READ: Isaiah 38:1-39
Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. – Isaiah 38:15b
King Hezekiah finds himself stricken with a deadly disease, and the prophet Isaiah declares that he will die from it. Talk about a bad day. In his affliction, the king cries out to God and then breaks down and “weeps bitterly.” God responds by extending his life by 15 years and healing the king from his disease.
Hezekiah’s prayer was, “Remember, O LORD, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Now this probably wasn’t completely true because no human being is always faithful; we all sin. But as a leader, Hezekiah had turned the nation back to God, eliminated idol worship, honored the prophets, and had done right… He was, by all accounts, a good and Godly king.
But there is one sin that Hezekiah found himself guilty of – one that the Lord detests in our lives. Pride! Hezekiah’s God-given success has fooled him into thinking he was better than he was. In spite of all of Hezekiah’s great accomplishments for the LORD, God was not content to let him live in the delusion of pride. God brings Hezekiah low, and Hezekiah learns his lesson fast. In fact, Hezekiah is grateful for the lesson, and declares that the “Lord’s discipline is good,” and leads to life and health. The lesson he learned is fleshed out, not in the knowledge gained, but in living out that knowledge. The king’s declaration, “Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt,” demonstrates not just a shift in thinking, but a change in living.
The lessons for us in this passage are numerous. Humility is the character trait that God seeks above all others in His kids. Jesus demonstrated that for us, taught it repeatedly to his followers, and seeks it in all his disciples. Pride can sneak in like a thief undetected and steel our righteousness, no matter how many good things we have done (and sometimes because of all the good things we have done). This is a warning for all of us, not to not do good, but to watch our hearts and to ruthlessly humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord.
Also of note in this passage is Hezekiah’s response to God’s discipline. He, in fact, did humble himself before the Lord, not just in the moment, but for the rest of his days. He even celebrated the LORD’s discipline and was grateful for the correction. “Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health.” In retrospect, Hezekiah could see that the road he was on was compromising his health and quality of life, and found himself grateful for the lesson from the Lord even though it was hard learned through suffering.
How often we despise the suffering in our lives. I know I tend to. But if we will cry out to the LORD in the midst of our struggles, humble ourselves, and be willing to learn the lesson, it is amazing what God will do to turn around our situations and what He will do in our hearts. As I look back on the suffering in my life, I can see God shaping my character. I am grateful that God is a good father, with my best interest in mind ultimately.
So how is your heart today? Any pride? If you find yourself in a struggle, are your eyes and heart open for the lesson? And are you humble enough to learn it? Take some time now and praise God for his discipline, for it leads to life and health. Embrace what God is doing for you, humble yourself and learn God’s lessons well. Remember discipline is not forever!
Lord, if there is pride in my life, help me to see it and surrender it to you. I choose this day to humble myself in your sight, and ask that you would help me to avoid the pit of pride. If there is correction that I am in the midst of, help me to be a fast learner… For I want to walk humbly with you and in your ways more than anything else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.