Isaiah: Prince of Prophets: “The Psalm of the Rescued Saint”

Notes & Transcripts

King Hezekiah was one of the greatest kings in the history of Judah. He was born in 740BC and he died in 686BC. He was the king for 29 years. Under his leadership the nation of Judah experienced many great religious reforms. His most important act was reinstating the worship of the Lord God in the Temple at Jerusalem. He understood that the problems facing the nation stemmed from their rebellion against the Lord, and their idiolatry:

“He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. Our fathers were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the LORD’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. Therefore, the anger of the LORD has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. Now I intend to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” (2 Chronicles 29:2–11, NIV84)

Hezekiah’s reign is summarized in 2 Kings 18:1-7.

Not only was he a godly king, but there were some amazing miracles associated with the reign of Hezekiah. In the fourteenth year of his reign, a massive Assyrian army swept into Palestine. According to 2 Kings 18:14–16 Hezekiah had met the tribute demands of King Sennacherib. Jerusalem should have been given immunity. The Assyrian king, however, changed his mind and decided to press for total capitulation. In this crisis King Hezekiah chose the path of reliance upon God.

When the Assyrian king Sennacherib surrounded Jerusalem, Hezekiah prayed and God sent His angel during the night and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, thus saving the city and the nation of Judah.

Previous to all of this, Hezekiah falls ill and is told by the prophet Isaiah that he is going to die, v. 1. Hezekiah takes the matter to the Lord in prayer, v. 2. God hears him and before Isaiah can even leave the palace, (2 Kings 20:4), God answers the prayer and sends Isaiah back to tell the king that he will recover and live another 15 years. Hezekiah asks for proof that God will do this amazing thing. The Lord promises to move the sun backward 10 degrees, or about 20 minutes and then proceeds to do so.

So, the king recovers and he writes a psalm of praise to the Lord Who delivered him. This psalm is found in Isaiah 38:9-20. While the words of Hezekiah’s song of praise are all noteworthy, the words of verses 17-20 are especially relevant to those who have been delivered from the sickness of sin. In Hezekiah’s words of praise to the Lord, we are reminded of what He did for us when He saved us and delivered us from our sins. I want to take Hezekiah’s song of praise and preach on The Psalm Of The Rescued Saint. I want to show you that, if you are saved, you have ample reason to sing your own psalm of praise to the Lord for all He has done for you. Notice the stanzas of The Psalm Of The Rescued Saint.


            1. in chapter 38 the narrative shifts its attention from national welfare to the personal health of the king
                1. Isaiah takes us into Hezekiah’s sickroom
                2. the prognosis is serious: The king is going to die!
                  • “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah.” (2 Chronicles 32:24–26, NIV84)
                3. now, you need to know that this passage is not in chronological order
                    1. the king’s sickness has actually taken place before Sennacherib has brought his army to Jerusalem
                        1. we know this from Isaiah Isa. 38:6
                    2. Isaiah placed the description of that illness here, along with chap. 39, in order to introduce chaps. 40–66 which prophesy the restoration of the nation of Israel and a new creation in God's glorious future kingdom
                    3. he essentially does this for literary effect
                4. due to the King’s impending death, the prophet plainly tells the king to set your house in order
                    1. it’s a message the comes directly from the Lord God
                    2. set your house in order is a phrase we still use, and it means that a person is near death and they need to make a will, leave final instructions, and tell their family goodby!
            2. Hezekiah is grief-stricken and he immediately turns to God in confession and repentance
              • “Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” (Isaiah 38:2–3, NIV84)
                1. when we take all three texts that tell us the story of Hezekiah’s brush with death, we get the following scenario
                  • ILLUS. Evidently the king has fallen ill. First, Isaiah pronounces that the king is going to die. Hezekiah pleads with God, and reminds the Lord that he has faithfully lived with a wholehearted devotion to the Lord. God hears his prayers, and before Isaiah can even leave the palace, has revealed to the prophet that He has seen Hezekiah’s tears and heard Hezekiah’s prayer and is going to allow him to live another fifteen years. Isaiah delivers the message. The king responds by asking Isaiah for a sign of God’s veracity. Isaiah gives him that sign in Isa. 38:7-8. “ ‘The LORD will do what he says. This is the sign from the LORD to show you: The sun has made a shadow go down the stairway of Ahaz, but I will make it go back ten steps.’ ” So the shadow made by the sun went back up the ten steps it had gone down.” (Isaiah 38:7–8, NCV). The miracle is that God will move the sun backward 10 degrees, or about 20 minutes. In 2 Chronicles we’re told that Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him. 2 Chronicles doesn't tell us that the sin of pride was what made Hezekiah sick, but it does tell us that his pride was what was keeping him from getting well! The result is that the LORD's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Now, Hezekiah repents of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem, and God stays His wrath, and keeps His promise to Hezekiah.
            3. in his psalm of praise, Hezekiah is going to acknowledge that God’s hand is behind his illness


    • “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” (Isaiah 38:17, NIV84)
            1. he describes his condition as “bitterness”
                1. the word anguish in verse 17 is better translated as bitterness
                2. this word refers to “the emotional response to a destructive, heart-crushing situation”
                    1. the Hebrew word is “Marah”
                    2. it speaks of the great depths of his pain
            2. does that word sound familiar to you?
                1. it refers to the Hebrews despondency in finding only bitter waters at the first oasis they come to after their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea
                  • “When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them.” (Exodus 15:23–25, NIV84)
            3. Hezekiah describes his illness and brush with death as like coming to the Waters of Marah only to find that the water is undrinkable
                1. he is describing the hoplessness of his situation
            4. it’s also a picture of a lost soul


