And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. — Isaiah 39:2
The Greek writer Aesop was famous for the many fables he wrote to teach moral lessons. “The Fox and the Crow” was one of such stories.
In the story, the crow stole a bite of meat and hurriedly flew off to the safety of a tree. The fox witnessed this event and wanted the meat for himself. Unable to reach the crow that was high up in the tree, the fox appealed to the pride of the winged fellow. He called out to the crow, deceitfully extolling her shape as beautiful and her complexion as wonderful. He lamented that if only the crow’s voice were equal to her beauty, she would have been considered the queen of birds!
The crow, eager to show that her voice was equally beautiful as her shape and that she deserved to be considered the queen of birds, gave out a loud caw. As she did so, the meat she had guarded so securely dropped from her mouth. The fox quickly seized the meat and triumphantly said to the crow: “My good crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting.”
While a humorous tale, this fable does accurately portray a common weakness among men: that of pride. In today’s text, Hezekiah’s display of his treasures was done in vanity and pride, and was an action the king would live to regret. When Isaiah learned what had happened, he made a pronouncement from the Lord: all of the treasures would be carried away to Babylon. He further revealed that even the king’s descendants would be taken away to serve as eunuchs in the royal courts of Babylon.
Pride is one tool the devil often employs in his attempts to trip up man. The devil is the prince of pride. He endeavors to convince us that we have the right, experience, or position which entitles us to act contrary to God’s laws of righteousness. As he did in the Garden of Eden, he suggests that we do not need to be subject to every word that God says. What a fatal error it is to believe his lies!
Hezekiah’s self-satisfied display of his earthly wealth brought consequences, and so will succumbing to the snare of pride in our day. We must be on guard against the devil’s wiles, and remember that all we are or ever hope to be is totally through God’s grace. When we keep that thought foremost in our minds, the devil will not be able to trip or overcome us!
King Hezekiah had miraculously survived a deadly illness. The miracle of his survival was a testimony to the power of God. News of his spectacular healing spread, and the people of Babylon were among those who heard about his great recovery (2 Kings 20:12). Because Hezekiah was a God-fearing and influential king in the region, the king of Babylon sent emissaries with gifts to rejoice with him. On the surface, the goodwill gesture from Babylon seemed harmless and friendly. However, it led to Hezekiah’s foolish and prideful mistake.
Hezekiah’s error was two-fold. First, he acted as the sole owner of the kingdom that God entrusted to him, instead of as a steward. Secondly, he laid aside responsible precaution, seemingly thinking that he knew the situation well enough to make this judgment call.
Babylon would later be the dominant power of the region who, in a determined quest for power and wealth, would become a bitter enemy of Judah. The wealth of Judah and its secret locations were the object of Assyria’s aggression. Hezekiah jeopardized himself and his people when he flung open the national treasury to entertain ambassadors of a rogue nation.
The judgment of God quickly followed Hezekiah’s foolish action. In typical prophetic fashion, Isaiah asked questions before he made his pronouncement. He inquired what the men said and what they had seen. Upon learning that the men were from Babylon and that they had seen all of the national treasures, the prophet was compelled to announce the word of the Lord: that all of these treasures would be carried away to Babylon, and that Hezekiah’s sons would serve in the Babylonian palace. His words were a prophecy of what was sure to come rather than a statement of God’s punishment or curse.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The historical interlude: The Holy One of Israel delivering from Assyria
C. The thoughtlessness of Hezekiah (39:1-8)
1. The inspection of the Babylonian embassy (39:1-2)
2. The inquisition of Isaiah (39:3-4)
3. The prediction of Isaiah (39:5-8)
Our continued safety and victory lie in walking humbly with God. We must guard against pride in all its forms.