2 Kings 20:3
I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
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(3) Remember now how I have walked . . .—Hezekiah deprecates an untimely death—the punishment of the wicked (Proverbs 10:27)—on account of his zeal for Jehovah and against the idols. As Thenius remarks, there is nothing surprising in his apparent self-praise if we remember such passages as Psalm 18:20; Psalm 7:8; Nehemiah 13:14. Josephus sets down the poignancy of his sorrow to childlessness, and makes him pray to be spared until he get a son; but this is merely an instance of that “midrashitic” enlargement of the narrative which we find elsewhere in that historian.

2 Kings 20:3. Remember how I have walked before thee in truth — Sincerely, with an honest mind. I am not conscious to myself of any exorbitances, for which thou art wont to shorten men’s days. And Hezekiah wept sore — “Under the law, long life and uninterrupted health were promised as the rewards of obedience, and premature death was denounced as a punishment; see Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:33; and Deuteronomy 30:16. When we reflect on this, we need not be surprised at the sorrow which this good king expressed at his approaching dissolution. He looked upon it as a punishment, and consequently as a mark of the divine displeasure. Other reasons too might strongly operate upon a good mind. The suddenness of this terrible and unexpected denunciation; the unsettled state both of his public and domestic affairs; and the natural dread of death inherent in the human mind, which might in this case possibly be augmented from a sense of his own defects, and from a thorough persuasion that God was displeased at him, by cutting him off in such a manner, in the very flower of his age, and when his kingdom and family particularly required his best assistance. However, be the reasons what they might, it behooves us certainly to judge with great candour of a prince, whose character is so good as that of Hezekiah: and, perhaps, blessed as we are, with a clearer knowledge of a future state than Hezekiah enjoyed, there are but few who can look upon death, awful as it is even to the best, without some degree of very serious concern.” — Dodd.

20:1-11 Hezekiah was sick unto death, in the same year in which the king of Assyria besieged Jerusalem. A warning to prepare for death was brought to Hezekiah by Isaiah. Prayer is one of the best preparations for death, because by it we fetch in strength and grace from God, to enable us to finish well. He wept sorely: some gather from hence that he was unwilling to die; it is in the nature of man to dread the separation of soul and body. There was also something peculiar in Hezekiah's case; he was now in the midst of his usefulness. Let Hezekiah's prayer, see Isa 38. interpret his tears; in that is nothing which is like his having been under that fear of death, which has bondage or torment. Hezekiah's piety made his sick-bed easy. O Lord, remember now; he does not speak as if God needed to be put in mind of any thing by us; nor, as if the reward might be demanded as due; it is Christ's righteousness only that is the purchase of mercy and grace. Hezekiah does not pray, Lord, spare me; but, Lord, remember me; whether I live or die, let me be thine. God always hears the prayers of the broken in heart, and will give health, length of days, and temporal deliverances, as much and as long as is truly good for them. Means were to be used for Hezekiah's recovery; yet, considering to what a height the disease was come, and how suddenly it was checked, the cure was miraculous. It is our duty, when sick, to use such means as are proper to help nature, else we do not trust God, but tempt him. For the confirmation of his faith, the shadow of the sun was carried back, and the light was continued longer than usual, in a miraculous manner. This work of wonder shows the power of God in heaven as well as on earth, the great notice he takes of prayer, and the great favour he bears to his chosen.Remember now - The old covenant promised temporal prosperity, including length of days, to the righteous. Hezekiah, conscious of his faithfulness and integrity 2 Kings 18:3-6, ventures to expostulate (compare also 2 Kings 21:1 note). According to the highest standard of morality revealed up to this time, there was nothing unseemly in the self vindication of the monarch, which has many parallels in the Psalms of David (Psalm 7:3-10; Psalm 18:19-26; Psalm 26:1-8, etc.). 3. remember now how I have walked before thee, &c.—The course of Hezekiah's thoughts was evidently directed to the promise made to David and his successors on the throne (1Ki 8:25). He had kept the conditions as faithfully as human infirmity admitted; and as he had been all along free from any of those great crimes by which, through the judgment of God, human life was often suddenly cut short, his great grief might arise partly from the love of life, partly from the obscurity of the Mosaic dispensation, where life and immortality had not been fully brought to light, and partly from his plans for the reformation of his kingdom being frustrated by his death. He pleaded the fulfilment of the promise. In truth, i.e. sincerely, with an honest mind, as the following words explain it. I have in some measure (human frailty excepted) kept the condition which thou didst require, 1 Kings 8:25, and therefore do humbly beg of thee that the promise made to David and to his posterity upon that condition may not fail in my person, for as yet thou hast not given me a son. See Poole "2 Kings 20:1". I am not conscious to myself of any gross exorbitances in the course of my life, for which thou usest to shorten men’s days, and cut off my life in thy displeasure, which by this sharp message thou threatenest to do.

