King Hezekiah’s response to Isaiah’s prophecy in II Kings 20 must surely go down as one of the most selfish attitudes in all of scripture. Hezekiah had shown the messengers from the Babylonian king all of his treasures, and Isaiah prophesied that those treasures — as well as some of Hezekiah’s sons — would be carried off to captivity after his death. Ominous news indeed; but Hezekiah took it well. In fact, he took it TOO well!
Instead of mourning the fate of his nation and his sons, Hezekiah responded with incredible selfishness. He said in verse 19, “‘The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Is it not so, if there will be peace and truth in my days?'”
Hezekiah was a good king in many ways, but quite frankly, his attitude here stinks. It was very short-sighted and selfish. What did he care if the nation would be invaded and its treasures carried off — if it happened after he was gone? What did he care if his own sons were captured and made servants of a foreign nation? It wouldn’t affect HIM personally! “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good.” It is almost unbelievably selfish.
We should each use the scriptures to search out our own souls, however. Are we not sometimes guilty of the same kind of apathetic self-interest? What do we care about so many tragic things which happen to other people, or in other cities or nations, as long as it does not affect us? Perhaps we grimace, or shake our heads for a moment, but as Charles Dickens wrote: “Secondhand cares, like secondhand clothes, come easily on and off.”
This is not the attitude the New Testament prescribes for us. Philippians 2:4 says: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” That means that, unlike what Hezekiah modeled here, we are to do more than “look out for ourselves.” We are to have a genuine concern for our children, our family, other church members, the poor, the underprivileged, the unborn, or those living in a foreign country.
We are not to sit back in apathy and comfort in the face of others’ distresss just because there is “peace and truth in (our) days.” Let’s be thankful that is not the attitude that Jesus had towards US in our distress!