Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.
He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.2 Chronicles 29:3-4. He opened the doors of the house of the Lord — Which Ahaz his father had shut, 2 Chronicles 28:24. And he brought in the priests, &c. — He found Judah low and naked, yet did not make it his first business to revive the civil interests of his kingdom, but to restore religion to a good posture. Those that begin with God, begin at the right end of their work, and it will prosper accordingly.
And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street,
And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.2 Chronicles 29:5. Hear me, ye Levites; carry forth the filthiness — That filthy altar which Ahaz had put in the place of God’s altar, (2 Kings 16:11,) and the idols, or other abominable things, which were there; out of the holy place — The temple, or the priests’ court, which also is often called a holy place.
For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs.2 Chronicles 29:6. Our fathers have trespassed — He does not say my father, because it became him, as a son, to be as tender as might be of his father’s name; and because his father would not have been permitted to do all these things, if the people had not neglected their duty. Urijah the priest, in particular, had joined with Ahaz in setting up an idolatrous altar. Have turned away their faces, &c., and turned their backs — Have wilfully and obstinately forsaken God and his worship; that posture being a signification of contempt.
Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel.
Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.2 Chronicles 29:8-9. He hath delivered them to trouble to astonishment, and to hissing — To such calamities as all that see and hear of them shall be astonished at, and hiss at those who, by their own sin and folly, have brought such miseries upon themselves. When we are under the rebukes of God’s providence, it is good for us to inquire whether we have not neglected God’s ordinances, and whether that be not the controversy he has with us. Our wives are in captivity — Though they were presently released, 2 Chronicles 28:5; 2 Chronicles 28:14-15.
For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.
Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.2 Chronicles 29:10-11. It is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, &c. — To engage by solemn vows and promises to worship him only, and in that way which he hath appointed: for I am sure that his fierce anger will not otherwise be turned away from us. This covenant he would not only make for himself, but bring his people also into the bond of it. My sons — So he calls them, though many of them were elder than himself, because he was by his tender love and affection, as he was by his office, obliged to be a nursing father to them. Be not now negligent — In sanctifying yourselves and the temple, (2 Chronicles 29:5,) and in quickening and preparing yourselves and the people for God’s service.
My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.
Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah:
And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah:
And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel.
And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD.2 Chronicles 29:15-16. To cleanse the house of the Lord — From the dirt it had contracted while it was so long shut up; from dust, cobwebs, and the rust of the vessels. Much more from the idols, and idolatrous altars, which had been set up therein. The priests went into the inner part of the house — Not the holy of holies, into which only the high-priest might go, and he only once in a year, but into the holy place. And brought out all the uncleanness into the court — To wit, the priests’ court, called here the court, by way of eminence.
And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron.
Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end.2 Chronicles 29:17. Now they began on the first day of the first month — A happy beginning of the new year! Thus should every year begin with a reformation of what is amiss, and the purging away of all the defilements contracted the foregoing year. In the sixteenth day they made an end —
Cleansing the house, and porch, and courts, and all the chambers belonging to the temple, in sixteen days. This is mentioned to signify, partly the universal abuse and defilement of all the parts of it by Ahaz, to remove which so much time was required; and partly the diligence of the priests in this work.
Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof.
Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.2 Chronicles 29:19. All the vessels have we sanctified — Though the vessels of the sanctuary may be profaned for a while, God will find a time and a way to sanctify them. Neither his ordinances nor his obedient people shall be suffered to fail for ever.
Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD.2 Chronicles 29:21. They brought seven bullocks — The number seven is customary in sacred matters, and is here used in regard of the vast numbers and various kinds of sins, the guilt whereof yet lay upon the kingdom, which was now to be expiated. Indeed, in case of one particular sin of ignorance committed by the people, there was but one bullock to be offered, but here the sins were many and presumptuous. For a sin-offering for the kingdom — To make atonement for the sins of the king, and the royal family, and the court. And for the sanctuary — For all the idolatry and uncleanness wherewith the temple had been polluted, which, as it had been cleansed naturally by the priests’ hands, so now it was to be purged morally by sacrifices. And for Judah — For the sins of all the people of Judah. They thought it not enough to lament and forsake their sins, but they brought a sin-offering. Even our repentance and reformation will not obtain pardon, but through Christ, who was made sin, that is, a sin-offering, for us.
So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar.
