By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiahs-pride-part-5-isaiah-devotional-journal-85/.
2 Chronicles 32 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Nine: Hezekiah’s Pride
Not to Be Found in Isaiah
Hezekiah’s pride is not to be found in Isaiah. Readers must intuit his pride from context alone. We’ve been considering this king’s life for the past several posts. In Isaiah 39, it appears that King Hezekiah naively followed a prideful desire to boast over his wealth to a visitor from a far off land (Isaiah 39:2). Turns out, this man was the son of the king of Babylon. Babylon would one day rob the entire wealth of Jerusalem. They would also carry into captivity Hezekiah’s progeny. Babylon would make some of them eunuchs in the palace of its kings. Hezekiah responded to this prophecy from Isaiah with gratitude–gratitude that in his own day there would be peace and righteousness (Isaiah 39:8). Was this pride on Hezekiah’s part? Perhaps just plain selfishness? How can a reader be sure? Isaiah makes no comment. The book simply states the facts.
We’ve studied nearly everything the Bible reports concerning Hezekiah.
- His personal worship and leadership in spiritual revival of the nation (2 Chronicles 29-31; 2 Kings 18:3-6).
- The miraculous salvation of Jerusalem from the army of the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:13-19:37; 2 Chronicles 32:1-22; Isaiah 36-37).
- The supernatural sign God gave Hezekiah when he healed him from a mortal illness (2 Kings 20:1-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24; Isaiah 38).
Hezekiah was an amazing king, yet he wasn’t perfect. Nevertheless, by reading Isaiah alone, readers would be given no insights into the causes of what by our standards appears to be his poor behavior in chapter 39. Nor would the book of 2 Kings help explain his behavior and reactions concerning Babylon. In fact, 2 Kings 18:3-7a and 2 Kings 20:20-21 give him much approbation. Fortunately for biblical readers, however, 2 Chronicles 32 provides details that help fill in the backstory.
2 Chronicles Reveals the Backstory
I The People Loved Hezekiah
King Hezekiah had won the hearts of his people when he was still young. He cleansed the nation of its idols (2 Kings 18:3-4). He instituted a series of religious reforms (2 Chronicles 29:3-36) and caused Passover to be celebrated in a biblical way for the first time in generations (2 Chronicles 30:26). The people were so glad in this, that they extended the Passover for a second week beyond what Moses prescribed in the law (2 Chronicles 30:23). They also expressed their pleasure with their king by bringing the full quantity of tithes and offerings (2 Chronicles 31:6-9). Even further, the people voluntarily went out into the cities of Judah and cleansed them of the objects of idol worship (2 Chronicles 31:1).
So far, so good. Hezekiah responded to all this in a way that was “good and right before the Lord his God.”
2 Chronicles 31:20 And Hezekiah did so through all Judah, and did that which was good and right before the Lord his God. 21 And in every work which he began in service in the house of the Lord, and in the law, and in the ordinances, he sought his God with all his soul, and wrought, and prospered. (CAB, LXE)
II They Continue to Obey and Love Him
When Assyria showed up at the walls of Jerusalem with a huge army, the people continued to display their approval of their king, Hezekiah, in the way they obeyed him. They followed his instructions exactly (2 Kings 18:36; Isaiah 36:21). They remained quiet on the wall as Assyria’s king insulted their king, their nation, and their God. Such discipline could occur only because they liked and respected their king, Hezekiah.
III Military Preparations
Hezekiah was king throughout the siege and lockdown (1). He had stopped up the spring outside the walls (2 Chronicles 32:2-4). He had built a reservoir and aqueduct to bring water into the west side of the city of Jerusalem, away from the attacking army. This in itself was an amazing engineering feat (2 Kings 20:20). He built up all the old walls that had broken down, raised up towers for protection, and built another wall outside the first. He also repaired the fortress of the City of David and made many weapons (2 Chronicles 32:5). He organized his army into divisions and named captains over them (2 Chronicles 32:6). And, he encouraged his soldiers to trust and rely on the might of the “Lord our God,” who was on their side to fight with them (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). The people responded with their whole hearts to the words of their king.
…”with us is the Lord our God to save us, and to fight our battle.” And the people were encouraged at the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:8, CAB, LXE).
III The Saving Miracle
After years of austere living under vicious threats, delivery came. The whole city had been cooped up in a massive lockdown with the Assyrian army just outside their walls (Isaiah 37:30). No one went out, and no one came in. Then suddenly, in a stunning miracle, God slew the entire Assyrian army overnight (2 Chronicles 31:20-22; Isaiah 37:36). In order to understand the magnitude of this military defeat, it’s important to remember that Assyria to this point had remained unchallenged. Israel to the north had fallen, as well as all the outlying cities of Judah. Assyria had overrun every country they went up against. Jerusalem was the one hold-out–a single city. And herein lay the difficulty–the enormity of this miraculous deliverance.
Waking up and finding an army of 185,000 miraculously dead overnight, the joy and excitement in Jerusalem must have been overwhelming. People would talk about this. They would tell their friends and relatives in other places. News would spread to the rest of Judah, into Israel, and into nations beyond. There would be a clamor of celebration as the years-long threat suddenly ended. And Hezekiah was king…
IV The Celebration
Chronicles sums up the defeat of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in one sentence.
2 Chronicles 32:22 So the Lord delivered Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem out of the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria, and out of the hand of all his enemies, and gave them rest round about. (CAB, LXE)
And the whole land celebrated by sending gifts to Jerusalem and King Hezekiah.
