The Life and Times of Hezekiah the King – Segment 3: One Life to Live!
NIV 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God.
1-11 The Extended Years
12-21 The Trying Years
We come to the closing days of the life and times of Hezekiah the king. Strangely, when coming to the conclusion of his life, from the 2 Kings point-of-view, we’re left with a semi-bad taste in our mouths. It’s not a hideous flavor or revolting in anyway; it’s just that when reading the book of 2 Kings we conclude with the second major failure of Hezekiah’s life. Very few words are written remind us of the great things this king accomplished over his lifespan. There is a significant verse from this passage that tells us we need to look elsewhere to be reminded of his greatness:
Message Bible: 2 Kings 20:20 The rest of the life and times of Hezekiah, along with his projects, especially the way he engineered the Upper Pool and brought water into the city, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.
When it comes to 2 Kings, for some reason the author found it more fit to show Hezekiah’s greatness at His start rather than his conclusion. Let me give a brief overview of His life.
NIV: 2 Kings 18:5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook…
Reading this chapter, before we accuse Hezekiah and close his life with negativity, it’s wise to remember there were no other kings among all the kings of Judah that trusted the Lord as he did. Verse 6 reminds us that he didn’t cease from following God. Though we read of two significant failures, the one thing this king always did was turn back to the Lord with his whole heart. In fact, God was so impressed with this man we are told there were special benefits given to Hezekiah that few men have ever experienced, let alone kings allowed to enjoy.
The first special benefit was his success! We read that in every undertaking of Hezekiah’s, the Lord granted him accomplishment. To me, that’s pretty impressive. I’m not sure why specifically it’s left to Hezekiah to enjoy such success, in my jealousy I wish I could say I had this deep satisfaction of ability in everything I do. These chapters give details of what Hezekiah’s life looked like in real time so to speak. In my estimation he made some major errors. The turning over of all the treasures in the House of God doesn’t appear to me as particularly a wise move. The Assyrian empire threatening Jerusalem and waiting for opportunity to destroy the king and his kingdom doesn’t make Hezekiah appear so successful either. The fact this heathen nation bullied him creates doubt in my thinking Hezekiah was as strong as I first believed.
Or, maybe I need to redefine my meaning of success. I’ve always equated success as wealth, happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, prosperity; and the like. With what I learn from reading the life and times of Hezekiah, maybe I need a paradigm shift on what success is. Could it be I’m a bit more successful in Christ than I think? Could it be that’s why 2 Kings gives me the greatness of this man at the beginning of his reign? This way I tangibly see what the definition of success is to God and His viewpoint is a little different from mine?
I’ve looked at Hezekiah’s life as developed in 2 Kings as a three-segment story. The first segment of his days is learning how to reign. He’s bold, filled with initiative for God, and discovers that being such can get you into trouble. Here’s where, in my mind, he makes the awful mistake of giving the riches of the House of God to the king of Assyria to pacify him. The second segment of Hezekiah’s life is the discovery God is faithful and to be relied on in trouble. We’re told he learns the value of trusting God like no other king before or after him would.
Now we come to the third segment of the life and times of Hezekiah the king. This will define the second special benefit this king received. While at the pinnacle of his career, very possibly only 39 years of age, he receives bad news about his health. Somehow Hezekiah becomes ill and his sickness is a troublesome burden to this great king. Isaiah the prophet arrives with a word from the Lord to confirm what he may have feared:
NIV 1 The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
Now, when I read this I think, what’s the big deal Godly king Hezekiah; to be absent from the body is to be home with the Lord, right? At least, that’s what the Apostle Paul thought about death. But, you know, death is never quite that simple—especially at 39 years old. It would be great to say we can look in the face of death and laugh our silly heads off. But life is not that trivial, it is complex with things we wish we’d accomplished and things we want to resolve. Paul, evidently, had accomplished and resolved things that Hezekiah hadn’t—and that’s ok too.
Just because we weep when faced with mortality doesn’t make us less spiritual, it means we’re human! Death is extremely final and unnatural in a lot of ways. The human spirit and soul are designed for eternity, not extermination. We naturally want to live, not die! Life, or a life, is not to be undervalued. The Lord asks, “What can a man give in exchange for his soul?” for a reason. Living is what we do, we are designed to live, and surrendering to death is only the delight of the truly macabre.
That’s the theme of the first section, Hezekiah confronting his mortality and reminding God how he walked.
We start with the “The Extended Years” of Ahaz the king in Part 2.
J. Robert Hanson