2 Chronicles Chapter Thirty-two
2 Chronicles 32
The invasion of Sennacherib, His defeat. (1-23) Hezekiah's sickness, His prosperous reign, and death. (24-33)
Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32:1-23
(Read 2 Chronicles 32:1-23)
Those who trust God with their safety, must use proper means, else they tempt him. God will provide, but so must we also. Hezekiah gathered his people together, and spake comfortably to them. A believing confidence in God, will raise us above the prevailing fear of man. Let the good subjects and soldiers of Jesus Christ, rest upon his word, and boldly say, Since God is for us, who can be against us? By the favour of God, enemies are lost, and friends gained.
Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32:24-33
(Read 2 Chronicles 32:24-33)
God left Hezekiah to himself, that, by this trial and his weakness in it, what was in his heart might be known; that he was not so perfect in grace as he thought he was. It is good for us to know ourselves, and our own weakness and sinfulness, that we may not be conceited, or self-confident, but may always live in dependence upon Divine grace. We know not the corruption of our own hearts, nor what we shall do if God leaves us to ourselves. His sin was, that his heart was lifted up. What need have great men, and good men, and useful men, to study their own infirmities and follies, and their obligations to free grace, that they may never think highly of themselves; but beg earnestly of God, that he will always keep them humble! Hezekiah made a bad return to God for his favours, by making even those favours the food and fuel of his pride. Let us shun the occasions of sin: let us avoid the company, the amusements, the books, yea, the very sights that may administer to sin. Let us commit ourselves continually to God's care and protection; and beg of him never to leave us nor forsake us. Blessed be God, death will soon end the believer's conflict; then pride and every sin will be abolished. He will no more be tempted to withhold the praise which belongs to the God of his salvation.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on 2 Chronicles》
2 Chronicles 32
 After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.
After, … — An emphatical preface, signifying, that notwithstanding all his zeal for God, God saw fit to exercise him with a sore trial. And God ordered it at this time, that he might have an opportunity of shewing himself strong, on the behalf of his returning people. It is possible, we may be in the way of our duty, and yet meet with trouble and danger. God permits this, for the trial of our confidence in him, and the manifestation of his care over us.
 He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him.
To stop — And withal to draw the waters by secret pipes underground to Jerusalem.
 And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.
The Lord sent an angel — The Jewish comment says the word of the Lord sent Gabriel to do this execution, and that it done with lightning, and in the passover night, the same night wherein the first-born in Egypt were slain.
 But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Lifted up — For that prodigious victory over the Assyrians, for his miraculous restoration from sickness, and for the honour since done him by an embassy from the great king of Babylon. All which probably raised in him too great an opinion of himself, as if these things were done for his piety and virtues.
 Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.
Provided — He repaired, fortified, and beautified them for the honour and safety of his kingdom.
 This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.
Stopped, … — A rivulet near Jerusalem consisting of two streams, the upper which was brought into one pool, called the upper pool, Isaiah 7:3, and the lower which was brought into another, called the lower pool, Isaiah 22:9. The former he diverted and brought by pipes into Jerusalem, which was a work of great art and labour.
 Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
Wonder that was done — Either the destruction of the Assyrians, or the going back of the sun. These miracles were wrought to alarm and awaken a stupid, careless world, and to turn them from dumb and lame idols to the living God.
God left him — To himself, and suffered Satan to try him; that he might know he had infirmities and sins as well as virtues. O what need have great men, and good men, and useful men, to study their own follies and infirmities, and to beg earnestly of God, that he would hide pride from them!
 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
Did him honour — It is a debt we owe to those who have been eminently useful, to do them honour at their death, when they are out of the reach of flattery, and we have seen the end of their conversation.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on 2 Chronicles》
32 Chapter 32
Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?
