Isaiah 38:9 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.

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

MEMORY VERSE: 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. —Isaiah 38:20

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Hezekiah was sick and the Lord had told Isaiah, “He shall die,” but when he cried unto the Lord, his prayer was heard and God granted fifteen years to his life. This song of praise is what he wrote in testimony.


Isaiah 38:10 “In the cutting off of my days”: The Latin Vulgate has, “In the midst of my days,” the Septuagint, “In the height of my days” and the Greek interpreters, “In the silence of my days.” “Hezekiah’s days were cut off by the sentence of God” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible). “Gates of the grave”: gates of Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek). The word picture is of a great city with gates, a symbol of its power. H. M. Riggle, in Beyond the Tomb, gives a clue for interpreting the word “grave” in this place. “[Sheol and hades] are generic terms with more than one meaning, sometimes applying to the grave, sometimes to the world of departed spirits, and again to the state of the lost eternally…The signification in any text must be determined by the sense in which the word is used and by the context.” The two following verses give us the context, that he is speaking of the literal grave in which the body lies, where there is no more human interaction; where in body he goes no more to worship at the temple.

Isaiah 38:12 “Shepherd’s tent”: a type of the body, the dwelling-place of the soul, a transitory home. “From day even unto night”: he expected to die within the space of a day. “As a lion”: a phrase comparing his great pain to a lion violently crushing the bones.

Isaiah 38:14 “Crane…swallow…dove”: his cries of pain.

Isaiah 38:15 “I shall go softly”: humbly, submissively, with a solemn, calm pace. “In the bitterness”: because of the remembrance of the bitter sorrow of my sickness; or because of my deliverance from the bitterness of soul.

Isaiah 38:17 “For peace I had great bitterness”: some translators have, “My great bitterness was unto peace, or turned into prosperity.”


The account of King Hezekiah’s sickness and healing is also recorded in II Kings 20 and briefly in II Chronicles 32:24. Commentators disagree about the chronology; some say Hezekiah’s sickness in Isaiah 38 occurred thirteen or fourteen years before the events in Isaiah 36 and 37, and the destruction of the Assyrian forces occurred in the closing years of Hezekiah’s life. Others say his sickness came soon after the army of Sennacherib had been defeated.

What was Hezekiah’s sickness? Verse 21 calls it a boil. Some say it was the boil associated with the plague, a disease causing death within three or four days. The prophet Isaiah was sent by God to tell the 39-year-old king to set his house “in order” or give commands to his household, because he was going to die. This seemed to be a “conditional prophecy” which was contingent on repentance and prayer, like the one Jonah gave Nineveh: “In forty days….”

When Hezekiah heard the sentence, he turned his face toward the wall and wept. He beseeched God to remember how he had walked in truth and with a perfect heart, and had done what was good in God’s sight. In his thanksgiving song, however, he mentions that God had been merciful to cast all his sins behind His back, so he must have come to a deeper awareness, in the suffering, of his true sinfulness before God.

Isaiah had not yet left the building when God turned him around with a second message granting healing and life to Hezekiah. Isaiah put a fig poultice on Hezekiah’s boil, probably as an aid to draw out the poison, and issued a sign, at Hezekiah’s request, that God would indeed raise him up so he would be able to worship in God’s house in three days. Which would be more of a sign, he asked Hezekiah; to see the shadow on the sundial go in reverse, or jump forward ten degrees? Hezekiah wished to see it go backward, and Isaiah cried unto the Lord. As they watched, the shadow edged backward ten degrees.

There is more to the story, even after Hezekiah’s song of praise. He had foreign visitors, to whom he showed the wealth of his kingdom. II Chronicles 32:25 says that “he rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him.” This displeased the Lord, who pronounced judgment upon his pride. Hezekiah humbled his heart, and the penalty was delayed. He went on to build and prosper until his death. During this space of time, he had a son, Manasseh, who became the next king, at age thirteen, upon his father’s death. Manasseh was a wicked king who made God’s people do “worse than the heathen.” He was carried away prisoner by the Assyrians, but in his affliction he sought God and humbled himself greatly, leaving us a record both of the sure judgments and sure mercies of the great God of heaven.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. What was Hezekiah’s affliction, its likely cause, and Isaiah’s home remedy?
  2. What did Hezekiah plead before the Lord, and how did his song of praise slightly change from that plea?
  3. Explain Hezekiah’s view of death. Was it entirely accurate, or did it portray the dim understanding of the times? How does it differ from, say, Paul’s view in the New Testament?
  4. Hezekiah promised to “go softly.” What does this mean, and how well did he carry it out?
  5. What admonition does Hezekiah leave for fathers?


Hezekiah’s chief lament seemed to center around his idea that in death he would be cut off from seeing the Lord,. The strong allusion here is that gathering to worship in God’s house, offering the sacrifices and singing the songs of praise were his life. “By these things men live” and “the life of my spirit.” I think I see a key to the great mercy God had upon Hezekiah. Looking farther, we note in II Chronicles 29:3 that in the first year of his reign, when he was twenty-five, he had the temple doors opened and repaired. He organized and commissioned the Levites to carry out their service. They scrubbed the house of the Lord from top to bottom. Verse 20 says Hezekiah “rose early” to begin the day with offerings. For hours, while the sacrifices were being burnt, the Levite choir and orchestra played and sang praises “with gladness.”

Hezekiah’s next move was to plan the Passover, which had not been commemorated for years. He sent posts throughout all Israel and Judah, inviting all to come. Many people laughed him to scorn, but those who did come received forgiveness for their sins, and healing, and such joy as had not been experienced since the days of Solomon. The very best part, however, was the fact that their prayer came up into the ears of the God in heaven. This is what Hezekiah loved.

Hezekiah closes his song of praise with a vow to sing to His God all the days of his life. How much Hezekiah understood about the hereafter, we don’t really know. But God understood his heart—it was a heart turned toward God’s house. When he was chastened and judged, he humbled himself. Whatever it took to be able to worship and exalt his God, that’s what he was willing to do.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


One Thing Have I Desired

One thing have I desired, and for this I will seek after.

In the house of the Lord I’ll spend all my days.

For in times of great trouble, He’ll hide me in His pavilion,

With my sacrifice of joy I shall sing His praise.

At all times I’ll bless the Lord, lift Him up and daily praise Him,

For His angels round are camping to deliver me.

Fear the Lord, ye, His saints; there’s no want to them that fear Him,

For His eyes and ears are open to my earnest prayer.

Oh, the Lord is my Shepherd, I’ll lie down in green pastures.

He’ll lead me beside still waters, He will keep my soul.

With His rod and staff He’ll comfort, make my cup of joy run over,

Goodness, mercy will preserve me save forevermore.

Bro. Leslie Busbee (1938-2016) was known by many people as a man who loved God’s Word, loved God’s people, loved little children, and loved communion with God. He was also known for his many poems. Composing poetry since he was a small child, he wrote volumes of verse through the years of his life, including a lengthy poem he recited to his wife at their wedding and special birthday poems for friends and family every year.

Like King Hezekiah in our lesson, Bro. Leslie, my dear father, loved the presence of God, whether in the congregation of God’s people or in his private prayer time. He often compiled the scriptures he loved and put them to music, as he did with Psalms 23, 27, and 34 in this song.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck

To listen to a group of saints singing Bro. Leslie’s song, click here: