Proverbs 16:18–19 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” As we step into Isaiah chapter 39, we must wonder if King Hezekiah understood these words penned by his distant grandpappy, Solomon.
Up to this point, Hezekiah has been through a lot. Or, I should say, the Lord has delivered Hezekiah though a lot. Yet, when a representative from Babylon showed up to bring gifts to Hezekiah for his recovery, it was not the Lord that the king magnified.
Read verse 2 carefully and make special note of the pronouns—his treasure house, his whole armory, his treasuries—there was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. Hospitality with an ally is one thing, but this was clear self-aggrandizement. And if this was self-centered enough, after Isaiah’s rebuke and prophetic utterances, did you catch Hezekiah’s response? Isaiah tells the king of the most horrific punishment that God’s people faced in the Old Testament, the Babylonian Exile, and Hezekiah was relieved saying, “There will be peace and truth in my days.”
Hezekiah believed this terrible prophecy. One day, all of Israel’s treasures will be stolen. One day, the best and brightest of Israel would be dragged away in chains, including Hezekiah’s own flesh and blood. And yet, we can picture the king wiping his brow, letting out a sigh of relief that he wouldn’t face any consequences.
There are a bunch of takeaways from this passage, but I’d like to focus on two. First, pride is insidious and devastating. It shows up in a variety of ways, but this story lends itself to a warning against materialism. Although we would hesitate to show others our bank statements or pay stubs, we like to “show off” through status symbols such as our house, cars, clothes, etc. Don’t get me wrong, proper stewardship allows us to enjoy the fruit of our labors. Yet, there is a difference between stewardship and status symbols. Hezekiah was king of, what had been, a prosperous kingdom. Prosperity should have been enough, a blessing of the Lord to enjoy. He didn’t need to parade around showing it off.
100% of people suffer from issues related to pride. It’s not if you struggle with pride, but how pride manifests itself in your life. Humility, on the other hand, must be cultivated in our lives. It’s hard to truly embrace a deflection of glory because it runs contrary to our addiction to sin. Sin is inherently self-centered, while true humility is God-centered. Pride does not simply manifest itself in possessions, but in every me-first, me-best attitude we have. Do you ever get angry because a driver in front of you isn’t going fast enough? Pride. Do you ever mope around until somebody asks how you’re doing? Reverse-pride.
The second takeaway to focus on is the impact your life has on others, especially your kids. It’s often hard to grasp the consequences of our actions. However, many times our sin doesn’t only impact us. Hezekiah’s wickedly selfish heart in verse 8, is shared by more people than would like to admit it. Anybody who sins thinking, “I’m not hurting anybody,” is short-sighted and wrong. Sin always has consequences. However, not all the consequences will be felt by you. Although your sin is primarily an offense to a Holy God, it is secondarily an offense to those in your life. No sin is victimless.
Thankfully, God doesn’t waste the consequences of sin. And although Hezekiah’s consequences were tragic. God used this foolish error to fulfill his purposes and promises. He still does that today!
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate