3 PITFALLS OF PRIDE
The Scriptures clearly indicate that the root problem of Hezekiah here is PRIDE.
2 Chr. 32:24-25 – Hezekiah had wrongly responded in pride to the gift of healing he had received
C. S. Lewis: If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud . . . If you think you’re not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
2 Chron. 32:31 – God was testing the heart of King Hezekiah
“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.”
God knows our every thought without any trial. But that knowledge is private to him. He wants us to live in the constant consciousness of his penetrating knowledge, a posture that the Scriptures describe as “walking before the Lord” (Gen 17:11; Ps 56:13; 116:9). When there is some detail of our life that needs correcting, he knows it before the test, but he brings the test to make his private knowledge public, so that we will know that he knows.
When God withdrew his presence, Hezekiah’s heart could accomplish nothing. Nor, for that matter, could the heart of anyone else. This passage isn’t about Hezekiah; it’s about the human heart.
Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Rom 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
Hezekiah’s failure in ch. 39 is not the result of any fault that was peculiar to him alone. Any of us would fail in exactly the same way, if deprived of the Lord’s presence. As the Lord told his disciples, after commanding them to abide in him, “without me ye can do nothing” (Joh 15:5).
God choose for this test the most righteous king of the Old Covenant, one who “clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments” (1 Kings 18:6), in a way unlike any king of Judah before or since. This passage is thus a cornerstone for the teaching of the new covenant. It shows us the limits of the old covenant, and the tremendous power of the new, the linkage between the indwelling Holy Spirit and our ability to walk in God’s statutes and keep his commandments.
3 PITFALLS OF PRIDE
I. (:1-2) PRIDE CAUSES US TO LET DOWN OUR GUARD AND ALLOW THE ENEMY TO GAIN AN ADVANTAGE
A. (:1) Flattering Diplomacy
“At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered.”
Literally: the god Marduk has given a son
Should have prayed about the situation
Oswalt: trust must become a way of life and not merely a magic talisman to be rubbed at critical moments
Wiersbe: When Satan cannot defeat us as the “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8-9), he comes as the deceiving serpent (2 Cor. 11:3). What Assyria could not do with weapons, Babylon did with gifts.
Parunak: The Chronicler describes his motive this way:
2Ch 32:31 “to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land”
The term “wonder” is often associated with “sign,” the name given to the reversal of the shadow on the stairs. Recovery from an illness is not out of the normal course of experience, but the reversal of the shadow was. Like the wise men at the birth of the Lord, these ambassadors are drawn by a celestial sign marking an earthly event.
Rich Cathers: This guy was an interesting character in history. He was a Chaldean prince from the area of the Persian Gulf. While the Assyrians had been ruling the world, he led a revolt against Assyria and captured the city of Babylon and ruled it from 722-710 BC. He was run out of Babylon in 710 when the Assyrians took it back, but was able to briefly recapture it from 705-702 BC, when the Assyrians again kicked him out. It’s now a year later, and he’s on the lookout for allies in his fight against the Assyrians.
Keep in mind, the Babylonian kingdom has yet to become a world empire. This won’t happen until Nebuchadnezzar rises up and defeats the Assyrians for good a hundred years in the future.
B. (:2) Full Disclosure
“And Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah did not show them.”
Constable: Hezekiah’s response expressed a desire to share these resources with an ally who might help Judah oppose Assyria. Thus Hezekiah’s act demonstrated trust in Babylon and reliance on her for safety.
Oswalt: Here was a ready-made opportunity for Hezekiah to glorify God before the pagan Babylonians, to tell of his greatness and of his grace. Instead, he succumbed to the temptation to glorify himself and to prove to the Chaldeans that he was a worthy partner for any sort of coalition they might have in mind. There is no indication that they were interested in such an alliance, however. Much more likely they simply wished to encourage someone whom they viewed as a petty kinglet without making any commitment on their part.”
II. (:3-4) PRIDE BLINDS US TO THE TACTICS OF THE ENEMY AND MASKS THE SHAME THAT WE SHOULD FEEL FOR OUR DEFECTION
A. (:3) First Interchange – Enemy Attempt at Intelligence Gathering
1. Interrogation – Nature of the Threat
“Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, ‘What did these men say, and from where have they come to you?’”
Not looking for information here; but exposing the heart of King Hezekiah and the error of his ways
2. Response – Identification of the Threat
“And Hezekiah said, ‘They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.’”
