Biblical People

Biblical People: Hezekiah (1)

Five generations after Joash, his descendant Hezekiah becomes king of Judah. He’s one of the few good ones, perhaps the best. The Bible says he trusts in the Lord God. No king of Judah before or after him is like him.

He does right like King David. He removes the high places (which King Jehoshaphat had left) and destroys all the elements of foreign worship, even the bronze snake Moses had made, since the people were burning incense to it. 

Scripture says that Hezekiah follows the Law of Moses and enjoys success in all he does.

Yet, despite this, opposition arises. 

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria (recall Assyria in the chapter about Jonah), comes with a large army, intent on capturing Jerusalem. Overwhelmed by the size of Sennacherib’s force and discouraged by his blasphemous threats, Hezekiah seeks the Lord in desperation, imploring him for deliverance. By miraculously delivering the people, the Almighty would prove he alone is the Lord God.

The prophet Isaiah sends a message to Hezekiah that God will deliver him and the people from Sennacherib’s threat. That night an angel of God kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Sennacherib returns home where two of his sons assassinate him. 

In this way, God delivers Hezekiah and the people of Judah from a much stronger force. The army of Judah didn’t need to do a thing. God rescued them as promised.

Later, Isaiah tells the king to organize his estate, for he will soon die. Distraught, Hezekiah appeals to God in tears, asking the Almighty for a reprieve. That’s when Isaiah receives an update from God, a change of plans. 

God now promises that Hezekiah will recover from his near-fatal illness and live another fifteen years. Unsure what to think, Hezekiah asks Isaiah for a sign that this will happen. (This reminds us of Gideon’s fleece.) Hezekiah’s request makes sense because, within a short span of time, Isaiah delivered conflicting messages to the king.

To confirm that the second prophecy supersedes the first, God offers to make the sun travel backward for a time. This will be a sign to Hezekiah that his recovery will take place, just as Isaiah foretold. 

The sun does indeed go back, Hezekiah gets better, and the king lives fifteen more years. After Hezekiah’s recovery, he writes a psalm of praise to God.

How do we react when we receive conflicting instructions from God? Does our faith remain steady no matter what happens, or does it decrease amid uncertainty?

[Read Hezekiah’s story in 2 Kings 18–20. Discover more in Isaiah 38:9–22 and Matthew 1:1–10.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at