We are in the “hinge” of Isaiah (chapters 36 – 39). After all the poetic gloom and doom, we have a story, and for the most part, it is a hopeful one.
From Solomon to Hezekiah there have been ten kings of Judah. With one exception (#3 – Asa) all of them were either bad (Jehoram and Ahaz) or good, but not as good as David. Though eight of them struggled to remove idolatry from the land, all of them stopped short of removing the “High Places,” those sacred grounds revered by the Canaanites and adopted as holy by God’s people. The writer of Kings is specific in saying only Jerusalem was the dwelling place of God (1 Kings 14:21).
Hezekiah, however, is the one bright spot since David. Like only Asa before him, Hezekiah adopts the ways of David. Unlike anyone since David, Hezekiah destroys the “High Places.” He is determined to be a man of faith.
The story of Hezekiah’s illness is a parallel with Judah. Just as Hezekiah is granted a reprieve for his faith, so Judah is also granted a reprieve. But like Judah’s faithfulness, it is only temporary. This “hinge” in Isaiah emphasizes in story form why faith in God is such an important thing in a relationship with the Almighty.
The book, however, will turn here. Doom has already been decreed in the first 35 chapters. Delayed but not cancelled, judgment is coming (chapter 39). But it will not obliterate God’s people. A remnant will remain, and God has something good in store for them (chapters 40-66).
Hezekiah’s psalm in chapter 38 is a reflection on his illness. Hezekiah remembers his “numbed shock” when he discovers he is terminal, his exhaustion and feeble cry for help as he lifts his eyes to heaven. And when he turns to God, he realizes that it has been God who has afflicted him, to get him to depend on Him even more. Barry Webb writes: “Such lessons are priceless, but often it is only by looking back, as Hezekiah does here, that we can see how suffering has been the means God has used to teach them to us.”