After he was given an additional fifteen years to live by the Lord, Hezekiah did something that proved to be quite harmful to Judah, although its consequences would not happen until after Hezekiah was gone.
1 At that time (the) king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2 And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures—the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory—all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. Isaiah 39:1-2 NKJV
Isaiah was quite disturbed when he found out that Hezekiah had shown all this to the visitors from Babylon. He also brought a word from the Lord to Hezekiah on the coming repercussions from this action.
5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” Isaiah 39: 5-7 NKJV
Assyria might have been the powerhouse Empire during Hezekiah’s time, but after their defeat in Judah, their power began to wane. It would not be long before they were replaced by and assimilated into the mighty Babylonian Empire. The future Babylonian leader, Nebuchadnezzar, would be used by God as an instrument of chastisement on Judah for its faithless idolatry and abandonment of the Lord. This knowledge of the treasures that Judah possessed made it an even more tempting target for them.
What were Hezekiah’s motives for showing these strangers all of the treasures that Judah possessed? He was pleased and perhaps flattered by their visit and attention, so maybe he let his guard down a bit for this reason. Pride might also have been in the mix – with so many beautiful treasures in his possession, who could blame him for doing a little boasting? And perhaps Hezekiah took a little too much personal credit for the rich blessings that the Lord had provided Judah – aren’t we all guilty of this at times?
Whatever the reason for doing it, it was a foolish action with real life consequences for the nation. But Hezekiah was greatly relieved when Isaiah told him it would not happen in his lifetime, and that he would not personally suffer for it.
Like several other kings before him, Hezekiah’s noble actions seemed to diminish towards the end of his life, and he became more focused on self. Here was one more good king that did not finish as strong as when he had started. And his son, Manasseh, would make things much worse as he began to reign after Hezekiah’s death.
Perhaps asking God to extend his life beyond God’s original plan was not the best thing for Hezekiah, after all.
When I was little kid, my mom used to tell me, “If you have money in your pocket, do not show it around.” I cannot help but smile remembering this as I read about King Hezekiah. Was Hezekiah just being child-like and innocent, or was his pride the root cause of this slip-up?
Several key Bible characters did not exhibit the same level of faithfulness and God-centeredness towards the end of their lives as they did early on. Why might this be? How can we avoid this same pitfall?
Lord, help us to stay focused on You and on the well-being of those you have put around us. Help us to stay disciplined in prayer, service, and study, and to cling all the closer to You as we advance in years. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.