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own excellent example; for he kept fast to the Lord, and departed not from following him; and he trusted in the Lord God of Israel, looking to him for protection from his enemies, and for deliverance from the heavy evils with which his country was threatened. The consequence of all this was, that the Lord was with Hezekiah to preserve and bless him. Almighty God, my child, never commands us to serve him for nothing. Though our best works are very faulty in his sight, who chargeth even his angels with folly, yet if we serve him humbly and sincerely, then for Christ's merits, though not for our own, God will reward us above all that we can ask or think. King Hezekiah found this to be true when he served God with all his heart, and walked before God as if the eyes of the Almighty were continually upon him. When he led forth his people to battle, God made his enemies to fall before him; or if his enemies attacked him, it pleased God to listen to the prayers of the religious king, and to work for him some great deliverance. I will give you one or two remarkable instances of this.
In two different parts of the Bible, we find recorded a very interesting account of a sickness with which it pleased God to visit this holy man.
This illness was a very severe one; the Bible tells us, that “in those days Hezekiah was sick unto death, and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amos, came to him and said unto him, thus saith the Lord, set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live.” Now we will see how Hezekiah received this message. Some persons say, that we ought not to feel our
he had enjoyed in the society of good men, and above all in serving God himself upon earth. A long life was looked upon in those days as a sign of God's favour; so that it is not strange that Hezekiah should be grieved at the thoughts of dying young. If we add to this, that though a good man, Hezekiah was not without some of the weakness of our fallen nature, we shall understand why he wept sore when Isaiah said to him, “ Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live."
He has told us himself what his feelings were on this trying occasion : he tells us that he said, “I shall go down to the gates of the grave, I am deprived of the residue of my years, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the land of the living. I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. The grave cannot praise thee, O Lord; death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down to the pit cannot hope for thy truth.”
But Hezekiah did not cry to God in vain. The Lord, to show that his ears are open to the righteous, and that if they cry unto him in their distress he will hear them, vouchsafed to raise the pious king from the bed of death on which he lay. Therefore he sent his prophet again to tell the king, that the Lord God of his fathers had heard his prayers, had seen his tears, and that he would add fifteen years more to his life. Nor would he even afflict him any longer with sickness; the prophet told him that in three days he should be well enough to go to the house of the Lord, as he had been used to do when he was in health.
Now at the very time that Hezekiah king of Judah
broke the agreement which he had made with Hezekiah, and sent his servants with a great army which was marching towards Jerusalem, just at the time when to all appearance Hezekiah was lying upon the bed of death. This was one of the things, most likely, which troubled him in his sickness, and made him so desirous of living longer, for he was anxious about his country, and unhappy at the thoughts of dying at the moment when she was surrounded by her enemies. But the Lord, to whom Hezekiah told all his sorrows, not only raised him up from the bed of death as you have heard, but accompanied the blessing of a lengthened life, with a promise that he would defend and deliver himself and Jerusalem from the hand of the king of Assyria.
These great proofs of God's goodness towards him revived the heart of Hezekiah, and encouraged him to do all he could to strengthen the city against her enemies, and to cheer the minds of his people. Comforted himself by God, he spoke comfortably to them, saying, “ Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him, for there be more with us than with him ; with him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people placed great confidence in the words of their king. The faith, however, of Hezekiah and his people was about to be put to a severe trial. The armies of Sennacherib were now encamped about the city, and his servants were sent with a most insolent and threatening message to Hezekiah, and unto all that were in Jerusalem. And Rabshekah, the chief servant of Sennacherib, came