Isaiah 37-39: Hezekiah
September 14, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
In these chapters we see Hezekiah at his best and at his worst. It is a reminder to us that even great men have their faults, and God uses us as we stand in faithful dependence on him—often despite (even because of) our failings. When we are weak, then we are strong. And it is when Hezekiah becomes a little proud—showing off all his possessions (39:1-2)—that he stumbles.
First we see him responding in an exemplary way to a visceral, existential threat. He seeks out God’s word—by sending to hear from the prophet Isaiah (37:1-2). When the king of Assyria renews his threat against Hezekiah and God’s people (37:10-13), Hezekiah pours out his heart in prayer to God (37:14-20). His heart is pure and exemplary too: “O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms on earth may know that you are alone are the LORD” (37:20). For thine be the glory forever and ever. Amen. This praying for God to be glorified—or what is called praying in Jesus’ name in the New Testament—is a key to praying in a way that is according to God’s will. And this is what Hezekiah does.
Again, when Hezekiah is sick, he asks God to have mercy on him (38:2-3). He understands that God’s will is single, and yet sometimes God stretches in one direction, then in another direction when the godly and righteous appeal to him. God’s honor is shown in his answer to those prayers (38:4-8). It is like the way a good father will sometimes try negative psychology on his children—“You’re not going to win that game, no way!”—so the child is spurred on to make sure that they do win. Again, Hezekiah responds rightly to this next challenge (38:9-20).
But then when envoys from Babylon come to see him, having heard that he had been sick and recovered (39:1), instead of giving glory to God for this recovery, Hezekiah shows them around all his store rooms and treasures (39:2). The point being made is that Hezekiah is the great one and that his recovery is due to Hezekiah’s greatness. Thus, in his pride, Hezekiah stumbled. We can see the remains of this pride in his response this time to God’s discipline, saying “There will be peace and security in my days” (39:8). Would it not have been better to plead with God for the prosperity of God’s people even after Hezekiah had died?
Let us learn to be like Hezekiah, and at the same time not like Hezekiah too! Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand that in due course he might lift you up (1 Peter 5:6). Remember it is by faith—ultimately faith in Christ—that salvation and victory are won, not through our own brilliance. Pray, therefore, and ask God to use you for his glory today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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