Hezekiah - The devoted king - Part 3
John Griffiths, Port Talbot, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
The supernatural years after recovery – from 39 to 54 years of age
Ahaz rejected the sign offered by the Lord, Isa. 7. 11, but his son Hezekiah requested a sign.1 Therefore The Lord ‘brought the shadow ten degrees backward by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz’, 2 Kgs. 20. 11. Did God reverse the planet’s cycle? Did time go backwards? It seems fantastic but God prolonged the hours of daylight for nearly twenty-four hours for Israel to defeat their enemy!2 Contrast this with Matthew chapter 12 verse 39. God gives signs to Joshua, Gideon and Hezekiah, but not to apostate Israel.
Isa. 38. 10-20.
Only two psalms are found outside the Psalter: one in Habakkuk 3, and the other here.3 His psalm is in two parts:
Hezekiah’s Great Grief, vv. 10-14, with four metaphors of his perplexity – tent; weaver; lion; birds.
Hezekiah ‘s Great Gratitude, vv. 15-20, with three declarations of his purpose – ‘I shall go softly’ (or humbly); ‘the father to the children shall make known thy truth’; ‘praise thee as I do this day’.
Hezekiah uses his experience to teach the people about the Lord and His ways through Hebrew poetry, and God puts us through experiences that we might be of help to others in similar circumstances.4
‘But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up . . . notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart’, 2 Chr. 32. 25, 26. cp. Rom. 12. 3.
Babylon heard of his miraculous recovery and the sundial regressing ten degrees, as well as being aware of the ‘victory’ over Assyria. Doubtless, they were seeking an alliance with Hezekiah. The letters and gifts from the king served their purpose. Flattered by their attention, he let pride get the better of him and offered his visitors the grand tour. They assessed his wealth and military prowess in order to gain an ally against Assyria. Isaiah roundly condemns him for his actions, prophesying that Babylon would take Judah into captivity. This occurred 100 years later. Hezekiah’s self-humbling and subjection to God’s word meant that the prophecy would not be fulfilled in his lifetime. ‘Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken . . . for there shall be peace and truth in my days’, Isa. 39. 8.
Pride is one of the sins that God hates. When overcome by sin let us take a leaf out of Hezekiah’s book . . . self-judgement and subjection to God’s word. We must beware lest we sin when God tests us. Hezekiah’s lapse is described thus, ‘God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart’, 2 Chr. 32. 31. How do we respond to trial and testing?
Isa. 38. 20; Prov. 25. 1.
This was the golden literary age in Judah. Hezekiah writes psalms and songs for use in the temple. He sets up a group of spiritual men who are literary scholars to copy out the proverbs of Solomon. It is believed that they may well have engaged in similar work on the books of Genesis through to 2 Kings. They carry the royal seal of Hezekiah apparently. 5
‘And they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David’, 2 Chr. 32. 33.
The political account adds ‘and all his might’; the priestly record appends ‘and his goodness’; the prophet Isaiah concludes with, ‘For there shall be peace and truth in my days’.
Despite some serious mistakes in appeasing Assyria and welcoming the Babylonian ambassadors, each account concludes with a favourable obituary. Here is a good king of Judah whose heart was right before God, he began well and ended well.
He loved his God and was beloved of his people, ‘and all Judah and
. . . Jerusalem did him honour at his death’, 2 Chr. 32. 33. How might our obituary read?
- What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me?’ 2 Kgs. 20. 8.
- Josh. 10. 12-14.
- 2 Samuel chapter 22 verses 2-51 is almost identical with Psalm 18.
- 2 Cor. 1. 4.
- See J. Sidlow-Baxter’s Explore the Book, Vol. 2; p. 147. Dr. John Lightfoot and Dr. Thirtle independently put forward the view that Psalms 120-134 are the songs of Isaiah chapter 38 verse 20. They are ‘songs of degrees’, or steps. The only biblical reference to ‘degrees’ is in the account of Hezekiah and his father’s sundial. There are fifteen psalms of degrees corresponding to the fifteen years extension granted to Hezekiah. Ten are ‘anonymous’ relating to the ten degrees by which the sundial regressed. The central song is attributed to Solomon and four to David: fifteen in all. See also: The Companion Bible, App. 67, p. 97; Mark These Men, J. Sidlow-Baxter pp. 121-134; Explore the Book, J. Sidlow-Baxter Vol. 2, pp. 146ff; Exploring the Psalms, Dr. J. Phillips Vol. 5, pp. 8ff; Old Testament Problems, Dr. James W. Thirtle 1907. Old Testament Chronology, Dr. John Lightfoot 1602-1675.