Hezekiah – A Study In Character

by | May 14, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hezekiah means: God Strengthens. It’s noteworthy that the kind of life Hezekiah lived seems to be how the name got its meaning. That’s not alwyas the case. That’s what makes Hezekiah a study in character! A story is told about Alexander the Great meeting a man who was also named Alexander. This other person had a very poor reputation. In light of that, Alexander the Great reportedly said to him:

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Either change your name or change your way of life.

It is quite an accomplishment to have lived in such a way that your life provides the definition for your name.We usually call something like this a character study. In this case, it seems appropriate to use the word play for the title. We should study this character to improve our own character!

Hezekiah – A Study In Character

Some background information is necessary. Hezekiah was the thirteenth king of the Southern Kingdom: Judah. He was 25 years old when he became king. Hezekiah’s father was Ahaz, and Ahaz was a very wicked king:

II Kings 16:1-4 – Ahaz sacrificed his son in the fire – a detestable, pagan practice.

As a prince of Judah, Hezekiah  would have received the best education available in his day. He would have been schooled in civil government, science, mathematics, economics, military training, and religious studies. Hezekiah lived in Jerusalem and reigned over Judah during the time of the divided kingdom from about 715-686 B.C. The unified kingdom split after the death of Solomon. That took place about two hundred years prior to Hezekiah. Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was completely apostate and rebellious to God. Even so, God had sent them several prophets with messages to repent and warnings of impending judgment.

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In the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign, Assyria invaded Israel and took them away into exile. That was God’s judgment for their obstinate refusal to repent. That marked the end of the Northern Kingdom. Only the poorest people were left in the region and they gradually became a mixed race. However, some people from each tribe still lived in Judah. This is one way God preserved a remnant of each tribe.

The Biblical record shows us that Hezekiah was one of the most righteous kings of Judah. He is also known for building the new water supply reservoir in the city. Additionally, Hezekiah is known for letting the envoys from Babylon look at the whole treasury, which eventually led to them coming back to invade.

Hezekiah: Two Debatable Questions 

The first is this: Did Hezekiah show a lack of submission to God’s plan for him to die? (see II Kings 20:3-7)

Questions about Hezekiah

Two Questions

Some contend that his prayer was wrong. They argue that Hezekiah should have passively accepted the death that God had pronounced. They say that his continued life allowed Babylon to see the national treasury and that event ultimately led to Judah being conquered. I find it difficult to say Hezekiah erred by not passively accepting his death. And the account of his life gives us good reasons to doubt that conclusion.

Additionally, God has His own way of testing His servants. And those tests reveal the work He has done in those servants. And those revelations instruct us, challenge us and bless us. Two examples immediately come to mind.

Abraham to was told to sacrifice Isaac (see Genesis 22). It was God’s test to reveal Abraham’s faith.
Moses was told to go on into the Promised Land and God would send His angel before them. Moses’ reply was: Lord, if You don’t go with us then please don’t send us (see Exodus 33:14-16). It shows us that the most important desire of our hearts should be Him and His presence rather than the accomplishment of some goal or task.

The biggest reason for me to disagree is that we are not told the motivations for Hezekiah’s prayer. And like Abraham and Moses, what followed in Hezekiah’s life gives us three things:

  • A great example
  • Sound instruction
  • A challenge to not grow weary in doing good.

But there are a number of other points to consider. Ponder these for more insight:

  • First, Hezekiah might have been upset because then Assyria would appear to win and God’s name would be dishonored.
  • Second, he could have been concerned that his son was too young to rule.
  • Third, there is nothing wrong with praying for physical needs or a longer life. God gave us our sense of self-preservation. We know Hezekiah used his life to faithfully serve God and others. Therefore, we have every reason to believe his extra years would follow the same pattern.
  • Fourth, there is nothing wrong with asking God to consider our faithfulness to Him. David frequently offered similar prayers. We can see Hezekiah did not renounce his faith or turn away from the Lord in anger because his faithfulness had led to a shortened lifespan.EquipUs logo

Finaly, knowing what we do about Hezekiah’s character, weeping and turning to the Lord in the face of death is not wrong. How do you think you would react if faced with a proclamation you would die shortly? I think most of us would also weep. Further, I hope we, like Hezekiah, would turn to the Lord in that difficult time rather than turn from Him. We are given some insights into Hezekiah’s thinking during his sickness and its aftermath (see Isaiah 38:9-20).

