Isaiah 39 - Hezekiah's Folly
"Hezekiah's Folly" is how the HCSB titles this chapter. The ESV has it "Envoys From Babylon" and the KJV has "Merodach-baladan sends visitors to Hezekiah to examine his treasures." A read through this short chapter convinced me the HCSB nailed it and the other guys had the wrong focus.
From Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary:
FOL'LY, noun [See Fool.]
1. Weakness of intellect; imbecility of mind. want of understanding.
A fool layeth open his folly Proverbs 13:16.
Folly is the hallmark of a fool; one who commits folly is foolish. May God keep us from folly!
Isaiah 39:1 (HCSB) At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah since he heard that he had been sick and had recovered.
At that time - this was around 703 B.C., after Sennacherib had removed Merodach-baladan from being king of Babylon. Merodach-baladan was a constant pain for Sennacherib, plotting with Assyria to overthrow him. The gifts and letters to Hezekiah were, no doubt, part of his plan or revenge against Sennacherib. Timing was perfect - Hezekiah was feeling good, having received healing and more years from God.
Isaiah 39:2 (HCSB) Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them his treasure house—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the precious oil—and all his armory, and everything that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his palace and in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.
Here then, is the folly of a foolish man. Apparently puffed up because he sees himself as having favor with God, Hezekiah reveals everything to a man long-bent on destroying Israel. This action is not lost on our prophet.
Isaiah 39:3-4 (HCSB) Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and asked him, “Where did these men come from and what did they say to you?” Hezekiah replied, “They came to me from a distant country, from Babylon.” Isaiah asked, “What have they seen in your palace?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen everything in my palace. There isn’t anything in my treasuries that I didn’t show them.”
Something didn't set right with Isaiah, seeing Babylonians walking around the king's palace. Not fearful the man, Isaiah asks him bluntly what he has done; the foolish king answers honestly. He has lifted his skirt to show his enemy everything.
Is this how people of God are supposed to act? We have the benefit of having more of God's Word in writing and His Spirit indwelling. We read, Matthew 10:16 (HCSB) “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves." God's people are sent by God into the world of wolves, knowing we are but sheep - needing our great Shepherd. While He will defend us He also equips us to walk in wisdom towards the world. Be wise as serpents - do not allow the world to take advantage of you. Here's one place in the Old Testament where we DO see a morality lesson - Don't be like Hezekiah!
Isaiah 39:5-7 (HCSB) Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of Hosts: ‘The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the LORD. ‘Some of your descendants who come from you will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
Here's how we know Hezekiah was foolish: YHWH pronounces judgment on him for his actions. Everything that Hezekiah proudly revealed to the Babylonian would be carried off to Babylon - nothing would be left. Some of Hezekiah's children would be taken to Babylon, in exile for a time; some serving as eunuchs in the Babylonian palace. This came true nearly 100 years later, as Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took gold and people back to Babylon. Daniel 1:6 (HCSB) Among them, from the descendants of Judah, were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
Isaiah 39:8 (HCSB) Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good,” for he thought: There will be peace and security during my lifetime.
More foolishness from this foolish king. He is fat, dumb, and happy because he will be spared the consequences of his folly. The fool that Hezekiah had become does not care what will happen after he is dead - does not care his offspring will suffer greatly for his actions. But in 605 B.C. all Israel will wail and moan as the great and terrible king Nebuchadnezzar devastated their land and left only those who were of no use to him - and no use to their own.
If you have been translated from darkness into the glorious light of the kingdom of God and His Christ, then you - and I - MUST diligently seek to walk in wisdom toward the world, knowing it as at war with the Lord Jesus and His body; knowing we are called to be a light in this dark place, proclaiming His gospel and equipping His people so we won't be tossed about by the wiles of sinister men. Like Hezekiah was. Don't be like Hezekiah. Follow the teaching of the Word, the guidance of His Spirit. Our children and grandchildren are watching, the other saints in our local fellowship need us to walk with them. For His glory and the good of all who know Him, or rather are known by Him.