2 Chronicles 32:23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah; and he was exalted in the eyes of all the nations after these things. (CAB, LXE)
Hezekiah reveled in the inflow of material goods that testified to the peoples’ adoration. But Chronicles records how he used this material thankfulness for his own benefit, rather than the benefit of the house of God.
2 Chronicles 32:27 And Hezekiah had wealth and very great glory. And he made for himself treasuries of gold, silver, and precious stones, also for spices and stores for arms, and for precious vessels; 28 and cities for the produce of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls and mangers for every kind of cattle, and folds for flocks; 29 and cities which he built for himself, and store of sheep and oxen in abundance, for the Lord gave him a very great store. (CAB, LXE)
V Victory Followed by Spiritual Failure
Celebration and rest, peace and safety…a period of relaxation after intense struggle and stress…how often this very thing leads to spiritual downfall. For the very next verses after the summary of victory over Assyria state this fact:
2 Chronicles 32: 24 In those days Hezekiah was sick even to death, and he prayed to the Lord. And He hearkened to him, and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not recompense the Lord according to the favor shown him, but his heart was lifted up. And wrath came upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. (CAB, LXE)
Chronicles records Hezekiah’s illness along with its report of Hezekiah’s fame. The biblical account further indicts Hezekiah.
2 Chronicles 32:31 Notwithstanding, in regard to the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who were sent to him, to inquire of him concerning the wonders which came upon the land, the Lord left him, to test him, to know what was in his heart.
Was Hezekiah’s illness part of the wrath of God that came upon him as a result of his heart being lifted up? (verse 25 above). Perhaps. Hezekiah humbled himself in the face of his illness, “he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32:26). Therefore, God postponed his wrath, so that it did not fall in Hezekiah’s lifetime. Overall, then, it would seem that Hezekiah fared well in his dealings with the Lord.
2 Chronicles 32:26 And Hezekiah humbled himself after the exaltation of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. (CAB, LXE)
Would We Behave Differently?
It seems so easy to read Isaiah 39 in isolation and glibly condemn Hezekiah for what appears to be his hardness of heart. But, let’s be honest with ourselves, would we behave differently under similar circumstances?
Spiritual successes seem always accompanied by the temptation to spiritual pride. Hezekiah experienced enormous spiritual and practical success. God blessed him with two supernatural miracles (overnight defeat of the Assyrians and the shadow of the sun moving backwards). As a result of these, he received immense praise and adoration from his own people and their neighbors. In the end, his several successes in the area of faithful obedience to the Lord led him to succumb to pride.
Is Hezekiah so very different or worse than everyone else? Just think of all the biblical characters in the Old Testament. How many fell when tempted with spiritual pride? Then think of our modern day spiritual heroes and giants of the Christian faith. Have not many of these fallen? Satan’s great sin was pride. Moses struck the rock in his pride. David grew spiritually lax after his military victories. Solomon, to whom the Lord appeared twice (1 Kings 11:12), fell away and ended up worshipping pagan gods. King Saul grew prideful in his heart and turned away from the Lord. Satan in Luke 4 appealed to human pride when tempting God’s Son. But Jesus had none.
It is not for no reason that Jesus pronounces blessing upon the meek and lowly (Matthew 5:3, 4, 5). Humbleness before the Lord is one of the first requirements of spiritual blessing and success. It seems that various modes of pain keep the human heart humble. The Apostle Paul states this fact directly.
2 Corinthians 12:7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! (NAU) (3)
A Warning for Us All
As stated previously, Scripture devotes eleven entire chapters, spread over three different books, to speak about King Hezekiah. Therefore, he must be important. At the very least, he provides great warning for Christians of all stations in life. The warning is to pay attention constantly and take heed to the movements of our own heart. Neither greatness nor smallness is sufficient protection against pride. And rather than shield us from pride, past spiritual successes work the opposite effect. They cause us to be susceptible to the temptation of the first and greatest sin. The great sin of pride is that it causes us to value ourselves more than we value God.
I would even go so far as to say that when we suffer as Christians, there is at least one thing for which we can thank God in the midst of our pain. We can thank him that the enduring the pain of our trial humbles us to the point that we cry out to him. Crying out to God is the antidote of a prideful heart.
Apology and Conclusion
These last posts of Isaiah concerning King Hezekiah have gone way over the limits of “short and concise.” This post is already exceptionally long. I apologize for that. My thoughts on Hezekiah were like a tough plant with deep roots that didn’t want to be pulled out. King Hezekiah has always been one of my favorite biblical characters. I’ve known him for many years in some of the most difficult seasons of my life. He has been an example to me in many ways.
This post is also the end of Volume One of Isaiah Devotional Journal. We’ve seen in these thirty-nine chapters that Israel the northern kingdom failed God’s purpose for them as his ambassadors to the world. Judah failed as well, as did all the nations under the sun. None of the nations represented God’s heart of integrity and love to their neighbors. They failed to live out fully and continuously God’s plan of obedience and blessing. Isaiah also pointed strongly towards Messiah, God’s own, special envoy, who will succeed in all God intends for him. Volume Two will point to Messiah even more strongly than these first thirty-nine chapters.
1 2 Kings 19 records two separate waves of assault by Assyria on Jerusalem, whereas 2 Chronicles compresses Assyria’s military activity into one account (2 Chronicles 32).
2 2 Chronicles 32:24 tells the entire story of Hezekiah’s miraculous healing with a single verse. For a complete account of this episode, see Isaiah 38 and 2 Kings 20:1-11.
3 Although the text’s double use of the phrase, “to keep me from exalting myself” may seem awkward and of poor style in English, Paul does indeed use the exact words twice in one sentence for emphasis.