20 In those days Hezekiah became deadly ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.(A)
2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying,
3 I beseech You, O Lord, [earnestly] remember now how I have walked before You in faithfulness and truth and with a whole heart [entirely devoted to You] and have done what is good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him:
5 Turn back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of My people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your [forefather]: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord.
6 I will [a]add to your life fifteen years and deliver you and this city [Jerusalem] out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.
7 And Isaiah said, Bring a cake of figs. Let them lay it on the burning inflammation, that he may recover.
8 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord on the third day?
9 And Isaiah said, This is the sign to you from the Lord that He will do the thing He has promised: shall the shadow [denoting the time of day] go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?
10 Hezekiah answered, It is an easy matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps; so let the shadow go back ten steps.
11 So Isaiah the prophet cried to the Lord, and He brought the shadow the ten steps backward by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.
12 At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness.(B)
13 And Hezekiah rejoiced and welcomed the embassy and showed them all his treasure-house—the silver, gold, spices, precious ointment, his armory, and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.
14 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said, What did these men say? From where did they come to you? Hezekiah said, They are from a far country, from Babylon.
15 Isaiah said, What have they seen in your house? Hezekiah answered, They have seen all that is in my house. There is no treasure of mine that I have not shown them.
16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord!
17 Behold, the time is coming when [b]all that is in your house, and that which your forefathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord.
18 And some of your sons who shall be born to you shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon’s king.
19 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, The word of the Lord you have spoken is good. For he thought, Is it not good, if [all this evil is meant for the future and] peace and security shall be in my days?
20 The rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool and the canal and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
21 Hezekiah slept with his fathers. Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
- 2 Kings 20:6 Good King Hezekiah’s prayer life holds a mighty challenge and a clear and terrible warning for every believer. In his nation’s darkest hour (18:13-17), he prayed (19:15), and God performed a miracle, one He had foretold (19:20, 32-37). It is a wonderful thing to have such power as that with God! But in this chapter (20) and the next, that power has become a terrible thing; for Hezekiah had put himself on God’s “ways and means committee,” as chairman in fact. God virtually said, “Your time has come to die” (20:1). But Hezekiah’s words and tears implied, “No! I want to live and have sons who will do mighty things, and I myself have my best years ahead of me!” Read this chapter and the next, and note at least ten terrible things (see also footnote on II Kings 20:17) that resulted which only God could foresee and that only Hezekiah’s death executed at the time God intended it would have prevented. But Hezekiah interfered. The only safe prayer policy is “God’s will; nothing more; nothing less; nothing else; at any cost” (see Luke 22:42, Acts 21:14). It pays triumphantly! Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “Blessed is he who submits to the will of God; he can never be unhappy. Men may deal with him as they will...; he is without care; he knows that ‘all things work together for good’ for him” (Rom. 8:28) (Martin Luther, cited by J.P. Lange, A Commentary).
- 2 Kings 20:17 This is the first of ten tragic results of Hezekiah’s self-willed prayer, which God’s plan for Hezekiah’s death would have prevented (see the footnote on 20:6). For a listing of these results see II Kings 20:18; 21:1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 14, 16, 20.