Question 2

This is the follow-up question and now it should be predictable:

Was it a wrong for Hezekiah to show his treasures to the Babylonian representative (II Kings 20:12-21)?

I don’t ususally follow a question with other questions. In this case, follow-up questions can guide our thinking:

  • What might have prompted Hezekiah to do this?
  • Was this only a diplomatic/political mistake?
  • Was this spiritual – i.e., rooted in pride?

Common sense tells us It is not a good idea to show your country’s secrets to a foreign nation even if they seem friendly. It’s also a very bad idea to show them your treasures because that might tempt them to invade your country and steal your wealth. If the Babylonians believed Judah was just an insignificant and poor area, they may not have attacked many years later. Hezekiah - Positive Character Traits

We should note that later, God’s stated reason for allowing Judah to be conquered by Babylon was the nation’s sin, especially the sins Manasseh. However, God used this mistake of Hezekiah’s to facilitate the eventual fall of Judah. This is yet another example of God providentially using people and their mistakes to accomplish His plans. (See the later discussion in Part II)

Study In Character – Positives

Questions and faults wind up on the negative side of life’s scale. In Hezekiah’s case, there are many positive factors for us to observe. Notice the list below:

Number 1Hezekiah was completely devoted to the Lord

To get the most this study in character, read the citatations in each section then answer the questions in the text. See: II Kings 18:1-6; II Chronicles 29-30, and II Chronicles 31:21.

  • Hezekiah put a stop to all the pagan worship practices.
  • He knew God’s Word concerning those evil practices – Deuteronomy 12:1-5, 13-14
  • Hezekiah didn’t just stop the evil practices, he renewed Godly practices acrosss the nation.

SubscriptionsHezekiah went further than any king of Judah before him, even good ones who followed God. He led a nation-wide revival which included renewing the observance of the Passover. That hadn’t happened for many years before Hezekiah. He held nothing back in order to completely wipe out all vestiges of the local, pagan cults and religious worship practices.

Q. What excuses do people make for not going ‘all in’ against pagan practices as Hezekiah did?

Hezekiah is a study in character because we don’t see compromise in his life. He didn’t worry about repercussions from the people. Said another way, Godly character is synonymous with integrity! God had put Hezekiah in charge and the responsibility for the people fell on his shoulders. He used this authority as an example of character before his people and integrity before the Lord. This is one illustration of the wise use of God-ordained authority. It is right and good for a leader to do all within his power to influence his people to turn to God and follow Him. Hezekiah tried to restore Judah to a pure worship of God without all the pagan elements mixed in.Hezekiah - Character in Leadership


Today, Hezekiah would be challenged with words like acceptance, tolerance and inclusivity. Jesus loved sinners (like me!) but never compromised about their sins. Hezekiah stands as an example of that. Here’s another thought:

Q. Modern critics would say Hezekiah was not allowing freedom of religion. Would you agree?

Note that the Assyrian commander used Hezekiah’s Godly actions as evidence that Hezekiah was NOT genuinely worshiping God and that God wouldn’t really save Judah. Many would have viewed things that way. Also see II Chronicles 29-30,

Q. Was right to overlook the normal rules of consecration in order to celebrate the Passover? 
Q. How did Judah get into this difficult situation?

