Song of Hezekiah

Song of Hezekiah

Song of Hezekiah.

Please read Isaiah 38.

AUTHOR. Hezekiah definitely had a spotty record, but he generally did “what was good and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.” He was made king after the evil reign of his father Ahaz. At the age of 25, shortly after beginning his reign around 726 BC, Hezekiah earnestly began a major religious reform movement… He reopened the Temple and purified it;; he tore down and got rid of all the idols in the land; he rededicated the temple so it would be used again as the national place of worship of the Lord; he initiated and led the nation in a celebration of the Passover after many years of neglect. During his finer moments, he “sought his God wholeheartedly.” Hezekiah led the nation in one of its greatest revivals, and was a successful king in many ways.

CONTEXT OF SONG. After being delivered from the Assyrians and enjoying some wealth and fame, Hezekiah contracted some form of a skin disease that resulted in boils. One of the boils must have gotten infected, and he became deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah to get his things in order, because he was sure to die soon. Hezekiah wept, turning his face to the wall in sorrow, reminding the Lord of his single-minded faithfulness. The Lord had pity and healed Hezekiah. God had Isaiah prepare a special ointment of figs to apply to the boil, and sure enough Hezekiah was miraculously healed. After the healing, Hezekiah wrote this song around 713 BC to describe his thinking during his sickness and recovery.

THE SONG. At the beginning of the song Hezekiah questioned why he would have been struck down “at the prime of his life,” “robbed” of the rest of his years. He was troubled that he would never see the Lord in the temple, never again able to worship and praise Him. He poetically wondered why his life would be blown away, “like a shepherd’s tent in a storm,” like a “weaver cut off from the loom.” He described how he moaned, he complained, he wept in bitterness. He was in anguish and cried for help from the Lord. Then he rejoiced in his healing, saying that his anguish was good for him. He sang that the Lord’s discipline was actually beneficial, for it led to his health and life. He closed by celebrating the fact that he was now able to “sing with stringed instruments” all the days of his life.

LOVE AND DELIVER. Verse 17 contains a fascinating statement from Hezekiah. He claims that the Lord literally, “loved my soul out of the pit.” In this case the Lord didn’t need to shame or browbeat Hezekiah into forgiveness. God loved him into deliverance by simply forgiving Hezekiah and putting his sins behind His back. God turned His back on Hezekiah’s sins, and loved him out of the pit. The Hebrew word for love in this verse has roots in a combination of love, delight in, and deliver. The Lord delivered Hezekiah because He loved and delighted in him. One thinks of Jesus on the cross, loving us out of the pit of judgment, putting our sins behind His back, because He delights in us.

LIFE WITH HEZEKIAH. He certainly had a life of dramatic ups and downs. His roller-coaster journey keeps us dizzy as we observe his timeline, going from the top to the bottom and back again several times. Is his life so very different from ours? (refer to Isaiah 38, II Kings 20, II Chronicles 29-32).

Top: Soon after gaining the throne, Hezekiah undertakes religious reforms and is successful in leading the way to an impressive national revival. Under his leadership, Jerusalem returns to the Lord.

Bottom: Assyrian lays siege to Jerusalem and engages in mockery of Jahweh, Judah’s God.

Top: The Lord delivers Jerusalem from the Assyrian forces when Hezekiah and his forces were facing certain defeat.

Bottom: Hezekiah then contracts a deadly disease from an infected boil. Isaiah brings a word from the Lord to Hezekiah, telling him he will surely die soon. Hezekiah wept bitterly and asked God to heal him.

Top: Hezekiah is mercifully healed by the Lord, and is given 15 more years of life, hence the Song of Hezekiah (Is. 38).

Bottom: He becomes prideful, and the Lord’s anger burned against him and Jerusalem.

Top: Hezekiah repents of his pridefulness and humbles himself before the Lord. He is given wealth and fame from the Lord.

Bottom: The Lord wanted to test Hezekiah’s character, so He withdrew His favor for a season. Hezekiah didn’t respond to the Lord’s liking, offering a prideful demonstration to envoys from Babylon. He claimed full credit for his fame and fortune and bragged about his accomplishments. The Lord vows to punish him by taking away his treasures and his kingly heritage after he has died.

Top: Hezekiah accepts the punishment of the Lord after Isaiah tells him about God’s judgment.

Bottom: In his heart, Hezekiah is concerned in the end only about himself. He is selfishly thankful that the punishment will come after he has died. So Hezekiah dies and is buried. His evil son Manasseh takes the throne and promptly undoes all of Hezekiah’s reforms, bringing back idol worship, witchcraft, sorcery, false gods in the temple, and child sacrifice.

It seems Hezekiah was his own worst enemy. His spirit was willing, but often his flesh was weak. In the end, Hezekiah was unable to live up to his promise in his song, “I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul.” (Is. 38:15).

PRIDE. With Hezekiah, and with us, pride was always only one weak moment away. Pride is like a coiled snake in the heart, always ready to uncoil and strike when the time is right. There is only one thing we can do with the snake… starve it with a steady diet of the Holy Spirit. Starve the snake, don’t feed it. Only the Spirit, who forms the character of Jesus in us, can keep the snake from feeding on its food of ambition, accomplishment and ego. Jesus has the humble character of a servant. And only He can keep us from feeding the snake of pride in our hearts.