Hezekiah’s Illness and Recovery
20 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, “Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.” And Isaiah said, “Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover.”
And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the LORD on the third day?” And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?” And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.” And Isaiah the prophet called to the LORD, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.
Hezekiah and the Babylonian Envoys
At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” He said, “What have they seen in your house?” And Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?”
The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah and all his might and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son reigned in his place.
2 Kings 20 Commentary
by Hank Workman
If you knew how long you had to live, would it make a difference in how you lived?
Let’s set the stage here. Over a 100 year period, Hezekiah was the only faithful God-fearing king. Life physically turned and he became ill. Isaiah told him to put his house in order for he would not recover. Traumatized by this news, Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall and pleaded with God to heal him. He recounted to Him his faithfulness through his tenure as leader. God heard his prayer and even before Isaiah had left the premises was told to go back and let Hezekiah know he would not die but be given 15 years more to his life.
What an astounding thought. God heard Hezekiah’s prayer, he answered his pleas, and gave him more years of life!
But a strange thing would take place because of it. At this point, Babylon was a junior player on the world stage of politics. Their desire was to ultimately throw off the yoke of Assyria to the nations they had a grip on and bring alliances. Of course, as we know from history not only in time did they wipe out the Assyrians; they would become a dominating world force. In actuality, a world force that would eventually take Judah into captivity.
And so, a letter was sent and a consequent envoy from Babylon arrived in a gesture of Hezekiah’s health recovery. But there was more to this – they were maneuvering Judah to join with them to overthrow Assyria. And here’s where Hezekiah’s behavior turned strange. He was so pleased with this visit, he threw open his vaults showing all the riches the kingdom had.
It was nothing more than a proud foolishness that stirred within to impress.
Hezekiah had been a very faithful king. He was godly and victorious in his endeavors. He had a remarkable relationship with the prophet Isaiah, which often was overlooked in the past by other kings. God had honored his request and answered his prayers… many of them in fact. But his material pride got in the way. Although he had been miraculously healed by God, he failed to give that credit at all to the men. He trusted far more at this point in political alliances than the God who had healed him.
The reality was this ‘show and tell’ moment would come back as when the Babylonians gained power not only did they know everything Judah had in riches, they knew exactly where it was located!
The story is a reminder. Even when we are faithful, we wrestle with things – like our pride. It comes in sneakily and often has us overlook the God of our life for our own accomplishments and status. A place where God has graciously elevated us to.
2 Kings 20 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Through all of Hezekiah’s successes, we finally come to a weakness. It is a strange chapter in which many commentators are divided with their analysis.
In this story, God speaks to Hezekiah four times. The first of these revelations informs Hezekiah that he will die from the disease he is suffering from. The beauty of what follows is that the Lord shows mercy on Hezekiah. The text literally reads, “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. I will heal you.” This is an amazing revelation into the response of our God during times of extreme grief and suffering.
Isaiah returns and informs Hezekiah he will be given 15 more years. This leads to a critically important question that will be answered by the text later.
Why did Hezekiah want to live longer?
Think about it. Why do you want to live a long, healthy life? Honestly, most people would say they want to spend time enjoying life with their family and friends. They want to see their grandkids grow up. They want to retire and be able to relax. None of this is sinful. That’s not my point. The real question becomes, are these things I’ve just mentioned the only reason for living a long, healthy life? More importantly, are they the primary reason for living a long, healthy life?
The story continues and reveals what Hezekiah did in the remaining time given to him by God. He met with the Babylonians and showed off his wealth. Was this sinful? Maybe. Was it foolish? Absolutely! Isaiah then confirms a message from God. Because the king has done this, all that is in his house will be carried off to Babylon including some of his sons.
To this Hezekiah responds…
Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good,” for he thought: Why not, if there will be peace and security during my lifetime?2 Kings 20:19 HCSB
I have to admit, when I first read Hezekiah’s response, I had to read it again. Did he really just say that? Does it mean what I think it means? Yes and yes.
Even if we give Hezekiah the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was accepting the Lord’s rebuke as “good,” his follow-up statement puts into perspective his attitude from the beginning. He was thinking of himself.
So let’s go back to the original question posed. Why did Hezekiah want to live another 15 years? Was it because he desired to give those 15 years to the Lord for the advancement of God’s glory… or was it all about Hezekiah? To me, we pick up several cues in this chapter that indicate a selfish attitude. The obscure statement to Isaiah in verse 19 is obvious, however, why did he desire to show off his riches to Babylon? The text reads, “he showed them his whole treasure house.” What else does it say? His armory. His oils. His treasuries.
His life. His 15 years. His kingdom. Look, Hezekiah was a God-fearing man. He was a good king. But the Bible is clear that even those who commit their ways to the Lord are susceptible to becoming selfish and comfortable. It begs the question, what are we really living for? This is a tough word. There are many days where I look over my day and consider how selfish I’ve been. An ungrateful heart is a breeding ground for selfish behavior, and we have all experienced it. Jesus, as always, gets directly to the heart of the issue.
The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.John 12:25-26 HCSB
What are you building… a storehouse of treasure here or a storehouse of treasure in eternity?