What does it say?

Isaiah 37 completes the story of Hezekiah’s faith in trusting God for deliverance from Assyria and the material that is also found in 2Kings 18-20. Through his prophet Isaiah, God answers Hezekiah and delivers him and his people from the Assyrian threat.

Chapters 38 and 39 are out of chronological order, probably occurring not long before the events recorded in Isaiah 36-37. We can see this in Isaiah 38:6 where Assyria is still very much a threat. Apparently Isaiah places this material out of chronological order to set the historical foundation for what follows in chapter 40 and beyond.

Isaiah 38 begins with Hezekiah facing death and chapter 39 concludes with him contemplating his life. In between Isaiah delivers two messages to Hezekiah. The first (38:1-7) is in response to Hezekiah’s dedication and submission, and is followed by Hezekiah’s song of thanksgiving. The second message is in response to Hezekiah’s lapse of faith in showing his treasures to the Babylonian enemy (39:3-7).

Psalm 76 is a song of celebration following victory. We do not know for certain, but some scholars believe that Asaph may have composed this psalm to celebrate Jerusalem’s miraculous deliverance from Assyria in the days of Hezekiah.

What does it mean?

Like most of us, Hezekiah’s life was a dynamic mixture of faith and failure. Hezekiah succeeds where his father failed and God gives him victory over Assyria. Hezekiah contracts a fatal illness and begs God to extend his life. God answers his prayer, but Hezekiah grows careless and opens the door for an enemy far greater than Assyria. Hezekiah falls for the flattery and gifts from Babylon and receives their representatives as though allies, but it will be Babylon that brings destruction to Jerusalem. Though done in a totally different way and in all sincerity, Hezekiah, like his father before him, opens the pathway for enemy destruction.

The Bible’s story is of God’s mission and satanic opposition. We should not be surprised by spiritual warfare along life’s journey. Sometimes, like Hezekiah, we are determined not to make the same mistakes as our parents. But when we grow spiritually cold, proud or careless, we can often make the same mistakes in different ways for different reasons. Our lives should be characterized by consistent growth and learning from our past mistakes, not finding new ways to make the same mistakes.

How will I respond?

What is the most important lesson that I have learned from the story of king Hezekiah? How will I apply this lesson to my life today?