Hezekiah [Hĕze kī'ah]—jehovah is strength or a strong support is jehovah. Also given as Hizkiah, Hizkijah, Ezekias.
1. Son and successor of Ahaz as king of Judah (2 Kings 16:20). He is referred to in well over one hundred references in 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, Hosea and Micah.
Hezekiah was one of the best kings who ever sat upon the throne of Judah, and is distinguished as the greatest in faith of all Judah’s kings (2 Kings 18:5). Sincere and devout, he was not a perfect man by any means, nor outstanding because of any brilliant gifts he possessed. This good king, however, is to be admired when one remembers his family background. Having such a wicked, apostate father as Ahaz, the wonder is that his son became the noble king he did. He had no pious training, but only a heritage of weakness in his moral fibre, for which God graciously made all fair allowance.
With Hezekiah’s ascent to the throne at the age of twenty-five there began a period of religious revival in which he was encouraged by the noblest and most eloquent of the Hebrew prophets, Isaiah, who knew how to carry his religion into his politics.
I. Hezekiah was a man who prayed about the difficulties and dangers overtaking him. What faith and confidence in God he revealed when he spread Sennacherib’s insolent letter before the Lord. Both Hezekiah and Isaiah defied mighty Assyria, God using one angel to slay one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp.
The king knew how to pray about personal matters as well as military dangers. When smitten with a fatal illness, he turned his face to the wall and prayed. Isaiah, his friend and counselor, came to him with a message from God that he would not die but live. “I will add unto thy days fifteen years.” Hezekiah asked with all his heart that he might live, and God continued his life.
But the question arises, why did Hezekiah desire the removal of his illness and the continuation of his life? What object did he have in mind? Was the king anxious to live in order to promote the glory of God, or was he actuated by some personal motive? It is apparent that Hezekiah was afraid of death and loved life in itself. Death was not the same to Hezekiah as it was to Paul, who had a desire to depart, seeing death was far better than life.
At the time of his sickness, Hezekiah had no son, and this fact possibly added to his desire to live. Three years after his recovery Manasseh was born, who became a curse upon the earth and an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Here, then, was one of the results of Hezekiah’s answered prayer. It might have been better for Judah if Hezekiah had died without such an heir. Many prayers we offer are mistakes. God graciously grants our requests but “brings leanness to our souls” (Ps. 106:15). Perhaps Hezekiah’s sin began in his unwillingness to go to heaven when God sent for him (2 Kings 20:1-3).
II. Hezekiah’s simple faith in God was the source and secret of his strength. He believed God ruled among the armies of heaven and of earth. His faith was the intuitive perception that God was near—a real Personality and not a mere tendency making for righteousness. The loss of faith is ultimately the loss of moral power. One of the main lessons of Hezekiah’s life is, Have faith in God.
III. Hezekiah lost favor with God because of pride. After all the divine blessings showered upon him, he allowed his heart to be lifted up with pride. Vanity and self-sufficiency led the king astray. His heart became obsessed with his household treasures. He turned from God to goods. “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” (2 Chron. 32:24, 25). Sin never ends with the person committing it.
The four crises Hezekiah faced were:
The crisis of choice, and he chose to forsake the idols of his father and purge the kingdom of idolatry (2 Chron. 28:23, 25; 2 Kings 18:22).
The crisis of sickness. Obedience furnished the foundation of the king’s prayer for healing (Isa. 38:1-5).
The crisis of prosperity. Alas, Hezekiah manifested pride when he displayed his treasures to the ungodly (Isa. 39).
2. A son of Neariah and a descendant of the royal house of Judah (1 Chron. 3:23).
3. An ancestor of the prophet Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:1). Given in Common Version as Hizkiah.
4. An exile, descendant of Ater who returned from exile in Babylon (Ezra 2:16; Neh. 7:21).