What do you call someone who’s first impulse when life gets hard isn’t to look for God’s help, but always to take care of problems themselves? Stubborn? Defiant? Prideful? Perhaps. But how about human? After all, Hezekiah was like that and he is remembered as one of the greatest kings in the Bible.
“Hezekiah relied on the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to the Lord and did not turn from following him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses.” 2 Kings 18:5-6
That a pretty good obituary! But what makes it truly noteworthy is that it is recorded of a man whose instincts weren’t always to choose God first. If you take the time to read about his life in 2 Kings 18-20 you’ll find that virtually every picture we have of his life is questionable at best. Faced with an overwhelming army at the gates of Jerusalem, he tries to buy his way out first (by stripping everything of value from the temple no less!). Promised an extra fifteen years of life because of his faithfulness, he demands a miracle to prove it. And when he sees a chance to lean on Babylon to help him deal with Assyrian tyranny, he shows them the treasury.
Are these really the actions of a spiritual giant? According to scripture, yes. What’s encouraging about the life of Hezekiah isn’t his overwhelming spirituality, but his constant devotion in spite of himself. He doesn’t always make the right first choice, but in every instance he ultimately chooses God and at the end of his life he is remembered for it. That’s inspiring, isn’t it? Alexander Pope famously wrote, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Maybe he read about Hezekiah. With all the mistakes and errant first choices we make in life, it is hopeful and helpful to know that God still cares and is willing to redeem us anyway if we’ll just remember to turn back to him.