In 2 Kings 20 we read about Hezekiah becoming terminally ill and praying to God to be healed.
“Please LORD, remember how I have walked before You faithfully and wholeheartedly and have done what pleases You.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 2 Kings 20:3
God hears, answers his prayer and send a message through the prophet Isaiah.
“Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of My people, ‘This is what the LORD God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the LORD’s temple. 6 I will add 15 years to your life. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for My sake and for the sake of My servant David.’” 2 Kings 20:5-6
This is such a beautiful image. God saying, “I have heard your prayers and seen your tears” brings up swells of thanksgiving and praise in my heart. We don’t always receive the answers we request in our prayers like Hezekiah did this time, but God always hears our prayers and sees our tears. We might be tempted to stop here at the miracle of God granting him 15 more years of life, but let’s keep going.
While Hezekiah was sick, the son of the king of Babylon (Merodach-baladan) sent him letters and a gift wishing him well. Hezekiah thought this was a very kind gesture and invited Merodach-baladan to visit his house and showed him every treasure in it. In fact, there was nothing in his palace and in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. (v. 13)
This was my first pause. Why would Hezekiah do such a thing? When someone sends me a birthday gift or soup when I’m sick I usually just write them a thank you note. I don’t invite them over to my house and show them all my jewelry, plates, lamps and grandma’s china. I wonder if Hezekiah was feeling prideful (instead of thankful) that the Lord had saved him and just wanted to show off all he had in his kingdom. I’m not sure, but the story gets more interesting. . . .
Isaiah hears from the Lord once again and delivers the word of the Lord to Hezekiah after hearing about his show n’ tell.
‘The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the LORD. 18 ‘Some of your descendants who come from you will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” (v. 17-18)
Wow, Hezekiah’s pride session just gave away the locations of the kingdom’s treasures. This is important because on the day the Babylonians would overtake his land, they would be able to march in and know exactly where to find it all. Then, Hezekiahs’ response gave me my second pause.
Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good,” for he thought: Why not, if there will be peace and security during my lifetime? (v. 19)
What? Hezekiah gets a heads up on what will happen for future generations and says, “OK, that’s cool.” All while thinking “at least everything will be OK while I’m around.” My selfish alert just went off again. I think of my Dad who mourns for the way this country is currently headed with terrorism and corroded morals. He mourns not for himself (he is 87), but for me and my children who will have to live in the midst of all this mess and turmoil. Notice how Hezekiah said one thing and thought another. I think if Hezekiah said “what you have spoken is good” because he thought he deserved it after his prideful show n’ tell he would have thought “I really messed this up for future generations of my people. I need to keep my pride more in check.” Instead, he thought “Oh well, at least things will be peaceful in my lifetime.”
The definition of pride is: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired (bing online dictionary).
My third and final pause is this: How does my pride effect those around me in the short-term and the long? My children, husband, friends, family and all I come in contact with? How often has pride kept me from doing the right thing in God’s sight? Kept me from being a light in this dark world?
God, please shine a light on my pride so that every time it starts to sneak into my heart I recognize it quickly, pray for you to overcome it and remember that it is only by your power, your might and your strength that I can stand tall and be a light in this dark world. All I have, need and desire should be from you and you alone. I’m so grateful that it’s not up to me alone, that you walk each step with me, hear me and are always found in times of trouble. Amen
God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.