In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. 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.
Hezekiah had very great wealth and honor, and he made treasuries for his silver and gold and for his precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuables. He also made buildings to store the harvest of grain, new wine and olive oil; and he made stalls for various kinds of cattle, and pens for the flocks. He built villages and acquired great numbers of flocks and herds, for God had given him very great riches.
It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.
The other events of Hezekiah’s reign and his acts of devotion are written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. Hezekiah rested with his ancestors and was buried on the hill where the tombs of David’s descendants are. All Judah and the people of Jerusalem honored him when he died. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.
- 2 Chronicles 32:24-33
The highway of the upright avoids evil;
those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
- Proverbs 16:17-20
The story is clearly analyzed in 2 Chronicles 32, but the details are left out. Hezekiah showed all his riches to the envoys from Babylon, 2 Kings 20:12-21, thinking that Babylon was too far away to be a threat. Hezekiah bragged about how he was made rich. When Isaiah, the prophet learned what Hezekiah had done, Isaiah proclaimed a curse upon the family of Hezekiah. Hezekiah repented of his pride, and the curse was passed to his descendants, when the Babylonian army returned.
I always struggled with healthy pride in doing a good job, because your best was expected, and being humble, considering pride a sin. There is a thin line drawn there and the line can get blurred and crossed without notice. I have talked to so many people in churches who brag about how wonderful they were, regardless of the quality. They might be richer, more handsome, more athletic, taller, smarter, or they might have a rare skill. I had a friend that probably had something wrong in his nasal passages, but at quitting time, he would lean into the hallway, and you would swear that his whistle made the sound of a 19th Century railroad engine whistle. Now that was a special skill. If you haven’t heard such a whistle, this video, in all its smoke-billowing ‘glory’ has several whistles and some beautiful scenery.
But what dumbfounded me was that most of these church-goers bragged about how special they were in that God had given them that ability. Yet, I saw a curse. First, they were not that “special” and Jesus came to save sinners, not the “special” among us. What would happen when their money, their attractiveness, or their physical prowess let them down? What if they found the one person who had “one more?”
I remember an old Western movie, just can’t remember the title, where the bad guy is shot by the good guy near the end of the movie. That much could have been hundreds of them. But in this one, as the bad guy is about to collapse and die, he mutters, “But I counted ten shots. I counted ten shots. His gun was empty. I counted ten…” Or words to that effect. My point is when we rely on what “God has given us,” we do not rely on God, and our adversary just might have a specially made pistol that can hold eleven bullets, as in physical, metaphorical, or spiritual bullets. Sorry for the “violent” metaphor, but I was just checking on my wife before coming back to write this and she was watching a Western saga of some sort. There aren’t too many new ones or good ones these days.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a pride that is healthy. If we do not have pride in our work, our work will be sloppy or it will be delivered late or we might lose money on the project due to reworking of work that was done wrong.
Yet, when you do as Hezekiah did and brag about what you had, after God had granted you an additional 15 years of life… Yes, this happened after Hezekiah saw miracles performed by God on his behalf. And if for a second we might think it was all “ME,” there may be an epic fall coming in our life. Hezekiah relied on his wealth and possessions to get by. He loved God and was a good king, over the whole of his reign, but his pride led to the fall of Judah. Once Babylon knew what awaited them in Judah in the king’s storehouses, they would return, having already seen the state of the army that awaited them.
Recently I had a big jump in the blog site’s statistics, but things have settled back to near normal as it has been a month since then. God showed me what He could accomplish, but the experience humbled me. I want to thank all who read this blog, for those who have been reading it for three years since near the beginning and those who have just started, but now more than ever, I am steadfast in my signoff.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.