    • “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” (Isaiah 38:17, NIV84)
            1. Hezekiah admits that he was headed to the pit of corruption
                1. the word pit refers to a trap set to catch an animal
                2. the word corruption means to wear out; destroy; to bring to nothing
            2. Hezekiah was headed toward a meeting with death and he knows it


    • “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” (Isaiah 38:17, NIV84)
            1. in his psalm of praise Hezekiah now recalls how the Lord intervened in his situation and changed his life


            1. Hezekiah comes to understand a great truth in his affliction
                1. it was for his spiritual welfare that this event has taken place
                    1. he writes, Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered
            2. Hezekiah came to realize that his sickness was really the grace of God in action
                1. had he not been afflicted, he would never have known the grace of God in his deliverance
                2. affliction resulted in conviction
                    1. conviction brings bitterness, but the end result is peace with God!
            3. ultimately, no one comes to God apart from His conviction
              • “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44, NIV84)


            1. Hezekiah recognizes that it was the power of God that delivered him from his sickness
                1. he writes, you kept me from
                2. he recognizes God divine hand when he sees it


            1. all of this took place because God loved Hezekiah
                1. the king did not deserve this kind of love
                2. but, it was given anyway!


            1. not only did God spare Hezekiah, which was mercy; God also took all of his sins and threw them behind his back!
                1. God delivered him not only from death and from his sins!


    • “For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; fathers tell their children about your faithfulness. The LORD will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the LORD.” (Isaiah 38:18–20, NIV84)
            1. because God has performed such a miracle in his life, Hezekiah is determined to praise the Lord
                1. in doing so, he gives is a three-fold lesson in praise and thanksgiving


            1. the dead cannot praise the Lord, their voices are silenced
                1. those who are dead in sin have no desire to praise the Lord
                2. they are dead to Him and to all He can do for them
                3. they are alive only to the world!
                4. there is no praise in their hearts and no praise for the Lord, until they experience His grace


            1. those who are alive and know the Lord will lift up their voices to praise the Lord
                1. those who have been delivered from the sickness and death of sin have every reason to praise the Lord
                  • “ ... rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20, NIV84)
            2. when the Lord and His blessings are real to your soul, you will have a desire to
                1. magnify His name
                2. to tell others about Him
                3. to testify to His greatness and glory
            3. He is worthy!
              • “Praise the LORD. Praise the name of the LORD; praise him, you servants of the LORD, you who minister in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession. I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” (Psalm 135:1–6, NIV84)


            1. Hezekiah praises the Lord because He found the Lord ready to move on his behalf
                1. he didn’t have to beg; he only had to believe!
            2. I believe that his sickness and miraculous deliverance from near death prepares him to believe the Lord, when He tells Hezekiah that He is going to deliver Jerusalem from the hands of Sennacherib even though Jerusalem is surrounded by an 185,000-man army!

IV. Lessons from Isaiah 36-39

A. Crises Often Come When Circumstances Seem to Be at Their Best

            1. Hezekiah had led the nation in a great reformation, and the people were united in the fear of the Lord
                1. they had put away their idols, restored the temple services, and sought the blessing of their God
                2. but instead of receiving blessing, they found themselves facing battles!
                  • “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah” (2 Chron. 32:1, NIV).
            2. had God turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to all that Hezekiah and his people had done?
                1. of course not!
                2. the Assyrian invasion was a part of God’s discipline to teach His people to trust Him alone
                3. even Hezekiah had at first put his trust in treaties and treasures only to learn that the enemy will keep the wealth but not keep his word
            3. God’s great purpose in the life of faith is to build godly character
                1. Hezekiah and his people needed to learn that faith is living without scheming

B. The Unrighteous Will Ridicule the Righteous for Their Faith

            1. Sennacherib ‘s field commander’s speech in Isaiah 36:4-21 is one of the most insolent and blasphemous found anywhere in Scripture
                1. he repeatedly asks King Hezekiah’s representatives, “In what is your confidence? You can have no confidence, for everything you trust in has failed!”
                2. according to the field commander, Judah could not trust in its strategy, its military resources, or even in its God
            2. God summons us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7)
                1. to those Jews in Jerusalem who were living in unbelief, the field commander’s arguments must have seemed reasonable, and his evidence compelling
                2. but God had promised to deliver His people from the Assyrian army, and His Word would stand

C. When Our Enemies Close in We Need to Humble Ourselves and Seek God’s Face

            1. Hezekiah and his officers humbled themselves before the Lord and sought His face
                1. as the king went into the temple, perhaps he recalled the promise God had given to Solomon after he had dedicated the temple:
                  • “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14)
            2. in the building up of our faith, the Word of God and prayer go together (Rom. 10:17)

D. God Delivers Those Who Call upon His Name

            1. God’s response to Hezekiah’s prayer was to give the King another threefold message of assurance:
                1. Jerusalem would not be taken (vv. 22, 31–35)
                2. the Assyrians would depart (vv. 23–29); and
                3. the Jews would not starve (v. 30)
            2. the field commander had joked that one Assyrian junior officer was stronger than 2,000 Jewish charioteers (36:8–9)
            3. but it took only one of God’s angels to destroy 185,000 Assyrian soldiers!

E. When God Acts on Our Behalf We Need to Sing a Psalm!

            1. after he submitted himself to the Lord, there was a new humility in Hezekiah’s walk, a deeper love for the Lord in his heart, and a new song of praise on his lips
            2. he had a new determination to praise God all the days of his lifeSennacherib

Con. Every child of God has a similar song to sing. David gave voice to his song of praise in Psa. 40:1-3. Has He delivered you from that horrible pit of corruption? Have you allowed your song of praise to be heard? Are you in the business of praising the name of the Lord Who loved you and gave Himself for you? Wouldn’t you like to pause today and give Him thanks for His grace?

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