Hezekiah wept sore; partly for that horror of death which is and was common to men, especially in the times of the Old Testament, when the grace of God in Christ was not so fully manifested as now it is; and principally for the distracted and miserable condition in which the church and state were then likely to be left, through the uncertainty of the succession to the crown, and the great proneness of the people to backslide to their false worship and evil practices; which he easily perceived, and which he knew would bring far worse calamities upon them if he were removed, as afterwards it came to pass.

In these days was Hezekiah sick unto death,.... Of this sickness of Hezekiah, the message of the prophet Isaiah to him, and his prayer upon it; see Gill on Isaiah 38:1; see Gill on Isaiah 38:2; see Gill on Isaiah 38:3. I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a {b} perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah {c} wept sore.

(b) Meaning, without all hypocrisy.

(c) Not so much for his own death, as for fear that idolatry would be restored which he had destroyed, and so God's Name be dishonoured.

3. I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now] R.V. Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee. The R.V. adopts the order of the words in Isaiah.

It was only at a moment of great elation and prosperity that Hezekiah forgat God. The testimony which he himself bears to his own character appears to be generally true. He must have lived as a God-fearing son under an idolatrous father. When he came to the throne, while he had the work of purifying God’s worship in hand, and the Philistines were not driven out of Judah, he did all things well. But after some prosperous years he had himself to own to Sennacherib ‘I have offended’. During the war with Assyria he set a noble example. When the pressure was removed he gave way for a short time to pride and a boastful spirit. Moreover his care for his son’s training, if we may judge by Manasseh’s life when he became king, can hardly have been so zealous as we might expect from a father whose youth had been passed amid the difficulties of an idolatrous court. Altogether Hezekiah is one of those characters which shine brightest in adversity.

Verse 3. - I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart. There is no Pharisaical self-righteousness here. Hezekiah is conscious that he has honestly endeavored to serve God, and to do his will - that, whatever may have been his shortcomings, his heart has been right towards God. He ventures, therefore, on something like expostulation. Why is he to be cut off in the midst of his days, at the age of thirty-nine, when such a wicked king as Uzziah has lived to be sixty-eight (2 Kings 15:2), and Rehoboam to be fifty-eight (1 Kings 14:21)? It is to be remembered that, under the old covenant, length of days was expressly promised to the righteous (Proverbs 3:2; Proverbs 9:11; Proverbs 10:27, etc.), and that a shortened life was the proclaimed penalty of wicked-doing (Job 15:32, 33; Job 22:16; Psalm 55:23; Proverbs 10:27). Hezekiah's self-assertion is thus a sort of laying hold of God's promises. And have done that which is flood in thy sight; comp. 2 Kings 18:3-6; and note the similar pleadings of David, "With my whole heart have I sought thee" (Psalm 119:10); "I have remembered thy Name, O Lord, and have kept thy Law. This I had because I kept thy commandments" (Psalm 119:55, 56), and the like. And Hezekiah wept sore. Human nature shrinks from death instinctively, and it requires a very vivid imagination for even the Christian in middle life to feel with St. Paul, that "it is better for him to depart and to be with Christ." The Hebrew of Hezekiah's time had far mere reason to regard death as an evil. His hopes of a life beyond the grave were feeble - his conceptions of the life, if life there were, faint and unattractive. Sheol, like Hades, was a vague, awful, terrible thing. If we consider Hezekiah's words, "The grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee" (Isaiah 38:18, 19), we may understand how the Hebrew shrank from the fearful change. And in Hezekiah's case there was a yet further reason for grief Hezekiah had as yet no male offspring (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,'10:2. § 1). Manasseh was as yet unborn (comp. ver. 6 with 2 Kings 21:1). If he died now, his house would be cut off, he would be without posterity - a sore grief to every Hebrew. Ewald's references to Isaiah 38:19 and Isaiah 39:7, as indicative of Hezekiah having sons at the time, are absolutely without value. 2 Kings 20:3In his prayer he appealed to his walking before the Lord in truth and with a thoroughly devoted heart, and to his acting in a manner that was well-pleasing to God, in perfect accordance with the legal standpoint of the Old Testament, which demanded of the godly righteousness of life according to the law. This did not imply by any means a self-righteous trust in his own virtue; for walking before God with a thoroughly devoted heart was impossible without faith. "And Hezekiah wept violently," not merely at the fact that he was to die without having an heir to the throne, since Manasseh was not born till three years afterwards (Joseph., Ephr. Syr., etc.), but also because he was to die in the very midst of his life, since God had promised long life to the righteous.
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