And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:2 Chronicles 29:23. They laid their hands upon them — The king and the elders of the people, in the name of the whole congregation: thereby owning themselves guilty before God, and expressing their desire that the guilt of their sin might be transferred upon the sacrifice. By faith we lay our hands on the Lord Jesus, and so receive the atonement, Romans 5:11. Burnt- offerings were offered with the sin-offerings, the intention of which was to give glory to the God of Israel, whom they owned as the only true God, and their God, which it was proper to do, at the same time that they were, by the sin-offering, making atonement for their offences.
And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.2 Chronicles 29:24. To make an atonement for all Israel — That is, for all the rest of the tribes, whereof a considerable number were now in his dominions, and not for Judah only. Thus is Christ a propitiation, not for the sins of Israel only, but for those of the whole world, 1 John 1:2.
And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.
And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.2 Chronicles 29:27. When the burnt-offering began, the song of the Lord began also — The psalms composed by David and Asaph, (2 Chronicles 29:30,) with the musical instruments which God, by his prophets, had commanded to be used,
(2 Chronicles 29:25,) and which had been long neglected. Even sorrow for sin must not put us out of tune for praising God. By faith we must even then rejoice in the Lord our righteousness, and our prayers and praises must ascend with his offering, to be accepted only in the virtue of it.
And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.2 Chronicles 29:28. And all the congregation worshipped — The king and all present testified their consent to, and concurrence in, all that was done by bowing their heads and worshipping, expressing an awful veneration for the divine majesty by postures of adoration. It is not enough for us to be where God is worshipped; if we do not ourselves worship him, and that not with bodily exercise only, which profits little, but with the heart.
And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.2 Chronicles 29:31. Now ye have consecrated yourselves to the Lord — Have both made an atonement, and made a covenant by sacrifice; are solemnly reconciled and engaged to him; come near and bring sacrifices — Our covenant with God must be pursued and improved in communion with him. Having consecrated ourselves in the first place to the Lord, we must bring the sacrifices of prayer, and praise, and alms, to his house. As many as were of a free heart brought burnt-offerings — Wherein there was more generosity than in the other sacrifices, because they were wholly burned and offered to God.
And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.
And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep.2 Chronicles 29:33. The consecrated things were six hundred oven, &c. — That is, the offerings consecrated to God, besides the burnt-offerings already mentioned, namely, the peace-offerings and thank-offerings, the fat of which was burned upon the altar, and the flesh divided between the priests and the offerers. Of these there was a still greater number than of the burnt-offerings. Perhaps the remembrance of their sin in sacrificing on the high places, made them more willing to bring their sacrifices now to God’s altar.
But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.2 Chronicles 29:34. The priests were too few — Namely, such as were sanctified and fit for the work, as the following words show. Many of them, it is probable, had been suspended and laid aside as polluted, for having sacrificed to idols in the last reign, and the rest had not the zeal that might have been expected on such an occasion. Therefore they took no care to sanctify themselves: and being unsanctified, and so unqualified, they made their excuse for being absent from the service; as if their offence would be their defence. It is recorded here, to the perpetual shame of the priests, that though they were so well provided for out of the offerings of the Lord, yet they did not mind their business. Here was work to do, and there wanted proper hands to do it. So that they could not flay all the burnt-offerings — And much less all the other sacrifices, which were more numerous; the flaying whereof was the priests’ proper work, Leviticus 1:5-6. Wherefore the priests did help them — Necessity excusing a deviation from the rule, as it hath excused in other cases. For the Levites were more upright in heart, &c., than the priests — They were better affected to the work, and better prepared and qualified for it. This was their praise; and, in recompense for it, they had the honour of being employed in that which was the priests’ work. Thus encouragement was given to the faithful, zealous Levites, and a just disgrace cast upon the careless priests. What the Levites wanted in the ceremonial advantages of their birth and consecration, was abundantly made up in their eminent qualifications of knowledge and zeal for the work.
And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order.
And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.2 Chronicles 29:36. Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people — In this blessed turn of affairs, and the new face of religion which the kingdom had put on. That God had prepared the people — Had changed their hearts by his Almighty Spirit. For it was plain his hand was in it, both because so many of those who, in the last reign, had doted on the idolatrous altars, were now so much in love with God’s altar; and because the thing was done suddenly; was brought about in so little time, and with little or no opposition. Those that go about the work of God in faith, and with resolution, will often find there is not that difficulty in it which they had apprehended. Only let magistrates and ministers do their parts toward the reforming of a land, and then let them trust God to do his, and ascribe to him the glory of what is done.