The Reading: 2 Kings 20:1-11
“… became sick and was at the point of death” (v.1) RSV
There is nothing like sickness to rob us of energy, or hope, or a wholesome perspective on life. Hezekiah had had a fantastic first fourteen years as king of Judah. He had brought about an enormous religious reform, and he had seen the Assyrian army sent packing by God. Yet we now read of him lying in bed with a boil on his bottom, feeling that the end of his world had come.
His success and his popularity became as nothing to him in the face of personal mortality. He felt so depressed that “he turned his face to the wall … and wept bitterly” (vv.2-3). And to make matters worse the prophet Isaiah arrived with a short and simple message, “you shall die” (v.1). However Hezekiah did not give up but prayed.
Isaiah had hardly got out of the house before God told him to go back and deliver a different message. This time he told the sick man that he would live another fifteen years. What an amazingly quick answer to prayer!
The cure took three days and involved the application of a poultice of figs. It also required a faith-booster for Hezekiah. The shadow on the steps (a primitive clock) went backwards rather than forwards; this “sign” (v.9) was granted him so that he could believe the word of Isaiah that he would recover. Figs alone were not going to do it; it needed faith as well.
Not all sickness is healed, but this account of Hezekiah’s recovery is an encouragement to us that despite a fatalistic prognosis, God may in his mercy deliver us and restore us to his service. Hezekiah’s prayer for healing is recorded only in Isaiah 38:9-20. He was to live another fifteen years, but the sad thing is that he wasted them. We shall read about that in our next session. Meantime let us resolve to make the most of the time that is given to us, especially if we have had a miraculous escape from death.
Thank you Lord for every day you give me. May I live each one to the full and for your glory. Amen.
1 Who else was given a sign to boost his faith?
2 How did Jesus heal the blind man?