In those days Hezekiah became very sick. He knew he was about to die. I went to see him. I told him, "The LORD says, 'Put everything in order. Make out your will. You are going to die soon. You will not get well again.' "
Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall. He prayed to the Lord. He said,
"Lord, please remember how faithful I've been to you. I've lived the way you wanted me to. I've served you with all my heart. I've done what is good in your sight." And Hezekiah cried bitterly.
A message came to me from the Lord. He said,
"Go and speak to Hezekiah. Tell him, 'The Lord, the God of King David, says, "I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. I will add 15 years to your life.
And I will save you and this city from the powerful hand of the king of Assyria. I will guard this city.
" ' "Here is a miraculous sign from me. It will show you that I will heal you, just as I promised I would.
The shadow that was made by the sun has gone down ten steps on the stairway of Ahaz. I will make it go back up those ten steps." ' " So the shadow went back up the ten steps it had gone down.
Here is a song of praise that was written by Hezekiah, the king of Judah. He wrote it after he was sick and had gotten well again.
I said, "I'm enjoying the best years of my life. Must I now go through the gates of death? Will the rest of my years be taken away from me?"
I said, "Lord, I'll never see you again while I'm still alive. I'll never see people anymore. I'll never again be with those who live in this world.
My body is like a shepherd's tent. It has been pulled down and carried off. My life is like a piece of cloth that I've rolled up. You have cut it off from the loom. In a short period of time you have brought my life to an end.
I waited patiently until sunrise. But like a lion you broke all of my bones. In a short period of time you have brought my life to an end.
I cried softly like a weak little bird. I groaned like a sad dove. My eyes grew tired as I looked up toward heaven. Lord, I'm in trouble. Please come and help me!
"But what can I say? You have promised to heal me. And you yourself have done it. Once I was proud and bitter. But now I will live the rest of my life free of pride.
Lord, people find the will to live because you keep your promises. And my spirit also finds life in your promises. You brought me back to health. You let me live.
I'm sure it was for my benefit that I suffered such great pain. You love me. You kept me from going down into the pit of death. You have put all of my sins behind your back.
People in the grave can't praise you. Dead people can't sing praise to you. Those who go down to the grave can't hope for you to be faithful to them.
It is those who are alive who praise you. And that's what I'm doing today. Fathers tell their children about how faithful you are.
"You will save me. So we will sing and play music on stringed instruments. We will sing all the days of our lives in your temple."
When Hezekiah was sick, I had said, "Press some figs together. Spread them on a piece of cloth. Apply them to Hezekiah's boil. Then he'll get well again."
At that time Hezekiah had asked me, "What will the miraculous sign be to prove I'll go up to the LORD's temple?" That's when the LORD had made the shadow go back ten steps.