Stopping the fountains
Nothing was more thought of in ancient times in order to add to the greatness of a city than an abundant water supply. It was one of the greatest glories of old Rome that it had never-failing aqueducts, and the same thing was true of Jerusalem in still earlier times. In all the hard sieges the city endured there never was any failure of the water supply. The Jews had chiefly to thank Hezekiah for this. He was both most brave and wise--this old-time Judean king. He turned his attention first of all to the water supply of the country north of Jerusalem, by the route along which the invading hosts must come. There was the upper watercourse of Gihon, not far from the holy city. The springs were abundant there and their fresh waters united to form a brook which ran strongly down the valley. Hezekiah’s engineers saw what was to be done, at once to cripple the enemy and greatly to benefit the Jews. The springs should be drawn from their natural outlet to pour their waters into a capacious subterranean aqueduct built strongly and leading the current into vast reservoirs in Jerusalem cut in the rock far below the foundations of the temple, between the walls of Jerusalem proper and the city of David. So it is said by the inspired chronicler that Hezekiah stopped the fountains, that is, he covered them up after diverting the water, so that the Assyrians might not find them, and he brought the stream by aqueduct straight down to the west side of the city of David. For why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?
I. We are justified in thinking of ourselves in our character as the servants of God in the Christian life, as typified by the people of God in olden time, the jews; and the king of assyria for us is the evil one himself with all his hateful hosts. He has ever desired to avail himself of the springs of our human life, to sustain and aid him in his assaults upon our souls. The springs of human life are many and various.
1. There are our intellectual faculties, the mind with all its marvellous power of imagination and memory, the intelligence which reasons out things, and by sheer force of resistless logic discerns the true from the false.
2. There is the will, that strange forceful energy which drives our powers and faculties in this way or in that, compelling them to work its bidding, a will so often, alas! set against the Divine will and purpose which called us into being.
3. There are our affections, the emotional side of our nature, working sometimes quite independently of reason, persuading us to this or that course of action because the present inclination outweighs every other consideration.
II. These springs of our human life are full of vigour and send forth a full stream of effective energy. It is no wonder that the enemy of souls desires to appropriate them to his own purpose.
1. He would use the mind to set reason against faith, to be wise in its own conceits, to refuse to accept anything that is not made plain to it.
2. He would use our wills to perform his own purposes against the Most High. He says to us, “You are free agents, to do as you please. You shall not surely die if you eat of the forbidden fruit.”
3. Once more there is the emotional side of our nature, our affections. We feel that these have relation especially to the pleasures of life, the happiness of love and of sell-indulgence in natural desires of many sorts. The devil would use these for his own purposes, as of old the kings of Assyria would eagerly have used the springs of Gihon. Cunningly does he urge it on the human soul, “Why has God given you passions and natural desires of all sorts if you are not meant to gratify them?”
III. Now that wise king Hezekiah in the olden time, when he perceived that the abundant springs of Gihon were likely to help his enemy to the grievous discomfiture of the people of God, set to work at once to cover the springs, having diverted the channel that the water might flow by subterranean conduits into the holy city. The first great thought he had was to hinder the Assyrian from availing himself of those precious springs. And that may well read to us a lesson of the exceeding profitableness of covering our minds and wills and affections from the evil one.
1. Our intellectual powers should be covered that the enemy of souls may not use them to our discomfiture.
2. The will is likewise one of those springs of life which Satan especially seeks to find and to avail himself of. We cover it from him by subjecting ourselves to a higher will through the principle of obedience.
3. Then there are those choice springs of life which we call the affections. We must set restraint upon our natural desires in all sorts of ways, by remembering that our nature has been perverted by original sin; its lusts and appetites are in rebellion against their lawful master the will, and they are sure to lead us into mischief unless strongly repressed by loyalty to the teachings of God.
IV. Hezekiah was not content to stop the fountains of Gihon that his enemy might not find abundant water in that dry and dusty country; with a master stroke of policy he built a great subterranean conduit, and carried all the fresh sweet water from its source in the valley to enormous rock-hewn reservoirs which he constructed in jerusalem. One who did not know what the king had done might come to that place where once the waters of Gihon had flowed so freely, and lament the dry wady and filled-up wells. And so the world often looks upon the lives of earnest Christians, thinking how much they are losing through their scruples; the intellectual powers restrained within the dull limits of orthodoxy, the will subjected to what seems like a servile obedience to old-time traditions, the affections not allowed any strong vigorous license to brighten the sadness of this present world. It is only those who do not comprehend the real truth who can talk so however.
