Cameos of the Kings (3): King Hezekiah

Hezekiah and Josiah were the two godliest descendents of David to sit on his throne. They responded wonderfully to God’s grace. The sovereign grace of God is seen in raising up Hezekiah, the son of wicked king Ahaz and, 57 years afterwards, Josiah, the son of wicked king Amon. While Hezekiah and Josiah were reigning, God blessed Judah, demonstrating the importance of good leadership.

Hezekiah is a remarkable king raised up by God to lead the people through one of the most crucial periods of the nation’s history. He led them successfully and he knew that the glory belonged to God (29:36). Hezekiah was truly an emergency man of God because Judah was at the point of dissolution. God used him for a recovery that gave Judah a fresh start and enabled them to remain in the land for almost a century and a half longer than the 10 northern tribes.

There are 11 chapters about Hezekiah, more than any of the other kings, with the exception of David and Solomon (2Kings 18-20; 2Chron 29-32; Isa 36-39). Important chapters about Hezekiah (2Chron 29-31) are not found elsewhere in Scripture.

The revival that took place in Hezekiah’s day began at the right time and in the right place. “In the first year of his reign in the first month” (2Chron 29:3). Verse 17 adds that it was the first day. It is easier to take the right stand at the beginning than to shift to it afterwards. To give up bad habits by degrees is not promising.There should be no hesitation when conscience has no doubts and the Word of God is clear.

The Psalmist says, “I made haste and delayed not to keep Thy commandments”(119:60). Any Christian troubled with a bad habit, does not get the victory by giving it up gradually, but decisively.

Hezekiah also began in the right place. Judah was paying tribute to the Assyrians. Hezekiah knew that the most important thing was a right relationship with God. Only then could they count on God to help them against their enemies. Hezekiah was following the priority that the Lord Jesus Christ enunciated many years later in Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Hezekiah’s revival began in his heart: “Now it is in my heart” (29:10). God’s interests so gripped Hezekiah that he was able, with the guidance of God, to affect the hearts of all God’s people. “Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and the princes, by the Word of the Lord” (30:12). In 31:21 we read, “And in every work that he began … he did it with all his heart, and prospered.”

As a wise king, he assembled the priests and Levites for the work of cleansing the temple, work that only they could do (29:4-11). The priests alone (v16) cleansed the inner sanctuary of the house of the Lord (from which the Levites were excluded).

Hezekiah’s wisely written invitation to the 10 northern tribes inviting them to come to Jerusalem for the Passover was both loving and humbling. His very first words, “Ye children of Israel,” are followed by his appeal to “turn again to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel” (30:6), adding force to the use of the name “Israel,” in reference to all of Abraham’s descendents. Hezekiah is not being pharisaical, for he used similar words in speaking to the priests and Levites (29:6-9).

It is sad to read the response of those first recorded as receiving the message, “they laughed them to scorn and mocked them” (30:10). It is encouraging to read in verse 11, “nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.” Humility was necessary to receive the invitation but they shared in the great gladness (v21), gladness (v23), rejoicing (v25) and great joy (v26).

Hezekiah was the third king of Judah to be faced with an enemy (32:9-22) after pleasing God. The others were Asa in 14:9-13 and Jehoshaphat in 20:1-30. Each time God was glorified by a miraculous deliverance of each of these kings who trusted Him.

In 11 verses (32:9-19) the Chronicler condensed 30 verses of Kings to describe taunting verbal attacks. The main effect of all the provocative insulting speeches was to drive Hezekiah and Isaiah to prayer. Both of these men felt keenly the dishonor done to the Lord, and were moved to heartfelt prayer. The Lord answered those prayers by sending an angel that destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in one night (2Kings 19:15).

In answer to Hezekiah’s prayer when he was seriously ill, God gave him 15 more years of life. At that time, Hezekiah had a good resolve (recorded in Isaiah 38:15). “I shall go softly all my years.” It would have been very good if he had kept that resolution.

How sad to read in 32:25, “He rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up. Therefore there was wrath upon him and Jerusalem and Judah.” Thankfully, the next verse tells us, “notwithstanding, Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of God came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.”

The Chronicler also wants us to remember Hezekiah’s “good deeds” (RV), rather than his failings. In 2 Kings 18:5, he excelled in trusting God. His prayers were part of his good deeds (v31), and that is an encouraging fact about him.

God answers the prayers of those who trust Him. The last 13 verses record three answers to prayer: 1) against the Assyrians in v21; 2) regarding his sickness in v24; and 3) his forgiveness in verse 26.