In this brief chapter, Hezekiah receives letters and a present from Merodach-Baladan the king of Babylon. The letters were congratulating him on his return to health. Hezekiah shows the envoy from Babylon all of his great material treasures. Isaiah then comes to Hezekiah to ask questions: What did they say? Where did they come from? What did they see in your house?
As a prophet of God, Isaiah is asking these questions as a prelude to the prophecy that all of these great possessions would be carried off to Babylon in the future and that Hezekiah’s lineage “shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
A great lesson to learn from this chapter is that of our tendency to so quickly forget and take for granted God’s blessings. Hezekiah had just been blessed with fifteen more years of life after a grave illness and this episode directly following his return to health is marked by Hezekiah’s reveling in his life of material blessings. Without a doubt, Hezekiah recognizes God’s place in his health and wealth, but he takes too much credit for himself.
Hezekiah does not answer Isaiah’s first question of what these men said but his answer to the second question of where they came from, he says, “They came to me from a far country, from Babylon.” Hezekiah says pointedly that they came specifically to HIM from Babylon.
This may seem like a subtle and harmless remark by Hezekiah but think about the circumstances. He was just blessed with a longer life and he has so many material treasures (silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, his armory). The pure heart would be humble, giving credit to God rather than taking it for itself. Hezekiah did recognize that the Word of God is good, but even in his final words of the chapter, he reveals a heart marked by selfishness: “So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”” Isaiah 39:8
One would think that Hezekiah would be heartbroken that his descendants will be made eunuchs in the Babylonian palace, but he is only glad that peace and truth will remain in his time. Through Isaiah, God seems to have been trying to show Hezekiah that all of these things in which he was taking great pleasure were ultimately meaningless: “‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD.”
Hezekiah missed the point. Did you?