1. The mental powers which here would not be prostituted to taking interest in those subjects of human research which blasphemed God’s truth, and ridiculed the faith of the ages; subjects which under the specious disguise of realism delved unblushingly into vice and shameful immoralities, and declared it was the part of true wisdom to know the evil as well as the good--these shall find splendid exercise and joyous development ever more and more in the eternal truths of the universe, in the mysteries of the Divine Being, in the secrets of Divine love which are inexhaustible, and which overflow with supremest delights.
2. The will which here refused to assert its independence of the known laws of the Creator, shall in the holy city find full range for all its craving after freedom.
3. The affections which here resisted the drawings of sensuality and of worldliness, being willing to surrender the loves of this present world for the love of God, shall in the city which is on high find the rapture of heart joy, the bliss of satisfied affection surging back upon the soul from the very being of God Himself. (Arthur Ritchie.)
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God.
Hezekiah and the Assyrians
The story of Hezekiah and his preservation is one of the most vivid and thrilling. Rightly interpreted, it echoes the words of our text to all time. The king of Assyria is a representative character. The powers of this world are joined against the children of God, and they are variously commanded. Some Sennacherib rises from hour to hour and threatens, often with formidable front and fell purpose. But God’s people may always say, “There be more with us than with him,” etc. (Monday Club Sermons.)
We look too much to men
Oliver Cromwell was but a gentleman farmer, but the exigency of his time was such that he took up arms on behalf of his country. He was a man of prayer, and went to the battlefield from the prayer meeting. After one great victory, he writes to Parliament, “God brought them into our hands God is not enough owned. We look too much to men and to visible helps. This hinders our success.”
The arm of flesh
I. The character of our enemies described by an arm of flesh.
II. The source, of our support, and cause of victory. “But with us is the Lord our God, to help us, and to fight our battles.” This denotes--
5. The Father is with us.
6. The Son is with us.
7. And the Holy Ghost is with us.
III. The result of God’s manifested presence. “And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah.” (T. B. Baker.)
Conditions of victory
I. At the negative side.
1. Numbers are no surety. Gideon’s army had to be reduced before it could conquer the Amalekites.
2. Worldly wisdom, policy, shrewdness, enterprise, will not ensure success.
3. Unlimited creature resources of every kind are insufficient.
4. The most seemingly favourable outward circumstances, as to time, place, auspices, expectations, combinations, oftentimes but deceive into carnal security and insure the worst kind of defeat.
II. At the positive side--the assured, unfailing conditions of victory in the sense of Righteousness and Godliness.
1. We must have God on our side. There must be no doubt on this point.
2. We must be careful to be on God’s side.
3. This brings out the point which the Apostle John emphasises so strongly (1 John 5:4-5). (J. M. Sherwood.)
And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah.--
Words to rest on
I. The kind of man whose words are likely to be rested on. He must be--
1. A great man.
2. A good man.
3. A courageous man.
4. A hearty man.
5. In such a case God will add His sanction by granting success and he will be a prosperous man.
6. A man who has respect for God’s word.
II. In the second place let us turn the other way and look at the kind of people who rest on such a man’s word.
1. Children do so with their parents.
2. Illiterate people who cannot read.
3. Unconverted persons who have no spiritual discernment.
4. Persons who naturally run in a groove. Having attended at such a place of worship, and having been brought up in the midst of a certain set of godly people, they scarcely deviate one jot from the teaching that they have received. Almost by the necessity of their nature they rest on what they hear.
5. Persons who profess always to do their own thinking. If you will trace them home, they are in nine cases out of ten the veriest slaves that ever lived. They are the bondservants of some heretic or other who has put it into their heads that in following him they become free men.
