Facing Death

King Hezekiah is known for being a good king.  And like many kings (and really, like most of us), he has his good moments and bad moments.  Yet, for the most part, he remains dedicated to the Lord.  In the passage below, we find Hezekiah growing deathly ill.  How does he react to this incident?

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.  — Isaiah 38:1-3

I’ve read this story many times, but it struck me today that Hezekiah takes an unusual attitude about his impending death.  While we read of other prophets or great men of God facing death without worry (think of the apostle Paul, or martyrs such as Polycarp), Hezekiah seems truly afraid of death and he successfully petitions God for more years on earth.  Why was he not ready to die?  What fears did he have?  I’m reminded that Jesus himself prayed in the garden to have his own difficult death taken away from him.  Taking that into account, I don’t think it is a sign of weakness to ask for more life.  I wonder – what would I ask for if faced with the same situation?


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