Hezekiah – Shepherd Amongst Kings

Among the many Old Testament kings of Israel and Judah, few ever fulfilled their God given assignment of leading the nation in faithful worship and testimony of Yahweh to the world. Towering above many, Hezekiah, King of Judah, ranked impressively, as recorded in 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32, and Isaiah 37-39. Hezekiah, son of wicked king Ahaz, was twenty-five years old when he became king; and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem (2Ki 18:1-2). The thing that made Hezekiah admirable was that he did what was good, right, and true before Yahweh his God. And every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment — to seek his God — he did with all his heart and succeeded (2Ch 31:20-21).

Hezekiah inherited his father’s throne accompanied by a nation enslaved to idolatry with every form of wickedness imaginable, including child sacrifice (2Ch 28:3). Leading the spiritual restoration of this belligerent nation would be no easy task, as sinners usually prefer to hold onto their sin. However, ignoring his father’s wicked example, Hezekiah went against his nation’s preferred idolatrous culture and religion. So, how would Hezekiah turn the nation around? What was his strategy? He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (2 Kings 18:4). Hezekiah got the people (2Ch 31:1) to remove both the source and the objects of false worship and he reestablish the temple worship of Yahweh, which successfully redirected the nation. Which is a great strategy for both nations and individuals.

Now it happened in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them (Isaiah 36:1). The Assyrian spokesman, Rabshakeh, took great pleasure in mocking Hezekiah, Judah, and Yahweh, even sending his insults by letter. 2 Kings 19:14 records that Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD and spread the letter before the LORD and prayed about it. In response, God destroyed the Assyrian army of 185,000 soldiers using a single angel (Isa 37:36). The king of Assyria returned home to Nineveh (Isa 37:37-38), where he was killed by two of his sons while worshipping an idol.

During this time Hezekiah became sick with a boil (Isa 38:21) and was about to die. Although  he prayed to the Lord (2Ch 32:24), he didn’t actually ask for healing in the way we would expect (Isa 38:2-3). God responded, I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life (Isaiah 38:5). The Lord healed Hezekiah by telling Isaiah the prophet to have a poultice of figs applied to the boil (Isa 38:21), which they did, and the Lord enabled Hezekiah’s healing.

Hezekiah was a man of godly integrity, of prayer, courage, and uncompromising faith in Yahweh. When under pressure he didn’t fold, he didn’t neglect his relationship with the LORD, and he didn’t listen to the negative mutterings of those working against him. He was a king, a true shepherd of his nation, and a man in love with his God.

Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his (ancestor) father had done (2 Kings 18:3). In fact, this righteous king trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him  (2 Kings 18:5).

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