔.克拉克弟兄 亲爱的弟兄姐妹：
1. 他对耶路撒冷百姓的挂念：他觉得百姓们比以前任何时刻都更需要他。列王纪下20：5里平行记录了神回应他的祷告时，神让以赛亚去告诉“我民的君”，会治好他。“君”只有一次被用来称呼希西家，但是很多次这样称呼大卫，大卫就是“耶和华立他做百姓的君” 的那个人（撒母耳记上13：14）。希西家因为关心他的百姓，神把他视为和大卫一样的成功人士。 2. 精神方面：在他死亡的那一刻，他可以清楚意识到的与神之间的关系就会终止。在第18节里，他说：“原来阴间不能称谢你，死亡不能颂扬你，下坑的人不能盼望你的诚实。”这句话时引用的诗篇6：5的诗句，这是大卫所作的诗篇之一：“因为在死地无人记念你，在阴间有谁称谢你？”希西家在信仰上效仿大卫，甚至引用了大卫曾经说过的话，显然希西家并不认为他会有不死的灵魂。
神给了希西家两个应许： * 第一：神将会拯救这城 * 第二：神会救他 在第二个应许里面，神告诉希西家他的寿数必增加15年。希西家的抱怨之一就是他将命绝于中年（第10节）。神的这项祝福有力地，有效的双倍增加了他在位的时间，因为当时他正作王十四年。
第10-14节：以“我说”开始，讲述希西家的痛苦和绝望。 第15-20节：以“我可说什么呢？”开始，讲述希西家求助于神，赞美神。 下面，让我们来看一下他所表达的一些思想。
Exhortation for Sunday 15th June — Isaiah 38 — Bro Neville C.
Dear Brothers and Sisters.
Our readings over the last month have taken us through much of the prophecy of Isaiah. Isaiah wrote between the years 750-700BC, during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. The small section between chapters 36-39 is unique in the prophecy because it records the history (rather than the prophecy) of the invasion of Judah by Assyria in the year 701BC. This morning, by way of exhortation, we shall consider chapter 38 as we prepare to partake of the emblems together.
Verse 1 begins by telling us that “in those days, Hezekiah was sick unto death.” The days being spoken of are the days of the Assyrian invasion (v6), which was in the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign (36:1). The northern kingdom of Israel had been taken into captivity eight years earlier. Now the Assyrians looked to expand their empire to include Judah in the south.
Hezekiah was 39 years old and had become very ill. Verse 21 tells us that Hezekiah had a single boil. It appears as though that boil had become so infected that he had contracted blood poisoning and that his condition was extremely serious. His illness occurred at the very same time that the city of Jerusalem was surrounded by the massive and powerful Assyrian army, under the control of Sennacherib. Though Hezekiah would have wanted to lead the defence of the city, his own death looked imminent. Isaiah told him to “set his house in order”, that is to make provision for the succession of the throne, because he would die (v1).
It is difficult to appreciate what this must have meant to Hezekiah. For the last 14 years, he had guided the nation wisely, purged the land of idolatry, cleansed the temple, re-instituted the Passover and restored tithing (2Chron 29-31). After such a faithful service of the Truth, it was serious enough for him to have to contend with a military invasion, let alone have to face death through illness. Hezekiah’s concern at these events is reflected in verse 2. He turned towards the wall, and prayed to his God.
Hezekiah’s prayer is recorded in verse 3. He 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”.
Hezekiah was not boasting when he said this for we read about his life to that point in 2 Chronicles 31:20-21: “Thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered”.
From the words of his prayer it is clear Hezekiah did not want to die at that time. Let us consider what concerned him right then: 1. His concern for the people in Jerusalem. He felt they needed him now more than they had any other time. When God answers his prayer in the parallel record in 2Kings 20:5, he tells Isaiah to go and tell “the captain of My people” that I will heal him. The title “captain” is used only once of Hezekiah, but numerous times of David, the man who “Yahweh commanded to be captain over his people Israel” (1Sam 13:14). Hezekiah saw himself as a successor to David in his concern for his people. 2. For himself spiritually. At the instant of death, his conscious relationship with God would end. In verse 18 he said, “For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth”. This is a quotation from Psa 6:5, one of the psalms of David: “In death there is no remembrance of Thee. In the grave, who shall give Thee thanks?” Hezekiah modelled his spiritual life on that of David, even speaking words once spoken by David. Obviously Hezekiah did not think he had an immortal soul. 3. For himself physically. In 1Kings 3:14, God said to Solomon, “If thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.” Hezekiah is only 39 years old. He was not an old man. He had modelled his life on that of David and no doubt expected to be blessed with a long life. 4. For a son to sit on his throne. At the very time David himself was dying in 1Kings 2:4, God said to him, “If thy children walk before me in truth, with all their heart, there shall not fail thee a man on the throne of Israel.” Now Hezekiah was about to die and he did not even have a wife, or a son to sit on his throne. Manasseh, his only son was not born for another three years.
Hezekiah made his petition on the basis of God’s relationship with David, because he knew God had made promises to David and that He would keep them.
In a similar way, we meet this morning to break bread and drink wine. We will no doubt add our prayers to that offered communally for the emblems. Will we pray the prayer of v3? Are we even as faithful as Hezekiah? Brothers and Sisters, if we are saved in the last day, it will not be for anything we have done, but for Christ’s sake, the greater than David.
