May 15

Hezekiah, Part 3

II Kings 18:13-16 And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay.” And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

This was one of the low points of Hezekiah’s reign, politically and spiritually. He failed to seek and trust the Lord, and compromised terribly, stripping God’s Temple to give its gold and silver to the heathen, acting in the spirit of his father Ahaz (II Kings 16:8). If the story had ended there, it’s unlikely that he would have been so positively remembered.

But he broke off his past by learning from his mistakes.

When the king of Assyria wasn’t persuaded to back off, Hezekiah began to act differently. Instead of continuing to compromise, he began to act like David. II Kings 19:1 says, “And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet….”

In I Samuel 30:8 and Psalm 34:4, David sought the Lord. Here, Hezekiah does. In that day, the prophet usually held the word of the Lord for the king, and seeking the Lord meant asking the prophet for God’s direction. Many kings didn’t want the word of the prophet, as it was often something they didn’t want to hear. But now Hezekiah sends his emissaries straight to Isaiah, asking him what the Lord was saying—a complete turnabout from before.

The result was as different as the approach. Hezekiah would be tested one more time with this invader, but now he had God’s promise: And Isaiah said to [the emissaries], “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”

Yes, Hezekiah made a big mistake. But he learned from it, and got it right the second time. He broke with the ungodly pattern of his father and sought the Lord. It wasn’t too late.

We all make mistakes, some of them big ones. The question is whether we learn from them or not. Few mistakes were as devastating as what Hezekiah did earlier. Few actions were as godly as what he did next.

Prayer: Lord, help me to learn from the things I do wrong—mistakes and sins alike. Thank you for the example of King Hezekiah. Help me to break old habits when I get into trouble, and help me to seek You first during those times.

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