III. The kind of words you may rest on. You may safely rest on--
1. Words which urge you to faith in God.
2. Words which are the words of God Himself.
3. Words which are sealed by the Lord Jesus.
4. Words which have been blessed to other men.
5. Words which breathe a sense of rest into the soul. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Prayed and cried to heaven.
True prayer is not pestering the Throne with passionate entreaties that a certain method of deliverance which seems best to us, should be forthwith effected; but is a calm utterance of need, and a patient, submissive expectance of fitting help, of which we dare not define the manner or the time. They are wisest, most trustful and reverent, who do not seek to impose their notions or wills on the clearer wisdom and deeper love to which they betake themselves, but are satisfied with leaving all to His arbitrament. True prayer is the bending of our own wills to the Divine, not the urging of ours on it. When Hezekiah received the insolent letter from the invader, he took it and “spread it before the Lord,” asking God to read it, leaving all else to Him to determine: as if he had said, “Behold, Lord, this boastful page. I bring it to Thee, and now it is Thine affair more than mine.” The burden which we roll on God lies lightly on our own shoulders; and if we do roll it thither, we need not trouble ourselves with the question of how He will deal with it. (Alex. Maclaren, D.D.)
A story of the wars of the first Napoleon has often come back to me. He was trying in a winter campaign to cut off the march of the enemy across a frozen lake. The gunners were told to fire on the ice and break it, but the cannon balls glanced harmlessly along the surface. With one of the sudden flashes of genius he gave the word, “Fire upwards!” and the balls crashed down full weight, shattering the whole sheet into fragments, and the day was won. You can fire upwards in this battle even if you are shut out from fighting it face to face. You can do your share within the four walls of your room. (Miss Trotter.)
In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death.
Hezekiah’s sickness and recovery
I. The great contrasts in the events of life.
II. The suddenness with which these events happen.
III. The distress with which they are often attended.
IV. The wonderful deliverance which God can grant. (James Wolfendale.)
But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him--
A ruler’s sin
I. An undoubted truth; that sins of the rulers and the people ruled, are so intimately connected, that one invariably involves the other (Zechariah 10:3).
II. The intelligible motive. God gives us in the present order of things a large share in one another’s punishments, that He may make us take a deeper interest in one another’s duties. All are deeply interested in all. The government of every Christian country is intimately connected with the transgressions of the people; and the governed are closely involved in the sins of the government; so that each has an important duty to perform to the other. The government, apart from all political considerations, to curb and repress the immoralities and the wickedness of the people; and the people, firmly though mildly, to warn and caution and speak plainly to the government, lest by partaking silently and voluntarily of other men’s sins, they become partakers in other men’s pains. (H. Blunt.)
I. The person here spoken of.
1. His personal character.
2. His peculiar necessities.
II. The dispensation here described.
1. The suspension of grace.
2. The withdrawment of comfort.
III. The purpose of that dispensation.
1. To discover sin, with a view to its cure.
2. To conduct to greater happiness and honour.
IV. The issue of the trial--he sinned.
1. Wherein was the sin? He neglected an opportunity of proclaiming the true God, and indulged in a vain self-seeking.
2. How small in comparison with the sins of others--of ourselves.
3. How soon repented of.
4. How severely visited. (J. C. Gray.)
Ingratitude to God an heinous but general iniquity
Among the many vices that are at once universally decried and universally practised in the world, there is none more base or more common than ingratitude; ingratitude is the sin of individuals, of families, of Churches, of kingdoms. None of us can flatter ourselves that we are in little or no danger of this sin when even so good and great a man as Hezekiah did not escape the infection. In order to make you the more sensible of your ingratitude towards your Divine Benefactor, I shall--
I. Give a brief view of his mercies towards you.
II. Expose the aggravated baseness of ingratitude under the reception of so many mercies. (S. Davies, M.A.)
A rendering for mercies
I. That those that have received mercies must be careful to give in answerable returns or render according to what they have received.
1. There must be a rendering. There is a reflection upon God from all His works. Hell-fire casts back the reflection of the lustre of His justice and the power of His wrath. The world is round, and the motion of all things circular; they begin in God, and end in God (Romans 11:36).
