Hezekiah's Good Reign
Monday Club Sermons
2 Kings 18:1-37
Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.…

The history of God's ancient people is full of surprises. The whole course of their national life was marked by wonderful Divine interpositions. An public records, when carefully studied, disclose the fact that God, through His providence, is acting as master of affairs, and though statesmen and political economists refer the shifting events of national career to natural causes, it is evident to the clear thinker that God is an uncalculated factor, the explanation is meagre and faulty. But in the history of the elect people, the Divine element was unmistakably prominent. In these particulars the history of the Jews was unique, and sublime above that of any other nation. And yet the behaviour of the people was quite as surprising. With only the thinnest of veils separating them from God — their daily experience august with the manifestations of His presence — the penalties of sin and the rewards of righteousness, things tangible and perceptible, they went on in a mad career of impiety and wickedness as recklessly as though they had never heard of Jehovah. But there are lights as well as shadows to the picture. Now and then a man in authority rose to the level of his responsibility and ruled in the fear of God, and the nation, as nations commonly do, catching inspiration from their leader, entered upon an era of prosperity. Notable among these faithful few was Hezekiah, King of Judah.

1. Hezekiah "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord." His theory of government was a simple one; to make it as far as possible a transcript of the Divine government. Statesmanship, in his conception of it, was no familiarity with human precedents, a mastery of the wiles and contrivances by which men in power manage to make all events subserve their purpose, a skilful sword-play in which some trick of fence is more highly esteemed than truth and righteousness. With that one purpose sovereign and constant, all details of administration grouped themselves about it, and in harmony with it, as the atoms of the gem aggregate themselves about the centre of crystallization, the value and lustre of the jewel, due to its unity. No government of contradictions this, whose worth was to be ascertained by averaging its failings and its merits, but an honest attempt on the part of the king to make his rule an answer to the prayer, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." It is the fatal defect in most forms of government that this overrule of God is ignored. Men are dull scholars, slow to learn that to do right is to do well, in public affairs as well as in private conduct. To do "that which is fight in the sight of the Lord" is the fundamental and unalterable principle in all policies of government that vindicate themselves in history. Treasuries and armies and the intrigues of cabinets may win temporary successes; but they are short-lived.

2. Hezekiah "trusted in the Lord God of Israel." That gave him confidence and made him uncompromising in all his measures. He was no cautious strategist, trying experiments, uncertain of their issue, advancing so slowly that there would be opportunity to retrace his steps if the event seemed likely to disappoint his expectation a He did not trust in his own shrewdness and far-sightedness. He was not anxious about the signs of the times, a calculator of popular weather probabilities. No one more well aware than he of the unreliability of the tone and temper of public moods. He trusted in God, the eternal and the unchanging, "a personal God, the Lord God of Israel, doing His pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the children of men." So he had no responsibility except for duty; consequences were in higher and wiser hands than his. Like a soldier under command, he had only to obey orders. And withal he had a serene and satisfying assurance that he should be contented with last results. The Divine wishes could not be thwarted, and whatever pleased God would please him. When the first Napoleon came to the throne, and saw how unbelief was destroying both the faith and the conscience of the French nation, he said to his advisers, "If there is no God, we must create one." No man can prosperously direct the affairs of a great people without personal faith in God. There are crises in affairs when he loses heart and hope unless he "endures as seeing Him who is invisible." There are hours when the policy of strict righteousness threatens immediate disaster, and the temptation to slight concessions for large apparent good is strong, and how can king or president resist it unless they are able to look up through the obscurity and confidently say, "Clouds and darkness are round about Him, but judgment and justice are the habitation of His throne?" Religion is too often depreciated as the superstition of the cloister and the Church, but all history shows that it has been the most practical and powerful force in the administration of government.

3. Hezekiah "clave to the Lord and departed not from following Him." This religious faith was something more than an intellectual assent to certain general truths, more even than the recognition that Divine Providence is the operative factor in human history. His convictions had a personal force, and caused him to see that he ought to be, and led him to endeavour to be, himself a good man. Behind all the righteous measures he proposed, there was the weight and push of a righteous character. It was not enough that the service due to God had mention in public documents and on state occasions; he himself must render that service in his private capacity. The people must see, in his individual behaviour, the recognition of the sovereignty of those principles that were embedded in the statutes, and gave shape and colour to the national policy. Other things being equal, the better the character of king and governor and legislator, the stronger the presumption that their administration of affairs will be judicious, sound, and strong. The man who governs himself rightly has taken the first step towards knowing how to govern others for their good.

4. "And the Lord was with him, and he prospered whithersoever he went." This is the brief but significant summing up of the history of Hezekiah's reign. The account is notable for its omissions. There is no record of new territory added to the kingdom, of armies organised, of treasuries filled, of advance in industrial enterprise and business prosperity, the specifications that figure so largely in the common description of national growth. In the thought of the inspired writer, the enumeration of items like these was of small importance in comparison with the great overshadowing fact that the Divine presence was visible, and the Divine favour evident, in the whole course of the people's history. That of itself was sufficient to ensure success and renown. Since God was for them, who or what could be against them?

(Monday Club Sermons.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.

WEB: Now it happened in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.

Hezekiah's Good Reign
Top of Page
Top of Page