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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

2 Chronicles 32

Verse 26

DISCOURSE: 428
HUMILIATION FOR THE SIN OF THE HEART

2 Chronicles 32:26. Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart.

THE best of men are liable to fall through temptation, but they will deeply bewail any sin into which they have been betrayed. Hezekiah was a man of very distinguished piety [Note: 2Ki 20:3]; but he was not sufficiently aware, that his integrity was the effect of divine grace, and not of human power. God therefore left him for a moment to the influence of his own heart [Note: ver. 31.]. In consequence of this he soon gave a proof of his inherent depravity; but, on discovering his sin, he instantly humbled himself for it before God.

We shall shew,

I.

What were the grounds of Hezekiah’s humiliation—

The sin committed by him does not in human estimation appear great—
[The princes of Babylon sent to congratulate him on his recovery: he received them with all the kindness and courtesy that he could express, and shewed them “every thing in his dominions” that could afford them entertainment [Note: 2 Kings 20:13.].]

But his conduct was exceeding sinful in the sight of God; for in it,

1.

He sought his own glory—

[Hezekiah evidently thought of nothing else at that time. He wished to shew how great a man he was, in order that his alliance might be courted, and his power feared. Now this would have been highly criminal in any man [Note: Proverbs 25:27.], but it was especially so in him, at that particular juncture. He had just been at the borders of the grave; and therefore should have been more impressed with the vanity of earthly grandeur, and should have seen the folly and wickedness of priding himself in things so empty, so worthless, so transient.]

2.

He sought his own glory in preference to God’s honour—

[He had now a happy opportunity of magnifying the God of Israel. He might have told the ambassadors, what God had done for his nation in former times; he might have recited the wonderful restoration which God had at this time afforded to himself in particular, together with the stupendous miracle with which the promise of that recovery had been confirmed [Note: 2 Kings 20:11. It is worthy of remark, that the ambassadors were sent on purpose to inquire into the miracle wrought in the land in making the sun go back ten degrees. His neglect therefore win the more sinful. 2 Chronicles 32:31.] — — — he might have commended Jehovah as an answerer of prayer [Note: 2 Kings 20:4-5.] — — — and in this way have exalted him above all the gods of the heathen; and surely the mercies that had been vouchsafed unto him, demanded such a tribute: but he was pitifully occupied about self, and basely preferred his own honour before God’s.]

3.

He sought his own glory before the good of his friends—

[The ambassadors were shewing great kindness to him: he should therefore have recompensed them in the best way. He should have instructed them in the knowledge of the God of Israel, and have told them how willing he was to become their God; thus, perhaps, he might have converted and saved their souls, and have spread the knowledge of the true God in Babylon; yea, eventually, he might have been instrumental to the salvation of thousands. But he utterly forgot the necessities of their souls, and was offering incense to his own vanity, when he should have been promoting their eternal welfare.]
This was his sin; and God denounced a heavy judgment against him on account of it—
[His riches were all to be taken away by the Chaldeans, his own children were to be made eunuchs in the king of Babylon’s palace, and the whole nation to be led into a miserable captivity.]
But, if his offence was great, his humiliation also was remarkable—
[He heard with trembling the judgments which God threatened to execute. Instead of palliating his sin, he acknowledged at once the justice of the Deity in inflicting such a punishment on account of it: in concert with all his subjects, he implored forgiveness at God’s hands; and, having obtained a respite of the sentence, meekly, and even thankfully, acquiesced in the determinations of Heaven [Note: Isaiah 39:8.].]

While we see in him much to shun, and much to imitate, let us shew,

II.

What grounds there are for similar humiliation amongst us—

Pride is deeply rooted in the heart of fallen man. We are prone to be lifted up on every occasion—
[We are vain of any natural endowments of body or mind. The strong displays his strength; the beautiful, her beauty. A penetrating mind, or tenacious memory, are made grounds of self-admiration, and self-preference. Any acquired distinctions also become food for our vanity: the man of wealth, of honour, or of power, assumes a consequence from his elevation, and demands from others a homage as his due; the proficient in any art or science courts applause, and delights to have his talents admired. Even the gifts of grace, through the depravity of our nature, become occasions of pride: not only an ability to speak or pray with fluency, but even an insight into the corruption of the heart, is often exhibited more for the purpose of attracting admiration than of doing good. Whatever we have that elevates us a little above our fellow-creatures, our proud hearts are fond of displaying it, and pleased with the flattering attentions which it procures for us.]

