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LORD, Thine Eyes, and see, and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the Living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands; and have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone, therefore have they destroyed them. Now, therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech Thee, save Thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou art the LORD God, even Thou only.”
Then Hezekiah received the Lord's gracious answer, through the Prophet Isaiah.
" That which thou hast prayed to Me against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard." Isaiah then prophesied the future destruction of that great Assyrian empire; and for Hezekiah's present need, he said, “He shall not come
, into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it for Mine Own Sake, and for My servant David's sake."
Very wonderful indeed was the salvation He
wrought for His people. That night the Destroying Angel was sent forth into the Assyrian camp, and he smote one hundred and eightyfive thousand men, so that the next morning the camp was but as one vast charnel-house. Sennacherib could do nothing but return as fast as possible to Nineveh, and soon after, he was murdered in a heathen temple by two of his own sons.
“ Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side.” From this time Hezekiah prospered exceedingly, and “was magnified in the sight of all nations."
After a while, the LORD visited King Hezekiah with a dangerous boil, and he was sick unto death. The LORD sent Isaiah to bid him, “ Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, “I beseech Thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight.”
And Hezekiah wept
Very speedily did God hear and answer His
faithful servant. Even while Hezekiah lay there with his face to the wall, weeping and praying, Isaiah was stopped as he left the palace by the Word of the LORD, which said to him, “Turn again, and tell Hezekiah, the Captain of My people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will heal thee; on the third day thou shalt go up into the House of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years."
The prophet brought back this gracious message, and at the same time he bade the king's servants place a plaister of figs upon the boil, which should cure it. Isaiah promised a sign that the LORD would do as He had said, and he gave Hezekiah his choice, whether the sun's shadow should go forward or backward upon the sundial ten degrees? Then Hezekiah said, “ It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; nay, but let the shadow return backwards ten degrees.”
Isaiah cried unto the LORD, and the LORD was pleased to grant this wonder, and the sun's shadow went back upon the dial ten degrees. In the Book of Isaiah's Prophecies, we find the psalm of thanksgiving which Hezekiah poured out, after this wonderful recovery from the gates of death, how he cried, “O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me!” and how the LORD raised him up.
“ The Lord was ready to save me, therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the House of the Lord."
Holy Scripture is full of lessons that the safest path to heaven is rather that of trial and adversity, than of unmixed prosperity. We have another proof of this in Hezekiah's story. Delivered from all his enemies, raised up by God's special miracle from a dying bed, and surrounded on all sides with riches and honour, he“ rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him, for his heart was lifted up.” This pride of heart was shown when the king of Babylon sent ambassadors to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery. The king not only received them courteously, as was due, but he gave way to vainglory, and displayed all the costliness of his palace, his precious things, his silver and gold, his armouries, and all his treasures; failing to acknowledge that he did but hold these things for a few short years as a trust from his Master, to Whom he must account for their use. Then the prophet Isaiah
was sent again to Hezekiah, and he asked, “ What said these men, and from whence came they unto thee ?” Hezekiah answered, “ They are come from a far country, even from Babylon. All the things that are in mine house have they seen; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them.” But Isaiah reproved the king, and told him that all these treasures of which he boasted should be carried away by that very kingdom of Babylon, and Jerusalem should be despoiled. But this was not to be in Hezekiah's lifetime. The king humbled himself before the prophet, and answered, " Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken.” It was as the Lord promised: there was peace and truth in the land during Hezekiah's reign. He brought water into the city of Jerusalem, and did many things for the good of his kingdom ; for the LORD prospered him in all his works. When, after twenty-nine years' reign, Hezekiah died, he was buried in the chief royal sepulchre of David, and all Judah and Jerusalem did him honour.