Hezekiah, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 19, 2022 1 comments

by Katie Erickson

After Judah experienced the evil reign of King Ahaz for 16 years, his son Hezekiah took over the throne. While King Ahaz was one of the evilest kings of Judah, Hezekiah was one of the best. His reign is described in 2 Kings 18-20 and also 2 Chronicles 29-32.

The summary of King Hezekiah’s reign is found in 2 Kings 18:3-7: “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. … 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. He held fast to the LORD and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”

In short, King Hezekiah was a model king. He followed God, got rid of all evidence of idols that the people had been worshiping, and continually trusted in God. Because of that, God blessed him and gave him success in everything that he did. King Hezekiah even rebelled against Assyria, which is significant because the northern kingdom of Israel was giving into Assyria’s takeover around that same time, under the leadership of King Hoshea.

The capture of the northern kingdom of Israel is described under King Hezekiah’s reign in 2 Kings 18:9-12. The goodness of King Hezekiah is contrasted with the evilness of the nation of Israel and its kings by showing that Israel was captured and the people were deported to Assyria, away from their land. The account makes it clear that this was because they disobeyed God, in contrast to King Hezekiah’s obedience.

But, that doesn’t mean Judah was safe from all attacks. Ten years later, Sennacherib the king of Assyria attacked and captured the fortified cities of Judah. Assyria was geographically located north of Israel, so they just continued their destructive journey southward through Israel and then into Judah. King Hezekiah realized that his nation could easily be overtaken by the Assyrians, so he reached out to strike a bargain with the foreign nation. Sennacherib asked for what amounts to 11 tons of silver and 1 ton of gold. King Hezekiah went above and beyond that, emptying all the silver in the temple and even taking the gold off the doors and doorposts of the temple.

But that didn’t satisfy Sennacherib’s greed; he suspected there would be much more wealth where that came from. So, Sennacherib sent a message to King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:19-25. In it, he points out first that King Hezekiah should not trust him, and then he suggests that King Hezekiah and his army are not as strong as they think they are. Sennacherib implies that all wars are won with the strength of the army and the number of chariots. He even calls out King Hezekiah’s faith and trust in God as bigotry and says that God was the one who told Assyria to attach the nation of Judah!

Sennacherib’s messenger tries to convince the people in Jerusalem who were within earshot that they could not trust King Hezekiah. He repeatedly says that the people should not listen to King Hezekiah, and he promises them rewards for listening to him and Assyria instead. The Assyrians claim that no god has ever delivered them; however, the flaw in their plan was that all the other gods are not like the one true God.

King Hezekiah was distressed by this message from the Assyrians, and his advisors went to Isaiah the prophet about the situation. But, Isaiah had an encouraging word from God for them: “This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword” (2 Kings 19:6-7). Word of this got back to Sennacherib, who again tried to dissuade King Hezekiah from trusting in God. He explained all that the Assyrians had done to conquer other nations; what does Judah have that makes them any different?

King Hezekiah’s response was the right one: he prayed. In his prayer in 2 Kings 19:15-19, he praises the character and authority of God. He acknowledges that the Assyrians have destroyed other nations, but he also has confidence that God will deliver Judah – not for Judah’s sake, but so that everyone may know that He truly is God!

God sends a message back to King Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah, which is recorded in 2 Kings 19:20-34. In short, God will do what He said He will, and He will deliver Judah from the hand of the Assyrians. That night, God did exactly that; while everyone was sleeping, God killed 185,000 Assyrians, which caused Sennacherib to withdraw his remaining troops.

For many of the kings, we have no record of how they died; the text simply states that the reign was handed down to the next person. But we see in 2 Kings 20:1-11, King Hezekiah became ill, and God sent him a message through the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die. Hezekiah wept at this message, and then God sent Isaiah back with another message that God would heal him. Not only that, but God would add 15 years to his life and deliver the nation of Judah from the Assyrians. King Hezekiah asked for a sign that this would happen, and God gave him the sign he asked for.

The nation of Babylon heard of King Hezekiah’s illness, and so they sent representatives to Judah. King Hezekiah showed them everything in the kingdom, including all the storehouses of treasures. Isaiah gave King Hezekiah a prophecy that one day, everything would be carried off to Babylon, including the people. But, that did not happen in King Hezekiah’s lifetime, though it would happen to Judah eventually.

King Hezekiah is remembered for being one of the great kings of Israel, truly honoring God and following Him in everything that he did. Today, we can look to King Hezekiah’s example and do the same – honor God and follow Him in all that we do. God will reward those who obey and follow Him, just as God rewarded King Hezekiah with a prosperous reign, victory over the Assyrians, and a longer life to lead the people and keep them on the right path to worshiping Him.

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Bonnie Brown said...

I've always loved King Hezekiah. His story inspired me as he stood for God when everyone before and after him would not.