(a) Greater trust in God.
(b) Greater love to Him (Psalms 116:1-2).
(c) Fearing Him more, lest we should offend so good a God (Hosea 3:5).
(d) More complete obedience.
2. This rendering must be proportionate.
(a) If the acknowledgment be in word, it must be taken notice of in a more than ordinary manner (Psalms 150:2).
3. This reproves--
(a) We must be first reconciled to God before we can do anything acceptable.
(b) Awaken the heart to the work.
(c) Search out the works of God (Psalms 111:2).
(d) Consider what the world gaineth by every discovery of God.
(e) Desire God to give you the heart to render (Psalms 51:15).
(f) Reason and argue from your experiences to your duty (Ezra 9:13).
II. That it is a sign we are unthankful under mercies when the heart is lifted up upon the enjoyment of them.
1. Because God can never be rightly praised or exalted while the heart is proud (Isaiah 2:17). God is exalted in the creature’s self-abasement.
2. A proud heart cannot be rightly conversant about blessings. It doth not give them their--
3. How shall we know when the heart is lifted up? It is mainly shown--
(a) By contention. When we are delivered, then we revive old quarrels; as timber warpeth in the sunshine.
(b) By insultation over enemies.
(c) By oppression and violence.
3. Take heed of the pride of self-dependence.
1. A special recognition and recalling of sins is not unseasonable (Ezekiel 36:30-31).
2. Meditate upon the changes of providence (Psalms 39:5). Belisarius, a famous general to-day, and within a little while forced to beg for a halfpenny. Things and persons are as the spokes of a wheel, sometimes in the dirt and sometimes out. (S. Manton, D.D.)
Notwithstanding, Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart.
Hezekiah’s sin and humiliation
I. Show the nature and grounds of hezekiah’s humiliation. His sin does not seem great in human estimation; but it was exceeding sinful in God’s sight.
1. He sought his own glory. He wished to show what a great man he was, in order that his alliance might be courted and his power feared.
2. He sought his own glory in preference to God’s honour. He had now a happy opportunity of magnifying the God of Israel. He might have
3. He sought his own glory before the good of his friends. He should have recompensed the great kindness of the ambassadors by instructing them in the knowledge of the God of Israel.
II. Enquire whether we also have not similar grounds for humiliation.
1. Pride is deeply rooted in the heart of fallen man. We are vain
2. We indulge this disposition to the neglect of God’s honour and of the eternal welfare of those around us.
1. What dreadful evils arise from small beginnings. Hezekiah at first probably intended only to show civility to his friends.
2. How great is the efficacy of fervent prayer and intercession. God deferred the evil threatened till the next generation. (Skeletons of Sermon.)
God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
Hezekiah’s fall considered and applied
I. Hezekiah’s sin.
1. Its nature.
(a) He was actuated by a wrong spirit.
(b) His action had a wrong tendency.
It was calculated to erase every serious impression which a recital of the wonder done in the land might have made on these heathen strangers. It was also calculated to confirm them in the conviction that the kings of Judah, notwithstanding their superior pretensions to the knowledge and favour of the true God, in reality neither possessed nor avowed any better source of protection and prosperity than the kings of other nations enjoyed.
2. Its aggravations.
II. The particular view of this transaction exhibited in the text.
1. It unfolds the cause of Hezekiah’s fall. “God left him.” What a striking illustration is thus incidentally presented to us of man’s depravity and weakness. No sooner was the barrier removed than the stream rushed with impetuosity into the channel of sin. To guard us against presumption the Scriptures present to us the examples of some of the most eminent servants of God, not all falling whenever they were left to themselves, but falling in those very points where we should conceive them to have been most firmly established; Abraham, Moses, etc. What need for us to pray, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from us.”
2. It discloses to us the secret reasons of the Divine conduct in thus permitting him for a season to be overcome. God left him “to try him,” that Hezekiah himself might know all that was in his heart.
(a) Regard our heart with a holy jealousy.
(b) Studiously examine the secret motives of our conduct.
