The Book of Isaiah
James J. Barker


Lesson 34
KING HEZEKIAH’S GREAT BLUNDER

Text: ISAIAH 39:1-8


INTRODUCTION:


1.     Up until now, Isaiah has been dealing with Judah’s great enemy, Assyria.  But things change here in chapter 39.  Now their great adversary will be Babylon.

2.     Up until this time Assyria overshadowed Babylon.  Babylon was not yet the great head of gold, spoken of by Daniel the prophet in Daniel 2:38.  That would be about 100 years later.

3.     It has been pointed out that after great spiritual victories, there often comes great spiritual failures.  For example, in I Kings 18 we read of the prophet Elijah’s great victory over the prophets of Baal. 

4.     Immediately after that great victory, Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah, and Elijah ran for his life.  After a day’s journey into the wilderness, he sat down under a juniper tree and asked God to kill him (I Kings 19:4).

5.     Many other examples could be given.  We see it here in Isaiah 39. King Hezekiah was threatened by the Assyrians.  King Hezekiah prayed and God told him not to worry about the Assyrians.  God said that He would take care of the Assyrians.

6.     Then King Hezekiah was told to set his house in order.  God told him he was going to die (Isa. 38:1).  So King Hezekiah prayed and God graciously gave him an additional 15 years to live (38:5).

7.     News of King Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery reached the land of Babylon (39:1).  This sets the stage for King Hezekiah’s great blunder.  This story is also recorded in II Kings 20:12-19.

 

I. KING HEZEKIAH’S GREAT BLUNDER

II. THE PROPHET ISAIAH’S PROPHECY

III. KING HEZEKIAH’S STRANGE RESPONSE

 

I. KING HEZEKIAH’S GREAT BLUNDER (39:1-4).

1.     The kings of Judah had amassed great wealth, going back to the days of King David and King Solomon.  Second Chronicles 32:27-29 says, “And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels; Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks. Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.”

2.     In other words, King Hezekiah was very wealthy.  Second Chronicles 32:29 says, “God had given him substance very much.”

3.     Sometimes we forget who really owns our house, our car, our possessions, our bank account, etc.

4.     Every thing we have comes from God.  James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”

5.     John the Baptist said, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

6.     First Samuel 2:7 says, “The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.”

7.     Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”

8.     Psalm 50:10-12 says, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

9.     This is the idea behind Christian stewardship.  Everything we have belongs to God.  We are only stewards and we will have to give an account to God some day for everything He has entrusted to us.

10. Second Chronicles 32:31 says God was testing King Hezekiah.  He could be testing you and me.   Would we pass the test?

11. When King Hezekiah received a threatening letter from the king of Assyria, he “spread it before the LORD” (Isa. 37:14).  But when he received a get-well card and a present from the king of Babylon he apparently did not bother to pray (39:1).

12. Harry Ironside said, “The letter that is accompanied with a present may cover up a far greater danger than the letter of blasphemy.” 

13. King Hezekiah was too self-confident. Rather than pray, King Hezekiah “was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, etc.” (39:2).

14. There is an expression that crooks and robbers use.  They say that before they rob a home or a business, they often “case the place.”  The covetous Babylonians were busy casing the place while foolish King Hezekiah gave them a grand tour of his palace.

15. Why would King Hezekiah foolishly show all his wealth and armour to his heathen visitors?  It was his pride. 

16. I read this interesting warning about pride the other day:

As thou desirest the love of God and man, beware of pride. It is a tumour in the mind that breaks and poisons all thy actions: it is a worm in thy treasure, which eats and ruins thy estate; it loves no man – is beloved of no man; it disparages virtue in another by detraction; it disrewards goodness in itself by vain-glory: the friend of the flatterer, the mother of envy, the nurse of fury, the sin of devils, and the devil of mankind: it hates superiors, it scorns inferiors, it owns no equals; – in short, till thou hate it, God hates
thee” (from David Cloud’s FRIDAY CHURCH NEWS NOTES, August 10, 2007).

17. We know from the account recorded in II Chronicles that King Hezekiah had a problem with pride (cf. II Chron. 32:23, 25).

18. God dealt with Hezekiah’s pride.  According to II Chronicles 32:31, the visit from the Babylonian ambassadors was a trial sent by the LORD to test King Hezekiah.   Unfortunately, King Hezekiah failed this important test.

19. Here is an interesting quote from Harry Bultema’s commentary on the book of Isaiah: “Hezekiah knew what Babylon was from Isaiah’s descriptions.  He should have told the Babylonians of the glory of Israel’s God and praise the grace bestowed upon him to them.  He should have witnessed in love to them about their abominable idolatry.  He should not have displayed his treasures to them but the treasures of the grace of God.”

 

II. THE PROPHET ISAIAH’S PROPHECY (39:5-7).

1.     Isaiah’s prophecy was literally fulfilled several generations later, during the reign of King Jehoiachin (cf. II Kings 24:8-13). 

2.     Isaiah’s prophecy is the first explicit announcement of the future Babylonian captivity of Judah. 

3.     It appears that King Hezekiah was planning on forming an alliance with Babylon against their mutual enemy Assyria.  But God had already shown Hezekiah the vanity of all worldly power (cf. Isa. 37:33-38).  

4.     This is probably why King Hezekiah did not answer Isaiah’s first question (39:3).  The ambassadors from Babylon were probably discussing “diplomacy” with King Hezekiah.

5.     The LORD wanted King Hezekiah to trust in Him and not in worldly diplomacy and heathen alliances.

6.     God had already told Judah not to trust in any alliance with Assyria or with Egypt.  Now it appears that King Hezekiah was trying to work together with Babylon.

7.     Egypt, Assyria, and then Babylon.  This reminds us that the devil will keep coming at us.  Satan is a roaring lion, walking about, “seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).

8.     Pride is Satanic.   First Timothy 3:6 warns of being “lifted up with pride” and falling into “the condemnation of the devil.”

 

III. KING HEZEKIAH’S STRANGE RESPONSE (39:8).

1.     I would expect a response like this from a wicked and worldly king, but I am surprised that a godly king would say such a thing (39:8).

2.     In fairness to King Hezekiah, he was polite and respectful to Isaiah.  Some people (especially kings) do not take correction well. 

3.     King Hezekiah’s response sounds like humble submission to God’s will: “Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken” (39:8; cf. II Chron. 32:24-26). 

4.     But Hezekiah’s words also indicate selfish self-interest: “For there shall be peace and truth in my days” (39:8b).  What about the days after he is gone?

5.     King Hezekiah does not seem to show any concern for his descendants, who will be “eunuchs (castrated servants) in the palace of the king of Babylon” (39:7).

6.     Hezekiah cried when he was told he would die (38:1-5).  But when he was told that his sons would be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon, he seemed content (39:8).

7.     Daniel chapter 1 describes the literal fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

8.     These are the last recorded words of King Hezekiah.

 

CONCLUSION:

1.     What is the lesson learned from this story?   One: beware of pride.  Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame.”

2.     Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

3.     Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride shall bring him low.”

4.     Furthermore, when believers are overtaken by pride, they tend to get their eyes off the Lord.  While King Hezekiah was enjoying his fame and wealth and popularity, he was apparently neglecting his spiritual life. 

5.     Once a believer ceases to pray and read his Bible he is easily overtaken by sin.  I know preachers who were at one time very popular and successful.  They were given honorary doctorate degrees, invited to preach in many big schools and churches, had their sermons featured in various Christian publications, etc. 

6.     But they got proud and they fell into sin and now they are no longer in the ministry.



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