Hezekiah was a faithful king. Because of his faith, the Lord had given him fifteen extra years of life. And for His glory, the Lord had delivered Jerusalem from the hands of Assyria during Hezekiah’s reign. Isaiah gave Hezekiah God’s word, “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.” (2 Kings 20:6). Like many of us who have had spiritual triumphs, Hezekiah took credit for his faith and blessings himself. He didn’t turn from the Lord, he didn’t declare it to the world, he probably didn’t even say it to himself, but he did take pride in his good works. Pride doesn’t come in and announce itself; it is sly. Pride sneaks in and often we do not know it has taken a place in our hearts until it has placed us on the throne for a while.
Hezekiah had recovered but news of his illness had spread to a far off country, Babylon. Babylon was not a threat, they had barely heard of the country before. The king wanted his representatives to pay Hezekiah and Jerusalem, this city that had somehow not been conquered by Assyria when every nation around them had. They wanted to visit the king and ally themselves with him. Babylon worshipped the sun and the sun had taken 10 steps back for Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:11-12). They wanted Jerusalem on their side when they decided to usurp Assyria. Verses 12-13 read,
“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. 13 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.”
Hezekiah proudly showed off all that Jerusalem had, all their wealth, treasures, and weapons. He was pleased with himself for how he had rebuilt Jerusalem’s stocks and resources after Assyria had depleted them. But had pride not usurped the throne in Hezekiah’s heart, he would not have made his stores worthless by letting this nation see them. He didn’t know Babylon would be the worst enemy Israel and Judah had ever faced. But he should have known that Babylon was a servant to Assyria (2 Kings 17:24). He certainly should have known he did not need to make an alliance with idolaters (2 Corinthians 6:14). He should have known he did not need to impress Babylon or anyone else, He needed to only please The Lord. Jesus spoke about the danger of seeking praise from men instead of The Lord. John 5:44 reads,
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
But self-satisfaction clouded the king’s judgement. The Lord sent Isaiah to Hezekiah immediately. Verses 14-18 read,
“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.” 15 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.”
16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: 17 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. 18 And some of your own sons, who shall be born to you, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Imagine hearing that everything you have worked for will be gone in the next generation. Consider how you would feel to hear your own children would be mutilated and forced to serve a foreign king. Hezekiah had been reproofed by The Lord through Isaiah and he gave him the answer he thought Isaiah and the Lord wanted to hear. Verse 19 reads,
“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?”
Out loud he thanked Isaiah for the chastisement; he said what looked right. But in his heart, he didn’t care about his son’s reign or his other sons’ enslavement. He was just happy his reign would be okay. What happened to the man who had been told he would die but asked the Lord to let him live? What happened to the man who knew The Lord could and would do the impossible for him? What happened to Hezekiah’s deep faith? Pride had snuck in and knocked his faith out. Hezekiah had taken the lordship of his life away from The Lord.
Jerusalem no longer worshipped idols because of Hezekiah’s good works but now Hezekiah worshipped himself instead of God. He may not have realized this was the case. We usually don’t know it when we have taken the throne away from God. But God knows. He knows our hearts better than we do. (Jeremiah 17:10). That is why it is so important to ask Him to search our hearts for us and lead us back into alignment with His image. Psalm 139:23-24 reads,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
It is too easy to let pride sneak in and take over. It is not so easy to kick pride out so we can get off the throne and put The Lord to take reign of our lives again.