Everyone has a weakness.
King Hezekiah, known as one of the ‘good’ kings, was the leader of God’s people during the dominating reign of the violent, powerful and merciless Assyrian empire. He was leading God’s people through a tumultuous time and even brought spiritual reforms to the land in the midst of chaotic geo-political upheaval.
He really was a good king.
In fact, when Assyria knocked on the door to let Israel know they were next in line for destruction, Good King Hezekiah displayed the kind of leadership I could only dream about for our day.
In Isaiah 36, we see the official envoy of Assyria come to publicly threaten God’s people:
- He calls King Hezekiah a deceptive leader
- He declares any earthly political alliances Israel had as useless
- He threatens violence and death
- He described their starvation by saying they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine
- Worst of all, he mocks their God, “18 Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’ ”
This is some serious smack talk!
But, Good King Hezekiah is up to the task. Instead of overreacting, instead of crumbling in fear, instead of responding in a reactionary way, this king tears his clothes (a sign of mourning) and runs straight to the house of God and pleads with the Almighty, trusting in Him more than this king’s own resources, wealth, or even himself.
In fact, in Isaiah 37 the Good King said, “4 It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’ ”
That’s good leadership right there.
But, just a little while latter, Hezekiah is deathly ill when the Lord spares him and heals him of his disease. Following his miraculous recovery the king of another nation, Babylon, sends a prince to him with congratulations and a gift concerning the miraculous healing.
Hezekiah responds to this diplomatic ploy with a very unkingly response. He gave this foreign dignitary an all-access pass to his kingdom showing him their treasury, their arsenal and all the nation’s storehouses.
Great googley moogley! The Babylonians couldn’t have gotten that kind of intel with an elaborate spy network and satellite surveillance, but the king just gave it up to them.
Isaiah steps in (Isaiah 38) and tells the king he has made a mistake. He tells him that the Babylonians will one day own everything they have seen and even the king’s own sons will be taken away into their captivity and made to be servant eunuchs for the household of Babylon someday.
Here is the punch line, King Hezekiah responds to Isaiah’s prophecy with these words: “8 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.””
How selfish and short sighted is that? Let me translate Good King Hezekiah’s response, “Sure, my kids and grandkids will be turned into mutilated slaves and my nation completely plundered… but not till I’m gone.”
How in the world did a good, strong, Godly king willing to go toe to toe with a violent world super power with his God as his only ally and resource turn into this?
The enemy found the backdoor to his life.
Assyria pushed from the front, but Babylon slipped around back with flattery and pride.
This was the weakness in the king’s character. His ego being stroked opened him up to weakness and corrupted his character, dismantled his choices and devastated his future.
I don’t know what your backdoor is, but everyone has one: pride, fear, sexual temptation, greed, doubt, anger, hurt, control… whatever it is, don’t forget to guard the backdoor.
Tear your clothes, cry out to God and depend on Him in your greatest places of weakness, for when you are weak, He is strong.