Only answers the second of the two questions.
Parunak: Second, note in particular how he picks up Isaiah’s “unto thee.” He emphasizes, “They are come … unto me.” He sees himself as the center of their interest, even though the “wonder” about which they came to inquire was done by the Lord. The wonder really “belonged to the Lord,” as the writer of 1 Kings 10:1 says of the fame of Solomon. They would have been primed to hear an explanation in spiritual terms. Yet Hezekiah deflects their interest to himself.
Rich Cathers: Lesson — Distant things don’t seem dangerous.
When Joshua was conquering the Promised Land, he was met by a group of ambassadors claiming to be from a distant land (Josh 9:9). They were wearing worn out clothes and carried stale bread. Joshua went ahead and made a treaty with them, only to find out a few days later that they were from just around the corner. The Gibeonites proved to be much trouble for Israel. It all happened because the Israelites relied on what their eyes saw instead of asking God for His advice.
B. (:4) Second Interchange – Extent of Damage to National Security
1. Interrogation – What Have They Seen?
“And he said, ‘What have they seen in your house?’”
2. Response – Everything
“So Hezekiah answered, ‘They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.’”
III. (:5-8) PRIDE COSTS US MORE THAN WE THINK – BOTH IN TERMS OF KINGDOM OBJECTIVES AND PERSONAL FULFILLMENT
A. (:5-7) Judgment of Babylonian Captivity
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the LORD of hosts,’”
1. (:6) Confiscation of Kingdom Treasures
“’Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD.”
Constable: This is the first explicit reference to the Babylonian captivity in Isaiah. Many critics of the Bible who do not believe in predictive prophecy have used this reference as evidence of a much later date of writing than Isaiah’s day. . . Isaiah’s mention of Babylon as the enemy undoubtedly shocked Hezekiah because at this time Assyria was the great threat to Judah. Furthermore, Isaiah had previously predicted the demise of Babylon (ch. 14).
2. (:7) Deportation and Transplanting of Nobility
“And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Rich Cathers: it’s probably because of the historical records that Merodach’s ambassadors made of all the treasures that helped Nebuchadnezzar know that he wanted to go to Jerusalem some day.
Constable: Some of Hezekiah’s descendants would also be taken (captive) to Babylon. It is very probable that at the time of the events in chapters 36—39 Hezekiah had no children. His son, Manasseh, began reigning when he was 12 years old, and Hezekiah died a year later, in 686 B.C. Thus, Isaiah’s announcement here may have sparked a hope—in Hezekiah’s mind—for some descendants. As usual, God’s promise of judgment contained some hope. This prediction of Hezekiah’s descendants became true of the king’s physical seed: his son Manasseh (2 Chron. 33:11), King Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:12), and King Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:7). It also became true of many of Hezekiah’s people, his children in that sense, when Nebuchadnezzar carried three deportations of Judahites off to Babylon (cf. 2 Kings 24:12-16; 2 Chron. 33:11; Dan. 1:3-4, 6).
B. (:8) Justification of Near Term Expediency
“Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah,”
1. (:8a) Selfish Orientation
“The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good.”
No nobility in Hezekiah’s selfish evaluation of God’s discipline
2. (:8b) Short Term Gratification
“For he thought, ‘For there will be peace and truth in my days.’”
Parunak: But the Chronicler has a more positive view on what is going on.
2 Ch 32:26 “Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.”
Remember our conclusion from 2 Chr 32:31 that God is using Hezekiah as a case study of what happens to Israel’s most righteous king when left with only the resources of the flesh. Once this demonstration is accomplished, the Lord tenderly grants him “the spirit of grace and of supplications” (cf. Zech 12:10). His statement, “Good is the word of the Lord,” should be understood as an acknowledgment of his sin, and the recognition of the delay is thanksgiving for the measure of grace that the Lord has bestowed on him.
Illustration: Palm Monday Donkey
The donkey awakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride. He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them” he thought. But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind. “Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?” They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move. “Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.” But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place. “The palm branches! Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yesterday, you threw palm branches!” Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother. “Foolish child,” she said gently. “Don’t you realize that without him, you are just an ordinary donkey?”
Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc. – quoted by Rich Cathers.
T. A. Hegre: Humility is the displacement of self and the enthronement of Christ. Humility means Christ is all and self is nothing.