Hezekiah is an Old Testament king that I’m excited to meet in heaven. I have this image of him in my head—tall, dark, and handsome sort. His story can be found in three books of the Bible: 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32, and Isaiah 36-37. As with most kings, the accounts in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles are similar, but the Faithlife Study Bible gives interesting insight in their study notes on 2 Chronicles 29:1–32:33:
“The collective work of 1–2 Chronicles devotes more time to the reign of Hezekiah than any other king except David and Solomon. While 2 Kings 18–20 covers Hezekiah’s conflict with Assyria, the account in 1–2 Chronicles focuses on his religious reforms. This fits with the Chronicler’s emphasis on proper temple worship (see note on 1 Chr 1:1–9:44).”
Hezekiah, 2nd Solomon
Three of the four chapters in 2 Chronicles carefully detail how Hezekiah restored the Temple, celebrated Passover, and ensured the continuation of Temple service. The Chronicler wasn’t even subtle about his comparison of Hezekiah to the late, great wise king.
“There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 30:26–27
The Real Hezekiah
Did Hezekiah lead a “charmed” life? Was he coddled from cradle to throne, granted special privilege so that his character was never tested? As with most people in the Bible, we’re not given every life detail, so we must fill in some specifics with common sense and imagination. Hezekiah assumed Judah’s throne at the age of twenty-five. The Bible tells us nothing of his life before that.
What was it like to be the great grandson of faithful King Uzziah, who was struck with leprosy because pride caused him to offer his sacrifice on Yahweh’s altar rather than letting the high priest do it, as the Law required (2 Chronicles 26:19-23)? Hezekiah would have known great-grandfather Uzziah and his grandfather Jotham who reigned after him—who were both called righteous in Scripture. Jotham was a great builder and a successful military leader, who grew powerful because he walked steadfastly with the LORD (2 Chronicles 27:6). But from all accounts, Jotham never again worshiped in the Temple where his father was stricken with leprosy. His son, Ahaz, and grandson, Hezekiah, would surely have noticed.
Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, became king when he was twenty years old and only reigned sixteen years. His wickedness and idolatry is legendary. He was the first Judean king to sacrifice his son in a pagan altar fire, and he destroyed nearly everything Jotham and Uzziah had built.
So, I’ll ask again…what kind of childhood do you think Hezekiah endured? Perhaps we get a glimpse through his speech to the priests and Levites, when he brought them together and commanded them to consecrate themselves and the Temple, the day he became king:
“Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him.” 2 Chronicles 29:6
Mercy for the Righteous
Hezekiah knew what it meant to have a difficult childhood. He knew about rising from the gutter and reaching for the heavens—and feeling God’s hand reach back. Hezekiah didn’t live a charmed life, but he lived a committed life. A life of focus on the One, True God.
When he lost that focus, late in life, God disciplined him but showed mercy:
“But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.” 2 Chronicles 32:25–26
Hezekiah was not a perfect man, but he was righteous. Scripture leaves us with this beautiful testament to his legacy—a message I would gladly bear as my epitaph:
“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him…” 2 Kings 18:5–6
- Who is Hezekiah? Find out why there was no other king like him.
- Was Hezekiah coddled from cradle to throne? Read today’s post, and you decide.
- Hezekiah knew about reaching for the heavens and feeling God’s hand reach back.
- What would have been the most difficult thing about Hezekiah’s life—the place he would have witnessed God’s healing and/or grace most profoundly?