Number 2Hezekiah used his position/authority to bring positive change for his people

He didn’t care about being politically correct or following the social practices that had become normal at that time. He didn’t believe his faith should only be practiced in private. Do you think our faith and beliefs should be practiced privately, publicly or both? Leadership - follow the Lord

Hezekiah used the position God had given him for good. He didn’t waste the opportunity. Sometimes even Christian leaders get into office and don’t do anything different because they don’t want to lose their support or they are afraid of the people. Hezekiah was not like that. As the King, he knew his duty was more than protecting and governing the people. He had a higher duty to lead them back to God.

Obviously, a leader can only do so much. Nobody can force someone else to turn to God. But we can provide a Godly, positive example for them to follow. Leaders can create a positive atmosphere that encourages people to turn to the Lord and discourages disobedience. Beyond that, we know the Lord Himself told us there is a wide path that leads to destruction and many people are on it.

Number 3Hezekiah immediately turned to God in troubling times

II Kings 19:1-3, 14-19 – Hezekiah was in a serious situation here. His kingdom was far smaller and less powerful than the Assyrian Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom had already been destroyed and Judah’s future seemed to be hanging by a thread. From man’s standpoint, nothing would be able to stop them. It was a David vs. Goliath fight. It seemed that nothing was in Judah’s favor. They had two chances to defeat the Assyrians: slim and none! When Hezekiah heard the taunting threats from the Assyrian envoy he didn’t lose heart. He didn’t surrender. He didn’t give up his faith or his hope.

It is clear by his reaction that he knew how serious their predicament was. But he also knew that God was greater and that God could save them. He put on the normal weeping attire that showed his humility and reliance upon God. He entered the house of the Lord where Solomon had pleaded with the Lord to listen to His people throughout all generations. And then he prayed.Prayer Quote - Hezekiah Study Character Notice Hezekiah’s prayer II Kings 19:14-19. Here’s what caught my eye. His prayer:

  • Exhibited faith
  • Was God-focused
  • Displayed humility
  • Gave glory to God

What elements do you see in this prayer? It’s easy to see that Hezekiah’s had a very high view of God. Primarily, Hezekiah wanted God to act in order to defend His name and His honor.


Q. What distinctions/differences did Hezekiah make between God and all idols?

The Assyrians believed all the gods are equal and none of them could do anything to stop their intended conquest. Hezekiah knew otherwise. He knew that these other so-called gods were not gods at all, but were in fact idols made by human hands. As such, it was no surprise that they could do nothing to stop the Assyrian assault. Hezekiah knew God could stop it. This is what he prayed for. Hezekiah cared about deliverance and he cared that God’s name not be defamed or dishonored. In his mind, if Judah was destroyed then the world would agree with the Assyrian King that the Lord God is no different from any other god. This is one major reason why he wanted God to respond in a great way – to bring honor to His own name, (also see II Kings 19:34).

Character Lessons From Hezekiah 

The points that follow are not presented as all-inclusive. See what lessons you might add to the list. Here we go…

Never Substitute Good For Best

Moses - man of character

Moses & 10 Commandments

Hezekiah didn’t allow good things to substitute for God, Who is best. An example of this can be seen in the destruction of the bronze serpent. Notice II Kings 18:4. The serpent’s origin is found in Numbers 21. Particularly, notice verse 9. Was Hezekiah right to destroy thie bronze serpent? He destroyed an ancient relic that dated back to Moses and the Exodus.

This relic could have been a helpful reminder of God’s grace even righteous judgment. Hezekiah’s destruction of this relic probably angered quite a few people. It’s reasonable to assume the people wondered why Hezekiah was destroying an important part of Judah’s culture. This relic could have been very valuable in terms of culture and faith. So why did Hezekiah destroy it?

I call it Reasoned Destruction. Hezekiah destroyed it because it was taking the place of God. This is why God gave the command for them not to have any images of God, knowing that the image might become the object of worship. What harmless things in our world present the same danger as the bronze serpent (replacing God)? The following are possibilities but there are many other things that could be included:

  • Crosses
  • Crucifixes
  • Statues of Jesus (see Catholic church)
  • Angels
  • The Church
  • Nature

    Hezekiah all is possible

            With God all things are possible!

