Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. “Isaiah 38-55: The Book of the Servant” “A. Historical Prologue: Hezekiah’s fatal Choice (38:1-39:8) Loc. 8382-8597.
Motyer notes that, following the pattern typical of Isaiah, a section will serve to preface further discussion of a topic to follow. Chapters 38-39 foreshadow the later discussion of the Babylonian captivity (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8388). Hezekiah’s illness and his choice to pursue a peace which will not continue beyond his lifetime serve as the introduction to chapters 38-55 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8410).
The date of Hezekiah’s illness would seem to be early in 702 BC (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8434). In 38:2-3, Motyer notes Hezekiah’s failure. He has prayer and tears but does not seem to trust that God is merciful. He focuses instead on his own good works (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8436). God’s answer to Hezekiah’s prayer does not make any conditions. He restates his intention to keep his promise to David (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8450).
Hezekiah responds with meditation about life and death and then a Psalm in 38:9-20 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8464). Hezekiah recognizes that he has been rescued from death by divine favor (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8469). He does not seem to fear some sort of extinction. Motyer observes that he fears his earthly life ending (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8486). He notes expressions of despair in 38:12-14. This despair is abruptly interrupted in 38:15-17 y God’s deliverance (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8516). There follows a comparison of life and death, repentance and judgment, the Lord’s house and Sheol in 38:18-20 (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8533). Hezekiah receives healing and a sign from God that his healing is divine.
Chapter 39 tells of a Hezekiah who is optimistic and is visited by Babylonian envoys (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8560). Hezekiah’s decision to show his visitors the treasure and defenses of the city is certainly ill advised (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8576). It becomes clear then that Hezekiah has departed from his faith and has accepted the strength of Babylon instead (Motyer 1993, Loc. 8586).