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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

2 Chronicles 31

Verses 20-21

DISCOURSE: 427
HEZEKIAH’S CHARACTER

2 Chronicles 31:20-21. Thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.

RELIGION, when set before us in the precept, is thought impracticable: but, when it is embodied in the life of some eminent saint, it commends itself to us as in the highest degree estimable, and its yoke appears to us both light and easy. In a person like Hezekiah, at the early age of twenty-five, (when the mind is too generally carried away by thoughtless gaiety,) presiding over a kingdom, with all possible means of sensual gratification at his command, it does indeed approve itself to us as lovely, and as worthy to be cultivated by every child of man. For the purpose of elevating your souls to the pursuit of it, I will propose to your consideration,

I.

The character of Hezekiah as here drawn—

Many of the saints were eminently distinguished above their brethren by some peculiar grace, which they exercised in an extraordinary degree. Hezekiah excelled in faith: “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him [Note: 2 Kings 18:5.].” But in the passage before us, his character is drawn more at large. We behold,

1.

The objects of his attention—

[Placed at the head of an empire, he laboured to promote the benefit of his subjects by a wise and just administration of his government. But his views were not confined to objects of temporal importance merely: he sought to repair the mischiefs of his father’s reign, and to bring back his people to the knowledge and enjoyment of the only true God. He neglected not what was politically “good and right and true:” but he also strove to accomplish whatever was “good and right and truth before the Lord his God.” The passover, which had been instituted to commemorate the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and had been ordained of God to be observed every year at an appointed time, had long been neglected. He therefore called the priests and Levites to the performance of their duty [Note: 2 Chronicles 29:4-5.]; he ordered them to sanctify the house of God, which had been profaned by all manner of abominations [Note: 2 Chronicles 29:15-16.], and to prepare all the offerings which were necessary for the occasion; he himself setting them an example by a most munificent contribution of cattle for that end [Note: 2 Chronicles 30:24.]. Nor was he content with effecting this amongst his own people. He exerted his influence to bring also the ten tribes of Israel, over whom he had no control, to a sense of their duty, and to a concurrence with him in this holy work. In a word, he considered himself as a servant of the Most High God; and for the advancement of his glory he exerted all the influence which his high station gave him.]

2.

The manner of his exertion—

[This is particularly specified; and, indeed, it deserves especial notice: “in every work that he began, he did it with all his heart.” He did not satisfy himself with giving commands to others: he himself led the way, and enforced, by his example, the precepts which he issued. In the very first month after his coming to the throne of Judah, he set to work with all his might: and in the second month, the fourteenth day of the month, all was ready for the observance of the ordinance: and though his zeal brought upon him much obloquy and contempt from ungodly men [Note: 2 Chronicles 30:10.], he persevered with undiminished ardour, and kept such a passover as had not been seen from the time of Solomon to that day [Note: 2 Chronicles 30:26.]. It was in this way that “he began” the work of the Lord: and in this blessed course did he continue to the end of life. In fact, it was his zeal for the service of God which caused him to weep so bitterly, when he was informed by the prophet that the time was come for him to die [Note: 2 Kings 20:1-3.]. It was not that he was afraid of death: for he could “appeal to God that he had walked before him in truth and with a perfect heart:” but he saw that the reformation which he had begun was likely to be stopped as soon as he should be removed; and therefore he implored a prolongation of his term on earth, that he might consolidate and complete the work he had begun.]

3.

The issue of his labours—

[In my text we are told, “he prospered.” The kingdom, when he first assumed the reins of government, was in a most desolate condition; subjected, in fact, to the Assyrian monarch [Note: 2 Chronicles 29:8.]; from whose power, however, he delivered it [Note: 2 Kings 18:7.]: and, from being grievously impoverished, he raised it to a high degree of wealth and power [Note: 2 Chronicles 32:27-30.]. The moral change effected in it was most remarkable: at the time of his father’s death, the land was wholly given to idolatry and all its attendant abominations: but in a short time, through God’s blessing on his endeavours, all the vestiges of idolatry were swept away, not only from his own dominions, but from the tribes of Ephraim also and Manasseh, who were independent of him.]

