Hezekiah’s fame and achievements have gone to his head. He has become prideful but he has NOT turned his back on God. God disciplined him.
The story of Hezekiah’s illness and his visitors from Babylon are told in more detail in 2 Kings 20. I popped over there to reread them. I encourage you to do the same.
Hezekiah has been one of my favorite kings because of his commitment to God. He even has flaws though. After God’s miraculous victory over Sennacherib, Hezekiah became famous and revered. He started believing his own ‘press’ and grew proud.
We encountered another king who did the same thing. Several of Judah’s kings dealt with illnesses that God allowed but the other king I’m thinking of is Asa. Hezekiah and Asa both faced the same issue; pride. I’m assuming that both of their illnesses were meant to turn them once again to the Lord. Asa hardened his heart even further and turned to physicians and other gods. Hezekiah sought the Lord in humility. Asa never recovered. God added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life and gave him a remarkable sign.
Hezekiah’s illness wasn’t the end of his prideful follies. He messed up big time by showing off to the ambassador from Babylon. Hezekiah showed him EVERYTHING! He took him from one store house to another, showing him the blessings that God had bestowed on him. Talk about getting the ‘royal tour.’ This ambassador now had a full accounting of Hezekiah’s wealth and Judah’s strength.
For this prideful act Hezekiah would again be confronted by God. And here is where I am soured by the attitude of Hezekiah. When Isaiah confronted Hezekiah he told him that his sons would be carried away to Babylon and even be eunuchs in the palace. Hezekiah found the words from Isaiah favorable because it would not happen in HIS lifetime. He didn’t care what happened beyond his time. Maybe he figured that they could pray for God’s grace when the time came. To me though, not caring about what happens to your children is despicable. So ‘good’ Hezekiah had his faults too. As does every man, woman, and child who ever lived, except the One Man who was both God and man; Jesus.
I’m curious why God didn’t give the godly kings more time on the throne. Hezekiah’s son Manasseh has the longest rule and he was VERY bad king. Why didn’t God give 50+ year reigns for the godly kings? Many of the godly kings started good but finished poorly. Maybe this is why God didn’t extend their lives any further.
The people of Judah also seemed happy to follow the ups and downs of their king’s spiritually. If only they could have stayed true to the Lord, no matter what their king did. Who knows what blessings there might have come on them.
As I was looking over our text one last time I was drawn to the part about the visitors from Babylon again. We are told that “God left him to himself, in order to test him and know all that was in his heart” (verse 31b). Hezekiah had humbled himself before the Lord earlier when God sent judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. It appears that God wanted to know if it was a lasting change or one just to stop the punishment. It appears that Hezekiah hadn’t fully learned his lesson and his son would continue paying for Hezekiah’s pride. Although, his son would have enough of his own sins to atone for.
Father God, I want to be a ‘good finisher’. I KNOW I have pitfalls I have to walk through. Some that I keep turning around and trudging back through. I’m sorry Father. I try to choose new paths but it seems like the sure keep finding myself back in the same spots. THANK YOU for Your mercy which carries me through and out of the messy places again. THANK YOU too that I don’t have a whole nation looking to me to lead them! I’m pretty sure I’m not cut out for that kind of pressure.