Hezekiah was a very good king. He had great zeal, for he rooted out all idol worship in the land. He had much faith, for he stood up against the mighty host of Assyria, when all nations were falling before it. And he was very careful to be obedient to all God's commands (2 Kgs. 18:4-7) -
"He removed the high places, brake the images, cut down the groves ... He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
"He clave to the Lord, and departed not; and the Lord was with him, and he prospered whithersoever he wentforth.
"He spake to the people saying, Be strong and courageous. Be not afraid of the king of Assyria, for there be more with us than with him. He rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not."
He was the greatest of all the kings of Judah. And God wrought for him one of the greatest deliverances recorded in Scripture. The most powerful nation on earth, Assyria, came to destroy Judah in its sweeping march of conquest. Hezekiah put his faith in God, and defied the Assryians (2 Chr. 32:20-23):
"For this cause Hezekiah prayed and cried to heaven ... And the Lord sent an angel which cut off all the mighty men of valor in the camp of the king of Assyria ...
"Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah ... and many brought presents to Hezekiah, so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth."
A glorious reign, with a fitting climax. A mighty deliverance in the sight of all nations, so that all nations sought his favor. Continuing in 2 Chr. 32:24 -
"In those days Hezekiah was sick to death, and prayed unto the Lord. And He spake unto him, and He gave him a sign."
Turning back to the record in 2 Kgs. 20:1 -
"In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah came to him and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live."
God said he had done well. The time had come for him to rest. He was 40 years old. He had a good record and God was willing to terminate his period of trial and probation.
"The righteous man is taken away from the evil to come" (Isa. 57:1).
But Hezekiah was not ready, and he prayed to God to live. In this, he questioned the wisdom of God, and rejected His merciful rest. Having failed in this test, his life was lengthened for further testing and trial. (In the added period his evil son Manasseh was born, the cause of Judahs downfall Jer. 15:4). Continuing with the next verse in 2 Chr. 32 (v. 25) -
"But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up. Therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem."
"Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, God left him to try him, to know all his heart. "
In his pride he showed off all his possessions and glory to the ambassadors from Babylon. There was not a thing that he failed to display. Humility and prudence were alike forgotten. God directly connects this incident (Isa. 39), with the later carrying of all these treasures into Babylon, as cause and effect.
Here was Judah's first dealing with Babylon. The Babylonians get a full catalog of all their possessions, and see Judah as a small country with much wealth. This incident sowed the seed for later conquest and plunder.
Instead of being permanently impressed with the power and terror of God -- the consideration that first caused them to send the ambassadors -- they find a foolish little king wrapped up in his own glory and vainly displaying his treasures, and the glory and power of God -- Hezekiaks real treasure -- is forgotten.
The prophet Isaiah is sent to rebuke him, and tell him the consequences of his foolishness --
"All that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store, shall be carried to Babylon. And thy sons shall they take to be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."
Hezekiah was flattered by the attention of the great king of Babylon, and drawn into exposing his foolish vanity. God, we are told, was trying him to see what was really in his heart.
What was wrong with Hezekiah showing all his possessions? Why was God's judgment so severe upon so good a man? It is the same lesson man never learns: "No flesh should glory."
Many times God strikingly demonstrates His utter abhorrence of glorification of the flesh. Sometimes the retribution is slow -- sometimes it is terribly sudden. Herod gave not God glory--
"Immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the spirit" (Acts 12:23).
All glory belongs to God, and He is very jealous. He will dispense glory at the last day to those whom He chooses to honor. Until then, all man's glorying is in vain and abominable. The flesh is so unclean and corrupt that any attempt to glorify it is the height of presumption before God. How man loves to bedeck and glorify his vile body, and to parade his worldly possessions, purchased through unfaithful steward ship of his Lord's goods!
Hezekiah replies to the divine rebuke --
"Good is the Word of the Lord which thou hast spoken."
He recognized and accepted the justice of God's condemnation. Picking up again in 2 Chr. 32, the next v. (26) -
"Notwithstanding he humbled himself for the pride of his, heart, so that the wrath of the Lord came not in his days."
"He said moreover, There shall be peace and truth in my days."
Not just peace, but peace and truth. He recognized their relationship. He determined, henceforth, as long as he lived, that the evil should be averted and peace prolonged by a rigid and well-pleasing conformity to God's way of truth.