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2 Kings 20:1–11

“Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake” (vv. 5–6).

Since the days of David and Solomon, there had not been a king of Judah as faithful as Hezekiah. Not only did he purge idolatry from Judah, but he also trusted the Lord to deliver him from the Assyrian Empire. Given Assyria’s successful imperial expansion, it would have made more sense, humanly speaking, for Hezekiah to surrender and ask for mercy. But Hezekiah walked by faith, not by sight, and Assyria was turned away (2 Kings 18–19).

We see another example of Hezekiah’s trust in the Lord in today’s passage, which tells us of a critical moment when the king almost lost his life. At the point of death, King Hezekiah received a visit from Isaiah the son of Amoz, the great prophet who played a critical role during the righteous monarch’s reign. Isaiah delivered a message from the Lord that Hezekiah was about to die (20:1). But Hezekiah did not take God’s words as an unalterable decree; instead, he went to the Lord in prayer (vv. 2–3). This illustrates the reality that not everything the prophets declared from God was part of His unchangeable decree that determines whatsoever comes to pass (see Eph. 1:11). Sometimes the Lord, through His prophets, announced things that He knew would not ultimately occur in order to spur His people to action. Consider Jeremiah 18:5–10, which says that the Lord will relent and not fulfill a warning to sinful people when they repent, or He will bring judgment and not fulfill an announced blessing when men and women turn away from heeding His law. In light of the Lord’s omniscience—He knows all things past, present, and future—God obviously knows how people will respond. In Hezekiah’s case, His ultimate intention was to heal the king and not to end his life through the illness described in 2 Kings 20:1–11. But our actions are one means through which the Lord brings His plans to pass, and He makes our decisions meaningful by acting in ways that prompt us to pray.

So, the Lord called for Hezekiah to be restored to health through the means of a poultice made from figs, and He even added fifteen years to the king’s life (vv. 4–7). Moreover, God did not refuse Hezekiah’s request for a sign that the healing would be accomplished. This request shows that Hezekiah’s faith was true but imperfect, for he needed confirmation of God’s words when the promise should have been enough. But our Creator is kind, and He bolstered Hezekiah’s faith with a sign (vv. 8–11).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

When we pray, we must remember that God is sovereign and will answer us according to His eternal purposes. That does not mean, however, that we should not be earnest in prayer. Hezekiah prayed earnestly, and he was healed. We should express our needs to God earnestly as well, knowing that He just may grant us what we ask.

For Further Study
  • Genesis 20
  • 2 Chronicles 30:13–20
  • Acts 12:1–19
  • James 5:13–16

God Determines Your Plans

The Need for a Better King

Keep Reading From Generation to Generation

From the October 2019 Issue
Oct 2019 Issue