We are to worship God and Him alone! And we worship Him in spirit and truth.

Nothing Is Impossible With God

II Kings 19:35-37 – For Judah, the circumstances appeared to be catastrophic. From a strictly human point of view, there was no hope for a positive outcome. But the Assyrians were no challenge for Almighty God. In one night, God sent one angel to kill 185,000 Assyrian military personnel. That means the angel had incredible power. Now, consider the following: The book of Revelation lets us know there are myriads upon myriads of angels. How many is that? Myriad literally means:

1,000s and 1,000s of.

Mighty God with CrownIt’s a non-specific term meant to convey a vast number. So, let’s assume myriad equals 10,000. Revelation says myriads upon myriads. That’s a multiplication problem! So, 1 myriad X 1 myriad (10,000 x 10,000) is one hundred million angels. If every angel had just one tenth the destructive power of the angel that destroyed the Assyrians, that’s enough power to kill 1.85 trillion people in a single night.

As amazing as that may sound, that power resides in God’s servants. How much more power resides in their Creator? More than enough to take care of our problems! God could have Personally destroyed that army in the twinkling of eye – with a word or thought. We do indeed serve a Mighty God. The point is that God is all powerful. We don’t need to fear Man because: If God is for me who can be against me? God is greater than any obstacle we can face. He still can, and does, do miracles in today’s world. God is alive and well in today’s world. Put your faith in Him and trust Him for deliverance.

God Hears Our Prayers And Cares About Us 

Prayer is God’s method – II Kings 20:5-11. And prayer is the great exercise of our faith. Truthfully, we can’t wrap our minds around an Almighty, Sovereign God that has obligated Himself to work through the prayers of His people. He has commanded us to come to Him in prayer. And we do that for petitions, confessions and praises. God’s sovereignty makes some people discount prayer. Their thought goes something like this:Prayer - Hezekiah

God has His plans and my prayers can’t change that.

That’s disobedience to God’s commands to pray. One counterpoint to that line of thinking is this:

You have not because you ask not.

So, God does expect us to ask, seek and knock (continuous action verbs). But then some are tempted to just ask away with little or no discernment. Doing so, they become those who ask amiss that they might consume it upon their own lusts. A helpful prayer (I don’t pray it often enough!) is this:

Lord, help me pray the prayer You want to answer.

And Hezekiah prayed prayers God wanted to answer. Hezekiah’s prayer for a longer life was answered. God had pronounced His plan for Hezekiah to die (a test for Hezekiah?). But God was glorified by healing Hezekiah. And so God gave him 15 more years and showed him a miraculous sign that he would be healed.

It Is Never Too Late To Repent And Turn To God

By the time of Hezekiah, Judah had fallen into idolatry. Temple worship was stopped. The only worship of God that took place was at the pagan high places. Repentance at the crossHezekiah’s own father was extremely wicked and practiced all kinds of pagan religious rituals including child sacrifice in the fire. Israel was even worse. You can see their attitude when Hezekiah sent envoys to ask them to come to the Passover feast.

Yet some people did truly repent, II Chronicles 30:11-12. The priests were in disarray as well. It was almost impossible to observe the Passover feast because so many priests were not clean before the Lord. So Hezekiah had to make some exceptions to the normal rules just because the people had been so deep into sin for son long. But God listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people 30:20. Christians often get themselves so deep into sin they don’t know how to get out. Their lives become so twisted and messed up they believe there is no hope for restoration – that God can’t forgive them.

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Satan would love to have every believer in that position. Such a believer is ineffective as a soldier of the cross. And the lesson we see here is that there is always hope. God is compassionate and abundant in mercy and grace. He wants to forgive us if we turn to Him with our whole heart and repent of our sins. We are never beyond His love and forgiveness. He is the God of the second chance. And we can again be used for His glory!

Soli Deo Gloria! 


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