Scripture Focus: Isaiah 39:8
8 “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

Reflection: Ozymandias & Hezekiah
By Erin Newton

In the poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, a traveler comes upon an ancient statue’s remains that were just two stumps of legs that stood upon an inscription: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! The sad fate of the statue closes the poem: Nothing beside remains. Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

This poem echoes the prophetic oracle spoken to Hezekiah. The king of Israel, puffed up by his own accomplishments, took the Babylonian envoy on a tour of his grandiosity. He showed them his storehouses of gold, silver, oil, and spices. These things heralded his life of luxury. Hezekiah also showed off his armory, his storehouse of weapons. This revealed his power and might.

While parading his wealth and power, the text says that Hezekiah did this gladly. He was proud of what he had. He was proud of the level of luxury he had secured for himself. He was proud of the level of might he had obtained. Did he not just recover from an illness of insanity? Did we not just read about the oppression of the poor, hungry, and vulnerable?

Despite the reality of his own mortality and the suffering of the people, Hezekiah was still sick—sick with pride. Look on my works and despair!

Isaiah rebuked the king and foretold of destruction. Like the statue in the desert, everything he 
boasted in would be gone. All of his spices, gold, and silver would be carried away to the same place the envoy came from. In his pride and arrogance, he had tried to impress the same people who would later imprison his community.

Hezekiah’s reply can be read in one of two ways: he either accepted the divine fate of his people with some sort of faith-bound resolve or he remained focused on himself, pleased that at least the destruction would come after him.

Perhaps I am too pessimistic, but I think Hezekiah was still exhibiting self-absorption. His joy was bound up in his wealth and power. He gleefully exalted himself by exhibiting what he had. In the end, his concern was always for himself.

How we view our responsibility for the world that remains after us tells more about our character than what fills our storehouses. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
What terror you inspire! Who can stand before you when you are angry? — Psalm 76.7

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Isaiah 39 (Listen 1:35)
Acts 26 (Listen 5:17)

Read more about Open Letter to Students of the Bible
Festus believed Paul was crazy…Paul, however, was no fool, no lunatic. Paul had great learning but a greater ministry.

Read more about A Sin We Are Proud Of
Our culture has a hard time seeing what Hezekiah did wrong…Storing up for ourselves is prudence…our own peace and prosperity is honorable.