Having viewed the character here drawn, let us contemplate,

II.

The instruction to be gathered from it—

Surely we may learn from hence,

1.

The extent of our duty—

[All of us should, doubtless, be peculiarly attentive to the offices to which, in our respective stations, we are called. From the king upon the throne, to the lowest subject in his dominions, this is required. As in the natural body, so also in the body politic, all, from the head to the foot, have their proper functions, which it becomes them diligently to discharge. But all, without exception, are bound, in the first instance, to serve their God, and to do whatever is good and right and true in his sight. “Whatsoever things are true,” says the Apostle, “whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things [Note: Philippians 4:8.].” Nor should our efforts terminate on ourselves: we should seek the best interests of all around us; and labour especially to bring them to the knowledge and enjoyment of their God. As Hezekiah called his people to the observance of the passover, so should we endeavour to call men’s attention to the Gospel, and to “Christ as our Passover that has been sacrificed for us.” Never can influence be used for a more salutary end than this: and every one of us, according to the measure of influence that he possesses, is bound to exert it in this way for the Lord his God.]

2.

The proper mode of engaging in it—

[“Whatever our hand findeth to do, we should do it with all our might [Note: Ecclesiastes 9:10.].” It is not by listless endeavours that we can hope to succeed: we must “strive for the mastery,” if we would overcome our corruptions; and “fight a good fight,” if we would subdue our enemies; and “run, as in a race,” if we would obtain the prize that is held forth to us in the Gospel. All of these images imply the most strenuous exertion in the Christian life. Nor will it suffice to “begin” well: we must go on, and continue to the end, if we would secure the approbation of our God [Note: Galatians 6:9.].]

3.

The certain issue of our endeavours—

[Never did any one thus labour, without obtaining a successful issue. To those who strive to do the whole will of God, and prosecute their object with their whole heart, a failure is impossible. They must “prosper:” God will never suffer such persons to run in vain, and “labour in vain [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.].” As far as respects the benefiting of others, he may not indeed attain all he proposes to himself: but as far as respects his own soul, he cannot but flourish: he will necessarily grow in grace: “his peace also will flow down like a river:” “his joy will become unspeakable and glorified;” and his weight of glory will be in proportion to his attainments and his services.]

Reflections—
1.

How rare is this character!

[Persons attending to their worldly callings, and prosecuting them with their whole hearts, and prospering in them, are to be found in every place. But where do we find persons labouring thus in spiritual things, and making “their profiting to appear unto all?” Look at the generality, and you behold no progress in them from year to year: and even amongst those whom, in the judgment of charity, we should call believers, there is, alas! far less of holy zeal and spiritual advancement than their profession requires.]

2.

How honourable is this character!

[Let a person be really zealous for the Lord his God, and profane sinners will be sure to mock and deride him, as they did Hezekiah and his agents. But still they will honour him in their hearts, even as “Herod feared John,” at the very time that he consigned him to prison and to death. But if not, still, at his departure, his loss will be felt and mourned as a public calamity. The Jews built the sepulchres of departed prophets, at the time that they persecuted and put to death the living ones. And it is no uncommon thing, in this day, to behold a repetition of that farce. As for the honour itself, it is of no value to the saints, whether dead or living: but it is a testimony for God, that his servants are indeed “worthy of all honour,” and that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.”]

3.

How blessed is this character!

[Compare Hezekiah with his father Ahaz, or his son Manasseh. They possessed the kingdom, even as he: but how differently did they exert their influence! They lived but for the gratification of their own malignant passions; whereas he lived only for the welfare of his people, and the honour of his God. And can any one doubt which of them was the happiest? Hear the mournings of Manasseh, and they will satisfy your mind: or, if you could now behold the state of Ahaz, it would leave no doubt who is the happier man—he who lives for God, or he who lives only for himself.]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 31". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/2-chronicles-31.html. 1832.