Isaiah 38:7 MEANING

Isaiah 38:7
(7) This shall be a sign unto thee . . .--The offer reminds us of that made to Ahaz; but it was received in a far different spirit. In 2 Kings 20:8-11 the story is more fully told. Hezekiah asks for a sign, and is offered his choice. Shall the shadow go forward or backward? With something of a child-like simplicity he chooses the latter, as the more difficult of the two. The sun-dial of Ahaz, probably, like his altar (2 Kings 16:10), copied from Syrian or Assyrian art [the mention of a sun-clock is ascribed by Herodotus (ii. 109) to the Chaldaeans], would seem to have been of the form of an obelisk standing on steps (the literal meaning of the Hebrew word for dial), and casting its shadow so as to indicate the time, each step representing an hour or half-hour. The nature of the phenomenon seems as curiously limited as that of the darkness of the crucifixion. There was no prolongation of the day in the rest of Palestine or Jerusalem, for the backward movement was limited to the step-dial. At Babylon no such phenomenon had been observed, and one ostensible purpose of Merodach-baladan's embassy was to investigate its nature (2 Chronicles 32:31). An inquiry into the causation of a miracle is almost a contradiction in terms, but the most probable explanation of the fact recorded is that it was the effect of a supernatural, but exceedingly circumscribed, refraction. A prolonged after glow following on the sunset; and reviving for a time the brightness of the day, might produce an effect such as is described to one who gazed upon the step-dial.

Verse 7. - And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord. It was the day of the free offering of "signs" by God to those whom his providence had placed at the head of his people. Ahaz had been offered a sign (Isaiah 7:11), but had refused the offer made him (Isaiah 7:12); the Lord had then "himself" given him a sign." Hezekiah received a sign to assure him of the complete discomfiture of Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:30); an offer was here made him of a sign of a peculiar kind, and it was offered under peculiar conditions. We learn from 2 Kings that a choice was submitted to him - he was to determine whether time, as measured by a certain timepiece or clock, which was known as "the dial of Ahaz," should make a sudden leap forward - the shadow advancing ten degrees upon the dial (2 Kings 20:9), or whether it should retire backwards, the shadow upon the same dial receding ten degrees. Hezekiah determined in favour of the latter sign, from its appearing to him the more difficult of accomplishment; and on his declaring his decision, the shadow receded to the prescribed distance. Time was rolled backward, or at any rate appeared to be rolled backward; and the king, seeing so great a miracle, accepted without hesitation the further predictions that had been made to him. The Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken. By the nexus of this verse with the preceding, it would naturally be concluded that "the thing" to be done was the defence of Jerusalem; but ver. 22, which belongs properly to this part of the narrative, shows the contrary. Hezekiah had asked for a sign" that he should go up to the house of the Lord."

38:1-8 When we pray in our sickness, though God send not to us such an answer as he here sent to Hezekiah, yet, if by his Spirit he bids us be of good cheer, assures us that our sins are forgiven, and that, whether we live or die, we shall be his, we do not pray in vain. See 2Ki 20:1-11.And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord,.... And which it seems Hezekiah asked, and it was put to him which he would choose, whether the shadow on the sundial should go forward or backward ten degrees, and he chose the latter, 2 Kings 20:8, which was a token confirming and assuring

that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken; recover Hezekiah from his sickness, so that on the third day he should go up to the temple; have fifteen years added to his days; and the city of Jerusalem protected from the attempts of the Assyrian monarch.

Courtesy of Open Bible