Well, the response was immediate. After leaving Hezekiah, Isaiah made his way to his house in the lower city of Jerusalem. But before he had reached the middle of the city, God spoke to him and told him to return to the king. God’s words were, “Turn again and tell Hezekiah, the captain of my people. Thus saith Yahweh, the God of David, I have heard thy prayer and seen thy tears. I will heal thee, on the third day thou shalt go up into the house of Yahweh (the temple), and will add to thy days 15 years. 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 David my servant’s sake.” (2Kings 20:5-6).
Hezekiah was given two promises: · firstly that God would save the city, and · secondly that God would save him.
In the context of this second promise, he was told that his life would be extended 15 years. One of Hezekiah’s complaints was that he had been cut off in the midst of his days (v10, the word “cutting off” means “midst”). This blessing would effectively double the length of his reign, since he was presently in his 14th year.
Hezekiah asks for a sign that he could enter the temple in 3 days. The answer comes back from Isaiah in verses 7-8. God would move the shadow on the sundial of Ahaz (Hezekiah’s father) back by 10 degrees. The translation in the AV (and perhaps in the Chinese version) is difficult in this verse. The words “sundial” and “degrees” are the same word in the Hebrew, and should both be rendered “steps”. 2 Kings 23:12 tells us that there was an upper room of Ahaz with an idolatrous altar on the top of it. It appears that the flight of steps leading up to this upper chamber was used like a sundial to mark the time of the day. Therefore, verse 8 should read that God would move the shadow on the steps of Ahaz backwards by 10 steps. Hezekiah could presumably see these steps from his bedchamber and would witness the sign that very day. In symbol, God would turn the clock back for Hezekiah and give him an extension of life.
After his recovery Hezekiah then set about recording his experience in a psalm of thanksgiving. This is what we read in Isa 38:10-20. The psalm breaks into two sections: v10-14 which begins with the words “I said”, speaking of his suffering and despair v15-20 which begins with the words “What shall I say?”, recording his deliverance and praise to God.
Let us look at some of the thoughts he expresses.
In Verse 10 Hezekiah tells us of his anguish at facing death as a young man. There is a certain bitterness in these words. He felt upset that he was being robbed of years which he might reasonably have expected to have received.
In Verse 11 he laments the fact that his relationship with God in the land of the living would terminate. He then illustrates what he means in Verse 12. Life is as temporary as a nomadic shepherd’s tent. Here one minute, gone the next. Again, life is like the fabric in the loom of the weaver. The textures of life’s experiences are threaded into the weave. The objective of the weaver is to finish the cloth, but in Hezekiah’s case, the cloth is cut off from the loom, unfinished and discarded.
In Verse 13 Hezekiah describes how he saw the agony of suffering as a lion, mauling him and breaking his bones. He was powerless to resist the ravages of his disease. And it upset him that God could treat him like this.
He concludes his prayer looking to his God. Then in walks the prophet Isaiah. “Thus saith Yahweh the God of David, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears. I will heal thee …” Hezekiah is overcome. He is at a loss for words. “What shall I say?” v 15. He has been healed miraculously. His prayer has been answered. He says “I will go softly or humbly all my years in or because of the bitterness of my soul”. He had accused God of mistreating him, coming upon him like a lion, tearing him off the loom, collapsing his tent. He regrets these feelings now and vows to serve God in humility for the rest of his life.
In verse 16 he speaks of the healing he is undergoing. He has already been physically healed. This is the record of his spiritual healing. He has been recovered and made to live spiritually.
And now the confession (verse 17). He had been in great bitterness. He sees now that it was for his own benefit. “For my peace (welfare), I had been in great bitterness”. He now understands the benefit to life of having come so close to death. Ecclesiastes 7:2 comments on the same point: “It is better to go into the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better”. These are the very feelings of Hezekiah.
He had been brought face to face with death and the hopelessness of the grave (v18). Therefore he will ensure that following generations learn the same lesson he has learnt (v19). All wise fathers will do as Hezekiah did and teach their children the wonders of God’s truth.
Verse 20 concludes his prayer and answers his greatest wish. He had been told by Isaiah that he would go up into the house of Yahweh in three days. He reflects upon this blessing and looks forward to spending the rest of his life in the house of God singing songs of praise to the God who saved him. Those songs would include many which Hezekiah wrote himself. Hezekiah wrote 10 of the 15 psalms between Psalm 120-134. These Psalms are called the “Songs of Degrees”.
Having considered these events that came upon Hezekiah, we might wonder why God required him to undergo such a trial. Why, given that Hezekiah was such a godly man, was God going to take his life at such a young age – especially when it would appear that he was much more valuable to the nation of Israel if he remained alive. The answer is that Hezekiah’s trial was substantially for the benefit of other people. No doubt he benefited himself, but because of the shock these events gave him, he immediately set about organising the books of Psalms and Proverbs (see Prov 25:1) in order that he might teach the lessons he had learnt to subsequent generations. At best, Hezekiah might have hoped to have lived 70 years, but because of this trial, he made a contribution to scripture that has endured for thousands of years.
We come this morning to remember the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, the greater than Hezekiah, the man who endured all these things, and more, that he might save his brethren. It pleased God to bruise him and to cut him off from the land of the living with no one to declare his generation (Isa 53) but as Hezekiah, in a typical resurrection from the grave, walked again in the house of God after three days, so after three days God raised His Son to life for evermore. Although our Lord only lived 33 years, his contribution to scripture, like Hezekiah’s, has endured for thousands, and has abundantly instructed subsequent generations. Let us continually thank God for him and his work on our behalf, and for other faithful men like Hezekiah who have gone before and suffered that we might appreciate the real issues of life and death. And let us therefore never cease to sing the praises of God all the days of our lives.