2 Kings 20:1. In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
That is to say, in the common course of providence, without a miracle, Hezekiah must have died. God did by no means change when afterwards he permitted him to live. This time he spoke after the order of nature; the next time he spoke according to the extraordinary work of his marvellous power.
2 Kings 20:2. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,
What did he do that for? Well, as he could not rise from his bed through weakness he gets the greatest privacy he can, and the God who accepted Carmel as Elijah’s prayer-shrine, would accept Hezekiah’s prayer when he turned his face to the wall.
2 Kings 20:3. I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
I do not think this was intended to be a self-righteous prayer, though it reads like one, or else the Lord would not have heard it. He meant to say, “Lord, thou hast been good enough to make me what I am, be pleased to spare me.” In fact, the probability is that at this time Sennacherib had not been routed, and Hezekiah could not bear to die whilst the nation was in danger. Certainly there was no son born to Hezekiah at this time, for Manasseh was only twelve years old when he began to reign at his father’s death, and Hezekiah thought it would be a sad thing to leave a troubled kingdom without a prince to be his successor. It may be, too, that seeing he had just commenced the reformation, and the casting down of the false gods, he trembled for the cause of God, and could not bear to be so soon taken away. “Hezekiah wept sore.” Ah! these are the things that prevail with God, these tears of his people.
“Prayer is the burden of a sigh, .
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.”
2 Kings 20:4-7. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying. Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years, and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
This, of course, was not a sufficient means to cure the boil, but God made the means efficacious. Why were the means used? Why, to teach us that we are to expect God’s blessing, not in neglecting means, but in using them. See how simple was the remedy — just a thick poultice of figs laid on the wound! Perhaps the physicians had tried expensive medicines without avail. What a mercy it is for us that the good medicine of the gospel is as cheap as it is good, that it is to be had for nothing. While some ransack the world for expensive ceremonies and for gaudy shows, we have Christ, like the lump of figs, ready to heal the wound and make us strong again. Again I say Hezekiah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed earnestly that his life might be spared, and God delivered him from the jaws of death. Let us, therefore, not be afraid to pray.