Isaiah 39 Sinful Pride, And Disregard For A Blessed Covenantal Future.
A verse in II Chronicles best explains what transpired here. After listing all the accomplishments and treasures that Hezekiah was blessed with, the writer then has this one caveat. “However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (32:21). At a time when Hezekiah was at peace, and the remnant of the southern kingdom at relative rest in Jerusalem, Hezekiah is tested by the LORD to see what was really in his heart, his core. Sadly, as it turns out, Hezekiah was actually guilty of sinful pride, for the writer of II Chronicles informs us that “Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up” (32:25a).
It was sinful pride in his heart that blinded Hezekiah to the real intentions of the ambassadors from Babylon. Hezekiah failed to acknowledge that he was the LORD’s ambassador, and all that was under his stewardship, and all that he had accomplished was because the LORD was with him and the city. The LORD had mercy on Hezekiah so that he did not die from the boil he suffered from, all because Hezekiah claimed that he wanted to serve the LORD longer in this life. However, the ambassadors were not paying him a visit to wish him well, rather they wanted to spy him out to find out what were his strengths, presumably to gain information which they could use to defeat him. A secular historian might look upon this event as Hezekiah being foolish and giving the Babylonians what they needed to eventually defeat him.
There is a surface explanation for what took place here, but what had actually happened was the LORD answered his prayer, promised him 15 more years of service, but because he would later lift up his heart in pride in himself, he would still get the 15 years, but now Babylon would take the entirety of Judah into captivity, through the instrumentality of Hezekiah’s pride. This is described by the writer of II Chronicles as God withdrawing from him to test his heart (32:31). This is the true state of all people, if the LORD takes away his favour from us. It is easy for us to take his favour for granted, whether it is in a lifetime, 15 years, or 15 minutes. The truth is that the Babylonian captivity had already been predicted, but as history unfolded it was revealed how this would take place, and why.
Hezekiah revealed all his strength and resources, but it was his lack of loyalty to the LORD that would result in the downfall of Judah (vv. 1-4). Because he took pride in himself for what had been accomplished and possessed, the nation would go into captivity after his death (vv. 5-6 Cf. II Kgs. 24:13; 25:13-15; Jer. 20:5). Furthermore, some of his sons would become “eunuchs in the place of the king of Babylon” (v. 7 Cf. Dan. 7:1-7). Perhaps we see Hezekiah’s true heart in his final response to Isaiah. “At least there will be peace and truth in my days” (v. 8). It seems as though Hezekiah was only concerned with his own condition, the future of the LORD’s covenant people, including his own offspring, was not really his concern (Cf. Dt. 28:49; Jer. 5:15). He should have sought out the LORD’s mercy again for the sake of a blessed covenantal future.