Most people have a favorite Bible Story and I am no different. In fact, the story that has always been my favorite is likely shared by thousands. The chapters detailing the account of Joseph who was sold in to Egypt, in my opinion, is the greatest story ever told (outside of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.) What makes Bible “stories” so amazing is that they are not stories at all. They are real events in the lives of real people. The Bible is a glimpse not only into history, but into God’s dealings with His people since the world began.
My favorite Bible “story” has changed, however, since teaching the Old Testament in seminary last year, I now have a new favorite. This one, however, is most likely not shared by thousands. In fact, I may be the only person, ever, to have it as a favorite. It is the story of Hezekiah – king of Judah, friend of Isaiah, beloved by the Lord.
As soon as I studied the chapters in 2 Kings, chapter 20, my love for the Lord deepened and my understanding of His love for us increased exponentially. I love this story. It has stuck with me, has penetrated my heart, and is now a solid and permanent part of my testimony.
Hezekiah’s story begins with a life devoted to serving God. In chapter 18, Hezekiah is described as follows:
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.
4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
6 For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.
Hezekiah was a righteous man who honored and obeyed God as he reigned as King of Judah. This is enough for me to already consider him a hero and love his story. Anyone who cleaves to the Lord and departs not from following Him is my hero. But that is not why I love this story so much. It is what happens toward the end of his life.
Hezekiah became very sick.
This is where Isaiah shares in the story, where the Lord answers a heartfelt prayer, and where my heart was changed forever.
In 2 Kings chapter 20 (also in Isaiah chapter 38), Isaiah comes to the house of Hezekiah, where the king lay at the point of death. The prophet was inspired to tell Hezekiah that the Lord wanted him to put his house in order – because he was going to die. This news came very hard to Hezekiah, as it probably would to any of us.
Verse 2 is my new favorite verse in the whole Bible:
“…He turned his face to the wall, and prayed…”
Why do I love these words so much? Why did they touch me so deeply? It is because of what happens next.
The Lord heard his simple, bedbound, prayer. Hezekiah did not (likely could not) kneel down, start a fast or go to the temple in his desperate desire to commune with the Heavens. He had already spent a lifetime doing those things. Now, in his despair, in his weakness, and in his time of great need, he simply turned his face to the wall – and prayed.
He did not want to die. He cried, literally, to God and poured out his heart as he lie there in his bed. He just talked with his Father in Heaven. And in this simple, beautiful prayer, Hezekiah essentially said: “God, do you remember me? Do you remember all that I have tried to do – for Thee? I have done my best to serve Thee. Please remember me now.”
This is when the story becomes so much more than an account of a king of Judah. This is when it becomes personal. Now this becomes a story between a Heavenly Father and His obedient son, which we have been privileged to glimpse in the pages of the Bible.
What happens next is evidence of God’s love for His children. It is proof He is there. He is always there. He hears us, loves us, and wants us to know it.
The story continues…
After Hezekiah prayed, before Isaiah even crossed the middle courtyard, the Lord told him to turn around, go back into the house, and give Hezekiah new news.
I wonder if Hezekiah’s eyes were still wet when Isaiah entered back into his room and told him the following: “Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee.”
The Lord not only healed Hezekiah, but told him he would add unto his days an additional fifteen years and deliver him and his city out of the hand of the king of Assyria.
All of that, Hezekiah received, because he prayed. A simple prayer was all he had to offer after a life devoted to God. Hezekiah had only strength enough to turn his face to the wall – and pray.
God hears our simple prayers.
This I know.
Our prayers are not always answered the way Hezekiah’s was. Sometimes God’s will is different from our own desires. But I am sure of one thing – our Father loves us. He hears our prayers and answers them according to His great love and wisdom. Even when we are weak and can only turn our head to the wall. He will hear us.
I love this story, not just for its wonderful ending, but for its devoted beginning and loving middle. I am grateful for the glimpse into the relationship of an Eternal Father and His obedient son. I see how it applies to me – how God’s love applies to all of us.
I will trust that God will hear and answer my prayers in the way that He sees fit. I have faith in not only God’s wisdom, but in His love. I will try to be like Hezekiah and live a life worthy to say, at the end of it, “God, remember me? I have tried my best to serve Thee. Please remember me now.”
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