We indulge the disposition too to the neglect of God’s honour, and of the eternal welfare of those around us—
[How many glorious opportunities have we of speaking for God! What grounds of praising him might we find in the sacred records! — — — especially the wonders of redeeming love! — — — How many too might we find in our own experience! And what unspeakable benefit might arise to mankind, if we carefully improved these opportunities! But how rarely is our intercourse with each other made subservient to these ends! We for the most part waste our time in flattering attentions and unprofitable civilities, and are as intent on gratifying the vanity of ourselves or others, as if our social converse were capable of no better improvement.]
How much then do we need to imitate Hezekiah’s humiliation!
[However innocent we may think such conduct, it is highly criminal in the sight of God; it renders us justly obnoxious to God’s heaviest judgments [Note: Matthew 12:36-37.]. Should we not then humble ourselves before him in dust and ashes? Should not the forbearance he has exercised call forth our devoutest acknowledgments? And should we not adore his goodness even if he only delay to execute his threatened vengeance? Let us not attempt to palliate this common, but vile, iniquity, but rather unite in deprecating the wrath we have deserved.]

Infer,
1.

How watchful should we be against what are called little sins!

[Hezekiah at first probably intended only to shew civility to his friends; but through inattention to the motions of his heart, he fell into grievous sin, and brought on the whole nation the heaviest judgments. Let us learn then to mark the first risings of sin in our hearts; let us bear in mind how greatly we may offend God by a neglect of our duty: let us remember, too, that God notices and abhors sin in the heart, no less than when it is brought forth into open act; let us guard especially against the workings of pride and vain-glory: let us entreat him to sanctify our inward man [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:23.], and never to leave us to ourselves for one single moment.]

2.

How great is the efficacy of fervent prayer and intercession!

[The judgment denounced against Hezekiah was to have been speedily inflicted; but he and Judah sought the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, and the Lord deferred the evil till the next generation. Thus will he do also in answer to our prayers. If we turned to him as a nation, he would prolong our national prosperity, and would blot out for ever the personal guilt of every true penitent. Let us then humble ourselves for our abominations both of heart and life; so shall we find God as gracious unto us, as ever he was to his people of old.]


Verse 31

DISCOURSE: 429
THE WEAKNESS AND DEPRAVITY OF MAN

2 Chronicles 32:31. God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.

THERE is no character so excellent but there is some blot to be found in it. The most illustrious saints that ever lived, not only betrayed their weakness and sinfulness, but shewed themselves defective in those very graces for which they were most eminent. We must not wonder therefore that Hezekiah, who was in some respects as distinguished a character as any that either preceded or followed him, became at last a monument of human frailty. It is probable that the peculiar manifestations of the divine favour towards him had excited an undue degree of self-complacency in his mind: God therefore saw fit to try him, and, “in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who had sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land,” (even of the shadow of the sun going backward ten degrees on the sun-dial of Ahaz,) “left him” to the natural workings of his own heart. The consequence was such as might be apprehended; he gave way to pride and vanity, and brought on himself the divine displeasure.
The words which we have read, will naturally lead us to observe, that,

I.

Till we are tried, we have very little idea of the evil of our hearts—

[Though we feel no difficulty in admitting that we are sinners, yet we can by no means acknowledge the truth of the representations given of us in the Scriptures. If we were told that we are all by nature haters both of God [Note: Romans 1:30; Romans 8:7.] and man [Note: Titus 3:3.], we should consider it as a libel upon human nature. When we read the history of the Jews, we are ready to think that they were incomparably more perverse than we should ever be: though if we had been in their situation, there is no reason at all to believe that we should have shewn ourselves in any respect more obedient than they. If we have never fallen into any gross sin, we imagine that our moral conduct has arisen from the superior goodness of our hearts; and we suppose that we have no disposition to those iniquities which are practised by others. We are not aware, that, if we had been subjected to the same trials as others, we should probably have fallen like them. How was Hazael shocked when he was told what enormities he would commit! “Is thy servant a dog, that he should commit this thing [Note: 2 Kings 8:12-13.]?” Yet, no sooner was he tried, than he did commit all the enormities that had been foretold. And we, if told, that one of us would become a thief, another an adulterer, and another a murderer, should revolt at the idea. as though we were not capable of such atrocious wickedness: but the more we know of our own hearts, the more we shall be ready to say with David, “My heart sheweth me the wickedness of the ungodly [Note: Psalms 36:1. The Prayer-book Translation. See also Mar 7:21-23 and Jeremiah 17:9.],” yea, it is an epitome of all the wickedness that is committed upon earth.]

