Hezekiah acceded to Judah’s throne from 715 to 686 BC. In spite of the fact that his father, King Ahaz, was an evil king, Hezekiah surprisingly gave his full allegiance to Yahweh. In fact, it was said that no other Judean king before or after him showed greater faithfulness and trust in God. He obliterated the idol shrines, pillars, and poles, and in their place reinstituted Temple worship.
Then in 701 BC Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, besieged Jerusalem. Sennacherib sent mocking messages to the Judeans: “Is not your king the same one who did away with all the altars to the gods?” he taunted. “Is this not the one who commanded that you worship only one God? Don’t you know what Assyrian armies have done to all the peoples? Who among all their gods were able to deliver them? Do not let Hezekiah deceive you! What makes you imagine your Lord can save Jerusalem….?”
When King Hezekiah received a demand for surrender from Sennacherib, he tore his robe in despair. Then he sent word to Isaiah, the prophet, in order to find out God’s response to the crisis. Taking Sennecharib’s letter into the Temple, Hezekiah spread it out before the Lord and prayed fervently for God’s deliverance from this defiant Assyrian.
Isaiah returned word to the king that God would defend the city for His own sake and that of His servant David. Meanwhile Sennacherib heard about an Ethiopian revolt and left Jerusalem with his military to quell that uprising. The Assyrian evidently then sent a letter to Hezekiah assuring him that his intentions to eventually obliterate Jerusalem had not changed. However, at some point an epidemic struck the Assyrians and by the time it ran its course, it had claimed 185,000 Assyrian casualties. This further delayed Sennacherib’s battle plans. Finally two of his own sons assassinated him in the temple of his god.
After serving God faithfully as king for fourteen years, Hezekiah became deathly ill. Isaiah told him it was his time to die. In anguish, Hezekiah prayed that God would let him live. God relented and promised him fifteen more years of life.
Citizens and leaders flattered Hezekiah to the heavens following his miraculous healing, and at least for a period, Hezekiah began acting rather arrogant and self-sufficient. When ambassadors came to visit Jerusalem from Babylon, Hezekiah foolishly showed off all the palace treasures to them. After Hezekiah’s death, these same Babylonians besieged Jerusalem and plundered the coveted treasures.
It was also during Hezekiah’s final fifteen years that he bore a son named Manasseh. Apparently Hezekiah did little to nurture his son in the ways of God because, when Manasseh became king, he was known as being more evil and perverse than the Canaanites themselves ever were. Hezekiah had gotten his wish but its fulfillment revealed only latent weaknesses, not growing strengths in Hezekiah’s character.
What can we learn from Hezekiah?
In response to prayer, God added fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life, but it appears that the king did not live them wisely. When we pray for blessings from God, we must be prepared to receive and implement them responsibly. St. Paul wrote that we often don’t know how to pray as we ought. May God grant us wisdom by His Spirit to discern His perfect will and to pray accordingly.
Bible Verses about Hezekiah
2 Kings 16:20, chaps. 17-20; 2 Chron. chaps. 29-32; Isaiah chaps. 36-39
What questions does this help to answer?
- Who was King Hezekiah in the Bible?
- What did King Hezekiah do?
- Did King Hezekiah turn bad?
- Does God answer prayer?
Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes. Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education. Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally. He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.Steve Fortosis