Translations: Chinese GB Big5

You Are Going to Die

Isaiah 38:1-6
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said,
"This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,
"Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." '
And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:
"Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city."


"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." Psalms 116:15  And everyone must die at some point. But perhaps God announced Hezekiah's impending death not so much predictively, but in order to invoke a reaction. For Hezekiah had proven to be a man of prayer, calling upon the Lord in times of distress. But what can be learned from his reaction?
As these are historical sections and not directly didactic we are left only to infer lessons correlating them with sections of the Bible which teach more explicitly. In other words in this case we see how Hezekiah reacted, but we don't know how ideally he should have reacted.
Hezekiah wanted his life extended. This he makes clear in the section following this one in which he thanks God for answering him. An interesting discussion question is how would you pray if God were to tell you that you are about to die? Well guess what? You are about to die - may be not today and maybe not tomorrow, but some day.

In viewing Hezekiah's particular prayer here, namely, "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." to many an evangelical Christian this smacks of Pharisaical legalism as in the parable of in which the Pharisee prays, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men— robbers, evildoers, adulterers— or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." Lk 18:11,12 which was not commendable. This in contrast to the Tax Collector's prayer which was commended, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Lk 18:13 It seems Hezekiah's prayer falls in between - namely God have mercy on me a faithful servant. We will see in the next section that Hezekiah was concerned about his sinful state, though that isn't brought out here.

The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector is about hypocrisy. It is not about forms of prayer that impress God. It is about attitude. If a person, like Hezekiah, actually is faithful and devout and actually doing what is right in God's eyes, that is something that God pays attention to. This in contrast to those who claim to be Christians but who willfully live lifestyles of sin who think that they can get God to answer their prayers simply by admitting they are sinners. They take the form of the tax collector's prayer but not the attitude of heart.
Next time you ask God for help consider praying as Hezekiah did, "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." Are these characteristics of your walk with the Lord. If not why not?   "The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous." Proverbs 15:29


Better Off Dead

Now it turns out that it may have been better for everyone if Hezekiah's life had not been extended. During those 15 extended years:
Thus it seems it would have been better for Hezekiah's legacy if he had never prayed to have his life extended.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources