We’ll be continuing our discussion of Isaiah 36-39 tonight in my Tuesday night group, hopefully finishing that section. Last week, we looked at Hezekiah’s prayer for healing.
For those who may not remember, it’s a short one:
“Remember now, O LORD, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 38:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
No confession, no praise. Just “Look how good I am!”
I’m going to guess that most of us have prayed prayers just like this one. Why is this happening to me? I’m doing ____ and this is what I get?” It’s not unnatural. In fact, it’s very natural. Of the flesh, even!
So God hears Hezekiah’s prayer and sees his tears. God gives Hezekiah what he desires.
Is it a good thing or not?
We tend to see healing as always a good result. In this case, I think it’s worth thinking about the story. During that 15 years we have the visit of the messengers of Merodach-baladan from Babylon, to whom Hezekiah shows everything. Very little is explicitly said, but God clearly does not approve.
It is not unlikely that this meeting was a plan for alliance, presumably against Assyria, as Babylon was aiming to retake the lead position in Mesopotamia, something they didn’t accomplish until Nabopolassar accomplished it late in the 7th century BCE.
Did God see this as a denial of the protection God had just promised to Hezekiah and to Jerusalem?
Then in 2 Kings 21 we see Manasseh, generally considered the worst king of Judah, took the throne at 12 years of age on the death of his father. His birth would have occurred in those 15 years added to Hezekiah’s life.
I can’t help but contrast this to another answered prayer, as mentioned in Hebrews 5:7. In reference to Jesus’ prayer in the garden, we are told that he was heard because of his reverent submission. Yet the cup did not pass from the hands of Jesus. Jesus went on to the cross.
Sometimes the best answers to our prayers may not involve us getting what we asked for. Getting what we asked for might not be the best result.
(Theme Image Credit: Openclipart.org.)