Page images

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

And it came to pass afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 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.

And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city, Cut of the hand of the king of Assyria : and I will defend thig city for mine owa sake, and for my servant David's sake.

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? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou haye 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?

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.

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, And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs and lay them for a plaister ; and they took and laid it on the boil, and Hezekiah recovered. And this is the writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when lie had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness. 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.


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.

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.

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 ine.

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.

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


soul. 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.

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.

For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot cele. brate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.

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

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.



The disease with which Hezekiah was a

afflicted was, as we may reasonably suppose, designed as a farther chasa tisement for his stripping the Temple, and submitting to Sennacherib ; it was in its nature mortal, and above the power of human art to cure ; the prophet Isaiah was sent to apprize him of his danger, that he might se:tle' his worldly affairs, and prepare his mind for the awful change which he was soon to experience.

Besides the love of life, so natural to all men, Heze. kiah had many reasons to make him particularly desirous of it at that time. The Assyrian power threatened to overwhelm his kingdom, and he had as yet no son to succeed him, which was a circumstance of great a Miction, as he was the last of the royal family of David. He saw. rain and desolation likely to fall on his country, and had reason to fear he was under the displeasure of God, as length of days was a part of the blessing which the LORD had promised to good kings : having these prospects before his eyes, he might well melt into tears at the thoughts of approaching death. * As king of Israel, Hezekiah might with propriety plead his adherence to the worship of the LORD, because the LORD had promised his favour on that condition. The sign which was granted to strengthen Hezekiah's faith was of a very extraordinary nature ; it is needless to give a particular description of the miracle, as it cannot be accounted for by natural means; but however astonishing the relation of it may appear, it certainly was not too difficult for the ALMIGHTY to effect.

We may understand, from Hezekiah's own reflections, (which the prophet has transmitted to us) that his piety and humility were very great. His writing, as it is called, affords a very lively picture of what passed in his mind. The king appears to have been at first struck with horror and dismay at the thoughts that his life would be cut short, and that he should not live to see the deliverance which he trusted the LORD would effect for Ja. deh. He dreaded the increase of pains and agonies, which were already more than nature could well sustain. He found no relief; but continued to lament his present mis ry, and approaching dissolution. He repeated his earnest supplication, that the LORD would grant him ease. He considered that it was the Divine will that he should be thus afflicted, and resolved to moderate the excess of his grief, and submit with patience. A ray of Divine consolation immediately darted into his mind. He now regarded this

mortal sickness as the barbinger of life and immortality; he considered the death of the body as the birth of the soul; he felt a happy presentiment that he should not lie for ever in the grave. The Spirit of the Loßd whispered to his spirit, that Divine merey had redeemed him from that destruction which his repeated crimes deserved, and that the punishment of his sios was remitted. He called to mind the numberless promises which the Lor v had made of everlasting blessings; and felt in his heart an ardent desire to praise the LORD for ever. He could not think that this desire, and the hope of immortality, inherent in the mind of man, would be extinguished by death ; nor could he believe, when he reflected op the capacity of the human soul, that its existence was limited to this imperfect state : he therefore concluded, that it would survive the death of the body s and that he should in a future state celebrate the praises of the Loud. Hezekiah also appears to have had a pre sage that he should have a son to succeed him.

Had the good king died at this time, there is no doubt bit he would bave found his hopes respecting immor


tality confirmed; but to shew the efficacy of prayer to reward him as a faithful king, and to do kindness to the people of Judah, his life was prolonged.

From the prophet's advice to Hezekiah, to set his house in order, all persons are admonished to settle their worldly concerns before their death, for the sake of their surviving friends. We may also from the prophet's example consider it as the duty of a friend to acquaint those who are in an irrecoverable state of their danger. How many through a mistaken tenderness are flattered, even to the last moments, into a belief that they shall live and not die ! amused with company ; nay even tempted to waste those precious moments in card-playing, which should be employed in imploring Divine mercy for their numberless offences, they launch into eternity, unprepared, to meet their heavenly judge!

It is probabie, that those who have led good lives will at first be affected with the awful tidings, as Hezekiah was ; but the consciousness of having endeavoured to perform their duty in an acceptable manner, will encourage them to have immediate recourse to prayer and meditation, which will produce a train of reflections similar to those of the good king. The sincere and humble christian will enjoy a still higher degree of consolation than Hezekiah could receive, because life and immortality, which were but imperfectly hoped for by the Jews, have been brought to light by the Gospel. So far from regretting that his days are cut short, the christian will resign his soul into the hands of his REDEÈMER with joyful expectation; not merely hoping, but well assured, that in love to it his S VIOUR has delivered it from the prit of corruption, and purchased remission for his sins, and that he shall certainly see the LORD in the land of the living.

Nor will the case of the abandoned singer be made


« PreviousContinue »