It becomes us to deprecate temptation; since,

II.

If left to ourselves, we shall soon give some awful proof of our depravity—

[That any persons are preserved from great enormities is owing to the providence and the grace of God. It has pleased God to encompass them, so that they should be screened from any violent temptation; or else he has endued them with a more abundant measure of his grace, whereby they have been enabled to withstand the tempter. Who that sees how others have fallen, will ascribe his own steadfastness to an arm of flesh? We need only set before us those deplorable monuments of human depravity, David, Solomon, and Peter, and we shall need nothing more to enforce that admonition, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall [Note: These instances should be opened separately, and at some length.]” — — — We perhaps may have maintained a good conduct for a considerable time: but can we not look back to some moment wherein we have been left to follow the bent of our own corrupt hearts? We must be lamentably ignorant of what has passed within us, if we have not long since learned our need to use that prayer, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.”]

Yet we must not view such proofs of depravity merely as insulated and detached acts: for,

III.

One single act of wickedness, if duly considered, will serve as a clew to find out all the iniquity of our hearts—

[God did not design to shew Hezekiah one imperfection only, but “all that was in his heart [Note: The text may mean, that God left Hezekiah in order that he, namely God, might know all that was in his heart. See Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 13:2-3. But the sense given to the words seems preferable.]:” and his fall was well calculated to give him this knowledge; for in it he might see, not only his pride and creature-confidence, but his ingratitude for the mercies he had received, his unconcern about the souls of those who came to visit him, his indifference about the honour of his God, and innumerable other evils which were comprehended in his sin [Note: If, as is thought, the Babylonians who came to inquire into the miracle of the sun’s retrograde motion were worshippers of the sun, what an opportunity had Hezekiah to tell them about Jehovah, who created that sun, and could continue or alter its course at his pleasure!]. Thus, if we will take any one sin of our lives, and make use of it as a light to search the dark corners of our hearts, we shall find out a most astonishing mass of wickedness that has hitherto escaped our observation. Take, for instance, any single act of pride, wrath, lewdness, covetousness, or even deadness in prayer, what a scene will it open to our view! what unmindfulness of the divine presence! what unconcern about our own souls! what preferring of carnal ease or worldly vanities to the happiness and glory of heaven! what contempt of that adorable Saviour who shed his blood for us! Alas! alas! we should never come to an end, if we should attempt to declare all the evil which by such a scrutiny we might discover.

This then we would most earnestly recommend as the means of becoming acquainted with our hearts: let us not consider any sin as though it were unconnected with any other; but rather regard every sin as a fruit of an immense tree, or as a little stream flowing from an inexhaustible fountain.]

From this dereliction of Hezekiah, and his fall consequent upon it, we may further learn,
1.

Thankfulness to God for the preservation we have experienced—

[None of us have perpetrated one thousandth part of the iniquity which we should have been guilty of, if God had not restrained us by his providence and grace. Let us not then “sacrifice to our own net, or burn incense to our own drag.” Let us rather acknowledge, that by the grace of God we are what we are, and say, “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise.” And let our dependence be altogether on God, that he who has kept us hitherto, will “preserve us unto his heavenly kingdom.”]

2.

Tenderness and compassion towards those who have fallen—

[We are apt to look on a fallen brother with indignation and contempt: but if we considered more attentively our own extreme sinfulness, and how often we should have fallen if outward temptations had concurred sufficiently with our inward dispositions, we shall find less readiness to cast a stone at others: we shall rather see our own picture in their depravity, and extend that compassion to them which in similar circumstances we should desire to meet with at their hands.]

3.

Vigilance against the assaults of our great adversary—

[Satan combines in himself the subtlety of a serpent, and the strength of a lion. Well therefore does the Apostle say to us, “Be sober, be vigilant.” If we watch not against his assaults, we, in fact, tempt him to tempt us. Besides, we cannot expect that God should preserve us, if we do not endeavour to preserve ourselves. It will be to little purpose to pray that God will not lead us into temptation, if we presumptuously rush into it of our own accord. Let us then shun the occasions of sin: let us avoid the company, the amusements, the books, yea the very sights that may administer to sin. Let us commit ourselves continually to God’s care and protection; and beg of him never to leave us or forsake us. In this way we may hope to experience his unremitting care, and to be “kept by his power through faith unto everlasting salvation.”]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/2-chronicles-32.html. 1832.