Bible Study: Isaiah 39:1-8
God tests King Hezekiah through a Babylonian ambassador.
Isaiah Chapter 39
Lessons from the text
Responding to Life
King Hezekiah responded in an amazing way to God's judgment: he praised Him. He made no attempt to justify his decision; instead, he committed himself to God's wisdom, trusting that the Lord knows what is best. Even more amazing, the king focused not on the judgment but on the grace found in the judgment, namely, that it would not come during his lifetime.
When troubles come our way, we have a blessed opportunity to find good in bad news. Not many people can meet a declaration of destruction with praises. How can we have such a positive attitude?
God is righteous. God is holy. God is just.
When we trust that God knows best, then we can look past the pain and suffering of a situation to find the divine will. Once we can see how God will turn a bad situation into an instrument of His will, then we can praise Him for the work He is doing and will do.
Why did Bethany Hamilton have to loose her arm? To inspire and encourage millions of people.
The point is, we can let our circumstance dictate our responses, or we can overcome our situations with praise and by seeking God's divine will. Even in the midst of great grief, through our faith God can provide joy and peace, a miracle that surpasses all understanding (Phi 4:7). Trust in His ways and lean not to your own understanding (Prov 3:5). Seek His will, and you will be able to endure whatever this world has in store.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 In an act of diplomacy, Babylon sends letters and presents to Hezekiah. While this appears to be a gesture of friendship, history and the following verses reveal that this is a trip of espionage.
2 Instead of cautiously considering this embassy, Hezekiah welcomes them with open arms. Compare with Joshua 9:1-16. One should always inquire of the Lord as to how one should respond to a situation. Rash judgments, especially those made because of flattery, often lead to bad decisions. In this case, Hezekiah shows all the secrets of his house, tempting Babylon to come and take his riches.
3 After the king has committed this folly, the prophet comes bearing the word from God. II Chronicles 32:31 makes it clear that God wants to test Hezekiah's heart. God will sometimes be silent during one's trial to see how one will respond. He wants to expose to oneself whatever is in one's heart.
4 Hezekiah openly admits his folly, showing that he does not recognize that what he has done is wrong.
5-7 After Hezekiah confesses unwittingly, God announces a judgment, thus condemning the king's decision. God says that everything Hezekiah has showed to the delegates will be taken away. Instead of keeping wisely his goods, Hezekiah has shown them to the world and now the world will have them. Whatever gifts or goods one has, they are a precious gift from the Lord and should be thus treated with the utmost respect and consideration. As Jesus said, do not cast your pearls before the swine (Mt 7:6).
8 Hezekiah does not argue against the Lord. Now recognizing his error, he submits himself to the judgment of God. The Lord has perfect wisdom and understanding. It is pointless to argue that His judgments are unfair. Hezekiah acknowledges his guiltiness but also praises God. He realizes that even in God's judgment is grace, for he will not have to bear the consequences of his decision. God may delay the consequences of a bad decision to spare a believer if He sees it will perform His divine will. Other times, one must endure the consequences immediately.
In this case, God may be sparing Hezekiah from immediate judgment because he is a faithful servant to God. This events occur directly after his miraculous healing, in which it is made clear that Hezekiah has repented of his sins. God knows that while Hezekiah wants to serve God, his decedents will turn from Him. Thus, Hezekiah, who is retentive, is spared the consequences while those who will come after him who will not repent will bare them.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God's word.
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