Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Hezekiah
Although a child following in the footsteps of its parents is a common occurrence, it is by no means set in stone or mandatory. There are countless examples wherein the son outshines the father, and pursues the path of righteousness and purity as ardently as their father before them pursued idolatry and lawlessness.
Hezekiah is one such example. While Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, instituted pagan worship and almost bled the nation dry by paying tribute to foreign kings for protection, Hezekiah set his heart upon undoing the spiritual damage done by his father.
There are men who play at being evil, and then there are truly evil men. Ahaz was of the second variety, a man who need not have played at being evil, because he was evil both in his thoughts and actions.
2 Chronicles 28:24-25, “So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked the anger of the Lord God of his fathers.”
Most of the time a father can do no wrong in the eyes of his son. We have a way of putting our fathers up on pedestals, of seeing them as larger than life, but Hezekiah realized his father was not a man to be emulated, nor were his practices something to be furthered. Hezekiah realized the steep price the nation had paid for turning its back on God, for turning to idol worship, and trusting in the arm of the flesh to protect them.
Within a year of assuming the throne, Hezekiah begins aggressively trying to turn the ship aright, and return the nation to a place wherein they walked in the will of God once more. To this extent Hezekiah reopens the temple, removes the high places of pagan worship, destroys all the sacred pillars and idolatrous images, and reinstitutes the religious festivals.
Although it is likely his advisors cautioned him to be more diplomatic, especially when it came to breaking ties with Assyria, Hezekiah knew what was right in the sight of the Lord, and he did not hesitate in doing it.
Roughly translated, Hezekiah means ‘Yahweh is my strength,’ and seeing the decisions he made and practices he reinstituted, we realize his name is an apropos one.
Hezekiah knew the dramatic changes he was making to the nation, but he also knew there was no other alternative. He likewise realized there would be many among his own people who were content with the status quo, but knew he could not put off making the difficult choice for fear of offence, whether the offence taken was by few or many.
Because he chose to honor the Lord, because he chose to return to the path of true worship and righteousness, God blessed Hezekiah in all he did, and the nation prospered under his leadership.
In regards to Hezekiah’s spiritual evaluation, the Scriptures have but glowing things to say, honoring him for being faithful and walking in the ways of the Lord.
2 Kings 18:5-7, “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”
By any standard, this is an impressive outline of the man who was King Hezekiah. By all accounts Hezekiah was a godly man, but even the godly have their season in the valley. Even those who do what is pleasing in the sight of the Lord go through trials, have enemies, and must guard their hearts against the whispers of the evil one.
If God allows trials in our lives, it is to grow and mature our faith and dependency upon Him. If He allows enemies in our lives, it is to humble us and keep us close under the protection of His almighty hand. There is a purpose for all things, not just some things, and those who have come to know the loving mercy of our God realize this even when the situation seems bleak and hope begins to fade.
Hezekiah learned that life is an ongoing battle from the moment he ascended to the throne of Judah. Upon reading the history of this man, a man whom the Bible tells us held fast to the Lord, we realize there was more than one instance wherein the Lord was all he had, and the Lord proved enough for him.
On days when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and we feel ten years younger than our age, it’s easy to follow the Lord. Throughout every life, however, there are days when following the Lord comes at a price, a price we will have to pay, whether it means the loss of a friend, a loved one, a job, our reputation or even our life.
It is the hard days, the dark days, the days when it costs us something to say we are followers of Jesus that define our steadfastness, our faithfulness, and our spiritual maturity. It is the days wherein being a follower of Christ isn’t popular, or hip, or the newest fad in Hollywood, but rather when voicing our allegiance to Him might mean persecution, imprisonment or even death that confirm where our true heart and loyalties lie.
Hezekiah held fast to the Lord, and kept His commandments not when it was easy or popular, but when the doors of the house of the Lord were shut up, and the overwhelming majority of Judah had given themselves over to idols.
It is within this context that we begin to explore the prayer of Hezekiah, the man for whom God was his strength.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.