Hezekiah’s prayer thankful of eternal salvation or simply rescue from physical death?

Not open for further replies.

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
I’ve been reading through Isaiah lately and am intrigued by Hezekiah’s prayer of thanks in Isaiah 38:16-20. Specifically verse 17: “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”

Is Hezekiah acknowledging God’s ultimate forgiveness of his sins to result in eternal life - or is he insinuating God forgave perhaps some specific sins that he felt were the cause of his illness, so he was thus temporarily rescued from physical death?

When he mentions the pit of destruction, is he simply referring to death or more specifically to Hell?


Staff member
I think it is both. As he contemplated his mortality during his illness, he was in great distress. He correctly observes that the dead cannot praise God. (Which is true--those dead in sin cannot praise God).

He likely has an imperfect understanding of salvation, but like Job, he sees God's grace in the healing and redemption, and expresses gratitude that all his sins are cast behind. That is, he understands that death results not from a particular sin, but from the sinful condition.

Given his reference to Sheol, I think he understands the pit as the grave, which also is the place of corruption of the physical body--much like David expresses in the Psalms. It is larger in principle than a physical burying ground: it is where the unliving are placed.

Hezekiah, having been sentenced to death and then given a 15 year reprieve, at this point has a tremendous appreciation for life. Life is where God can be glorified. Sin is the great obstacle that will prevent him from being able to do that. Thus, his praises to God for allowing him to worship are directly related to the remission of sin.

How that can come about is later expressed in Isaiah.
Not open for further replies.