Hezekiah at last gives us a king more in the mould of David – but perhaps it’s too little, too late.
He’s already ruling only over a fraction of David’s Kingdom, but at least he does all he can to reform Israel’s faith and worship. There’s a telling detail when we’re told that he destroys the bronze serpent which Moses had made in the wilderness. It had once been a sign of healing and of God’s protection, but over the years it has become something else. Its original meaning forgotten, it had behind just another idol, and so it had to go. It can be hard to let go of the signs of God’s presence with our ancestors, but if they get in the way of our worship today, they have to go.
As well as reforming worship, Hezekiah stands up to Assyria, and trusts in the LORD more than in armies and diplomatic alliances. Even more deeply, when Hezekiah asks God to get involved, he does it in the right grounds; not for the sake of the king or even of the people, but so that the LORD’s strength and faithfulness to his promise may be seen. There’s a valuable lesson for us here – we can pray with confidence not because we deserve God’s aid but because he is an unchanging and loving God, who will not let us down when we truly rely on him.
The LORD fully honours this trust and routs the Assyrian army. All is mostly well, for now.
But there’s one thing where Hezekiah does seem to fall short. Healed of illness by God, he is content to know that peace will last for his lifetime, even though he knows that his sons and his people will suffer in future.
How often do we set out vision too short, and concentrate on the short term without concern for the longer future? I remember visiting some elderly friends of my wife’s family in Anglesey. They had just planted an orchard, from which they would probably never pick fruit – but they knew that one day others would. I have always remembered that sign of faith in the future and later generations. I hope I can be faithful not just for now but for the future my great grandchildren may one day see.