(c) Sedulously avoid those places and practices which are most likely to prove a snare to us.
(d) Be instant in prayer for a supply of the grace that is in Christ.
(e) Fear to resist and grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
1. Those who studiously close their eyes and shut their ears against every discovery of the sin which dwelleth in them.
2. Those who having in vain endeavoured to stifle their convictions of sin, are filled with consternation and terror at the extent of their depravity. (E. Cooper.)
Hezekiah’s trespass with the ambassadors from Babylon
1. Nations professing God’s holy name must beware of sinful compromises with those by whom His truth is corrupted. The chief fault for which judgment befel Hezekiah was listening to the proposal to become the ally of a heathen prince.
2. It is an imperative duty which rests upon Christians to do somewhat for the spiritual welfare of foreigners who visit them.
3. The necessity for recognising every moment our need of Divine help. (R. Bickersteth, M.A.)
A fragment of the history of the Assyrian writer Berosus tells us that at this time Babylon had shaken off for a season the supremacy of Assyria, and, under Berodach Baladan, was strengthening herself as a rival sovereignty. The fame of the discomfiture of Sennacherib before Jerusalem had reached his ears, and it might well seem to him that an alliance with Hezekiah would be useful against a common danger. The recovery of Hezekiah and the miraculous sign furnished a suitable occasion for an embassy which was sent ostensibly to congratulate the king and “inquire of the wonder done in the land.” There was no sin in Hezekiah showing the embassy what was costly, useful, beautiful, but in the vanity which gave these things chief prominence.
I. Here is a lesson for us as a nation. Let us also show strangers whatever we have of interest; but let us not keep in the background what should be chief of all, and let them go away thinking that what we most value is wealth, power, pleasure. It is the duty of the Christian pulpit at such a time to ask the people, “What have you shown? What is in your heart?” Has God the chief place? Is righteousness more to us than riches, and principle than policy? Are we more desirous to live in the fear of God than to keep in awe other nations? If we pompously display our treasures, may we not some day be ignominiously despoiled? If in any form we embrace Babylon, may not our nation some day be crushed by Babylon? Whatever our princes and statesmen may do, let the people, who, more and more, are the nation and responsible for its character and conduct, let the people cherish and make manifest the conviction that worth is more than wealth, and piety than power, and righteousness than rank, and purity than pleasure, and God than gold. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence”; “The throne is established by righteousness”; “Righteousness exalteth a nation”; “Seek, first, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
II. The lesson is applicable to the Church as well as to the Nation. What is our idea of the chief excellence and stability of any Church? Is it the support of Law, the patronage of princes, a grand hierarchy, rich endowments? Is it noble buildings, imposing ritual, inspiring music? Is it learning and eloquence in the pulpit, with congregations numerous, or cultured, or wealthy? These features have their value more or less, and these can be shown, displayed, gloried in. But the chief treasures of the Church cannot thus be exhibited. Alas for the Church that prides itself chiefly in the outward and visible. Do we desire for our church such things chiefly and regard them most worth seeking, prizing, extolling? Or are we cultivating, praying for, and valuing far more--Penitence, Faith, Love, Zeal, Holiness, Usefulness? What is in our heart?
III. We may apply the lesson to individuals. What do we ourselves regard as our chief treasure? This may be developed by circumstances. It has been said that after the massacre at Culloden certain flowers bloomed where blood had been copiously shed, unknown before. The seeds were dormant, till favourable conditions brought them forth. Hezekiah was a good man, but in his heart were latent weaknesses, which it was well for him to know before it was too late. Better that they should be revealed and cured than be hidden, unchecked, and with worse and more lasting fruits. Crises in the life of nations and individuals have developed unsuspected capacities, both for good and evil. For both in the case of David and Peter. For the commission of the worst of crimes in the case of Judas. If occasion occurred of displaying our most valued possession, what would we select? We may reasonably show what is showable--house, garden, books, pictures, children; if gratefully to the Giver, and not in vanity. But are these our chief treasures? If angels came to us from their far country, what would they see we prize most? Were some such unexpected visitor to enter our abode to interview us, would he find family religion--the gathered household at the domestic altar, private prayer, personal godliness? Is the maturity of Christian character sought more than the prosperity of business and the increase of wealth? Do we regard the favour of God more than the praise of men; communion with heaven more than intimacy with the great ones of the earth; a good conscience more than stores of silver and gold? Temptation may come to try what is in our heart. By some departure from strict integrity business may be promoted and wealth increased. If we yield it is evident that we regard money as more worth having than a good conscience. If some gratification is indulged at the cost of sobriety and virtue, we show that pleasure is more to us than purity. On what do our thoughts chiefly dwell? “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” On what do we chiefly set our affections and direct our energies? “Where a man’s treasure is there will his heart be also.” Hezekiah’s wealth went to the Babylon he courted. If we choose the world we perish with it. Jerusalem in ruins is an emblem of a soul without God. (Newman Hall, LL.B.)
Danger of prosperity
The naturalists observe well, that the north wind is more healthful, though the south be more pleasant; the south with his warmth raiseth vapours, which breed putrefaction, and cause diseases; the north with his cold drieth those vapours up, purging the blood, and quickening the spirits. Thus adversity is unpleasant, but it keepeth us watchful against sin, and careful to do our duties; whereas prosperity doth flatteringly lull us asleep. It never goes worse with men spiritually than when they find themselves corporeally best at ease; Hezekiah was better upon his sick-bed than when he was showing off his treasures to the ambassadors of the King of Babylon. (J. Spencer.)
The danger of being left to oneself
One day I went out with my little girl. I said to her, “Emma, you had better let me take hold of your hand.” She said, “No; I had rather keep my hands in my muff,” and she walked off very proudly. Presently she came to some ice, and down she went, and was hurt a little. I said, “You had better let me hold on to your hand.” She said, “No; but let me hold on to your finger.” Presently she came to some more ice; she could not hold on to my finger, and down she went, and hurt herself still more. Then she said, “Papa, I wish you would hold on to my hand.” So I took her wrist in my hand, and she couldn’t fall. (D. L. Moody.)
Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness.
I. The genuine goodness shall not want appropriate record and remembrance.
1. God, the inspirer of goodness in the hearts of men, will not forget it.
2. The beneficiaries of goodness will not be unmindful of their benefactors.
3. Sympathetic imitators will mirror forth their goodness, from whom they have derived its idea and impulse. Christian philanthropists like John Howard and Elizabeth Fry are living over again in their practical admirers and copyists.
II. The seasons selected by God for such recognition are often sober and sorrowful.
1. Public calamity. Sennacherib’s invasion.
2. Personal affliction. Hezekiah’s sickness.
3. Death. Hezekiah’s burial. “Blessed are the dead.” (J. Spencer Hill.)
Goodness of heart
The wind is unseen, but it cools the brow of the fevered one, sweetens the summer atmosphere, and ripples the surface of the lake into silver spangles of beauty. So goodness of heart, though invisible to the material eye, makes its presence felt; and from its effects upon surrounding things we are assured of its existence. And they buried him in the chiefast of the sepulchres of the sons of David.
The life and character of Hezekiah
A very wise and salutary custom prevailed among the ancient Egyptians; that of sitting in judgment upon the life and character of a man after his death, that, according as he had been deserving or undeserving, honourable burial might be granted to him or denied. The Jews appear to have brought something like the same custom out of Egypt, and to have acted upon it in the ease of their wicked kings (1 Kings 14:13; 2 Kings 9:10; Jeremiah 22:18; Isaiah 14:19). Hence a burial specially mentioned in the Scriptures signifies honour, approbation, and affectionate remembrance, more distinctly than among us. The funeral of Hezekiah is the proper place for a review of his life and character. Consider--
I. His public zeal for worship of God and the good of his people.
II. The peculiar troubles with which he was exercised.
III. The remarkable deliverances which he experienced.
IV. The singular circumstances under which he passed his closing years.
V. The excellences and defects of his religious character and conduct. (Daniel Katterns.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》